Lead organization: UNEP and UNESCO
Download: pdf of the report
Using a combination of printed guidebooks, media and educational outreach, the YouthXchange program engages young people on issues of sustainable consumption. In particular, the project highlights how sustainable consumption directly relates to quality of life, efficient use of resources (both human and natural), waste reduction, ethical issues, fair trade, and general equality issues.
- To raise awareness of sustainable lifestyles with educators, NGOs and youth networks
- To empower youth to take action on sustainable lifestyles
- The project also aims for implementation of measures that are tailored to meet cultural and local needs
The project has three broad phases, all implemented through regional partnerships with the private sector, institutional agencies and government:
- Translation, adaptation and dissemination of the YouthXchange guidebook. During this process, workshops are held to gather research and guidebook materials in consultation with a range of stakeholders. The YouthXchange guide covers the impacts of consumption, especially in social and ecological contexts, using illustrative case studies and accessible language
- Media outreach. This phase varies considerably across the regions. YouthXchange in the Philippines, for example, focused on participation in national TV shows and interviews in national newspapers that reached over a million people. In Bolivia and Peru, youth workshops were preceded by communications campaigns with posters and radio shows available on school and university campuses
- Workshops to train and engage youth leaders, NGOs and educators in the guide’s concepts. These workshops are aimed at launching a ‘train-the-trainer’ movement in each region
The overall YouthXchange project has been implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean, West Asia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines. In Latin America over 2000 youth leaders were engaged through the workshops and in the Philippines a bicycle tour reached up to 20,000 people in rural communities. The project is currently being adapted and implemented in northern African territories, including Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt.
The project provides a number of lessons for those looking to engage people on sustainable lifestyles:
- Form partnerships
Partnerships with influential networks and organizations in each region were found to broaden the reach of each YouthXchange project. YXC representatives in the Philippines, the Young Artists Fellowship for the Environment (YAFE), partnered with USAID Sustainable Energy Development Programme, the Reading Association of the Philippines, government agencies and universities.
- Foster social innovation
YouthXchange uses and connects local NGOs in 22 countries, this has nurtured a youth movement across regions. Facilitating connection is vital to create a movement that is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Know your audience
YouthXchange identified its audience at an early stage. The project engages young people through activities, channels and messages that are fun, personal and positive. They do this by looking at their audience’s aspirations and values and tailoring their messages so that sustainability becomes desirable to young people.
- Use creative and fun methods to engage
The project in the Philippines used a range of different creative and fun methods to engage young people. They launched media campaigns using celebrities, ran bicycle tours, held art exhibitions and theatre performances. The bicycle tour, for example, allowed the project to reach out to over 20,000 people in rural communities. Other mainstream methods of communication may have left them untouched.
Ms. Morgan Strecker - Morgan.Strecker@unep.org
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