Question box #6
To build this desired future, I would be ready to give up the following things
Photo: Brooke Cagle
If it means they can build the future they seek, young people have shown that they are ready to make wide-ranging sacrifices linked to their everyday lives, their lifestyles, their material possessions, their relationships, and even some key aspects of their identity.
These sacrifices are closely linked to the collective problems and concerns identified in their answers to previous questions. Participants seem willing not only to give up elements of their daily lives but also to go one step further by investing time and money—a clear sign of commitment.
When asked what they would be ready to give up to bring about their desired future, almost half (46%) of participants mention aspects related to their lifestyle, whether material (22%) or immaterial (24%). Comfort and lifestyle top the list of immaterial aspects that they are willing to give up. More specifically, participants frequently mention giving up travel (particularly air travel) and the internet and social media. Alongside this, they are willing to give up more material aspects of their daily lives, starting with specific components of their diet, such as meat and junk food.
Worldwide, participants regularly highlight elements of their lifestyle that are often criticized and recognized as contributing to climate change—overconsumption, plastic use, fast fashion, etc. This self-criticism regarding their way of living can also be found in the moral flaws category (9%), which includes comments related to the negative aspects of their personality, such as laziness, a tendency to procrastinate, and selfishness.
In similar proportions to the categories discussed above, participants say that they are willing to give up personal resources (21%)—for example, their free time and money. This financial sacrifice is reinforced by the topics raised in the personal ambitions category (9%), where young people mention work, careers (pay in particular), and material ownership.
Some participants mention aspects relating to their social relationships, indicating what they could give up in terms of friends and family. They talk about toxic relationships, the search for love, and the desire to have children. Some even go so far as to say that they are prepared to give up markers of identity and beliefs (privileges, ideas, their country, their values, etc.).
While some participants report that they are willing to give up many things or everything that is necessary (5%), others state that they are not willing to give up anything, or that they do not know what they would be willing to give up (3%).
It is noteworthy that a minority of participants mentioned the sacrifices that the world should make as a whole rather than the sacrifices that they would personally be willing to make. This is a strong signal of their collective awareness, hinting that they see beyond their own individual interests to consider the transformations that are necessary on a global level.
Ultimately, these answers highlight young people’s willingness to make personal sacrifices for the collective good, an awareness of the interconnected nature of the challenges ahead, and a nuanced understanding of the efforts that are needed to build the future they seek. However, they also highlight the importance of systemic commitment and change at all levels—individual, societal, and global—if we want to build a more sustainable, fairer future.
Overview of the main themes
You will find below a graph in which you can navigate to learn more about the themes brought by the participants. Each theme (also called “cluster”) relates to an idea expressed by participants. There are two types of clusters: macro-clusters, which relate to more general categories, and sub-clusters, which break down the ideas into finer detail and are attached to macro-clusters. The percentages displayed correspond to the number of participants who have written about this theme among all participants who answered the question. For readability, only clusters cited by more than 1% of participants are displayed.
The representation below is dynamic: tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters.
Differences between world regions
From the moral to the material: regional influence on young people’s sacrifices
When compared to the previous questions, the differences in trends between regions are more pronounced. While participants from North America and East Asia and the Pacific primarily mention sacrifices related to personal resources, young people who grew up in Sub-Saharan Africa focus instead on moral flaws, which South Asian participants also speak about frequently.
Tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters to compare regions.
Some remarquable answers from the entire world
Interviews from all over the world
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