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Climate change and racism: The UK’s youth are out to make a difference

  • Two in five (40%) 18-to-25-year-olds feel that money is the biggest barrier stopping them from acting on causes they are passionate about
  • The University of Law has launched a £5,000 fund designed to empower students to tackle issues

New research has revealed climate change tops the list of world issues the UK’s youth wants to address in 2020.

The study, conducted by The University of Law (ULaw), asked 18-25 year-olds which causes and issues across the globe are most important to them at this time, and where they would like to make a difference. The research comes as ULaw launches its Change the World Fund, an initiative launched by the university offering £5,000 alongside mentorship, to empower its students to affect change, be that through lobbying, a charitable initiative or a new business venture.

When surveyed, a quarter of Generation Z1 (24%) said they are most passionate about climate change, an issue that has become even more prevalent within recent years with the campaigning from Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg.

Additionally, more than a fifth (21%) of UK 18-25 year-olds would like to have a positive impact on racism and 14% of those surveyed said tackling poverty was important to them. 

The top five issues 18 to 25 year olds would like to change:

  1. Climate Change (24%)
  2. Racism (21%)
  3. Poverty (14%)
  4. Child health and education (6%) Gender equality (6%) Terrorism (6%)
  5. Major global health issues (e.g. communicable diseases) (5%)

Outside the top five, other causes identified by 18 to 25 years-olds include water scarcity (1%), habitat and biodiversity issues (2%) and LGBTQ+ rights (4%).

As well as highlighting the issues most important to them, nearly half (47%) of young Brits agreed that people in their age group are the ones who can make the biggest difference in the world, with over a quarter (29%) of those polled believing that they can make a difference.

Despite wanting to make a difference in the world, the UK’s youth are cautious of obstacles that could prevent them from doing so. When asked, more than four out of five (84%) 18-25 year-olds said they do not have the money or expertise to do more to change the world, and two fifths (40%) believe that money is the biggest inhibitor to them making a difference with causes they are passionate about.

As part of the university’s Change the World Fund, current ULaw students, and those preparing to start at the University in September, are encouraged to submit their ideas on how they can create change around a cause or business idea they’re passionate about. One winner will be chosen by a panel chaired by the university’s CEO and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrea Nollent and will receive £5,000 to invest in their initiative, as well as ongoing support and mentoring from ULaw faculty and alumni.

Professor Nollent said: “Our research has highlighted how important issues such as racism, climate change and poverty are to our younger generation, yet this generation clearly feels as though they don’t have a voice or a platform to make a change. Those issues are not UK-exclusive, so it’s very empowering to see that there are so many young people pushing for change across the world.

“The aim of our Change the World Fund is to help make a difference by finding those young voices amongst our students and encouraging them to use that voice, by sharing their ideas and thoughts on how we can help tackle issues such as climate change and gender equality.

“We’re hopeful that we can find some creative and innovative people and ideas from our campaign and, working together, we can change the world.”

For more information about the Change the World Fund and how to enter, please visit: https://www.law.ac.uk/landing/change-the-world-fund/