Sohanur Rahman ::

Addressing the climate crisis is a matter of life or death, frontline young people are urged to developed nations to keep their promise on climate finance urgently. Climate experts also opined solutions like young people in decision making, low carbon emissions, shifting to renewables, nature-based solutions, and local led adaptation must be implemented very quickly in order. They made these remarks in an online dialogue ‘Field experience and solutions from Young People in the Climate Frontlines’ yesterday (Wednesday)  evening. Marking Commonwealth day, YouthNet for Climate Justice has organised this webinar with the support of the British High Commission at Dhaka and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Abul Kalam Azad, Special Envoy for Climate Vulnerable Forum chaired this event while State Minister for Water Resources, Zahid Faruk  MP delivered his speech as the chief guest. Tanvir Shakil Joy, lawmaker from Sirajganj 1 and the Chair of Climate Parliament Bangladesh, climate scientist Prof Saleemul Huq and  Ken O’Flaherty, the COP26 Regional Ambassador for Asia/ Pacific and South Asia also joined the programme as special guests while Sohanur Rahaman, Executive Coordinator, YouthNet for Climate Justice moderated this session.

As the chief guest State Minister for Water Resources, Zahid Faruk, MP has said that, Young people are the first to be affected by the environmental challenges facing our societies. Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 is perhaps the best gift to the future generations by the present generation. Delta Plan-2100” would ensure the country’s economic growth, water, and food security as well as environmental stability, in the long run, overcoming various challenges, especially adverse impact of climate changes. The vision of the Delta Plan-2100 is to build a prosperous Bangladesh through adopting compact, comprehensive, and effective strategies befitting with the changes of time. 

Upholding the various activities of different youth-led organizations, the minister added, “Youth-led organizations like YouthNet for Climate Justice, Coastal Youth Action Hub, Protiki Jubo Sangshad,  British Council Active Citizens are working on climate issues at the ground level. Bangladesh Parliament has adopted a first ever motion on planetary emergency to protect the future of our next generation. Despite showing capacity and capability, young people continue to face barriers to access knowledge, innovate, prove their competence, and adapt to the complex and dynamic nature of water resources and climate change.”

Parliamentarian Tanvir Shakil Joy said “ I think we will be able to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change because the young people around us are so strong and concerned and proactive in this area. At COP26 I found that youths are actually taking the lead. So I am being optimistic and as they are taking the charge,  we will be able to tackle the climate crisis.

“ The solutions that the youths mentioned like youths in decision making, low carbon emissions, shifting to renewables, nature-based solutions, local led adaptation etc. will be implemented very quickly in order. My request to the young people, raise your voice and educate your friends about climate change so that together we can have a better world.”, said Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Special Envoy for CVF Presidency of Bangladesh.

Ken O’Flaherty, the COP26 Regional Ambassador for Asia/ Pacific and South Asia, also joined the webinar as a special guest and noted,“The Glasgow Climate Pact creates a path where youths would be where countries agreed to involve youths in both decision making and in national delegations following calls from young people.  We want to work with youths  and continue to learn from people who are most affected and vulnerable” About the youth leadership in COP26 and upcoming COP27, Ken said,”The youth leadership has been in the heart of COP26 and it will continue to be our pillar in the upcoming COP26 as the UK holds its presidency.” 

Prof Saleemul Haque, Director of ICCCAD said, “We need to go beyond talkings and do actions. Youths need to be giving inputs to the upcoming dialogues. Dialogues can not be just talk, talk , talk. Then it will be just Blah, Blah and Blah.  We need actions and youths need to be the ones to drive that action.”

About ensuring loss and damage funding issues, he said, “Loss and damage is happening. The IPCC report that was published a few days ago has reinforced that message. And for every impact of climate change, that happens everywhere in the world including in rich countries, the people who are being affected, the victims are losing their livelihoods, homes, crops. And if we put it in dollar terms then for every hundred dollars loss, the victim is losing a hundred dollars. Now the question is who can help that victim compensate for what?”

 In a youth panel, Vishal Prasad, a Campaigner of the youth led organization ‘Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change’ in Fiji is taking the climate justice movement a step ahead by taking this issue to the International Court of Justice. Their campaign is aimed to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice as one of the ways of addressing the inequity arising from the climate crisis. He said, “All over the world, young people have stepped up in showing exemplary climate leadership, resolve and fortitude. “ 

” We honour the rights of young people and future generations by prioritizing actions on helping the most vulnerable people build resilience and adapt to climate change”, said West Indies youth named Leneka Rhoden, Coordinator of Commonwealth Youth Climate Network. 

Two youths of Bangladesh Humayra Ahmed Jeba from Sylhet and Shahin Alam from Satkhira upheld their field-level experiences along with international youth speakers. Sohanur Rahman, Executive Coordinator at Youthnet presented a document regarding the field level wide range works of the youth platform.

With the urge to amplify the voices of the vulnerable communities, Shakila Islam, the National Coordinator for YouthNet for Climate Justice said in her welcome speech, “The Global North holds a climate debt to climate-vulnerable communities, both because of its historical exploitation or colonization and its current excess contribution to climate change. Hence, the global flow of money must be redirected away from the global north and toward a green recovery – one that focuses on preparing the most affected to withstand those elements of the coming crisis that we cannot mitigate. There must be increased in climate finance to implement anti-racist climate reparations, the cancellation of debts especially for loss and damage caused by extreme weather events, and providing adaptation and loss and damage funds along with green technologies that serve the communities. The voices of our vulnerable communities must be amplified and centred in our fight for climate justice. The world’s highest emitting countries must deliver the promises of  climate finance for adaptation, especially locally-led adaptation that also targets gender inequality, at the same time as urgently reducing emission .”

The objective of this dialogue was to achieve driving ambition on mitigation, adaptation or finance as key areas of focus for the UK’s COP26 presidency year, helping to deliver on commitments made at COP26.  The online dialogue covered a wide fruitful discussion about capturing young people’s collective voices from Commonwealth and CVF country about local-level experience and solutions, exploring common pathways to resilient communities focus along with COP26 outcomes on adaptation, loss and damage. The dialogue also covered the issue of identifying current priorities and collaboration for upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings and COP27. It Promoted inclusive youth leadership and ownership to deliver common good and planetary security for future generations. 

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