9.1 General context
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There are no specific concepts relating to global issues that would significantly differ from those in the common European discussion.
In 2021 (published in 2022) the Youth Barometer examined young people’s views on sustainable development and climate issues. The Youth Barometer annually measures the values and attitudes of young people, aged 15 to 29 living in Finland. Besides an annually changing theme, the Youth Barometer includes recurring questions that remain unchanging, which make it possible to follow changes and identify trends. The Youth Barometer is published by the State Youth Council in cooperation with the Finnish Youth Research Society & Youth Research Network. Altogether 1,835 young people were interviewed by telephone between December 2020 and March 2021.
According to the results, 80 % of the respondents were optimistic about their own future, but only 38 % were optimistic about the future of the world in general. 76 % “feel sad about the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species”, and 75 % “get a good feeling when they make sustainable choices”. Young people feel that many different means are needed to solve climate problems, such as changing production methods (90 % consider it very important or fairly important), by information and awareness-raising (89 %), consumer behaviour (85 %) and international conventions (84 %).
The environmental attitudes of young people has changed significantly between 2016 and 2021. In 2021, 90 % of the respondents believe that human influence on global warming is a fact, comparing to 85 % in 2016. Young people also agreed more often (88 % in 2021 vs. 86 % in 2016) that “future generations will suffer if the current destruction of the environment continues”. On the other hand, in 2021 young people were more optimistic, that “globally sustainable solutions to environmental problems can be found” (70 % in 2021 vs. 48 % in 2016). 86 % of young respondents agreed that “the intrinsic value of nature must be taken into account in decision-making".
According to the Youth Barometer, young people have fairly green values. 93 % of the respondents consider it is important or very important to secure biodiversity and 88 % animal rights by any means whatsoever. At the same time, the attitudes towards economic growth varied more and 14 % of the respondents disagreed with its importance. Young respondents also considered that influencing environmental issues can be done most effectively by consumer decisions (78 % “very much” or “quite a lot agreed”), by voting (78 %), by voluntary work in an environmental organisation (71 %) or by the discussions with decision-makers (70 %).
In 2018 (published in 2019), the Youth Barometer (the volume is titled as ‘Influence on the Edge of Europe’ see infographics and the press release) conducted research on the theme of politics and young people’s expectations for the future, among other topics. The Youth Barometer 2018 was edited by Elina Pekkarinen and Sami Myllyniemi.
According to the results, 61 per cent of young people are interested in politics and the share has — to a certain extent — increased. Correspondingly, the proportion of those who are completely indifferent to politics is lower today than it has ever been in the last 20-year studied period. The number of respondents who have participated in political activity has also increased, especially among those under the age of 20. Young people felt that the most effective ways to have an influence are to stand for election, to vote and to actively participate in an organisation or youth council. The share of young people who believe that purchase decisions are an effective way to take a stand has increased, from under one third in 2013 to 57 per cent. The share of those who consider political discussion an effective way of having an impact has also grown. Young people have chiefly participated by voting, with purchase decisions and by discussing political issues. The share of those who have demonstrated their influence with their purchase decisions has risen significantly.
There is roughly the same amount of young people who are optimistic (32%) about the future of the world as there are pessimistic (33%), and both ends of the continuum seems to grow when compared to earlier years. What has also grown, is the amount of young people feeling insecure when it comes to worldwide threats such as climate change (67% of the respondents are feeling very or fairly threatened), international terrorism (60%), world policy situation (40%) and weapons of mass destruction (40%). On the other hand, young people were asked their opinion on whether ‘young people should be taught how to solve conflicts.’ Almost 90% of the respondents agreed. 80% also took stand on ‘peace being a matter of will’ and two thirds expressed the opinion that conflicts can be solved through negotiation.