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Youth climate movements only get 0.76% of global climate philanthropic funding

December 9, 2022

Students and young people worldwide are leading responses to the climate and ecological crisis, and their ambition and energy has pushed forward the political agenda and resulted in wins for the climate movement at local, national and international levels. Words such as, ‘dynamic’, ‘innovative’, ‘passionate’, ‘influential’ are used to describe youth climate advocates, and the campaigns and projects led by them, as they push the boundaries that others are not bold enough or optimistic enough too. Yet, youth climate movements only get 0.76% of global climate philanthropic funding from the largest climate foundations.  

For meaningful youth leadership, youth climate movements need funding. They need to be able to develop local projects, create opportunities for youth engagement, be present in global decision-making spaces, and to participate in, and shape climate agendas at all levels. On top of struggling to receive funding for the delivery of campaigns and projects, young people and students are rarely offered financial support for their time, travel, and sharing of knowledge, insights, emotions and experiences.  

We need to see more donors, particularly from the largest climate foundations, putting their trust in young people and funding the amazing work they lead. Leadership on this, at this level, will also encourage organisations to pay and provide expenses for young people for their work, and significantly increase participation at events.  

Meaningful volunteer roles for young people are incredibly valuable in supporting personal and professional development in a range of ways. At SOS-UK, our student staff roles can involve greater responsibility than may be expected of a volunteering opportunity or the roles may require a specific skillset and expertise, and we recognise this by paying all student staff on our campaigns at the UK Real Living Wage. Student staff have shared how this has enabled them to further their formal education whilst campaigning and payment for their work “really shows that the organization values the individual and engages more [of] the team (it creates a sense of responsibility).”

Thank you to our funders who have contributed to our programmes and campaigns, enabling young people to learn, act and lead for sustainability. Below are some of the outcomes of Teach the Future and Mock COP over the last year which this funding has enabled to happen:

Teach the Future

Mock COP

Read more from the Youth Climate Justice Study on why youth-led climate justice movements deserve more attention from funders.