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.

Global learnings

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

Woman, 21China
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In order to save natural resources, I am willing to buy products with recycled concepts, such as recycled cotton pads for skin care steps, instead of fresh soft cotton pads that rub less on the face. In order to popularize education widely and promote economic development in poverty-stricken areas, I am willing to give up my vacation time and comfortable environment, and go to a primary school in Dashanli to volunteer as a teacher during the summer vacation.
Man, 17Spain
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To build the future I long for, I would lay down the shackles of political polarization and mass production. Polarization breeds conflict and division, ripping at the seams of our society. So I would surrender my allegiance to one political ideology, and instead embrace empathy, understanding, and a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue. Mass production churns out products with little regard for their environmental impact or the exploitation of those who make them. So I would relinquish my desire for cheap and easy consumption, and instead seek out sustainable, ethical alternatives that support a healthier, more equitable world. In this way, I would strive to build a future where unity and sustainability reign, where every person has the opportunity to thrive and the world is treated with the care it deserves.
Man, 27India
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To build the future that I desire, I would be ready to give up certain habits and behaviors that contribute to social and environmental harm. For instance, I would be willing to reduce my carbon footprint by using public transportation, biking or walking instead of driving a car, and adopting a plant-based diet to reduce my consumption of animal products. Additionally, I would be willing to reduce my use of single-use plastics and other non-recyclable materials, and instead opt for more sustainable alternatives. I would also be willing to make financial contributions to organizations and causes that are working towards building a better future for all. Overall, I believe that making personal sacrifices and adopting more sustainable practices can have a positive impact on the world and help build the future that we desire.
Man, 23Niger
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To build a sustainable future, I will be willing to give up some comforts and conveniences and these aspects to adopt more resource-efficient lifestyles. To build a more sustainable future, I will be willing to give up some of these consumer habits and embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. To build a sustainable future, I will be willing to give up some of these polluting modes of transport and adopt more sustainable modes of transport such as public transport, cycling or walking. To build an inclusive and equitable future, I will be ready to renounce these attitudes, in particular prejudice and discrimination, and to work to promote diversity and inclusion. To build a sustainable future, we must be willing to let go of some of these individualistic behaviors and work together to achieve common goals.
Woman, 22Turkey
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Constructing a better future necessitates a combined effort and sacrifices from everyone. This entails being ready to relinquish comfort and ease by making modifications in daily practices and lifestyle choices to reduce environmental impact. It also involves dedicating time and energy to volunteering, advocating, and actively working on finding solutions to global issues. Supporting organizations and initiatives that aim towards creating a better future through money and resources is also vital. Furthermore, individuals might need to be open-minded and ready to discard old beliefs and attitudes, embrace diversity, and have the willingness to learn and change. Lastly, putting the greater good before personal interests, and benefiting from collective progress rather than seeking personal benefit alone, is a critical component in constructing the future we desire.
Man, 26Uruguay
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Even though I understand the idea of a renunciation, I don't entirely agree with the idea in this case. I would, for example, be willing to give up free time that I could spend "having fun" or something like that to build this future, but at the same time my main objective is to build or help build this better future. If something is required to do it, I would be willing to give up most things because this is what I want to do, I wouldn't see it as a renunciation, but as a choice.
Man, 23USA
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There's not much for me to give up. Already have given up religion. One of the leading causes of many of these issues.i am already on a vegetarian diet which contribute a tiny bit to environmental stability. Most of the issues require sacrifices and changes from major corporations and government officials and news media. These three are in complete control, at least in America. It also requires citizens to put aside their cultural differences aside and be willing to coincide with people from other ethnicities and have an open mind when deciding who to put in power.
Woman, 20Venezuela
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What else should I give up after the outburst of basic things that I cannot afford or cover in my country, or the sacrifices of being able to follow a dream for an economy in indeterminate recession. Or my human rights as a woman, or the waiver of the right to guaranteed security, to safe health care, or to have my family close because they had to leave for a better life and the economy does not allow me to see them. Do I really have to give up anything else?
Woman, 27Mali
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I will be ready to give up my name, my fortune, everything, even my family. I will be ready to leave my comfort which does not change me much for the well-being of the future. I will be ready to give up the honey that is offered to me today for a radiant future. In short, I will be ready to give up natural juices in favor of bitter caïlcedrat juice, if that can promise a better future.

Interviews from all over the world