International Youth Day: Green skills for a sustainable future

12 August 2023

Happy International Youth Day to the consumer advocates of tomorrow! We celebrate the passion of young people for building a better world, acknowledge the challenges the Next Generation face, and outline what needs to be done to support them to build a sustainable future. 

Major shifts are needed to reach net zero by 2050. Shifts that will impact our economy, systems, and everyday lives. Young people will be most affected by the changes, and face an uncertain future if the climate crisis is not addressed. 

Increasingly, young consumers recognise change is needed, and many are willing to make those changes. But global leaders across government, business, and civil society must come together to help young people become powerful agents for change in the green transition. That's why the United Nations has made 'Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World' the theme of this year's International Youth Day. The theme focusses on developing the 'knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society'. This means supporting young people to build the technical skills needed to support green jobs, technologies, and industries, as well as the everyday skills and awareness needed to live a sustainable life. 

To celebrate, we are spotlighting how Consumers International Members are helping young people prepare for the green transition. Below, two Members explain how they are working with young people to develop green skills as part of our global Green Action Week campaign. We spoke to Consumer Voice and Consumer Action and Civic Action Group. Both based in India, they are acutely aware of the importance of upskilling young people for a greener future - with the still industrialising country committing to net zero by 2070. 

Saroja Sundaram, Executive Director, CAG (India) 

Saroja leads CAG (India)'s work related to consumer protection, where she manages research projects on various consumer issues, counsels consumers on consumer complaints, and engages with relevant public agencies and civil society groups to address gaps in policies and practices.

'We need to help young people undo the mistakes of past generations'

CAG is proud to have taken part in Green Action Week for many years. This year, we are recognising the importance of upskilling youth to make a sustainable future a reality. 

From the small ways young people can replace single-use plastics in their lives, to sensitising youth to the harms of plastic pollution and the climate crisis, to maintaining an energy efficient home, our ambitious campaign aims to cover a lot of ground. During Green Action Week, we have got a wide range of activities planned. We will run workshops teaching kids how to throw a plastic-free birthday party. And we will bring our message directly to the community through street plays which will focus on the harms of single-use plastics. 

There are two reasons we have made green skills for youth the touchstone of our Green Action Week campaign. First, the youth generation has been born into a world where overconsumption and unsustainable habits are the norm. We need to help them undo the mistakes our generation has made. Second, young people can be powerful advocates within their homes and communities, making them a really important constituency to target. And by teaching young people practical skills, like how to install and maintain solar panels, we are giving young people a leg up in the green jobs market, where there is a wide green skills gap to be filled




Rinki Sharma, Projects Lead, Consumer Voice (India)

Rinki is projects lead at Consumer VOICE (India) and is the Green Action Week Ambassador for the Asia Pacific region.

'Harnessing the enthusiasm and creativity of young people can drive real progress towards sustainability'  

Amidst growing environmental concerns and the urgent need to combat climate change, engaging young people in energy-efficient practices is vital. We believe the next generation can be powerful change agents, and so our approach involves harnessing the enthusiasm and creativity of young people to drive real progress towards sustainability.  

Our Green Action Week campaign will use workshops which follow a 'training of trainers' model, focussing on empowering young minds and especially young girls. Through practical demonstrations, we'll showcase sustainable alternatives for daily energy consumption, like utilising natural resources and upcycled products. And by engaging young people through social media, we will spread awareness and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices. 

To inspire action during Green Action Week and beyond, we will share impactful stories of young energy efficiency trailblazers through Youth Ki Awaaz, a prominent Indian youth portal. Through videos and photo stories, we will spotlight their accomplishments, the hurdles they have faced, and what they've learned from their efficiency efforts. By bringing their stories to young people across the country, we hope to motivate readers to embrace sustainable solutions and reduce their energy consumption. 

What is Green Action Week?

Green Action Week is an annual global campaign running in the first week of October to promote sustainable consumption. It is funded by the Green Action Fund a grant scheme advancing sustainable development and reducing poverty, made available by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)and administered by Consumers International.  

This year, under the ‘Sharing Community’ theme, 27 Consumers International Members from developing and transitional economies have been awarded grants to implement projects such as helping shoppers switch from cloth to plastic bags, to addressing food sovereignty and hunger through sharing economies for surplus food.