Cities are leading the charge against climate change, just as they are on many global challenges. In fact, more than 1,000 of them have committed to cutting climate emissions by at least 50 percent within the next decade. At the same time, the world’s young people, about 60 percent of whom say they are “extremely” or “very” worried about climate change, are increasingly at the forefront of climate action. Understandably, many mayors are eager to combine these forces—local and youth action—to drive their climate efforts to new heights. But so far, cities are struggling to engage young people in this work meaningfully, and at scale.
That’s why more than 150 mayors came together last month at COP28 in Dubai for a Bloomberg Philanthropies-organized Mayors Innovation Studio that zeroed in on strategies to help cities better engage youth in local climate efforts—not just as beneficiaries or champions, but as co-creators and implementers of new, more ambitious solutions. The approaches surfaced build on the energy and urgency of the world’s youth—all 1.2 billion of them—and can serve as guides for next-level climate work in cities everywhere by breaking from the mold of top-down community engagement.
As Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patricia E. Harris put it when she addressed city leaders at the Mayors Innovation Studio, “With a little help… city leaders are taking action to improve public health and contribute to the climate fight, while also engaging residents to ensure the solutions last.”