Happy Youth Day, South Africa: now go and make your mark on the future

Originally published on 350Africa.org on June 16, 2015:

Youth Day is my favourite public holiday in South Africa. It marks critically important events in our history, but is also the perfect moment to look to the future.

Society would like to tell me I’m nearing the end of my youth (although I once saw a ‘young leader’ who was 32, so I might still have some time), and perhaps that’s why I’ve started to believe we’re enjoying, and sometimes missing the opportunity to be the most prominent and influential generation of our time.

Clean energy is quietly kicking fossil fuels out of the game, local activism is on the rise across the continent, and people are truly starting to hold dirty corporations to account for justice. Today’s youth, however far you extend that age classification, stands on the precipice of a brave new world.

The challenges we face today are also a unique opportunity to remake our communities in ways that are healthier, more locally self-sufficient, and honor traditional wisdom. We can get away from relying so heavily on sources of fuel and food that comes from far away, and instead grow more of our own food locally, ride bikes and public transit, depend on local energy systems like wind and solar, and create economies that aren’t as dependent upon limitless growth.

These types of solutions help create communities that are not only friendlier to our climate, but are also healthier for our lungs, our collective well being, and our standards of living.

350.org’s executive director, May Boeve, gave a cool interview when she was in Johannesburg recently, talking about the ways we can all get involved in the fight for climate justice:

The way things are is not the way things have to be. We are the future. Happy Youth Day, South Africa — go out there and make it your own.

(Featured image © Livemag.co.za)

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