Arab Post-Millennials eager to tackle climate change and environmental challenges, global Masdar survey finds

Wednesday 16 November 2016
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar

Marrakech - MENA Herald: Climate change and environmental degradation are among the most important challenges facing Earth in the next decade, according to young people in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).

Global research conducted by Masdar – Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company – found that climate change ranked alongside terrorism, unemployment, the economy and education as one of the top concerns for MENA youth.

Unveiled at COP22, the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Morocco, the ‘Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey’ is the first global survey of the attitudes of young people aged 18-25 – the demographic cohort known as ‘Generation Z’ – towards climate change, sustainable development and renewable energy.

The landmark online survey spoke to nearly 5,000* Post-Millennials in 20 countries across five world regions: MENA, sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia. Countries were also classified according to their economic development as either developed, emerging or frontier.

Carried out earlier this year to coincide with Masdar’s 10-year anniversary, the survey offers a valuable insight into the thinking of tomorrow’s decision makers on the critical issues of energy and sustainability.

While a fifth (21%) of MENA respondents view climate change and the environment as one of the most important global challenges today, compared with a third (32%) globally, more than a quarter (26%) in the region overall, and 42% of Gen Z youth in Morocco, see them as critical challenges in the next 10 years.

Climate change and environmental threats were also rated above living standards, crime and law & order, and public health in terms of importance today.

Arab youth strongly agree that governments need to both ‘innovate and take risks’ (79%) to conserve the environment, while three-quarters argue that government and business have an equal responsibility to develop clean technologies and renewable energy. Meanwhile, 78% believe that government should be spending more to make renewables ‘more effective’ and ‘more accessible’.

Across MENA, 79% of young people either ‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ that ‘governments need to listen more to young people on sustainability issues’. And nearly a third (29%) said they have boycotted a company because it did not act sustainably.
“The UAE believes youth engagement is critical in our path to a sustainable future,” said His Excellency Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment. “The findings from Masdar’s Gen Z Sustainability Survey reflect the UAE’s leadership in advancing and creating awareness of renewable energy and sustainable development worldwide.”

“We cannot deliver on sustainable development without empowering our young people,” said Her Excellency Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Chairwoman of the Emirates Youth Council. “The Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey shows that our youth seek to lead change in sustainable development and the future energy economy. Government and the business community both have a golden opportunity to harness youth’s ideas, vigour and optimism.”

Her Excellency further emphasised the importance of youth research for future policy creation and decision-making.

The Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey interviewed 400 respondents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, and 300 across Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

The study reveals that while MENA youth are concerned about the environment, they are also confident that collective action can help overcome future sustainability challenges.

MENA respondents agree with their global peers that Post-Millennials and the demographic cohort known as ‘Generation Y’ (youth aged 26-35) have the most responsibility to find workable solutions to future sustainability challenges.

MENA youth also believe they are setting a positive example when it comes to environmentally responsible behaviour, with nearly two-thirds (59%) saying they are doing ‘more or much more’ than other people they know to be ‘environmentally active’. And UAE citizens are the most environmentally responsible of any youth surveyed, with 68% saying they are doing more than others on the environment, compared to the global average of 46%.

The study found that Post-Millennials in MENA trusted institutions (large businesses, national government and religious leaders) to act sustainably more than their peer group in other regions (59% versus the global average of 48%). Those questioned in the UAE had the most faith in their national government, with 72% saying they trusted their government ‘a lot’ to act sustainably, behind only China (86%) and India (82%) in the global study.

Around two-in-three youth in MENA would like to pursue a career in sustainability, consistent with the global average, but that figure rises to 75% in the UAE, a ringing endorsement of the country’s investment in the renewable energy and clean technology industries.
Overall, the Masdar Gen Z survey found that young people value the environment over financial gain, and believe public pressure and good education will further boost the adoption of clean technology.

“Despite perhaps the more immediate regional challenges of unemployment and in some cases conflict, these findings remove all doubt that young people across the Middle East & North Africa want to live in a greener, cleaner and more sustainable world,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).”

Commenting on the global Gen Z survey, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “We are pleased to see the high level of understanding of young people from right across the world of the importance of delivering a more sustainable future. Over the last 10 years, the clean energy industry is now one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic growth markets. As we look ahead, the findings of our global survey provide an important insight into the action required to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy and clean technologies. Today’s youth are the policymakers, industry leaders, technical experts and consumers of tomorrow – an audience with whom we and the wider energy and sustainability community must engage to realise a more sustainable future.”

Related News