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Accelerating the Energy Transition: A Youth-Led Approach

By Shakti Ramkumar


Accelerating the Energy Transition: A Youth-Led Approach

This week, world leaders are gathering for the UN Climate Summit, where they’ve been asked to bring plans, not speeches. At Student Energy, we couldn’t agree more. We’ve spent the past decade speaking to and working with with thousands of young people from over 100 countries, and we continue to hear that the climate crisis is not prioritized as it should be, and that young people are often not meaningfully engaged in developing and implementing climate solutions.reducing our greenhouse gas emissions at the pace needed to address the climate crisis.

We’ve also spent the past decade working to change this by empowering young people to take action on energy, because transitioning the world’s energy system away from fossil fuels is a crucial part of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions at the pace needed to address the climate crisis.

Despite coming from incredibly diverse backgrounds, young people around the world share many of the same goals and sense of urgency on the energy transition. They are calling not just for a clean energy transition, but a just and inclusive one that centers Indigenous rights, fights economic inequality, and champions ecological protection. Young people are willing to take on these complex challenges and collaborate to implement innovative solutions in their communities, but they often lack the financial support, professional networks, and accessible leadership skills development programs that are necessary to enter these new career streams.

To tackle both of these challenges simultaneously (amplifying young people’s perspectives, and addressing their barriers to taking action), Student Energy is launching two new global initiatives at the UN Climate Action Summit: 

Global Youth Energy Outlook

The Global Youth Energy Outlook is designed to be the definitive tool for understanding what today’s youth, 18 to 30 years-old, want for the future of energy, and what resources they need to help achieve this future. Focused on the energy transition through 2030, the Youth Outlook will provide a future energy scenario and include timelines, roadmaps, policy recommendations and pathways for the private and public sector to partner with young people. The Global Youth Energy Outlook will be designed from the ground up by engaging Student Energy’s global network of 50,000 youth, along with a diverse set of research partners and energy leaders.

Student Energy Leaders Fellowship

In preparing to create the Outlook, Student Energy is piloting a unique program that aims to demonstrate how young people can help accelerate the energy transition when given access to the right resources and support networks. The Student Energy Leaders Fellowship is a 10-month program that consists of two online education tracks (Energy Systems Knowledge, and Future Work Skills), paired with a group practicum project where participants will apply their knowledge in tangible energy projects in their communities. Participants will also have access to leading energy experts as mentors, and sessions with professional coaches throughout the program.

To create an environment for real systems change, we need to do things differently. Both of Student Energy’s new initiatives, Global Youth Energy Outlook and Leaders Fellowship, are built on our core principles for youth engagement:

  • Accessible and Inclusive: Unlike many leadership development and accelerator programs, the Leaders Fellowship will have no cost to participate, making it more accessible to diverse groups of youth. We are also ensuring that we work in partnership with a representative body of youth to include historically underrepresented voices in energy.
  • Intergenerational: Leaders Fellows will not only work with their peer groups throughout the program, but will be partnered with mentors and community partners who are established leaders in the field, to foster intergenerational, two-way knowledge exchange. The Global Youth Energy Outlook will mobilize intergenerational collaboration by offering clear, tangible pathways designed by youth for public and private actors to work meaningfully with them to accelerate the sustainable energy future.
  • Youth-Led: Like all Student Energy programs, the Global Youth Energy Outlook and Leaders Fellowship are designed and implemented by and for young people.

As youth voices take center stage this week, we urge government and industry leaders to reflect on these principles and apply them to their own work.


About Student Energy

Student Energy is a global non-profit empowering young people to accelerate the sustainable energy transition through a variety of initiatives, including 40+ global university-based Chapter, a digital Energy Systems Map that reaches 2 million users annually, and hosting the international Student Energy Summit, the largest student-led energy conference in the world. SES 2019, held in July in London, UK was the sixth Student Energy Summit, with previous Summits taking place in different regions of the world ranging from Bali, Indonesia to Trondheim, Norway.

Student Energy operates on a unique youth empowerment model, which means that our initiatives are co-created with young people, for young people. Student Energy has consistently found that when young people are empowered to take action on energy and have access to decision-making spaces, they work to raise ambition through intergenerational collaboration.