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I’m Victoria, an environmental economist based in London. I am a member of the OECD Youth Advisory Board Youthwise for 2022, and I was invited to participate in the OECD’s Environment Policy Committee Ministerial "Environmental Policy in a Post-COVID-19 World: Ensuring a Resilient and Healthy Environment for All".
Climate change and environmental concerns are key challenges of my generation. By 2050, I will be well advanced in my career as an environmental economist—but the world will be a very different place.
Young people today will be more affected by the climate crisis than anyone before. Every year that passes is time we will not be able to get back.
We are counting on you—our governments—to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions. We call on you to make the necessary financial investments in our environment today, to go beyond just words and so-called green washing.
We also call on you to invest in us. Young people like myself are willing and ready to contribute to discussions on how we can solve these issues, and to become the change-makers. We have the energy and talent. We call on you to help us build our skills and capabilities, including through investing in our communities.
Back in my home city of Philadelphia, I worked at the department of Parks and Recreation where large investments from environmental budgets have been put toward creating green spaces. I saw beautiful pitches to play sport. But I also saw on the periphery of the city a youth centre, degraded so far as to be a safety hazard. There were no plans to invest in its upkeep. Yet it was the only public space young people could meet, safe from gang violence and drugs—even if they had to dodge falling ceiling tiles. It was a key place for community cohesion and rehabilitation.
Read more: Holistic Environmental Policies Have the Opportunity to Address Health Disparities. Here’s How. by Amadou Diarra, Ph.D. Senior Vice President, Global Policy & Government Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb
We need to focus our investments on people and build real social networks, which are critical to young people’s social and economic development: equipping them to make a difference is how we can make the net-zero transition a reality. That is how we can protect our future environment—not just by investing in parks and green spaces.
There are many young adults like myself—dodging falling ceiling tiles, trying to bring cohesion to our communities, addressing the climate challenge—so that we and future generations may benefit.
I ask governments to listen to us and work with us: we know what our generation needs, now and for the future.
The OECD Environment Ministerial took place on 30-31 March. Learn more here!
Find out more about the OECD's Youthwise project