The concept for Our Task began in 2000. While on assignment in Africa and Asia, OT founder Gerald Barney met with other development professionals, people who had been creating models for global development and environmental outlooks that serve as guides to policymakers.
During these conversations, they kept coming back to one disquieting thought: Young people have an enormous stake in whether or not major changes are made in the next few decades—and an increased youth voice is urgently needed.
Back in Washington, DC, Gerald and Carol Barney began a series of meetings with young adults who came from many countries for a summer internship. There, they focused on two questions: “What are your greatest hopes for the future,” and, “what are your greatest fears?” After interviewing well over a hundred young people from a dozen countries, they assembled their reflections into a Youth Earth Vision.
They didn’t feel finished, and the following summer marked the first internship program supported by adult mentors. Together, Members and Mentors studied and summarized global outlook reports published by institutions such as UN agencies and the World Bank, as well as fifty global sustainable development strategies. They sought to understand the changes being recommended by these institutions in order to gain a sense of the Earth we young people will soon inherit. Our Task then wrote and released the first version of the Youth Earth Plan in December of 2008.
The Youth Earth Plan is revised and updated to keep pace with the publication of new global studies, and bringing in more talented young people to add their input and providing an opportunity for intergenerational collaboration. The plan serves as an interactive resource to youth around the world, allowing them to enter the global dialogue armed with the confidence to guide our Earth toward a mutually enhancing, sustainable future.