Sohanur Rahman ::

In a striking display of environmental activism, the Manta fisherfolk community of Barishal took to the rivers on Friday in a resounding call for the cessation of harmful fossil fuel usage and the prioritization of renewable energy investments. Organized by YouthNet for Climate Justice – a grassroots youth-led platform, the event underscored the urgent need for a greener world and a sustainable future through a just transition.

As part of the ongoing Renewable Energy Week (May 26-June 1), twelve institutions and youth organizations joined hands with the ‘Change Initiative’ to orchestrate a series of activities nationwide. The culmination of these efforts manifested in a poignant boat rally held at Bukhainagar river in Tungibaria Union of Barisal Sadar Upazila.

Boats adorned with banners and festoons, manned by Manta and young climate activists, navigated the waters bearing slogans advocating for a transformation in the energy sector. Among the rallying cries were calls for the revision of the energy master plan, the promotion of renewable electricity, and the coordination of diverse energy policies to combat the adverse effects of climate change.
Speaking at the event, Youthnet for Climate Justice Program and Partnership Coordinator, Md Arifur Rahman Suvo, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “Global warming, fueled by the use of fossil fuels, is exacerbating cyclones, floods, and abnormal seasonal changes. Communities like the Manta, who are among the most vulnerable, bear the brunt of these impacts.”

The plight of the Manta community, whose lives are intricately intertwined with the rivers, was poignantly articulated by Sardar Md Jasim, their leader. “We earn our livelihoods by fishing in the river, but our catches are dwindling, and the increasing frequency of storms and floods adds to our woes,” expressed Md Jasim. “Access to electricity is a distant dream for us. With alternative energy sources like solar power, we could navigate the river more safely and efficiently.”

Youth climate activists echoed these sentiments, urging world leaders to take decisive action in combating climate change and transitioning to renewable energy sources. Ashiqur Rahman Nirab, a young climate activist, emphasized the environmental and economic benefits of solar energy, asserting, “Utilizing renewable energy is not just a necessity; it’s a pathway to safeguarding our environment and fostering economic prosperity.”

Ashikur Rahman Saqib, district coordinator of Youthnet, underscored the urgency of the situation, highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change on developing countries. “To mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, we must transition to renewable energy,” emphasized Saqib. “This necessitates collective action and support from governments and citizens alike.”

As the rally concluded, participants reiterated their commitment to advocating for a sustainable future and called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to embrace renewable energy solutions.

 

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