Thursday 09 September 2021
  • 75 per cent of young people around the world report having skills to deal with climate change in their communities – but 69 per cent have never participated in climate action.
  • Concern that voices of women and minority groups overlooked in current climate change policy.
  • 67 per cent of young people feel leaders cannot address climate change alone.
  • Consistent call for young people to be included in policy decisions.
  • More than half of young people in UK believe political participation to be an effective way to bring about change.

 Young people around the world unanimously consider climate change to be the biggest threat facing the planet but many struggle to engage in meaningful action and have their voices heard, a British Council report published today (9 September) has revealed.

 The Global Youth Letter Report surveyed more than 8000 young people aged 18-35 from 23 countries – including Brazil, India, Kenya, and the UK – about their perspectives on climate change. It found a strong, unanimous voice of young people on climate change across all 23 countries.

This research is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme, which aims to bring people around the world together to address the challenges of climate change.

25 per cent of the young people surveyed came from rural areas, which can be harder to reach, and 75 per cent from urban areas. 55 per cent of respondents were female. The report also heard from traditionally overlooked groups such as young people with disabilities, and those belonging to minority groups and indigenous communities.

In the UK, more than half of young people said  they believed that political participation was an effective way to bring about change, and regularly engaged in political processes such as signing petitions on key issues. They indicated that they were ready to engage with the global community to build their knowledge and capacity to support and advocate for green issues and policies.

67 per cent of young people across the 23 countries felt that their country leaders could not address climate change on their own. They raised concerns that the voices of women and minority groups were not reflected in current climate change policy.

The report found a consistent call for young people to be included in policy decisions. Young people felt that their involvement would ensure more innovative ideas for tackling climate change and would have a wider, more effective reach. The findings emphasised a clear need for policymakers to channel the passion and enthusiasm of young people in more practical and structured ways.

The report found that whilst young people are willing and keen to make meaningful contributions, many lack the opportunities to do so. 75 per cent of young people reported that they had the skills to deal with climate issues in their communities and 63 per cent said that they knew about the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). However, 69 per cent of young people across the 23 countries said they had never participated in climate change action.

Some of the barriers to youth participation in climate action include limited digital access, hierarchical social cultures that exclude young people, and a lack of access to training and skills development.

The report also highlighted the role and potential of digital channels as a tool for young people to tackle climate change, although acknowledged that the ‘digital divide’ that sees some people excluded from accessing the internet must be taken into consideration.

Young people unanimously viewed social media as an important platform to share messages about climate change with their peers, countering disinformation and influencing those around them. For young people in remote areas without internet access, television and radio can provide them with information about climate change instead.

The findings from the report have been used to write a Global Youth Letter, a plan of action setting out young people’s aspirations and recommendations around climate change. The letter directly addresses the policymakers and world leaders who will attend the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November. 

Young people are encouraged to sign the letter and pledge to tackle climate change, adding their own recommendations to be considered. The letter can be signed here: 

The Global Youth Letter launches at a virtual event today (9 September). Insights from the Global Youth Letter will inform ongoing discussions with policymakers in the run up to and during COP26.

 Kate Ewart-Biggs, British Council Deputy CEO, said: “Our report reveals the untapped potential of young people around the world to contribute towards action on climate change. Young people are the leaders and influencers of tomorrow and it’s essential that we provide opportunities for their voices to reach government leaders and involve them in the policy decisions that will impact their futures. Through the British Council’s Climate Connection campaign, we are drawing on our expertise in education, the arts, cultural exchange, and the English language to help young people find innovative solutions to the biggest global emergency we face.”

 The UK will host COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, from 1 to 12 November. The British Council is supporting the UK government's ambition for COP26 to be the most inclusive ever by using its global networks to inspire millions of people around the world to take action against climate change.

Notes to Editor

For media enquiries, please contact: Amber Mezbourian on +447542 269345 or at 

To learn more about The Climate Connection programme and campaign, please visit: 

The Global Youth Letter and the country statements are available on  

About the Global Youth Letter report

The Global Youth Letter on Climate Action is a call for action from young people globally, directly addressing the leaders attending COP26 – the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow, November 2021.

It is the result of a large-scale research exercise between the British Council and not for profit social enterprise Catalyst in Communities, who used a mixed methodology approach that included crowdsourcing to garner the views, experiences, and aspirations of 8,000 young people across 23 countries. 

Aiming to be as representative as possible in terms of gender, background, location and socio-economic status, the research team worked through global COVID-19 restrictions to amplify the unheard voice of the climate debate: today’s young people. Research for the report was carried out between January and March 2021.

The Global Youth Letter on Climate Action, and accompanying 8,000 Rising campaign, is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme, a global platform for dialogue, cooperation, and action, connecting millions of people through shared solutions to the climate crisis.

Young people are at the centre of this collaborative approach, as we support them to raise their voices, and gain the skills and networks to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, and through broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.