Business

ONE YOUNG WORLD SUMMIT: My generation can’t afford to be complacent about climate change

The annual One Young World Summit, which convenes the brightest young leaders from 190 countries and 250 organisations, takes place in Belfast this week, when Sir Bob Geldof will be among the speakers
The annual One Young World Summit, which convenes the brightest young leaders from 190 countries and 250 organisations, takes place in Belfast this week, when Sir Bob Geldof will be among the speakers The annual One Young World Summit, which convenes the brightest young leaders from 190 countries and 250 organisations, takes place in Belfast this week, when Sir Bob Geldof will be among the speakers

CLIMATE issues have been in the news almost every day over the summer with serious adverse weather conditions reported all around the world.

We have seen everything from record temperatures that sparked wildfires to serious storms causing widespread flooding.

Climate anxiety is definitely a thing for a lot of young people, particularly when we think of how our world will be in 20, 30 or 40 years. But while we’re all aware of the issues, for many of us, myself included, complacency means it’s not until it comes to our doorstep that it changes how we live our daily lives.

If I asked my friends, I think most of us understand the world is in a climate crisis, but we’d also hold our hands up and admit we aren’t doing much about it. Sure, I have a pang of guilt when I go to the shops without a bag for life. But it is easy to shrug my shoulders and think ‘I must remember it next time’.

It’s also easy for me sitting at home in Omagh, to believe that people in other parts of the world are the ones at the sharp end of this, not me. This isn’t true.

As a delegate at this week’s One Young World Summit in Belfast (www.oneyoungworld.com/summit-2023), where climate will be one of the key pillars discussed, I'm relishing being challenged, to learn more about the difference we can all make and to develop my own skills and awareness about climate issues.

I’m interested to hear the experiences of peers from other countries and also the expertise of the speakers. I want reassurance that we can still make an impact and to get ideas for practical things we can do in Northern Ireland and kick start my own journey.

Deloitte has made several public sustainability commitments and delivers a climate learning programme to all 330,000 employees worldwide. That matters to people of my generation.

Young people want to know that our employers, the companies we get services from and the brands we buy are taking sustainability seriously. We notice when they don’t. Deloitte has also included a default ‘sustainable delivery’ clause – ‘Clause Zero’ - in its client contracts to encourage the firm and our clients to deliver projects in a more sustainable way.

High inflation and cost of living pressures have undoubtedly made it harder for people who want to make ethical and sustainable choices but can’t afford to. Deloitte’s 2022 Sustainable Consumer report found that fewer consumers had purchased at least one sustainably produced good or service in the month before the survey. Encouragingly however, two in five globally still decided to buy green in a financially challenging year.

Progress on climate is not just about taking steps as an individual – it’s about collective consciousness. That’s why bringing young people together at events like One Young World is so important for the future.

:: Malachy McManus is a consultant at Deloitte in Belfast.