Climate Change and its consequences are uncertain but it is certain that we will leave our planet in the powerful hand of youth, the leaders of the future.
Many youth around the world participated in different campaigns, such as YOUNGO interactions and side events in COP 21. Bindu Bhandari, young observer from Nepal, member of CliMates and ambassador of Tunza Eco generation, said that youth solidarity for climate action had a concrete impact before and during the COP21 agreement.
“Youth outreach via diverse ways was encouraging and played an important role to pressure global leaders to adopt a historical unprecedented universal agreement,” she said.
The involvement of youth in the negotiation process of UNFCCC has helped to ensure their commitment towards sustainable world. In COP 15, youth were officially recognized as formal constituency. UNFCCC Constituency of Youth Non – Governmental Organization (YOUNGO), helps the voices of young people to be heard and helps in shaping climate agreement and policies around the world.
In COP 2015, youth did some amazing work together such as organizing workshops, mobilizing people in events, lobbying with leaders, tracking each countries’ INDC and negotiations processes, organizing mass events like Climate March, with different signs and demands to alert world leaders which helped pushing world leaders to address climate change.
That set an example that youth are the change makers. Young people have shown their active involvement locally, nationally and globally for raising awareness, promoting renewable energy, adopting eco-friendly behavior, and implementing adaptation and mitigation. The world marched together in November 28 and 29th to make world leaders aware about climate action plans. Australia gave a good example, marching down with more than 40, 000 people with the common call to “keep 80 percent fossil fuel in ground and temperature below 2 degree”.
In Nepal, the youth have always been in the frontline of decision making processes. They were equally in action to pressure the government. Some of the Pre- COP 21 events were Powering up for Paris, Power through Paris, Climate Change Convergence organized by youth led organization in Nepal that followed series of street drama, poster and picture presentations, flash mobs, rallies, conferences, seminars and workshop.
“Youth play a crucial role in awareness and decision making. After COP21, the role of youth has become very important as they will be living years into the future. Now young people from around world need to push leaders for strict implementation of the agreement,” says Niraj Tamrakar, program coordinator of PowerShift Nepal.
Though many actions have happened and youth power helped in reaching and agreement, most are aware that the agreement, pledges, and promises made are not enough to save our planet. It is predicted that world might lead to 3.5 degrees celsius, almost twice as warm as what we have set out to achieve in Paris.
Youth can play a focal role to reach the aspirational targets post COP 21 in two ways: 1.) by involving themselves at local, regional and national level with their ideas, inputs, capacity building and efforts, and 2.) by activism through public events, mass awareness, advocacy, art, drama, articles etc. in national and international platforms.
At the local level, youth can lead the process. For example, people here in Nepal have traditional ways of coping to climactic changes. The traditional way of recharging ground water, used in history and planned by kings of Bhatapur, Patan sets an example of practices that helps in adaptation process to climate change.
But people are being irresponsive towards documentation and dissemination of this knowledge. These practices are no more applied; in fact the unplanned urbanization and climate change is leading towards drier situation in these places. This indigenous and traditional knowledge are fading away. Youth should come forward, learn and transfer this knowledge at the local level.
This knowledge can be part of the solution to climate change. Youth can have significant role in consultation with stakeholder and government, promoting these knowledge, influencing universities and institutions to apply these practices as part of course and practical knowledge. Youth can play a major role in crafting the bridge between public awareness, knowledge dissemination, development process and policy understanding on climate change issues.
They are active and can work at the grass roots level to sensitize and make them actively participate for building climate resilience communities. One of the strongest medium where youth can disseminate information is through social media. It can be used as a medium for knowledge and to build networks of youth with similar concern and voices.
In addition, they should be more focused on campaigns, research based programs that give viable solutions for improving sectors like agriculture, water and energy sources further enhancing the livelihood of mountain, hilly and terrain area.
With my own level of concern, our team at Powershift Nepal has initiated community level activity for climate change adaptation and mitigation which plans to improve solid waste management, water resource management and promoting, training on renewable energy and empowering community and youths.
Niraj Tamrakar, an experience youth organizer in Nepal, says “In Nepal, youth mostly work in awareness programs for short term rather to get experience for future studies than for cause. Youth are active and important part of future, so they need to work in grass roots level at communities to document knowledge and execute it that helps communities to mitigate and adapt with changing climate than just assembling the knowledge acquired.”
Youth should have the opportunity to participate in policy making and climate governance process for low carbon pathway. They shall have the opportunity to involve in the projects and plans mentioned in INDC that will be laid by government to private agencies and programs that leads to low carbon economy, adaptation, disaster risk management and climate change mitigation such as projects of REDD+, Clean development Mechanism, LAPA, NAPA, Energy Sector Assistance Program, Assessment of role of community forest in Carbon sequestration, community based land and forest management in Everest region, establishment of flood alarming system in Hindu-kush Himalayas, carbon mitigation project, Nepal solar and Biogas projects.
In addition, youth should time and again track the government activity on its plan and process, awake them by side events, activities, writing articles, and provide impactful feedback, consultation with government, national and international stakeholders for effective implementation of climate change policy and INDC.
They should play a crucial role in influencing government to invest more on clean technologies, low carbon economy and transferring environmentally sound technologies. For example, in Nepal, the government can get more influence in investing in cleaner technologies as alternatives to fossil fuel in transportation sector. If the youth move towards clean technologies as cycle, electric vehicle and show there concern and importance of low carbon emission for the future.
Krity Shrestha, Climate Change Officer in Practical Action, South Asia Regional office shows her concern towards low carbon economy and says, “INDC is an opportunity for Nepal and other developing countries to take a low carbon development pathway and its up to us, youths, to coax and encourage our government to take up this opportunity. Because, it is our future that is at stake here, and hence it is our, youths, responsibility to lead the way towards low carbon sustainable pathway.”
“Because climate change is already unavoidable, youth participation is a must as it’s about their future and it’s about their existence,” Bindu Bandhari adds.
Where there is a problem there is an opportunity. People keep on complaining and sighting out the problems; however, youth have and can shape our planet and make an impact in the environmental sector. Climate change is an opportunity and challenge to youth to have a unique way of looking into problems and finding solutions for a safer future.