30 in 2030: Coming of Age During a Pandemic

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TIME spoke to six young adults based in places ranging from the Deep South to Singapore who will turn 30 in 2030. They shared their hopes for the future of the planet and what they are doing to make them a reality. Born at the cusp of a new millennium, they will reach the age milestone in the year that the world’s population is forecast to reach 8.5 billion and the countdown to mitigate the effects of climate change draws to a close for many countries.

This is a generation of people who have seen some of the damage done by those who came before them. “My generation is dealing with the neglect from older generations. We can’t continue this way,” says activist Cristian Cardona.

Student entrepreneur Trisha Prabhu adds, “My generation was born with 9/11, when we were eight or nine years old, there was the financial crisis.”

“And then of course, you know, the COVID-19 pandemic,” Prabhu says. “And so I think for a lot of us, life has been an exercise of having to face adversity and demonstrate resilience.”

Many in this generation have demonstrated that they want radical change, and many are not going to wait around for it. Some are already challenging conventions. Whether they are creating virtual support networks or leading social justice movements, this generation puts community at the heart of much of what it does. Having witnessed global leaders mishandling the pandemic and the climate crisis, or turning a blind eye to social ills, Gen Z is demanding better.

“We don’t build stuff to last, we build stuff to keep buying and keep replacing,” says Cardona. “And that’s not sustainable. And I want to change that. I want to change that for myself, my family, my community, my friends.”

But rather than feel overwhelmed by these challenges, some are excited to find innovative solutions, adapt traditions for the modern world and advocate for equality. This is a generation who walked out in their millions in protest against international inaction on the climate crisis and have overwhelmingly supported racial justice movements. This generation is preparing to become the future leaders of our world.

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