The aim of this study was to explore how young active global citizens understand their own role in achieving a sustainable future. Young people’s strong attitudes towards sustainability has been noted in the research for quite some time. However, this has until recently not been coupled with the idea of young people as critical agents of change. Limited research has addressed how the sustainable development challenges affect young people’s sense of themselves and their future, and until very recently, they had little voice in discussions of the problems.
Using a qualitative approach, the aim was to bring forth the young people’s own thoughts, experiences and perceptions. Nine semi-structured interviews was conducted to gain insight into the complexity of the young people’s reflections, with participants from six different countries. Furthermore, a focus group was set up to discuss the initial results from the individual interviews. This provided an opportunity for five of the youth to contribute both to the data production and the analysis.
The youth showed a deep understanding of the complexity of sustainable development, and had daunting views on the future if nothing happens soon. They all expressed a strong sense of responsibility, mainly due to the fact that they are aware of the injustices happening around the world. However, the individual experience of this responsibility differed. In broad terms, the youth describe their role as a small one, with little power and influence compared to other actors, such as government, companies and adults. However, this do not discourage the youth in believing that change is possible. They all share a strong sense of a generational bond, tying them together, supporting each other in the quest for a more sustainable future, a future where we survive, thrive even.