Strategies to engage young people in climate decision-making: Perspectives from young Australians
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Deakin University, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University, Australia
Deakin University
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1596
Background and Objective:
Public health and health promotion communities globally are calling for young people to participate in decision-making that impacts their futures, particularly in relation to the climate crisis. Young people understand how political and commercial determinants influence climate action, and can provide recommendations for systemic and policy-based changes to enforce stronger climate responses. There is a need for strategies to strengthen young people’s engagement in climate discussions and decision-making, however there is little research to guide the development of this engagement.

Photo-Elicitation Interviewing was conducted with n=28 young Australians (aged 12-16 years) to explore young peoples perspectives of current influences on climate action, their ability to influence climate action, and suggestions for increasing their influence. Interview data were analysed using a reflexive approach to thematic analysis. Participant images were analysed for content and ascribed meanings.

Participants expressed the need for young people to have increased influence over responses to the climate crisis, particularly those by decision-makers. Participants highlighted the importance of developing interesting and practical advocacy engagement initiatives that balance information about the realities of the climate crisis with hope, and follow up with strategies to create action. They also described strategies and mechanisms to increase young peoples influence. This included being involved in research, collaborating with youth organisations, providing feedback to decision-makers, and higher level involvement such as engaging in parliamentary sittings. Finally, participants noted that due to their age, young people were reliant on “adults” and those with power to facilitate this engagement.

Young people are intelligent and compassionate, and recognise the importance of urging decision-makers to enact climate responses that prioritise health and wellbeing. Public health and health promotion must collaborate with young people to champion their voices, and develop strategies and mechanisms to embed their perspectives into climate discussions and decision-making.

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