Note: This is a freelance article from Gemma Grafton!
Education, education, education. It’s a mantra that is crucial to the ongoing financial, physical, and spiritual success of our species. As the planet faces the increasing threat of population growth and dwindling resources, the need to educate people about possible solutions is more crucial than ever before. The key to the success of education is to target young people, which is why young people’s organisations are so vital.
The reason it is so important to access younger generations, especially in the field of green energy, is that this is where the real changes are made. By changing attitudes and opening minds at a young age, ideas disseminate and spread far quicker than they would amongst the older population, who tend to be more set in their ways and less open to new ideas.
What Are the Big Challenges?
One of the key challenges facing the spread and adoption of green energy principles is developing the right skills among the future workforce. Increasing the number of green skilled people to drive new businesses, initiatives, and projects is fundamental to the success of green strategy according to the European Commission in a report on the future of the green economy.
According to the study, a vital part of the success of a green economy is the speed with which knowledge and new ideas are spread. As any advertising or marketing executive could tell you, the key to this is tapping into the energy and enthusiasm of the youth market. With the proliferation of social media, information can spread faster than ever before. If we want to grow the amount of people working in the energy efficiency sector or simply spread information, then targeting this demographic is key. A successful viral campaign can influence millions of people with relatively tiny budgets.
Strong Ideas Matter More
Capturing the imagination of young people through green projects can instill green principles for a lifetime. Encouraging young people to spread this information among their peers and to future generations will have a greater impact than any large scale marketing campaign to change existing opinion. We need to plan for the future, and a smarter use of technology is key to this.
Far too often young people want to be music or sports stars, but a fundamental shift in attitude could see them desire to be green entrepreneurs or doing what they can to make a better world. This has been the aim of the Solar Electric Vehicle Team. As reported in the MIT Spectrum Magazine, in just five days, the team raced their vehicle Eleanor 3021 kilometres from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the south.
The team’s aim has been to push innovation and technological progress but also to spread the word about their work, and their main focus has been on attracting the attention of young people to the project. In a similar vein, the Junior Green Engineer Programme is run by CLP Power Hong Kong and aims to educate young people about the importance of saving energy, as well as arousing interest in engineering. They organise workshops where they take 100 promising young engineers and students and educate them in the potential of green energy.
Not Just Tomorrow But Today
As well as informing young people about the potential for future green projects, it is also necessary to spread the word about what they can be doing today to limit their use of resources, save money on bills, or better utilise green energy. In the UK, organisations like Groundwork are helping to tackle large global issues like the economy and green energy at a local level. By giving young people the chance to learn new skills and understand how green innovation can change their future and that of the community around them, Groundwork is changing lives one step at a time.
Young people often respond well to role models, which is why using prominent people such as sports stars, musicians, and actors can be very effective. In the US, the Environmental Media Association turned to actress Amy Smart to help spread the news about supporting a clean energy bill through congress. This is an effective way of getting the ball rolling.