Razwan Nabin is the Founder of the Bangladesh Youth Movement for Climate (BYMC) – a voluntary youth network for raising awareness and taking actions to tackle the adverse effects of Climate Change. He has been one of the key Bangladeshi youth climate change activists who has focused on bringing youth voices to decision making processes for many years.
Nabin’s activism dates back to 1996, when as a young boy he got involved with the Red Crescent Volunteer Program. But his climate change work started in the aftermath of cyclone Sidr, which wreaked havoc on the coastal areas of Bangladesh. Nabin was present in one such area – Mongla – in the aftermath of Sidr, and its impact on people’s lives and livelihood left a deep mark on him.
“We would travel Bangladesh river basin and check out impacts of climate change on coastal areas of Bangladesh, and noticed the absence of youth from climate work, so I thought I should do something to bring young people on board,” he says. “I got to know about IYCN and NYCN and thought that if Indian and Nepalese youth can, Bangladeshi youth can take climate action too.”
Subsequently he became a part of the British Council’s climate champion program, which aims to mobilize Bangladeshi youth and build national alliance to take action on climate change, and founded the Bangladesh Youth Climate Movement. As a part of BYCM, he has organized the Bangladesh Climate Camp and contributed to the Bangladesh youth declaration on climate change. Nabin is also a focal point of South Asian Youth Climate Action Network (SAYCAN) and has attended the first and second South Asian Youth Summit on Climate Change (SAYSoCC) in Nepal and Srilanka.
Given his wealth of experience as a youth activist, Nabin had some insight to share regarding effective youth engagement. “The development approach is dominated by international NGOs, donors and the government, with very limited scope for young people,” he said, adding that the youth can inspire by their own stories but they cannot drive any significant change in the status quo unless they adopt the mainstream development approach as organizations such as JAAGO and BYLC have done in Bangladesh.
He also added that existing organizations are not well equipped to work with young people. “The people who run organizations have specific skills such as working with donors, fundraising or portraying impacts, but not the skills required to collaborate with youth,” he says. This acts as another impediment to utilization of young people’s skills and enthusiasm for climate work.
As a youth delegate, Nabin has participated in many international conferences, including three COPs. And while he is positive about the Paris outcome, Nabin has measured enthusiasm about the future of international climate negotiations, given the political economy considerations. “For the COP 21 deal individual leadership played a big role, specially that of the French presidency and Obama,” he says, “But if Donald Trump comes to power the whole scenario would change. So everyone has to work with Trump for now on to make sure USA ratifies it. This pressure has to be continued leading up to Marrakech.”