North Macedonia is in the process of revising its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). This consequential policy-related process has opened the door for the Ministry of the Environment and Physical Planning not only to recognise youth voices in setting climate-related goals, but more importantly to ensure that it is not a one-time conversation. The Youth for Climate gamified consultation platform we are launching today has been designed to help establish the baseline for long-term communication between the public administration and youth groups in North Macedonia.
In-depth conversations with representatives of youth groups in North Macedonia allowed us to recognise three pressure points vital to ensuring the quality and impactfulness of youth engagement in the Climate Promise. We have weaved them into the design of the Youth for Climate platform.
Establishing rapport with the use of interactive tools.
One of the key sources of disengagement is lack of trust in the lasting effects of the work done by individuals that results from broken trust between citizens and public administration (and to some extent NGOs). In North Macedonia, to quote the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, “Only 8% of young people have taken steps to solve a particular societal problem. 90% of the young people in North Macedonia have never been part of a civic/non-governmental organization or initiative that works on social issues, while only 20% of them can see themselves in the future joining one of the activities of a civic/non-governmental organization or initiatives.” Initiating a simple process of building rapport between the youth, public administration and NGOs is essential in ensuring the effectiveness of youth engagement in NDC design and implementation on a national level. What is more, WFD reports that “71% of the young people in the country think that online activism is more important than offline activism.” Given this insight, opening the dialogue through online channels appears to be the lowest hanging fruit. Gamifying the process should only increase participation and make the platform more engaging.
Broadening the conversation beyond the “climate niche.”
Whenever we approach the climate crisis and its mitigation as a stand-alone issue, there is a risk of developing irrelevant or toothless policies and tools. The Climate Promise should engage youth in a way that resonates with their everyday lives and struggles, with their individual futures, way beyond the environmental lens. That is why young people logging onto the Youth for Climate platform will have a chance to both read about several key trends impacting the future of North Macedonia and share their individual future visions of themselves as their communities.
Amplify constructive activities young people are performing seemingly without any relation to the climate crisis.
As the UNDP survey “Public Perception of Climate Change” shows, 65% of Macedonian respondents younger than 25 consider climate change as the most serious threat to society and believe that behavioral change on individual level is the tipping point for ambitious climate actions. 26.4% of Macedonian young respondents expressed interest in taking Climate Actions, admitting however to not knowing how practically they could be doing that. This is why we designed challenges that allow users to map already existing youth-led climate initiatives and list points of intervention that are of highest interest for the participants.
Youth-led climate activism is not a nuisance, nor is it a fringe phenomenon that will sooner or later fade away. It is a force, Zeitgeist and a vital resource that should be systemically explored as one of the key sources of transformational change in our societies. It is not easy to establish rapport and transparent feedback loops between public administration and often informal youth groups with distributed leadership. This is, however, not to say that we lack ways in which we can establish the baseline for this sort of long-term cooperation. The Youth for Climate interactive consultation platform we are launching is but one good example.