As Greta never ceases to remind us: today’s “young people” are those that carry the heaviest burden when it comes to climate change.
Indeed, these “young people” do not yet have the level of expertise needed to provide our global leaders with persuasive statistical evidence and dense academic research. In most cases, they lack the resources to measure increasing levels of CO2 emissions, its impact on rising oceanic temperatures, melting ice sheets, and causing sea level augmentation. Some are still in school. Learning about the water cycle. As it once was. Before the consequences of climate change took their toll on this fragile system. Nevertheless, today’s generation of youth is infinitely more aware of the dangers current human activity has in threatening the sustainability of their own future. As theorized Ester Boserup, threats to food security, mainly due to a rise in population, breeds innovation and creativity. Innovation from young entrepreneurs is perhaps, a result of increased awareness of the dangers of passivity. Youth entrepreneurship could be key to implementing the necessary economic and environmental strategies aiming to mitigate the impact of our globe’s changing climates.
Youth, Money, and Climate?
Consumer-driven economies are not a sustainable solution. The pressure to meet high demands for shifting trends, satisfying a general urge to consume and norms discouraging reusable clothing, define an international obsession with fast fashion. To nobody’s surprise, the dye and product manufacturing industries are, according to Word Atlas, in the top 10 most polluting industries in the world. A change in mindsets is undoubtedly required.
Models followed by the ESCP Europe Business School, stressing on developing a “beat business as usual mindset” encourage young entrepreneurs to “think about business from a sustainability perspective”. Social media platforms are an effective way to raise awareness about environmental issues, as well as drive green-oriented businesses. One of my favorite examples is Victoria Cassar, a 24-year-old artist and conservationist. She founded @trove_jewelry, an Instagram account promoting “jewelry made with reclaimed materials”. Entrepreneurship here enabled Victoria to use plastic pollution as a way to develop a business with the aim of mitigating the impact of plastic in her environment. Youth entrepreneurs not only have the awareness and vision for a safer and happier planet but have access to social platforms supportive of the creative space required for potential businesses.
Entrepreneurship and our ecosystems
Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat. Founder of The Ocean Cleanup at 18 years old and creator of System 001. A project estimated to clean up “50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years”. Ideas into action. This young entrepreneur could potentially secure the rehabilitation of one of the most intoxicated oceanic spaces on Earth. This means saving “more than 600 marine species”. It means recovering economic damages from affected businesses and tourism in neighboring countries. Indeed, Boyan encapsulates what Linda Zhang, in her TedTalk “Why schools should teach entrepreneurship”, characterizes as an entrepreneurial mindset: “where problems become opportunities to create new solutions.” In this case, problems created by plastic waste.
With the vision for change, an entrepreneurial mindset, and the necessary resources, young entrepreneurs have the capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change by using innovation as a tool to efficiently reduce, recycle and reuse.
By BizWorld UAE