Youth climate champions and activists from the various countries raised their voice against the limited or no spaces to the various global decision-making spaces including in COP26. This year the COVID 19 pandemic made the situation worse because of vaccine inequity, particularly for the young people in the global South.
Rebecca Sultana, founder of Youth Environment and Social Development Society (YESDS) and member of ActionAid International Bangladesh Society (AAIBS) General Assembly inaugurated the event as a chair.
Saying that climate change was man-made, Nahim Razzaq, Member of Parliament, Bangladesh, and the Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said climate change is a serious problem of today and requires changes to be made by all. He urged governments to follow the Paris Agreement to ensure a balanced eco system for the betterment of the world. He also looked forward to seeing some changes after five years of the Paris Agreement.
Young people are worried that the COP26 is not going to be participatory because of the vaccination issueFarah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid
Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh emphasised on action rather than advocacy related to climate issues. “Advocacy is good, but it is not enough. Advocacy alone no longer can be sufficient. Action is more important along with advocacy and join the forces of doers. Pick a problem of the locality and start solving problem by building alliances of people. Action should be initiated locally first and then nationally to globally,” Saleemul Huq said.
Farah Kabir, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh said in a video message that young people around the globe want to take COP26 as an opportunity to raise their issues to bring to the global leadership. But young people are worried that the COP26 is not going to be participatory because of the vaccination issue. She also expressed her concern that many countries of the world have not been able to vaccinate their population. The majority of those not vaccinated are young people because of age bars and other factors. She raised question, “Is this restriction supportive of participation especially of the young people and is a COP meaningful where there are no participation of the future generation and present young people?” She urged for collective action to convey this message to the COP presidency and global leadership.
Climate Activist Saila Sobnom Richi from 'Youth Net for Climate Justice Bangladesh’ presented her experiences on the vulnerability of young people amid COVID-19 pandemic with respect to climate change. According to her presentation, challenges remain in the use of cyclone shelters after maintaining COVID-19 protocols which negatively impacts on the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), health and nutrition of young women. She highlighted the need for system change for achieving climate justice and intersectional justice for humanity.
Among others, young climate activists Shreya KC (Nepal), Disha Ravi (India), Eric Damien (Kenya), Neeshad Shafi (Qatar), Jon Bonifacio (Philippines), Manuel Vásquez (Guatemala), Maria Reyes (Mexico), Laksh Sharma (India), Khun Thet Paing (Myanmar) and Joainta Babirye (Uganda) shared their thoughts and experiences on climate justice and meaningful climate actions.
They said ‘’This COP is very important, but is very controversial this year. It has barriers that will discourage young people to join. Whether you go to the COP or not, it does not matter much. We need to make our leaders accountable after they return home from COP. We need to play our part in this climate and pandemic issue. Let’s check and reduce our emissions, adapt to the new normal. Bring action along with advocacy. We must increase credibility with solution-oriented action.”
The consultation event brought together a wide range of climate activists, youth activists from the national and global level and climate experts from all the global platforms under one platform to discuss the issues of young people in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and linkages with the issue of climate change, addressing intersectionality between climate change, pandemic, and policy development in the new normal reality. Ensuring the participation of young people from global South effectively in the global negotiation process, promoting youth led adaptation and mitigation process with the help of government and international agency was also highlighted at the event.