We are used to seeing panels of experts who, at the request of governments, institutions or international organisations, produce detailed and specific reports on the most diverse subjects. These reports are often hard for laypeople to understand, sometimes even wilfully obscure.
But what happens when young people request a technical scientific report?
Every week the young people of Belgium’s Youth for Climate hold climate demonstrations. As long ago as January 2019 they sent a letter to researchers and professors in Belgian universities with a request to carry out a very specific study:
Young people have underlined the urgency of the climate crisis, but we are too young to provide all the solutions on our own. That is why we ask you to form an expert group. We urge you to let us, as well as to policy makers, know what scientific solutions exist to end the climate crisis. With these solutions, Youth For Climate will attempt to accelerate an ambitious but responsible climate transition towards a promising and liveable future. “
Their request did not fall on deaf ears. More than 20 researchers answered the call and, with the contributions of more than 50 expert consultants, by May 2019 had produced a report of around 120 pages.
“This report by the Panel on Climate and Sustainability is not a scientific report filled with precise calculations of the various possible solutions. Within the limits of time and resources, we have made an effort – based on what existing science teaches us – to bring together a series of ingredients that will hopefully give policymakers the inspiration to tackle the climate crisis resolutely and effectively. Everyone has a role to play. Scientists need to establish the facts and their consequences as precisely as possible. It is up to politicians to define the framework and make choices. Citizens, organizations and businesses, for their part, must also take their responsibilities. There is no argument to justify postponing the challenge any further. We know enough to act now.”
We applaud this initiative, which places in the hands of young people the tools to decide their future. In addition, it sets out the problem of climate change from the global to the local by way of the European, national and regional contexts. It is therefore a valid approach for all levels of planning. It is interesting to note that, to illustrate the results of the analysis, the report uses the Donut Economy structure set out by Kate Raworth in her book of that name.