Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
28 September 2020

Why is the youth embracing “alter-democracy”?

In the context of the Geneva Democracy Week 2020, Laura Bullon-Cassis interviews Marie-Claire Graf, Swiss youth activist and advocate for climate action, who co-founded the Fridays for Future movement in Switzerland


In the last few years, young people have taken to the streets, leading the charge behind the climate strikes worldwide. They have seemingly opted for political mobilization outside the realm of formal institutions, crystallizing hope for many at a rather bleak moment in modern history, when climate change, racial discrimination, rampant nationalism, and deeply-rooted inequalities seem to preclude a safe future for all.  

This goes to the heart of the theme of this year’s upcoming Geneva Democracy Week, 'Democracy and alter-democracy', which the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy actively participates in. It also speaks to the research of Junior Visiting Fellow Laura Bullon-Cassis, whose doctoral dissertation explores how 'youth' -- youth activists, but also youth as a discursive category -- has become a powerful force to be reckoned with in formal institutional environments such as UN climate change summits.

In this context, Ms. Bullon-Cassis interviews Marie-Claire Graf, Swiss youth activist, advocate for climate action, and co-founder of the Fridays for Future movement in Switzerland. Ms. Graf explained what activism means to her, what tools young people have to express their frustration at the lack of political will and the prospect of mass extinction, and whether there is still hope the international community will come up with a solution. You can watch the entire interview below.

This interview contributes to introducing a series of online events during the 2020 Democracy Week, which will take place from 5-9 October and feature leading academics and practitioners.

The theme of climate striking will be specifically addressed in the panel discussion co-hosted by the Geneva Chancellery of State, the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute on Monday 5 October, and involving both researchers and activists: read more and attend here.


democracy week 2020