Element - - Solar -

An in­fu­sion of youth­ful en­ergy is trans­form­ing de­bate on is­sues like cli­mate change and Auck­land’s trans­port fu­ture.

Gen­er­a­tion Zero, a na­tional youth-led or­gan­i­sa­tion cam­paign­ing for ac­tion on cli­mate change, is prov­ing par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in build­ing grass roots coali­tions and get­ting ac­tion.

An ex­am­ple that caught the at­ten­tion of SBN Award judges was the Con­ges­tion Free Net­work Cam­paign, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Gen­er­a­tion Zero, Trans­port­Blog and The Cam­paign for Bet­ter Trans­port. The cam­paign caught the eye of the Green Party, which in­cor­po­rated it into pol­icy.

As New Zealand’s trans­port net­work makes up over 20% of our to­tal green­house gas emis­sions and almost 50% of our to­tal car­bon emis­sions, cre­at­ing a trans­port sys­tem that is more ef­fi­cient, cost-ef­fec­tive and sus­tain­able has huge im­pli­ca­tions in cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able na­tion.

Gen­er­a­tion Zero’s role in the cam­paign was to com­mu­ni­cate to the gen­eral pub­lic in a way that was en­gag­ing, in­for­ma­tive and built pub­lic support for the vi­sion.

The strat­egy in­cluded mass vol­un­teer mo­bil­i­sa­tion, net­work-based cam­paign­ing, me­dia en­gage­ment and pub­lic ad­ver­tis­ing. The cam­paign reached more than 150,000 peo­ple di­rectly through con­ver­sa­tions, fly­ers, posters, the web­site, ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia en­gage­ment, and gen­er­ated more than 100 ar­ti­cles across main­stream print and broad­cast me­dia.

Vot­ers re­sponded by elect­ing to the Auck­land Coun­cil and lo­cal boards sev­eral can­di­dates who cam­paigned for the Con­ges­tion Free Net­work.

So­lu­tions and strat­egy re­searcher Alec Daw­son says Gen­er­a­tion Zero formed after sev­eral in the group in­clud­ing him­self went to an in­ter­na­tional young na­tion cli­mate change sum­mit in 2011 and recog­nised the im­por­tance of hav­ing a strong youth voice on cli­mate change mat­ters in New Zealand.

“In any area like this where you are push­ing for so­cial change or try­ing to af­fect the po­lit­i­cal process you need to be in for the long term. Build­ing com­mu­ni­ties at the lo­cal level work­ing on th­ese is­sues is im­por­tant for longevity.

“Also, peo­ple – and es­pe­cially young peo­ple – are a bit over talk­ing about the prob­lems, they want to fo­cus on so­lu­tions. So many peo­ple get it and want to know what they can do to help.”

This award was spon­sored by Con­ver­gence.

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