The younger generation of people living in London has spoken, and the words are far from flattering. Calling for Change, a new report commissioned by the Museum of London and carried out by Partnership for Young London, reveals that young Londoners do not see the capital as a sustainable city, and are calling for huge changes to infrastructure and education.
The report was designed and implemented by five peer researchers – young Londoners aged between 17 and 25 years old. Over 1000 young people aged 16 to 25 who live in London participated in the research between June and September 2022 via surveys and focus groups.
“With around a third of its population under the age of 25, London is clearly a young city. We wanted to look at how young Londoners who are living and studying in the city felt about the current sustainability credentials of London, as well as their aspirations for their city,” said Yanis Fekar, one of the peer researchers who implemented the report.
“What we found is that young Londoners would like the capital in 2035 to be a sustainable city relying on a progressive transport policy that incorporates public transport, walking, and cycling to a much greater extent. The transformation that young Londoners would like to see could not be any clearer. The onus is now on decision-makers to incorporate these views in their planning for London’s future.”
The research found that young Londoners want to see further pedestrianisation of London’s streets to encourage walking and reduce emissions, especially in key central London streets. More key findings include:
- Affordability is the biggest barrier to more young people using public transport and most young people want to see transport for under 25s made free to help tackle climate change and inequality.
- Many young Londoners want to see London become a car free city, especially in key central London and neighbourhood areas, and for more cycling infrastructure to be put in place.
- Most young people support Ultra Low Emission Zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
- Young Londoners want clear avenues to get involved in policy creation, as well as wanting to create their own structures and engage in direct action such as contacting they local elected officials
- Young people care about environmental issues but there are clear barriers to their participation, including a lack of finances, the physical barriers faced by disabled young people, or the fear of repercussions by groups such as racially minoritised communities or non-binary and third gender people.”
- Environmental issues have an impact on the type of work that young people want to do in the future. They want to work for employers who are not contributing to the climate crisis.
- Young Londoners take action to make their day to day lives more sustainable, such as recycling, reducing meat consumption, or changing the way that they travel.
- Many young Londoners already consider the sustainability of a product when purchasing it, but more advice is needed on what sustainable products are available regionally to help reduce confusion.
Young Londoners also believe that arts and cultural spaces have a responsibility to engage and educate them on environmental issues. The London Museum in Smithfield, opening in 2026, will engage with the climate emergency in numerous ways, with this report helping shape how the museum can do this.
Sustainability will be at the heart of the new museum in Smithfield, with both the construction and the continued operation of the building designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This includes the decision to preserve 70% of the fabric of the historic market buildings which will house the new museum, and the inclusion of features such as an attenuation tank, which will collect rain and grey water from the building, allowing it to be re-used for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets.
The new museum will also be a world leading smart museum, using the latest technology and data science to minimise energy use in the day-to-day running of the site.
The report recommends that The London Museum could better serve young Londoners by engaging them on environmental issues, especially via interactive approaches such as events and exhibitions.