The concept for Our Task began in 2000. While on assignments in Africa and Asia, OT founder Gerald Barney met with other development professionals, people who had been creating models for global development and environmental outlooks that serve as guides to policy makers.
During these conversations, they kept coming back to one key thought: Young people have an enormous stake in whether or not major policy changes are made in the next few decades. All agreed that and an increased youth voice is urgently needed.
Back in Washington, DC, Gerald and Carol Barney began a series of meetings with young adults who came from many countries for summer internships. The Barneys focused on two questions: “What are your greatest hopes for the future,” and, “What are your greatest fears?” After interviewing well over a hundred young people from a dozen countries, they assembled their reflections into a Youth Earth Vision.
The Barneys did not feel finished, however, and the following summer they organized the first Our Task internship program supported by adult mentors. Together, Members and Mentors studied and summarized global outlook reports published by UN agencies, the World Bank, and other institutions, as well as fifty national sustainable development strategies. They sought to understand the changes being recommended by these institutions in order to gain a sense of the Earth young people will soon inherit. Our Task then wrote and released the first version of the Youth Earth Plan in December of 2008.
Our Task plans to revise and update the Youth Earth Plan to keep pace with the publication of new global studies, and to bring in more talented young people to add their input and provide for more intergenerational collaboration. The plan serves as an interactive resource to youth around the world, allowing them to enter the global dialogue with the confidence they need to guide our Earth toward a mutually enhancing, sustainable future.
The internship program has evolved into the Global Thinking Workshop.