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June 2019

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The importance of youth perspective

In his book The World of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig describes how young men in Vienna did their best to look old by wearing wigs and growing beards to boost their status – behaviour we all recognise and have seen countless times in various ways. But this is changing. Take the American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or activists like Greta Thunberg, who have both emphasised the importance of their young age as an asset for political leadership. This would have been impossible in a 19th-century European empire or indeed any state at any time until... now.

In a stable society, valuing experience over inspiration can work well for a while, but stability can easily turn into stagnation, where societies lose the ability to adapt to changes and become unstable, fragile and, ultimately, irrelevant.

This is why the youth perspective is so important in modern policy making. Our societies are changing fast – perhaps faster than most of us realise. Information technology and digitalisation, biotechnology, immigration, climate change and many other forces require attention and reactions. We cannot just sit and wait until the next generation of leaders becomes ‘old enough to rule’. We need them now.

In this issue of The Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way we present the work of four young people who share their thoughts on how the bioeconomy can contribute to a more sustainable future. They do not have all the solutions to the global challenges, but they do provide qualified input to the ongoing dialogue, demonstrating qualifications and commitment that deserve attention.