Meet the "Sustainability Generation": Why Gen Z is Demanding a Better World
By Katrina Lawrence, Vice President, AU Public Sector, Dell Technologies
Friday, 13 October, 2023
Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and according to the Climate Adaption Platform, the stakes are especially high for the ANZ region, which is vulnerable to the impact of weather events such as floods, bushfires, droughts, and heatwaves. With temperatures rising in Australia and New Zealand by over 1°C since 1910 and an increasing trend of extreme heat, we must act now to counter the effects of a warming planet.
Leading this charge for more sustained climate action is Gen Z, many of whom believe that technology has an important role to play in addressing our climate crisis, according to new research. While sustainability has long been at the forefront of innovation, Gen Z is demanding governments and businesses do better and act faster.
As business leaders, the decisions we make today will define our legacy, so it’s our responsibility to listen to this tech-savvy generation. After all, these are the people that will inherit everything we create and leave behind.
Gen Zers look towards technology to drive change
In Dell Technologies’ latest global research, we asked Gen Zers how technology can be harnessed for the benefit of future generations to ensure a resilient future for everyone. It’s promising that almost two-thirds of Gen Zers believe technology will play a vital role in creating a sustainable future.
Gen Z is calling for governments to lead the way by accelerating digital investments to meet future economic and societal challenges. Our research shows that Gen Zers in ANZ believe governments should prioritise sustainable energy (42%), enabling a circular economy (38%) and more sustainable public transport (30%).
They also believe there is a need to accelerate investments in digital healthcare, education, and green infrastructure. Improving healthcare services is the top priority among ANZ respondents (20%). Building sustainable or green infrastructures is a second priority for Australia (13%) and third for New Zealand (10%), while affordable housing is rated higher in New Zealand (13%) than in Australia (11%).
Interestingly, and perhaps what may set Gen Z apart from previous generations, is that nearly half (46%) are willing to accept short-term economic limitations for longer-term green investment. Around a quarter of respondents (21%) also expressed support for greater education so we can all make better choices.
Across all countries studied, respondents identified the role of technology and the need for educational information to catalyse and support climate action. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of Australia’s respondents identified the importance of the role of technology in fighting the climate crisis, just below the global average of 64%.
Public and private sector collaboration essential
For us to meet the expectations and priorities of Gen Z, our sustainability efforts should centre on mitigating emissions from energy by offering more sustainable solutions and working towards creating circular economies.
Governments have taken the first steps, with the Australian Government vowing to meet or beat 80% recovery rate of the country’s waste by 2030, and the New Zealand Government stating it will have a circular economy with a thriving bioeconomy by 2050.
However, while there are big expectations for governments to act, the private sector must step up to support the public sector and help Gen Zers achieve their sustainability goals. To make this happen, 32% of respondents in ANZ want private and public sectors to work together and hold each other accountable.
One solution is to create sustainable products and services that are accessible and affordable, supporting consumers to make an eco-brand or product switch.
Making sustainable change with lasting impact
As we make the effort to transform, we must recognise that the sustainable shift can’t be superficial. Gen Zers are expected to mature into consumer activists. The oldest members of the generation are already turning 25; they’re part of our workforce, and they’re exerting their influence among their social groups and across their social media feeds.
For businesses to live up to the expectations of Gen Zers and align with their values as well as for future talent attraction and retention, we must embed sustainability practices at the core of our organisations — driving transformation from who and how we hire people to ensuring carbon-neutral production.
At Dell Technologies, as we continue to innovate and advance technology, we hold ourselves accountable. We have set strong commitments to reduce our environmental impact and evolve with the needs of people and the planet. As we strive to accomplish our business goals, we continue to address complex societal challenges — of which, climate change and the need for sustainability continue to be at the forefront.
We’ve set sustainability goals to guide our journey — by 2030, for every product a customer buys, we will reuse or recycle an equivalent product. 100% of our packaging will be made from recycled or renewable material, and more than half of our product content will be made from recycled or renewable material.
To meet Gen Z’s expectations we must act now
Before too long, Gen Z will become the majority. It’s vital for organisations to act now with the necessary changes to meet the expectations of this new generation.
Read the complete Dell Technologies Gen Z report for more information to inform and inspire your sustainability commitments — helping you plan for a future with Gen Z at the helm.
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