Young people around the world are prioritizing an intersectional approach to climate action, including the integration of gender, race, socioeconomic status and disability — with a goal to incorporate as many diverse voices as possible.

Ensuring the voices of youth and future generations are heard loud and clear is one of the objectives of COP27. To engage this group and ensure their perspectives are reflected across the climate agenda, COP27 will host ‘Youth Day’ on 10 November 2022.

Youth Day is intended to engage young people and ensure that their viewpoints are taken into consideration. It is an opportunity to highlight the priorities and challenges of young people and if done correctly, should encourage much needed dialogue with governments, business and society at large.

Mobilizing the next generation

The next generation is mobilizing at enormous rates to combat climate change and advocate for a just transition. This is reflected consistently in the media, and particularly through social media. Users on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, are convening and aligning on shared messages and campaigns. There has been an increase in widespread digital movements that highlight the need for a more holistic approach. But I’ve also noticed a great deal of climate anxiety and frustration amongst young people — including exhaustion from these forms of activism.

The question then becomes: how can we engage and enable young people — more specifically within the business world — in conversations around climate justice, in a meaningful way?

This is an opportunity for business to listen to their young people. And it’s critical that we turn these conversations into tangible action for a better tomorrow.

The role business plays in driving positive change

Young people are increasingly passionate about climate action — influencing decision making across several areas of their lives. As more people are opting to work for organizations that align with their values, there is an opportunity for business to listen, engage and empower their people to become real agents of change.

At KPMG, I have the great privilege to connect with young leaders across the global organization. I have engaged people who work across functions and are deeply passionate about climate action to understand how young people are mobilizing in their regions, how they anticipate this mobilization and their views and recommendations to engage business in the fight against climate change.

Next generation KPMG leaders from across the globe came together to share their views — here are some highlights from our conversations:

The numbers of climate pledges and sustainability reports are rising, so are emissions. This is not a healthy development, nor does it represent real change. It is important that COP27 helps establish common ground to tackle greenwashing and define a set of priorities towards a climate neutral transition.

Martin-Sebastian Abel
Senior Manager, Public Sector ESG Lead EMA
KPMG in Germany

In India, there is a growing awareness of the fact that climate change is a human rights and social justice issue which is playing an important role in bringing people together for climate activism and action. Increased social mobility, digitization, and the use of social media in particular are key enablers in spreading awareness and mobilizing young people for climate action.

Ananya Iyer
Associate Consultant, ESG
KPMG in India

The socioeconomic differences faced by African youth are likely to widen from climate change if no action is taken. Next-generation leaders are eager to make impactful changes and should come together by re-skilling and upskilling and be more conscious of a new integrated way of doing business and engaging in dialogue to advocate how climate change impacts people, the planet and overall prosperity.

Safiyya Dawood-Esakjee
Senior Manager, ESG Assurance
KPMG in South Africa

In the last few years, I have seen a huge increase of young people not just engaging in, but leading mass mobilization activities across Australia. Yet, there has been this portrayal that young people are only engaging in online activism, instigating support through the ‘like’ system. I couldn’t disagree more with this portrayal. I have seen the evidence of a generation who are impassioned enough to put boots on the ground to generate awareness and real action.

Chelsey Bondel
Senior Consultant, Climate Change and Sustainability
KPMG in Australia

I believe that businesses need to think about immediate and longer term ESG - related goals that underpin business objectives. Organizations need to think through and act on what the impact their business has on communities and the planet. What will be your legacy during these pivotal times? How can you reimagine your business and offerings to serve both people and planet for a sustainable future?

Eileen Silva-Tetlow
Manager, Corporate Sustainability
KPMG in the US

Listening to the voice of the next generation

There is a present need and opportunity for businesses to rapidly transform in light of changing regulatory environments — in a way that’s sustainable for future generations. And to do this, the voice of the next generation should not only be considered but heard, before taking action.

KPMG firms have the ability to facilitate dialogue amongst young people across borders, which then helps to inform conversations and objectives that can have a global impact.

Ways business can engage young people:

  • Value the youth perspective and view young people as experts, not simply as diversity tokens.
  • Invite young people to be a part of high-level and strategic conversations — consider creating a youth council of leaders.
  • Embed those voices into your organization and ensure that group is representative of the business — including gender and racial diversity.
  • Collaborate and ideate solutions with these people at the heart of the process.
  • Integrate their perspectives and long-term views of the future into core business strategy and implementation.
  • Invest in their upskilling, development and exposure as leaders.

Business has a critical role to play in climate action, and KPMG firms can play a big part in supporting clients and communities during this transition. Young people are the leaders of not only tomorrow, but today. Integrating their views and perspectives will be critical to a sustainable strategy for the long-term.

Together, we can draw from wisdom, seasoned and contemporary, to both imagine and implement a just transition for everyone.



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