Millennials are over a quarter of the world population and 1 in 7 identify as activists and half of those say their activism is an important part of who

Excerpt from The Guardian, by Daisy Kendrick, 14 June 2017

Millennials account for 27% of the global population.  About 58 percent of global Millennials live in Asia, including a whopping 385 million in India—by far the largest domestic population of Millennials in the world, and accounting for 19 percent of the global generational cohort. The next largest regional concentration is in Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for about 13 percent of all Millennials.

Only 11% of the globe’s NGOs employ a designated full-time or part-time social media manager.  That means they’re losing the 28% of young people that use social media as their primary news source. It means they’re missing out on the 43% of millennials that are driven to make financial donations through social channels, the one in two who’ll share ideas with their friends online, or most importantly the one in three willing to donate their time.

Young people aren’t a “nice to have” when it comes to sustainability action and climate change. As 27% of the global population – how we choose to work, eat, drink and spend our money will change the whole ballgame.

Recent research demonstrates that one in seven millennials around the world identify as “activists” and half of those recognise their activism as an important part of who they are. It’s one of the many reasons the likes of Apple, Facebook and Goldman Sachs are prioritising their environmental focus despite Trump’s actions – they know it matters to their future customers and workforce.

While many headlines have been written about the eight-second attention span of the social media-obsessed, there is another way of looking at it – it’s also a highly developed eight-second filter.

This generation has more information thrown at them in a day than people living a hundred years ago would come across in a month. We’ve become highly adept at prioritising content, and when content is important, we engage and act.

Throwing budget at social media channels isn’t a fix-all – this campaign will also be led by the brands, businesses and communities that tackle the issue with creativity and innovation.

We’re probably locked into a planet that’s on track to warm by 2 degrees; temperature fluctuations are already causing widespread food shortages, unprecedented heatwaves and unpredictable weather.

The populations of small islands and developing states are faced with the prospect of becoming climate refugees, as rising seawater levels are threatening widespread flooding, contaminating drinking water supplies and destroying arable land.

My generation was born into a world where climate change is an immutable fact, not a theory to deny or accept, but a global threat, the effects of which we can see. We’ve got to make this the issue we tackle and overcome.

Take the United Nations Ocean Conference. It’s the UN’s first ocean-focused conference, and it has come at the right time.  Henderson Island, a tiny landmass in the eastern South Pacific was found by marine scientists to have the highest density of anthropogenic debris recorded anywhere in the world.

Videos of the 18 tonnes of plastic piling up on an island otherwise untouched by humans, shared millions of time across social media, are a visceral reminder of the consequences of our one-use throw-away attitude to plastic consumption.  Plastic is deadly for fish and marine life, threatening the food supply of the 1 billion people who depend on it as their principle food source and damaging the global food chain for us all.

The only way to seriously cut plastic consumption is by activating young people to bring about change. That’s change, not just as consumers, but as the people now entering management roles at the big businesses, manufacturers and retailers with the power to innovate supply chains and start evolving the world’s relationship with plastics and fossil fuels.  It might sound like an unachievable feat, but there’s good news. As the likes of Pepsi and Heineken have noticed (however controversial or limited their outputs) this generation wants to make change.

 

Daisy Kendrick is a 23-year old environmental campaigner and founder of We Are The Oceans