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Launching the search for the Gretas of the future

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By Helen BriggsBBC Environment correspondentPublishedduration7 hours agoimage copyrightGetty ImagesWanted: creative, innovative young minds who want to tackle the big problems facing the planet.Whether a science genius, a chess prodigy or an advocate for a global cause, you must have the desire to serve others, and be aged 15 to 17.A new global talent search for…

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondent

Published

image copyrightGetty Images

Wanted: creative, innovative young minds who want to tackle the big problems facing the planet.

Whether a science genius, a chess prodigy or an advocate for a global cause, you must have the desire to serve others, and be aged 15 to 17.

A new global talent search for exceptional young leaders, inspired by teenage movers and shakers, such as Greta Thunberg, has been launched.

It is backed by the philanthropists Wendy and Eric Schmidt.

They hope to engage tomorrow’s leaders, by providing education and opportunities for them to identify problems, solutions, and ways they can work together, “for a lifetime in the service of humanity”, said Wendy Schmidt.

Young people are desperate to find ways to change the world and to create a new one that may look different, but they don’t always know how, added Eric Braverman, chief executive of Schmidt Futures.

“We have challenges relating to climate, to the benefits of economic development, to healthcare, as we can all see, all around the world, and we think to get the best solutions for the planet, you have to bet on exceptional people, you have to bet on human ingenuity and you have to do it early, and globally, and over and over again for a long time,” he explained.

Why this age group?

Statistics suggest that civic engagement among young people is very high, particularly on subjects such as climate change, said head of strategy, Cassie Crockett.

She said inspiration came from a very long list of young people, including the chess player Tani Adewumi, and teenage activists, Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai.

“From young people today we see an immense amount of care and concern for the world around them and what’s more exciting is we see that manifest as concrete action,” she said.

What is the programme about?

The initiative, known as Rise, is looking for extraordinary 15- to 17-year-olds from all walks of life, who may not normally get a “seat at the table”.

It’s run in partnership with The Rhodes Trust to identify and support talented young people around the world.

The eight-month selection process, through an app, will provide online courses on leadership, personal growth and professional development.

The first 100 global winners will be announced next spring.

What talents are required?

Qualities such as persistence, compassion and care for others, a demonstrated commitment to service, personal integrity and intellectual performance or achievement.

As well as traditional mathematical, scientific or musical talents, they are also looking for “quirky geniuses who want to serve others”, said Eric Braverman.

“We want people that are different not just for its own sake but because we think that it will help us have better teams to solve problems, more creative solutions, more new opportunities we haven’t imagined, more communities to serve,” he explained.

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