In this latest LEAN IN Equity & Sustainability instalment, we speak with Leïla Réau, a board member of YES – Europe (Young Leaders in Energy and Sustainability), who explains why young people are relevant in the fight for a better world.
Leïla, what is your background?
I’m originally from France and grew up in Brittany. In my twenties, I moved to Berlin and spent some time there before moving to Zürich almost two years ago. I studied International Economics and focused on the energy transition during my master’s degree. This involved looking at topics like energy markets and new types of transportation. I’ve supported different NGOs for over seven years in my free time.
In a few words, tells us what you do at work and as a volunteer?
In my current job, I’m a Business Manager at a consultancy firm where I work in the field of Engineering. Outside of work, I’m a volunteer with two leading NGOs. Firstly, I’m an advisor for the YES –Europe COP28 team. This involves helping the project lead set up effective activities to make the most impact at the upcoming COP. Secondly, I’m starting to support another NGO called Swiss Youth for Climate with strategic topics. Lastly, I’m also enrolled in an executive programme for Renewable Energy Management to learn more about renewables.
What did you learn at the last COP27 in Egypt?
COP27 allowed me to realise that I have a very European-focused perspective, especially on energy and international relations topics. This event allowed me to hear a broader range of opinions, including leaders from various countries and stakeholders representing the public and private sectors. This allowed me to reevaluate my own beliefs on critical topics.
In addition, attending COP27 also made me realise how much work still needs to be done to make serious commitments to reach a sustainable state, especially regarding the energy transition and phasing out fossil fuels. Lastly, meeting young individuals already making such significant contributions to thoughtfully promoting climate justice was a truly empowering experience and a strong source of inspiration for me.
What is the role of Youth in Climate Change?
While we often talk about the need to include youth in discussions about climate change, I think it’s important to recognise that many young people are already active and relevant in the fight for a better world.
Many young people are dedicating their professional careers and free time to educating themselves about climate change and taking actions to raise awareness and pressure decision-makers. They are also at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to fight climate change, bringing their skills and creativity to tackle issues such as renewable energy deployment and green technologies.
What we need now is to do a better job of listening to their opinions and including them properly in decision-making processes. By doing so, we can help ensure that we’re building a more sustainable future for coming generations – and ours.
What should we do to make our planet a better place to live for all?
There are tangible solutions available to create a more sustainable world. One of the most critical steps is transitioning away from fossil fuels and implementing a massive deployment of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Another crucial action is improving energy and resource efficiency by promoting behavioural changes and implementing company policies.
As citizens of the Global North, it’s our responsibility to support the Global South financially and through knowledge transfer to help them achieve the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social, and environmental benefits. In addition, it’s essential to develop initiatives and policies for sustainable public transportation, nature protection, and sustainable agriculture.
However, challenges differ between the Global North and South. In addition, it’s essential to develop initiatives and policies for sustainable public transportation, nature protection, and sustainable agriculture. However, challenges differ between the Global North and South. It’s crucial that we work together to build a more equitable and sustainable world for all.
What does diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) mean to you in 2023 as a young woman?
As a young woman, I believe that achieving diversity and inclusion in the workplace is still a critical topic for creating a thriving society. We are still facing significant challenges in this regard, and a lot of work needs to be done to raise awareness of unconscious biases and make workplaces more inclusive and flexible for minorities like women.
DE&I is about creating an environment where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential regardless of background or identity. When people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, they can contribute unique perspectives and ideas. But creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is not a one-time effort: it requires continuous commitment and action from everyone involved.
What does success means to you?
For me, success is about making a positive impact through daily actions. I strive to empower people to achieve the best of themselves, whether it’s through mentoring, volunteering, or simply being supportive. Additionally, I’m passionate about raising awareness on topics related to sustainability.
I hope to contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future for all by educating others and advocating for change. This requires continuous self-challenge, learning, and connecting with diverse people to stay relevant.
True success is not just benefiting oneself but also making a meaningful difference in the world.