Climate change & environmental action: What are the views and expectations of young people?



Temps de lecture

3 min


Two companies, Veolia (environmental services) and Elabe (research & consultancy,) have just published their first global opinion survey on the topic of ‘ecological transformation’. The aim of this survey is to assess the level of acceptability of ecological & environmental solutions and to analyse the obstacles and levers for action to accelerate this transformation across 5 continents.

As part of this survey*, Veolia invited Professor Elodie Gentina of IÉSEG, an expert on the Generation Z, to analyze the responses and expectations of 18–24-year-olds. Veolia notes that understanding the way this age-group relates to climate and ecological action is crucial since they will be the ‘citizens and consumers of tomorrow’.

Published at the beginning of November, the results show that 69% of 18–24-year-olds are convinced that climate change is underway and that human activity is the main cause (compared to more than 70% of the total population surveyed).  Although they are slightly more inclined to doubt or deny climate change, this age group also feels less exposed to risks than their elders: 61% express a feeling of ecological and climate vulnerability (health, living conditions, habitat, ecosystem, biodiversity, etc.), which is 10% less than the average of the total survey population.

Eco-anxiety affects the younger generation

However, Elodie Gentina believes the global opinion survey also highlights a particularly prevalent phenomenon known as “eco-anxiety”, which affects young people (34% compared to 30% of the total survey population).

“Eco-anxiety is a form of anxiety, apprehension and stress related to climate change and the observed or anticipated threats to ecosystems,” she explains.  “It seems to be a growing and widespread trend around the world, and especially among young people.”

“It’s not an illness as such, but it can create distress and suffering, and therefore has a direct impact on the mental health and broader health of young people (for example in terms of depressive symptoms).”

A lack of trust in large institutions

Like their elders, 63% of young people (18-24) are nevertheless convinced that they have their future in their hands (which is 3% higher than the overall survey average).  For Elodie Gentina, the survey also underlines that young people trust individuals to take forward ecological/environmental transformation.

In terms of the stakeholders that young people consider as valuable for ensuring this transformation, she notes the survey highlights the following results: citizens (60% compared 66% of the total survey population) the State (50% compared to 60%), local authorities (49% compared to 58%), companies (43% compared to 55%) and the European Union (50% compared to 56%). 

“Young people seem to lack of confidence in large ‘institutions’ including the State, local authorities, or business…,” she explains. “They no longer believe in political speeches or rhetoric, or in the (current) means of action. They question the authority of their elders, of strong institutions, in favor of other sources of information that are directly accessible to them, like the Internet.”

“Born in the digital era, they are more equipped, more connected and informed, having access to information at their fingertips. They do not use the same tools to get information as previous generations, ” she adds.

The commitment and engagement of this generation

According to the survey, more than two thirds (71%) of young people are certain that inaction will cost humanity more than action. According to Elodie Gentina: “We are witnessing the phenomenon of empowerment, which is the granting of more power to young people to take action in terms of the social, economic, political or ecological conditions they face.”

“Young people are engaged: we see this with young activists, such as Greta Thunberg, Youth for Climate (since January 2019, 130 local groups in France and in many countries, with the Fridays for Future movement) or in terms of some of the recent speeches at graduation ceremonies of some leading schools, calling on their graduating class to flee destructive jobs.”

According to Elodie Gentina, young people are over-informed, digitally literate and want to be key players.  

“In order to make young employees the protagonists of this (ecological transformation) adventure, it is no longer enough to tell a story, we must allow them to build their own story, the ones they live or wish to live. We must go further, by considering them as key players in the ecological transformation,” she concludes.


This survey was conducted from August 24 to September 26, 2022 in 25 countries on 5 continents, among more than 25,000 individuals (about 1,000 per country).  Veolia notes that countries were chosen for their demographic weight, their impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure a diversity of political and cultural ecological backgrounds. For each of the 25 countries, a representative sample of residents aged 18 and over was selected.

To find out more about the global opinion survey: 

Category (ies)

Management & Society


IÉSEG Insights

IÉSEG Insights


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