Tomorrow Is Too Late: Raleigh’s global youth consultation

About the research

Raleigh International ran a consultation with young people from February to June 2020. This spanned the rapid evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic. It details and summarises the beliefs, perspectives, desires, and fears of over 100 young people from 11 countries. (Bermuda, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Singapore, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom).

The consultation was conducted almost exclusively by young people. It took the form of focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, workshops and online social media and survey engagement. Many of the participants are former Raleigh volunteers. Others are members of our local youth-led national societies, and some have no association with Raleigh at all.

Report summary

Young people know exactly the world they want to live in and the change that must happen to create it.

They demand:

  • A world where everyone can access what they need to be free, healthy, safe, educated and financially secure.

  • A world which does not discriminate against people on the basis of their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, gender expression, religion, ability, sexual orientation or socio-economic status, and where diversity is celebrated.

  • A world where all leaders listen and are accountable.

  • A world where collective responsibility for the natural world forms the basis of productive, fair and sustainable societies and economies.

This generation of young people see the world through the lenses of fairness, happiness, and wellbeing. They believe that achieving these is not only good for the individual but will help solve all our shared problems.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown young people the huge inequalities that exist globally. They refuse to accept them and demand a fairer world. They know what action they want to take and lead. They prioritise demands for access to free, high quality education and healthcare, support for youth employment and skills, and tackling the climate crisis.

They feel frustration and anger at the failures of generations of decision makers but won’t let this hold them back. They demand accountability and want to be accountable. They are going to break down barriers to youth participation in decision making. And they will end the discrimination which stops every young person having their say.

Young people want good leaders, but they also want to be good leaders. They want to work with others but aren’t afraid to challenge power and go around those who get in their way. They want others to stand in solidarity with them.

Volunteer standing in front of a pink building

Young people demand action now, but they don’t always know what to do or where to start.

Young people have the passion, ideas and energy to create change. But it’s what they lack access to which stops them taking action. They want support and they highlight the importance of free, quality education and training. They want the skills, knowledge and networks they know they need to create the world they want to live in. Young people believe that current education systems don’t equip them for this. They want others to recognise this and support them with what they need.

Young people want the tools to build movements and create change. But they also want help to find meaningful work and to build a career. Lack of jobs and income is the major issue for young people globally. They believe the support they need to lead change in society can also help them to become leaders in their careers.

Quote from Tuya, age 29: We are told we are disengaged politically and socially but we are never taught how to engage

Young people want to meet their own needs and the needs of others.

Young people want to be financially secure so they can be independent. Being secure means being able to meet their basic needs. Changing the world for free isn’t easy. Voluntary and social work takes up personal time and resources which many young people do not have. This is particularly true in countries where wages are low and employment opportunities are hard to come by. However, this won’t stop them taking action.

They want people to listen to their concerns about being ‘cheap labour’. Young people want to take an active role in changing the world. But they resent when this is expected of them without reward or recognition. They want their efforts to change the world to help create routes into secure employment or enterprise.

Community member standing in field

Young people need support but also want people to get out of their way.

Young people want independence and to be able to forge their own path. Entering adulthood is a transformational life stage.
They want the freedom to choose what is right for them, to make mistakes and learn from them. This means gaining independence and being less reliant on (but more able to support) family structures.

They also want this from the people who support them to take action. They want those trying to help to fulfil the role of a partner, not a parent. They want people at all levels to look for ways to hand over more power and decision making to young people. They want a say in how decisions about their lives are made.

Quote from Jose, age 25: Young people are not only the future, we are also the now.

Young people want networks of likeminded changemakers.

Young people don’t want to go it alone, they want to bring others with them. They know they need support. But they also want to create and get access to their own networks of likeminded peers.

They want the tools and confidence to forge new connections. They believe organisations should create opportunities for young people to build their movement for change.

Volunteer participant standing in field in Tanzania

Young people are not all the same.

Young people want those in power and those supporting change to develop a more nuanced understanding of the needs of young people. They want inclusivity to be central to any work they lead or are part of. They understand that they might want the same world but this does not mean young people are the same all over the world.

Young people reject the existence of endemic inequalities and unequal structures. They want change which is transformational for all with no one left behind. They want partners and supporters to represent and reflect the diversity of young people.

Read the full report

Quote from Chuluun, age 22: I think the perfect world should mean that everybody is living happily and peacefully in a healthy environment, has healthy relationships with each other, and works and lives according to their wishes and desires.

Young people demand to have their voices heard and to hear those of other young people.

Young people value platforms which amplify their voice and give them the space to have their say. They want to see their views represented but they also want to hear the voices of other young people. They want partners who will speak to their own experiences and about the issues they care about. They see the diversity of views and ideas among young people as a strength. But they don’t want tokenism or to be used just for good branding or PR. They demand to be taken seriously. The mean what they say and want to be treated with the same respect as everyone else.

Youth entrepreneur posing for picture

Young people want action,
not excuses.

“This research is a deep insight into this youth generation and offers an exciting and hopeful vision for our global community at a difficult time. At Raleigh International, it has shown us the ways we need to change and the things we need to do to support young people to build a global movement and take action now. It will guide our approach and strategy. We hope through reading this you will choose to stand with young people too.

Now is the time for action not excuses, because tomorrow is too late.”

Julian Olivier, CEO

Link to Tomorrow is Too Late report