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Young Londoners push for a more sustainable city in Museum of London report

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The Deputy Mayor and peer researchers meet to discuss young Londoners’ views on a sustainable future © Museum of London

Young Londoners do not see the capital as a sustainable city, and want to see it become one through changes to infrastructure and education, finds Calling for Change, a new report commissioned by the Museum of London and carried out by Partnership for Young London.

The research, launched today at the site of the future London Museum in Smithfield, found that young Londoners want to see further pedestrianisation of London’s streets to encourage walking and reduce emissions, especially in key central London streets. Most of those surveyed also support expanding Ultra Low Emission Zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

The report was designed and implemented by five peer researchers – young Londoners aged between 17 and 25 years old. Over 1000 young people aged 16 to 25 who live in London participated in the research between June and September 2022 via surveys and focus groups.

Yanis Fekar, one of the peer researchers who implemented the report, said:

“With around a third of its population under the age of 25, London is clearly a young city. We wanted to look at how young Londoners who are living and studying in the city felt about the current sustainability credentials of London, as well as their aspirations for their city.

“What we found is that young Londoners would like the capital in 2035 to be a sustainable city relying on a progressive transport policy that incorporates public transport, walking, and cycling to a much greater extent. The transformation that young Londoners would like to see could not be any clearer. The onus is now on decision-makers to incorporate these views in their planning for London’s future.”

Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor, Environment and Energy, attended the launch to discuss the report’s findings with the peer researchers, as well as to be shown some of the sustainable features of the world-class new museum, opening in 2026.

The Deputy Mayor said: “This is a manifesto for a greener, more sustainable city which is exactly what we want London to be, and as ever, it is young people that have the ideas we need to improve the capital. The Mayor will listen to their call to expand the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, to improve walking and cycling and take on their challenge to end toxic air and make London a Net Zero city so we can build a greener, fairer London for everyone.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Affordability is the biggest barrier to more young people using public transport and most young people want to see transport for under 25s made free to help tackle climate change and inequality.
  • Many young Londoners want to see London become a car free city, especially in key central London and neighbourhood areas, and for more cycling infrastructure to be put in place.
  • Most young people support Ultra Low Emission Zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
  • Young Londoners want clear avenues to get involved in policy creation, as well as wanting to create their own structures and engage in direct action such as contacting they local elected officials
  • Young people care about environmental issues but there are clear barriers to their participation, including a lack of finances, the physical barriers faced by disabled young people, or the fear of repercussions by groups such as racially minoritised communities or nonbinary and third gender people.”
  • Environmental issues have an impact on the type of work that young people want to do in the future. They want to work for employers who are not contributing to the climate crisis.
  • Young Londoners take action to make their day to day lives more sustainable, such as recycling, reducing meat consumption, or changing the way that they travel.
  • Many young Londoners already consider the sustainability of a product when purchasing it, but more advice is needed on what sustainable products are available regionally to help reduce confusion.

Young Londoners also believe that arts and cultural spaces have a responsibility to engage and educate them on environmental issues. The London Museum in Smithfield, opening in 2026, will engage with the climate emergency in numerous ways, with this report helping shape how the museum can do this.

Sustainability will be at the heart of the new museum in Smithfield, with both the construction and the continued operation of the building designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This includes the decision to preserve 70% of the fabric of the historic market buildings which will house the new museum, and the inclusion of features such as an attenuation tank, which will collect rain and grey water from the building, allowing it to be re-used for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets.

The new museum will also be a world leading smart museum, using the latest technology and data science to minimise energy use in the day-to-day running of the site.

The report recommends that The London Museum could better serve young Londoners by engaging them on environmental issues, especially via interactive approaches such as events and exhibitions.

Sharon Ament, Director, Museum of London, said:

“Our move to Smithfield is an opportunity to create a different kind of museum. We’re committed to engaging 100,000 Londoners in its creation. This report is a chance to hear and amplify the voices of young Londoners, and we’re keen to take on board its suggestions as we work towards the opening of our new world-class museum.”

The full Calling for Change report can be found here.

About the Museum of London

The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.

A fixture on London’s cultural scene since first opening in 1976, the museum is moving house. It has now closed doors at its London Wall site in preparation for its relocation to a new home at Smithfield, where it will occupy historic market buildings and open up to millions more visitors. The new museum will reopen in 2026 under a new name: The London Museum.

The Museum of London Docklands remains open Monday - Sunday 10am – 5pm and is FREE to all. You can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added regularly

More information about the relocation of the Museum to Smithfield can be viewed here