When I was born there were only 2.6 billion people on Earth. Now, 7.5 billion share our beautiful world. While it’s a very exciting time to be alive and moving into adult life, there are some changes to the world that have come with this growth, particularly human-induced climate change, for which I on behalf of my generation and previous generations must apologise.
The environmentally, socially and economically just world I’m fighting for today is your world of tomorrow. The immediate need to address climate change is what drives me most. If we don’t act now to reduce our use of fossil fuels, plastics and other harmful substances and transition to clean energy, public transport and more innovative recycling, your world of tomorrow will become unliveable.
For my children, for my grandchildren and for you, I want a world that not only exists, but exists as a liveable, sustainable and equitable place. A place where people can thrive alongside the natural world, not fight it to survive at any cost. As a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, every day I focus my work on social justice, the care and protection of our environment and the need for government spending to consider how it benefits the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society.
Not all of us will be a ‘leader’ in this public way, and the leadership we show in our personal lives is just as important. You can show leadership and courage in your daily life by speaking out about the injustices you see to your friends and family, and taking action to addressing them in your local community. In this way, you can make change within your sphere of influence—it all adds up.
Despite the challenges we have left you, I’m confident that you will take the world you have inherited and shape it for the better. One way to start is by identifying something you’re good at or enjoy—maybe you’re handy with computers or a strong writer, love having a chat or kicking around a ball with kids—and offer this skill to help someone else. Your knowledge, abilities, networks and confidence can only grow, and with them your strength as a leader.
With your access to knowledge and skills, you have the opportunity to be kinder to our planet and more respectful of its amazingly diverse people than previous generations were able to. So go for it!
Caroline Le Couteur