This article was written by Techan Nelson to commemorate International Youth Day. He is a student of International Relations – Diplomacy and Development studies at United States International University- Africa and a programs intern based at Youth Alive! Kenya.
The 2023 International Youth Day is here, and I must admit, what a theme to commemorate the 23rd edition. This year’s theme is centered on green skills for youth and how they can play a critical role in achieving a sustainable world. While I was internalizing the theme, I realized we are all experts in our own ways in matters of climate action.The globe is currently undergoing a green shift, and the transition to a more environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly world is crucial, not just for addressing the global climate crisis but also for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
Green skills refer to jobs that contribute to restoring the natural environment. This entails engaging in environmentally friendly processes of production and delivery of services. As the world transitions to a greener economy, it is important for young people to develop green skills. With the current trend, more than 60% of young people may lack the relevant green skills required, and in turn, it becomes hard to cope. What does this mean? Young people need to be equipped with green skills so that they can successfully navigate the changing environment and leverage the opportunities it presents. This requires skilling, reskilling, and upskilling.
How is this achieved then? There are policy gaps that act as barriers, preventing the actualization of this vision. The real problem lies at the national level, where there are visibly few or zero relevant policies linking the environment to skills. When you think about it, these policies are critical in curbing youth unemployment while accelerating green transition. It’s essentially a scenario of killing two birds with one stone.At the national level, it is crucial that we consider how to align these two aspects.
A national skilling program is highly recommended, as it would involve key stakeholders who can facilitate meaningful engagements for formulating relevant policies. This platform can showcase policies and practices that foster the development of green skills among young people. Additionally, the engagements should involve substantial and necessary investment in skill development. This aspect has been greatly underestimated, even though many young people are eager to participate in the green transition. If not addressed, it poses a challenge for achieving a net-zero economy. This challenge can be directly attributed to the large number of young people worldwide who lack these green skills.
“Why is this important, though? To meet the Paris climate goals, the world must decarbonize 11 times faster than the global average achieved since 2000. While advocates focus on national and corporate commitments towards a net-zero economy, skilling, reskilling, and upskilling the younger workforce are equally important and urgent, as they create momentum towards a green economy. Young people will start to view the transition as an exit strategy from unemployment.
However, there is a price to pay, as this will impact how people work and the types of jobs available. It will change the nature of some existing jobs, increase demand for certain jobs, and completely eliminate some existing jobs. All is not lost for those whose livelihoods will be altered, as they can explore ways to upskill and align themselves with the green economy. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), a green transition will create 8.4 million more employment opportunities for young people by 2030 if accelerated. In my opinion, it is worth sacrificing short-term goals and interests for a greater goal.”
Understanding the significance of green skills among young people is crucial in achieving a green economy. Without a doubt, green skills will catalyze the process. This will be achieved through raising awareness and emphasizing the relevance of green skills as the world transitions. Furthermore It is essential to recognize the role of different stakeholders towards this course. Stakeholders should be made aware that investing in skill development is mutually beneficial and will accelerate progress toward a green future.