This is the fourth edition of the Youth Supplement to UNFPA's State of the World Population Report. This Youth Supplement addresses climate change and young people, through the lens of what impact climate change is predicted to have, and what that will mean for young people's lives, livelihoods, health, rights and development. The Youth Supplement explores these issues because the young people of today will be standing in the frontline in the coming decades, meeting the challenges posed by climate change.
As the Youth Supplement shows, young people will be dealing with the threats and opportunities of climate change whether they choose to do so or are forced to do so, and whether they like it or not. Some of the young people featured in the Youth Supplement have started their passage to adulthood with a strong interest in something completely different, but having identified the issue of climate change and realized how it relates to their lives and communities, they shifted their focus.
Young people all over the world are today standing up and calling for proper attention to climate change. They are both angry with scenarios that in some cases seem inevitable and confident that their contributions will make a difference. The young people featured in this report tell stories that give us a glimpse of what impact climate change might have on young people from different backgrounds and cultures, giving a deeper understanding of how the lives of young people will change, as the projected impacts of climate change arrive.
Climate change is not an isolated phenomenon; on the contrary it will affect young people in all aspects of their lives. The impact of climate change will in many cases be strongest in developing countries, and thus climate change poses a threat to development, as it risks hampering access to water, food, sanitation and security, among other things. Indeed, if we don't implement adequate responses to climate change, the long term realization of the Millennium Development Goals are at risk.
As more young people than ever before live in the world, on the eve of events that will affect them during their whole lives, capacitating and involving young people in the response to climate change is crucial. Poverty, discrimination and gender dynamics are all dynamics that will influence how young people carry out this task. Unless young people are equipped with tools such as education and health, including reproductive health, their empowerment, involvement and contributions will not be possible, or at least a lot less successful.