youth engagement

IRENA Youth engagement

Engaging with Youth

Renewable energy has taken centre stage in global efforts to secure a sustainable, climate-safe future, and partnering with youth to amplify the voice of renewables globally is an essential part of this endeavour. In contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and supporting countries to meet their climate targets under the Paris Agreement, IRENA recognises youth as a vital actor in the energy transformation.

Young people are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth, innovation and environmental protection. In recent years, youth have been increasingly involved in the sustainable development discourse, providing relevant contributions to shape the agenda of tomorrow.

Young people are particularly threatened by climate change, and, at the same time, are significant actors in raising awareness and providing ambitious and innovative solutions worldwide. They have thus become increasingly active in bringing urgency to the international public climate debate. Moreover, global attempts to achieve net zero emissions and limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050 require joint effort. A holistic approach to this endeavour includes empowering young leaders in the energy transition.

As such, IRENA continuously encourages youth to identify the role that they can play in shaping the energy transition within their communities, by proposing solutions that can foster education, improve healthcare services, mitigate the effects of climate change and build a fair, just and inclusive society.

At the same time that renewables have gained wide recognition as the most cost-effective tool to secure a climate-safe future and support countries’ sustainable development, IRENA has been engaging youth through a number of capacity-building initiatives on topics including governance, education and innovation.

Global Council on Enabling Youth Action for SDG 7

The Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals are an initiative launched by the World Government Summit in 2018. They aim to bring together an interdisciplinary network of decision makers to explore and implement innovative solutions for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The IRENA Global Council on Enabling Youth Action for SDG 7 is an intergenerational council bringing together youth leaders and key global stakeholders to drive forward youth action on energy, development and the climate. The council is set to discuss and adopt an action plan with concrete initiatives for implementation during 2022-2023.

Read more about the Global Council on Enabling Youth Action for SDG 7 and its Members.

IRENA Youth Forum

IRENA strategically engages youth through various initiatives that follow the vision of empowering young leaders in the energy transition. Since 2020 it has been hosting its annual Youth Forum, a platform for innovative dialogue among young people and global pioneers accelerating the role of youth in the energy transition.

2022 IRENA Youth Forum

The 2022 IRENA Youth Forum was guided by the theme Youth-led solutions to accelerate the energy transition and achieve climate objectives. The forum highlighted the role of young people in identifying and developing solutions that can promote and accelerate renewables-based energy transitions to achieve climate targets and other sustainable development goals. It also connected young people with global thought leaders, government representatives and IRENA experts, enabling them to identify the essential areas that require youth’s support and contribution for the advancement of a global energy transition.

Young leaders from around the world issued a clear call for action at the 2022 IRENA Youth Forum. On the sidelines of the 12th session of the IRENA Assembly in January, over 400 young energy leaders gathered virtually and called on organisations, governments, the private sector, academia and civil society to take urgent action to ensure that the energy transition is led by young people.

Youth representatives who were engaged in the discussion developed a document they presented to the IRENA Assembly, sharing feedback and inputs and highlighting actionable steps for youth to advance the energy transition through innovative solutions.

Read more about the outcome of the 2022 IRENA Youth Forum.

2021 IRENA Youth Forum

The second edition of the IRENA Youth Forum, entitled The New Generation of Decision Makers, took place on 14 January 2021 on the margins of the 11th session of the IRENA Assembly. In response to travel restrictions prompted by the pandemic, the Youth Forum was held virtually — allowing youth from all over world to engage with discussions on the challenges and opportunities of this year’s theme: Promoting an Inclusive and Just Energy Transition.

Through a series of interactive sessions, the forum provided an opportunity for participants to engage in discussions on promoting an inclusive and just global energy transition. It also served to strengthen the existing network of young energy leaders with the latest insights from the renewable sector. Young people created a connection with global thought leaders, government representatives and IRENA experts to identify the space for youth to contribute to the deployment of renewable energy and promote a fair and equal energy transition.

Read more about the outcome of the 2021 IRENA Youth Forum.

2020 IRENA Youth Forum

IRENA’s inaugural Youth Forum was held on 10 January 2020 on the margins of the Agency’s 10th Assembly. Structured under the theme Renewables beyond 2030: The Key Role of Youth in the Global Energy Transformation, the Agency’s first major event for and by youth recognised the vital role that young people play in achieving climate stability, advancing the sustainable development agenda and transforming the use of energy.

A series of interactive sessions generated the exchange of ideas among youth delegates, and between youth, government representatives and other thought leaders in the energy transition. Participants were able to make valued contributions to the global energy discourse, while identifying ways for youth to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the renewable energy sector, allowing them to amplify their voices and actions in support of renewables.

The IRENA Youth Forum also showcased how increasing the share of renewables in the global energy mix can be an effective instrument to address socio-economic challenges, support the development of innovative solutions and accelerate global efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Read more about the outcome of the 2020 IRENA Youth Forum.

IRENA Youth Talk

Young people are proving to be a force for positive climate action when they are engaged and empowered effectively. Through the IRENA Youth Talk platform, IRENA has sought to harness this by offering them a platform to be heard, share ideas and learn from experts in various related fields. Launched in June 2020, it is a series of webinars aimed at strengthening the Agency’s engagement with young people, amplifying their voices and actions in support of renewables, achieving climate stability and advancing the sustainable development agenda.

June 2022 – Financing Youth Actions

Held on 27 June 2022, this edition of the IRENA Youth Talk was organised by the IRENA Global Council on Enabling Youth Action for SDG 7 to discuss about the role of governments in bridging the gap between private climate-energy finance and youth-led actions while privileging youth actions for SDG7.

Divided into two key sessions, the first session of the workshop featured a capacity-building presentation session on to increase participants’ understanding of the different types of private finance, the range of sources, and forms of private finance that could be tapped into for youth-led action on SDG7.

The second session featured an intergenerational dialogue focused on highlighting the various youth actions on SDG7, opportunities and challenges for youth actions, projects and businesses requiring resources, and the role of government in bridging the gap between private climate-energy financing available for youth in SDG7.

The outcome of this edition of the IRENA Youth Talk contributed to the NDC Partnership Youth Engagement Forum that took place from 21 to 28 July 2022.

December 2021 – Energy Transition to Boost the Fight Against Climate Change: Setting the Future Agenda

Held on 7 December 2021, the last Youth Talk in the Energy Transition Heroes series aimed to engage young people in setting the agenda in the fight against climate change through a renewables-based energy transition. Organised by IRENA and the Enel Foundation, the webinar brought together young leaders from across the globe to elaborate on the lessons learned before and during COP26 and identify the role of youth in global climate action. Delegates discussed the next steps for youth leaders to implement the outcomes of COP26, to actively engage in the energy transition for a sustainable future, and to set the future agenda to advance the fight against climate change.

Read more about the outcome of the 6th IRENA Youth Talk.

September 2021 – The Importance of International Co operation to Address Climate Change

The third of the Energy Transition Heroes webinar series took place on 9 September 2021, with a focus on the role of youth in international co operation on energy and climate.

This Youth Talk explored the theme The Importance of International Cooperation to Address Climate Change: Empowering the Role of Youth as part of the All4Climate initiative, launched by the Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition to foster proactive climate dialogue, and in the run-up to COP26 (Glasgow, 1-12 November 2021).

Read more about the outcome of the 5th IRENA Youth Talk.

July 2021 – Youth Powering Sustainable Energy Technology

The second of the Energy Transition Heroes webinar series continued to actively engage with young people through a IRENA Youth Talk that focused on the theme Youth Powering Sustainable Energy Technology.

The webinar, which took place on 13 July 2021, pointed to a combination of technologies and innovative solutions as an opportunity to decarbonise the energy system and achieve a 1.5°C pathway. It also showed the positive impact of technological development on the living standards of young people, and how a renewables-powered energy transition can have a positive outcome on young lives by improving access to key services, such as education and health.

Read more about the outcome of the 4th IRENA Youth Talk.

June 2021 – Addressing Equity and Climate Challenges through Renewables-based Energy Transition

This was the first of a new IRENA Youth Talk series entitled Energy Transition Heroes, organised in collaboration with the Enel Foundation. It took place on 8 June 2021 in a virtual setting, and focused on the direct and indirect effects of the climate crisis on equality, poverty and opportunity. By analysing and discussing the positive contribution that young people can make to an accelerated energy transition, this IRENA Youth Talk showcased ideas and solutions to overcome the vicious circle of climate inequalities by establishing a sustainable and resilient energy sector.

Read more about the outcome of the 3rd IRENA Youth Talk.

October 2020 – Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Green Energy Agenda

Globally, young entrepreneurs play an important role in finding novel solutions to accelerate the energy transition, either by developing innovative technologies or devising ingenious business models. The creativity of young energy entrepreneurs is critical for changing old paradigms, not only to decarbonise the power sector, but also the transport and industrial sectors.

This IRENA Youth Talk, which took place on 8 October 2020, brought together young entrepreneurs and innovators in the renewable energy sector to share their ideas and discuss the role of their solutions in the energy transition. They also addressed the challenges they are facing and how to overcome them. In particular, entrepreneurs discussed their experiences in the transport, buildings and industrial sectors.

June 2020 – Impact of COVID-19 on the Renewable Energy Sector

The first IRENA Youth Talk was organised in collaboration with the SDG 7 Youth Constituency of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, and was structured under the theme Impact of COVID-19 on the Renewable Energy Sector: A Youth Perspective.

Youth representatives discussed the impact and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the renewable energy sector with IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera. Young people also presented successful examples of their contribution to the deployment of renewable energy in their communities. The first webinar took place on 8 June 2020 and was open to people of all ages.

Read more about the outcome of the 1st IRENA Youth Talk.

IRENA Student Leaders Programme

The IRENA Student Leaders Programme is a virtual traineeship programme launched in response to young peoples’ growing interest in renewables.

The programme aims to build the capacity of future energy professionals and leaders by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to address urgent energy challenges.

The three-month virtual training programme is delivered through a combination of lectures from IRENA staff, interactive discussions and group tasks. Key topics include:

  • Renewable energy policy
  • Renewable energy technologies
  • Energy access and decentralised energy
  • Energy statistics and targets
  • Innovation and finance
  • Socio-economic benefits of renewable energy
  • Renewable energy education and youth engagement
  • Private sector and industry action
  • Just energy transition.

It is open to undergraduate and postgraduate university students with a passion to build a career in the renewable energy field.

Applications for the spring 2022 cohort are now closed. Applications for future cohorts will be announced here once they open.


Gain Real Office Work Training Here at IRENA.

GROWTH@IRENA is a summer training programme that provides undergraduate students with opportunities to learn and gain practical experience at IRENA as part of the team. The programme is for university students looking to secure valuable international work experience and to advance the renewable energy agenda on a global platform.

GROWTH@IRENA is open to students currently enrolled in an undergraduate programme in engineering, economics, development, international affairs, finance, business administration, communications or a related field. Applicants to the programme must be passionate about renewable energy.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic this programme could not be conducted in 2020 and 2021.

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Around the world millions of young people seek meaningful work experience, but struggle to find employers willing to take a chance on them. To help address this situation for those looking for a future career in renewable energy and sustainability, IRENA invites students to join the Agency for its annual summer trainee programme.
Read more about the 2019 GROWTH@IRENA.


Everyone starts somewhere. Before he built his businesses, Elon Musk interned at Microsoft and the Bank of Nova Scotia. He knew, like many others, that a summer internship is a great way to learn on-the-job skills, grow a professional network and learn more about what kind of career you want. Students who undertake work experience make better-informed career choices and have a chance to refine their interpersonal and professional skills.

Read more about the outcome of the 2018 GROWTH@IRENA.


For all of you motivated and inspired university students looking to gain valuable international work experience, IRENA provides the chance to meet, interact and work with experts and professionals at the IRENA who strive to advance the renewable energy agenda on a global platform.

IRENA Student Trainee Programme to support Governing Body Meetings

The IRENA Student Trainee Programme aims to engage students based in the United Arab Emirates as trainees to assist the IRENA Secretariat during Council Meetings and Assembly Sessions, providing them with a unique opportunity for insight into the organisation and a range of the significant issues faced by our world today.