Meet the new generation of youth innovators

by Guest blogger, Jennifer Doherty-Bigara

Boyan is a 19 year old Dutch, who just invented a viable solution to clean up the ocean from millions of tons of plastic. Thankfully, he is not the only one of the committed young minds at work.

As we look for solutions to tackle climate change, we tend to blame two major groups: governments for their inaction; and the private sector for its lack of initiative. But what if we were to focus on youth’s potential and innovative creativity? There are some interesting stories in effect today, which lead me to think we could start being positive about finding concrete and feasible solutions to the climate problem.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, youth represents 26% of a 600 million population (15-29 years old), and this new generation cares about its environment and building a legacy for the community. Below are some of the innovative youth stories that caught my attention:

Enrique Lomnitz is installing rainwater harvesting systems to provide marginalized communities in Mexico City’s slums with water. In a water stressed metropolis were water cuts have become common standard this measure represents a new alternative to address social and climate challenges of the country.

Green entrepreneurship is also booming. Some young designers promote a second artistic life for garbage. In Argentina, Nazarena Pereyra creates handbags with tires and Joaquin Tome, reuses vinyl banners to create shopping bags. Furthermore, Malikca Cummings, a Guyanese entrepreneur, has set up the first e-waste recycling business in Barbados, “Caribbean e-Waste Management Inc”, and is partnering with other firms to cover all the Caribbean. Finally, in Colombia, you can even furnish your office with recycled furniture sold by Juan Nicolas Suarez at Diseclar.

Innovation for development also concerns climate change, and these youth examples are just a few of the many projects we know are out there. That is why we launched the Greenovators contest. The IDB looks forward to identify, award and give a voice to those youth leaders who may just have the answers to the challenges of our region.

Jennifer Doherty-Bigara is a political analyst for climate change. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jdohertybigara

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