It is an amazing fact that in the next 30 years there will be more youth completing their education than in all of history (Sir Ken Robinson quoting UNESCO at TED2006)! It is so amazing that it is hard to comprehend.
What does this mean for the future of the world? Does it mean that the rate of acceleration of innovation and discovery will increase radically? Or does it mean that we will have a lot of people with a significant education looking for a lot of jobs that are not there?
I personally think it is our biggest hope for solving some of the seemingly intractable problems we face today -- problems like what to do about climate change and an epidemic of obesity.
I imagine a world where these youth -- connected via the Internet, technology savvy, born with a smartphone in their hand, dressed in the same denim, listening to the same music, more connected to each other than to their governments -- as an unstoppable force. I see them able to solve anything especially since they are still evolving their patterns of behavior. And, since our collective behavior seems to be one of the biggest hurdles to solving problems of the magnitude of climate change, influencing their behavior is probably one of our biggest hopes -- for they are next year's majority in an increasingly democratic world.
What also seems to be true is that we do not have to work hard at convincing them of these problems. They already have heard about them and just as we might have fought to eliminate racial prejudice or for women's rights in our time. They are coming to terms with the fact that we have left them a world in which we are gobbling up resources faster than we can replenish them. One that will grow in its use of energy and that, that energy will have to come from cleaner, low-carbon sources. They are starting to learn that the food we have encouraged them to eat and the drinks we offer them in the dispensers in their schools, are by and large no good for them.
That is why we have started to work to mobilize this force for good and in particular to move us to a sustainable world. They are our hope. They will help reshape a world and build political systems that can deal with problems that cross boundaries because they know no boundaries. I see them as carbon savvy warriors. I see them inventing new ways to do things that pollute less. I see them being kinder to our planet than we were. I see them as knowledgeable of the impact they have and conscious of how to keep it low and still live well. I see them united and oblivious of geographies. And, I see them reversing the trend of poor nutrition that we have created.
Our hope is to assist this emerging force by providing them with the tools that help them measure, compare and share their collective impact. I see our mission as changing the incentive systems that guide their behavior. The rest will follow.