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UN youth climate advisors urge green jobs-led COVID-19 recovery

The need for greater investments in green jobs is at the top of the youth climate agenda for 2021 according to a new report, compiled by the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and published on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.

Vladislav Kaim
Vladislav Kaim, a member of the Youth Advisory Group

According to the youth advisors, there is increasing anxiety among “Generation COVID” about the dual climate and the youth unemployment crises, combined with a lack of prioritisation in COVID stimulus packages of green jobs and a just transition to a resilient, net-zero emissions global economy.

The summary report was compiled by the first official youth advisors to the UN Secretary-General on climate change and presents the top climate concerns for young people and the most urgent actions needed by world leaders in 2021.

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The report emphasised that:

  • Investing in green jobs and training, and empowering youth entrepreneurs is critical, as is holding decision-makers to account and prevent “greenwashing”.
  • Polluter bailouts with public money are causing widespread anger among young people and must cease.
  • A just transition to a net-zero emissions future is essential, including for communities that currently rely on fossil fuels.  Instead of bailing out polluters, governments must provide resources to reskill affected workers.
  • Indigenous people and local communities must have their rights respected and enforced, and be included in climate action decision-making, so their traditional knowledge can be harnessed in the fight against climate change.
  • The need for climate education, including diverse perspectives, is crucial for climate action, including LGBTQ+, indigenous and traditional people, people with special needs, and refugees and displaced persons.
  • Protection of forests and ecosystems is essential, as is recognising the potential of oceans to tackle the climate crisis, including through a global network of ocean sanctuaries. Laws must be strengthened, and violations punished, under international law.
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 “The report shows that the climate and health crises are unfolding together with the youth unemployment crisis, and there is a lot of concern that green jobs and a just transition are not being prioritised in COVID stimulus packages. Many young people are worried that progress on these fronts can be held back by greenwashing,” said Vladislav Kaim, a member of the Youth Advisory Group.

The report follows an extensive consultation process with young climate leaders from all regions on the Secretary-General’s calls to broaden the global coalition for a net-zero emissions future and recover better from the pandemic to drive forwards all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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The summary report – including other priority concerns and calls-to-action – can be seen here.

The Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change was established in July 2020 by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to provide frank and fearless advice on the implementation of the Secretary-General’s climate change strategy for 2020-21.

It consists of seven young climate leaders and activists, drawn from all regions of the world.


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