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We need the young to lead us to the future

09 Sep 2019

Later this year, I will be visiting New York for the first time bar a stop-off at JFK some thirty years ago. I’m in the process of planning my trip and was particularly interested to see Greta Thunberg recently arriving by yacht in the Big Apple following an ‘adventurous’ crossing of the Atlantic. In doing so, continuing her crusade in raising the issue of the importance of the climate change debate, which will be further emphasised in coming days. 

She has captured the attention of millions and gathered huge momentum as well as great social media interest in recent months with her campaigning and, in spite of her detractors, has been highly successful in generating public awareness of this critical global issue. I was particularly interested to see Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, supporting her and tweeting to galvanise our need to ‘deliver on the demands of people around the world and address the global climate crisis’ at this month’s upcoming Climate Action Summit.

It occurred to me that leadership amongst the young is even more important now than it has ever been. And I say this with first-hand experience from my involvement with the Duke of Edinburgh award charity which has at its heart the development of young people; taking them out of their comfort zones; making them believe in themselves; enabling them to learn skills and personal qualities which they may hitherto have not recognised in themselves and generally preparing them to be citizens for the world that they are entering and inheriting.

The skills that they achieve in the attainment of their DofE awards helps them maximise their own personal potential and will enable them to achieve life skills that they will draw upon throughout their lives and that will play a major part in them achieving in jobs and careers.

This last year in Wales, almost 6000 gold, silver and bronze awards were achieved and with almost 13,000 young individuals embarking on their Duke of Edinburgh journey the charity continues to make terrific progress. It is worth noting that 26% of those on the journey are from disadvantaged backgrounds, this really is an opportunity open to all

I am particularly proud to chair the DofE Business Ambassadors’ Group and am incredibly encouraged by the willingness of businesses throughout Wales to support the amazing work of the charity. 

So, whether it’s youngsters with a global voice like Greta, or the countless thousands of young leaders of tomorrow dedicated to making a difference to their society, we will need the skills, vision and ambition for Wales, and the world, that the future generations are learning now. 

I won’t be sailing across the Atlantic, sadly, when I visit America later in the year, but like many others, I am doing all I can to address climate change at what is, undoubtedly, a tipping point in world history. 

Robert Lloyd Griffiths is the director of the Institute of Directors in Wales.

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