Promoting Sustainability: Leveraging the Power of Intergenerational Collective Action

Promoting Sustainability: Leveraging the Power of Intergenerational Collective Action


Leaders in Energy is thrilled to invite you to join us for our 2020 Seventh Annual Four Generation of Leaders in Clean Energy and Sustainability Solutions Awards Celebration—the greatly-anticipated “Four Gen” Awards! And importantly, this event is completely FREE – thanks to our very generous sponsors! 


Climate Change: An Intergenerational and Intragenerational Problem

Climate change is an inherently intergenerational problem—the decisions and actions of the past have a direct impact on the future. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in protests from younger climate activists, from Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future protests—now in its third year, and with support growing widely–to Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Movement of Movements’, which have led to widespread school walkouts and protests featuring demonstrators of all ages. The Fridays for Future strikes seek to make urgent action on climate a priority for both policymakers and businesses alike.

Successful collaborations between young people and those who support them include a 2015 constitutional climate lawsuitJuliana v. United States–brought by 21 youth supported by the organizational plaintiff Earth Guardians against the U.S. government on grounds that government actions were leading to climate change. Their complaint asserts that through their actions, the Government “has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.” The case is currently awaiting a ruling. Similarly, in 2018 a group of Norwegian youth, together with Greenpeace Norway brought suit against the Norwegian State over the country’s extraction of oil in the Arctic. The activists argue that hydrocarbons extracted from Norwegian waters and sold worldwide is a key contribution to catastrophic global climate change, and make the case that through issuance of new licenses for oil exploration in the Arctic in 2016, Norway “breached its own constitutional obligation to ensure a clean environment for its citizens and future generations.”

But there is also a significant movement to organize and work toward climate solutions among the older generation. The non-partisan Elders Climate Action network engages members at local, regional and national levels through meetings, political advocacy, rallies, and more, to promote a sustainable future and a solution to the climate crisis. An example of multi-generational cooperation is Jane Fonda’s leadership of Fire Drill Fridays, that she says was motivated by the bravery of the younger generation, such as Thunberg. Fonda spent four months in Washington DC leading Fire Drill Fridays, where protesters at the recurring are calling for immediate action by political leaders to address the “climate emergency roiling the planet”.

Leadership: Valuable in Various Forms and Across Generations

It is important to recognize various types of leadership. There is an important role for community knowledge across generations to recognize and combat climate change. For example, the northeastern provinces of Cambodia are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate, as indigenous populations rely on predictable annual levels of rainfall to sustain their communities. Local activists are pushing back against multinational and building coalitions with the NGO Oxfam, saying they are working to “keep our culture and resources for future generations.” In another example, a group of tribal elders in an indigenous community in northern Cambodia have taken it upon themselves to protect the forests they rely on for their livelihoods, as they felt the law was acting too slowly against illegal loggers. One local member explained: “The trees, the streams, the mountains are our gifts to our children.” Inter-generational equity is a core tenet of sustainable development and environmental justice.

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience from leaders of older generations that is crucial in moving towards a cleaner, greener future. Connecting leaders and inspiring people across generations is therefore a crucial step in building towards a more equitable and sustainable future. Leaders in Energy works hard to connect and empower an engaged group of members of a range of ages and experiences, representing a diverse array of sectors from environmental and energy technology and science, policy and law, research and education, the business community, and students. Promoting inter-generational cooperation is particularly important during the current Covid-19 pandemic because when people stay home and physically distance, it is important to find ways to stay connected.

Events such as Leaders in Energy 4 Gen both provides the opportunity to honor those who inspire others to promote positive change and serves as a catalyst for building collaborations among participants who are geographically dispersed and drawn from multi-generations.

Last year, Leaders in Energy added a new category of awardees, Emerging Leaders, continuing this year as a Generation Z Awardee. Additionally, this year an award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented.

And this year, we’re excited to be able to have an even wider and international audience join us as this celebration of both the awardees and our wonderful LE community will be held online, free!

This years’ awardees spanning five generations include:

  • Klaus Lackner, Ph.D. – Baby Boomer Generation – Director of Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University
  • Tonya Graham – Generation X – Head of the Geos Institute’s ClimateWise program helping communities build resilience in the face of climate change.
  • Akanksha Khatri – Millennial Generation – Head of Nature Action Agenda for World Economic Forum’s Platform for Global Public Goods.
  • Jerry Achtermann – Generation Z – Student at Oberlin College studying Music Theory and Composition
  • Peter Seidel – Lifetime Achievement Award – Author of the new book titled Uncommon Sense: Shortcomings of the Human Mind for Handling Big-Picture, Long-Term Challenges


You can find more information about this years’ honorees as well as further information on our exciting schedule, our generous sponsors, and a link to register here. The Amir D. Aczel Foundation is honored to participate in this event as a benefactor.



Dr. Miriam Aczel is Leaders in Energy’s Director of Communications. Miriam is a researcher at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy, with a focus on international energy science and policy, with a focus on mitigation of environmental and health impacts of shale gas. She is also co-founder and co-director of the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research and Education in Science and Mathematics, a nonprofit based in Cambodia. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.