Linda Poon is an assistant editor at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
A global film competition through the World Bank asks young people what climate change means in their lives.
To help drive forward the climate-change conversation, the World Bank has reached out to a group of people whose futures will be most affected by warming temperatures: Millennials.
Connect4Climate, a group within the World Bank that focuses on climate change solutions, launched a global film competition earlier this year challenging people between the ages 14 and 35 to weigh in on their experiences by making short videos. By the time the Film4Climate competition closed last week, more than 800 videos had been submitted from more than 150 countries, including Laos, Kenya, Germany, and the U.S. Winners will be chosen by a panel of climate change experts and professional filmmakers, including the former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and the Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
“What we found is that young people are very much aware of climate change,” says Max Thabiso Edkins, a climate change expert at the World Bank. “They've grown up with climate change.”
Whatever happens over the next few decades—cities sinking, the air becoming increasingly unbreathable, more frequent weather disasters—young people know they will be bearing the brunt of climate change. One survey on Millennials in the U.S. estimated, for example, that climate change will cost the generation as a whole $8 trillion over their lifetimes. Between a lack of clean water, the spread of diseases like Zika, and other climate-related health problems, some Millennials are already feeling the consequences.
Edkins calls the competition a “global snapshot” of what matters most to Millennials around the world. More than that, though, the videos offer a raw glimpse into the lives of young people everywhere—their cities, their communities, and the particular challenges they face there. Rawe, for example, lives in a bustling city in Tunisia that struggles with its over-consumption of water. In Nigeria, a young man concerned about a lack of awareness about the impact of climate change asks a few friends to join him in spreading the message. As the group rides through the neighborhood on their bikes, you see the teeming roads that cyclists, cars, and pedestrians share.
“It's been very exciting to see the range of films we've gotten,” says Francis Dobbs, a documentary producer and the media coordinator at Connect4Climate. “They do really ... show how young filmmakers are thinking about what we all have to do [to combat climate change].”
“It's very much a collective voice,” he adds.
For some, the competition is a chance to flex their creativity. Submissions cover a range of cinematic styles, including stop-motion animation, music videos, and clever shorts. In the short below from Algeria, water wastefully flows from hoses and faucets and water bottles. But in a twist, viewers find that all that water is actually going somewhere useful:
Other contributors took the opportunity to show viewers what climate change has already done to their cities. In “My Lagoon,” 16-year-old Andrea Aspront Lopez introduces viewers to a lagoon she’s grown up with in her Mexican town. “This is how it started: It was clear, beautiful and full of life,” she says in the video, holding up an old photo of herself in front of the lagoon. “And this is how it is now. It's still beautiful and full of potential, but it's filled with pollution—and so is the rest of the world.”
“We rattled with the balance of this planet,” she continues, “and now we have to fix the damage.”