Shaping the futures - 3 inputs

Shaping the futures

Click here for the online folder with presentations, resources and research from Gary Pollock, Aine O'Gorman and Pete's Chatzmichail's input from Thursday 24th March 2022.

Here is a summary of the main themes covered:

Research and future trends

It’s important to research and be ready for future trends as they come. The results of anything we prepare and develop now, will feed into a future picture. We should think where and how the results will be used in the future.

Foresight/horizon planning can be used to anticipate different futures.

For the research on well-being (Shaping the Future of Child and Youth Well-being in Europe), science and society were used as the two main axes along which to forecast four different scenarios of the future. By ‘storifying’ the scenarios, it can help the possible futures feel more real.

Examples of the four scenarios can be found HERE.


For the research project that was presented, well-being can be defined as 'quality of life', divisible into three main areas:

  • Happiness
  • Ability to cope
  • Contentedness

The research project aims to measure patterns overtime, and to identify which aspects promote well-being, and which ones inhibit it.


Why do some young people cope better than others? What works to support their well-being?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition is:

“The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

But how to define it as a wider concept related to youth work in today’s reality? The research for this is still in its infancy, although there is significant funding to find out more, and many projects currently working on it.

It’s an important concept that is becoming more and more needed, in times of crisis. And mechanisms to support it need to be put in place, ready for any future crises.


When a crisis hits, it provides opportunity to take stock, reflect, evaluate and improve things. It’s very sad that we need another war in Europe (on top of the ones in other places), to have to re-think the way we do our work.

Governments often look for a way to save money at crisis moments. Youth work can be a vulnerable sector where money is cut.

We should be wary of allowing one crisis to push us towards another.

To be ready for the next crisis, we need to be prepared in advance, to have tools, and to increase resilience.

Climate change is coming

It’s an indisputable fact. And it will be a shock. And young people will need to be supported to navigate through it.

Economies will be changing over the next 10 years. There are choices about how that change happens. We could be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a new reality. We could adjust policies and approaches for a greener society, but where injustices and inequalities are perpetuated.  Or or young people’s voices can be heard, they can be encouraged and educated so they are able to participate – we can work WITH them to create a better newer world.

Green as a transversal priority

Climate change education and justice should be put into your everyday work, no matter the project, topic, activity. Everyone should be including climate change action (including the basics about reducing individual carbon footprint etc) in everything we do.

It’s important to show young people why climate change is relevant to them. The media/information needs to be improved (and disinformation challenged). Education approaches should be weaved together and more joined up. Involving young people in policy issues and social change is vital.

There should be reflection and evaluation on our approach using a ‘green’ lens: are we helping or making it worse? Are we helping people become more resilient, or not? Are we making a difference to policy and moving our society in the right direction, or not?

Young people taking action

Young people are leading the way with climate change action; they are pushing more in new and different directions, they are the forefront of the change. There is a critical mass of young people who are not afraid to raise their voice.

Climate change will affect them most, but they aren’t old enough to vote to change the democratic systems.

Listen to them, support them and allow them to make mistakes. Their power comes from them being raw and emotional - their decisions coming from desire to have a lovely world to live in. our role as adults is to give them support to do that.


It’s becoming more important and more recognised to engage young people and make sure there are spaces for them to have their voices heard. There needs to be space in the conversation which is owned by them.

New policies should be designed with young people, as well as those with disabilities and from other minorities and other needs. Solutions must be co-created and co-managed.

There should be a child-centred society, talking to young people, listening to what they have to say, and including their needs in actions and policies.

It’s our responsibility as adults to support the voices of young people to be heard. It’s part of intergenerational justice, for adults to amplify their voices.

Move on from having a token voice of young people in a process. Support them with access to the space, into the conversation, and get them heard and influence decision making. We need to show that voices need to be heard.

Policies and regulation for climate change

Who decides on the strategies and policies? How can NAs help influence those? How can European Youth Programme events (such as the Youth LAB) link, build and help direct those?

Policies should include these three things:

  1. Adjustment in approach to reduce climate change impact (reduction in emissions, change of focus for economy etc).
  2. Justice for those most badly impacted by the effects of climate change (penalise the rich, support the poor)
  3. Support for those that have to adjust due to new regulations (transition to new economy)

Human Rights and Justice

Climate change is a justice issue to solve. It’s about human rights of everyone that is affected. We know that those in the global south are already being more negatively affected. This trend will continue, and it will be communities that are more marginalised in our societies too that will feel the effects of climate change sooner and harder as it hits.  Global citizenship education is the most important focus to be prepared for this and to do something about it.

We can reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our emissions etc – but we will still be living in the same world. There will still be the injustices and inequalities. If we want to build a cleaner and fairer world, then we need to change the focus of climate change to climate justice. 

Learning mobility should be upscaled to include climate justice. Mechanisms and funding need to be in place to make this happen.

Pandemic and marginalised youth

The COVID pandemic negatively affected young people and youth work. From the loss of work and income, to the reduced quality of education, to negative impact on mental health and well-being, to exclusion from the online spaces with lack of access/technology, there were many aspects that affected young people. And young people that were vulnerable were adversely affected more – those that were already at risk, fell further.

Marginalised youth will also be more impacted by climate change.

These are the voices that are not highly represented in movements and demonstrations against climate change (eg. Fridays for future have a high proportion of young people who have at least one parent with university education).