Skip to main content

Youth Visions in a Changing Climate

Youth are a powerful force for change yet remain under-represented in decisions that shape how cities evolve, adapt or transform in response to the challenges of our time.

“The future is bright, gets brighter every day. I am the future and the future is me” (YNF Participant)

Our future is predicted to be urban. By 2050, more than half the world’s population will live in cities, with over a third of the global youth residing in Africa. Africa is set to experience some of the fastest urbanization and population growth rates, placing African cities and African youth at the forefront of global sustainability, resilience, and equity efforts. Youth represent a powerful force for change, yet remain under-represented in decisions that shape how cities evolve, adapt or transform in response to the challenges of our time.

Youth Visions in a Changing Climate aims to build resilient, safe, and inclusive futures in Cape Town, one of the world’s most inequitable cities. Using arts-based methods and experiential learning, this project amplifies the voices of urban youth. It connects young people in Cape Town from various communities through workshops, beach and urban waterway cleanups, and participatory mural development.

Our first YVCC gathering at Surfers Corner, Muizenberg. We walked along the beach to Zandvlei, picking up plastic, connecting with our surroundings, and discussing all things art, science and climate change.

The project culminated in a co-created mural at Three Anchor Bay slipway in Seapoint, transforming a neglected space into a vibrant slipway that ‘poetically’ bridges the urban and ocean realms. Despite aging fears that ‘graffiti is up to no good’, the Coastal Management team at the City of Cape Town were collaborators from the get go and with their support the YVCC offering was an injection of youthful energy, positivity, colour, music, and ceremony to the space. Over a few months in early 2024, the slipway was transformed from gray to fresh, colourful, and welcoming.

While the project focused on process, its true impact lies in community connections and personal transformations. Youth Visions in a Changing Climate is a dynamic, evolving process of interaction—among participants, their perceptions of the future, and their natural heritage. Though it might not have influenced any formal decision-making process (just yet!), the collective energy of our participatory effort lives on in a vibrant, living mural. This colourful creation offers passersby a glimpse of positive futures and invites them to step out of the gray and into the blue.

Mural coming together at Three Anchor Bay Slipway in Seapoint. (Photo cred: Theresa Wigley)

There is so much content that comes from these last 2 years of YVCC. Our project video, edited by members of Amava Oluntu, sums it up really nicely and gives some idea of the process that we all went through. More content can be found on @AmavaOluntu, @YouthNatureFuture, @TheBeachCoop and for more information, visit Youth Nature Futures.

I’ll end with a few highlighted quotes along the journey:

“We need to understand the social context to be able to understand ecological implications. For some people, for some communities there are other things are more important, like being safe, getting home without someone robbing me” YNF participant

“Graffiti brings out the potential that we already imagine. The unseen world that swims between us. The role of the artist is just to nurture that potential into being.” YNF Facilitator

“To be in one space with diverse people as they are, but they have to be in one place. They have to engage, they have to communicate. I think that is one powerful thing about the project.” Participant, YNF.

“How we think about the future informs our actions in the present and so art can provide spaces where negative, dystopian views of the future can be transformed by creating more positive visions and emotions linked to hope, solidarity, responsibility and care.” – CareCreative, HC360

“Art is a collective heartbeat, echoing the aspirations of the society we live in. By fostering public participation, we paint a vivid tapestry of awareness. In the brushstrokes of shared creativity, we illuminate crucial issues by inviting the youth to paint their vision for the planet, shaping a future where art becomes a catalyst for positive change and enlightenment.” Mak1one, HC360

Leave a Reply