Rob jetten  ontvangt klimaatmanifest van jongeen
Rob jetten  ontvangt klimaatmanifest van jongeen

Empowering Youth: A call for action in climate manifesto to Rob Jetten

How do young people perceive the climate crisis, and what do they think needs to be done to turn the climate tide? This question was at the heart of the climate manifesto that a group of scientists handed over to then-Climate and Energy secretary Rob Jetten on 11 June.

Radboud researchers Renske van der Cruijsen, Nina van den Broek and Levie Karssen contributed with their Green Gen Z project to the manifesto, which was created in collaboration with the Greenteens team (Utrecht University) and led by the youth platform YoungXperts (Erasmus University). The manifesto combines insights from these scientific studies with creative ideas and solutions from young people, intending to give young people a voice in the political climate decisions about their future.

The drive to take action

One of the manifesto's key insights is that the climate issue is alive and well among most Dutch young people (aged 12-28). About 75% of young people see climate change as a problem, and about 56% consciously do or don't do things in daily life to combat climate change, such as eating less or no meat, turning down the heating, or buying fewer clothes. Researcher Levie Karssen says: 'Young people who are very concerned about the climate take more action to combat climate change, but their well-being is also under more pressure. Taking action to combat climate change empowers young people, especially when done collectively.' Young people say they think it is vital that we work together as a society to combat climate change, both individually and collectively. They express that it would be motivating if companies and the government communicated what they are already doing to help the climate so that the feeling of 'we are doing it together' becomes stronger.

Reliable knowledge of climate change

Among young people who say they are less concerned with climate change, one reason is a lack of (reliable) knowledge. Young people report that climate change is hardly discussed at school and that most of the messages they see about it appear on social media. Researcher Nina van de Broek explains: 'Many young people want climate education to become compulsory at educational institutions, and indicate that if they knew more about the consequences of the climate crisis and about the impact they themselves can make they would take more action.' Climate education is most effective when integrated into multiple subjects. It is essential to learn about the climate as a crisis from social studies and not exclusively about the environmental aspect from geography, which is often the case now. This way, we give young people more insights into the climate crisis and how to deal with it.

Taking part in political decisions

Finally, the manifesto shows that young people want to be heard and taken seriously: to have a say in their future. Researcher Renske van der Cruijsen says: 'When we brainstorm with young people, we find that they come up with a lot of creative solutions to the problems they face, as in this case. But these ideas have difficulty really reaching policymakers.' Young people must include their perspective in policy decisions, for instance, through a generation test, to feel heard and presented in the policy choices that will shape their future.

Former minister Rob Jetten (party leader D66) said: 'I speak to many young people who are worried about their future because of climate change. The Netherlands is already dealing with heavy floods, hot summers and crop failures. Let that be a message to the new coalition: don't step on the brakes now. Let's do the climate job together now. That is good for the planet and for our wallets.'

View the manifesto here.

Contact information

Organizational unit
Behavioural Science Institute
Sustainability, Behaviour, Society