Zero climate solutions without Gen Z

Young people have always been at the forefront of change, and society needs to prioritize nurturing them to become future environmental and sustainability innovators — across all fields. Doing this will require more than building their scientific and technological skills. We need to tend to climate change anxiety among young people, invest in K-12 climate education, and implement curricula anchored in environmental and sustainability literacy at all levels, which is crucial to shifting the behavioral changes that will be necessary to reduce carbon emissions. But to capitalize on our current window, educational institutions also must work intentionally to build a social infrastructure of belonging that enables individual confidence and collective agency in young people.

Column written by WWU College of the Environment Dean Teena Gabrielson