The Youth Green Summit was held in Riyadh on October 24.
The second day of the inaugural edition of the Saudi Green Initiative forum was entirely dedicated to youth. On this occasion, young decision-makers and students from different sectors related to ecology met for a day of exchanges, debates, and workshops, in order to prepare a future in which they still want to believe.
“If you leave it to the youth to lead, they will surprise you because they are quite capable of achieving their goals. With this statement, Mohammed Alkhalid, the CEO of Nabatik and one of many young leaders invited to speak at this green youth summit, set the stage for the day. “The important thing is to manage to change the tone of the discourse to make the youth feel more involved.”
The point raised by the man who is now at the head of one of Saudi Arabia’s finest nuggets (the company offers digitalization solutions to facilitate tree planting) is not to be overlooked. Indeed, according to Hamad Al Draye, moderator of one of the morning’s plenary sessions, 67% of young people talk about climate change at least once a day. Yet, according to his figures, only 2% of them take action.
So how do we get everyone to take ownership of these issues? According to Julian Olivier, CEO of Raleigh International, it’s all about making the right connections and having the right experiences. You don’t become an activist overnight. Or as the saying goes: “Practice makes perfect”.
And the message found more than one attentive and benevolent ear among these young people, convinced that they each have a role to play in the paradigm shift that is taking place in our societies, at their own scale. Use of social networks, reduction of food waste, carpooling, no subject is swept under the carpet. “If you want to change the world, start with yourself. You are all leaders, it’s up to you to impact your family, your friends, your surroundings. Big challenges are solved by small solutions”, said Mohammed Alkhalid. A contagious feeling of responsibility.
Concrete solutions to help visualize and project
After a rather “top-down” morning (which does not detract from the richness of the conference program and the panel of speakers, the place was left to action, as if to echo the climate emergency in which we find ourselves). And since it is no longer time for speeches, the young people -students and professionals alike- were divided into groups to carry out workshops on different themes, such as the preservation of marine life, reforestation, or land rehabilitation.
The most prominent was undoubtedly the competition between 17 groups of young people on the EN-roads tool developed by MIT. According to Laurent Richard, the Director of Albedo who supervised the participants, this tool allows stimulating decision making around key issues of society such as agriculture, industry, or deforestation. To do this, the tool places users in front of real-time simulations, predictions of the environmental impact of these decisions, such as the increase in temperature or sea level.
At the end of the competition, the four groups that finished first managed to find a mix that would allow them to enter the framework of the Paris agreements, that is to say a temperature increase of less than two degrees by 2050. A concert by the singer and sustainable development activist AY Young closed the day.