Climate change is having a major impact in every corner of the globe. Here’s how young people are tackling the issue in their own communities.
Saffran, from Sri Lanka
The biggest threat to humanity today is climate change. Many of the disasters are results of over-extraction of world natural resources by which mean we will end up in needing three times the currently available resources by 2050.
As you know, we have many national and international policies and agreements which are agreed and adopted, but the problem is that the reach of them to the general citizens of my community has been very poor, especially in the remote and underdeveloped towns and villages.
As a team, we decided to empower children and youth about climate action and sustainable development in the country. Creating awareness and building capacity were the key elements which we took as the fundamental solution to the problems. We strongly believe that children and youth are the future of this country, and they should be able to make the government accountable for every decision that is taken as part of the development process of the nation. We as the team have successfully concluded many pieces of training and workshops which will be continued.
Saffran Mihnar, Youth Power Global Leader, is part of EarthLanka, a Youth Power Partner.
Poonam, from Nepal
In Nepal, climate change is affecting everywhere from the Terai to the Himalayas. Temperatures are rising at an average of 0.06 degree centigrade each year causing the glaciers to melt and 20 out of 2,323 glacial lakes have a huge vulnerability to burst at any time.
Shifts in vegetation are also being observed at several research sites and malaria-bearing mosquitoes and other epidemics are increasing over time in the Terai region. According to the Environment Performance Index (EPI), air quality of Kathmandu is reported to be the worst. The increasing population, unmanaged urbanization and industrialization, and unmanaged wastes are the major problems for climate change in Nepal.
Studying forestry became the milestone for my climate change advocacy. I started writing blogs on the environment and climate change at Voices of Youth. I, and youth members of ‘Aashraya Nepal’, have organized several climate change awareness programs in the local schools and formed eco clubs. All the members of ‘Aashraya Nepal’ have promised to give up the use of plastic straws and to minimize the use of plastics as far as possible and requesting others to do the same. We all can minimize the energy and water usage, follow 3R principles (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) and plant trees around us for the green planet and healthy people.
Poonam Ghimire leads Ashraya Nepal, a Youth Power Partner. She was a 2016 Youth Power Global Leader.
Soumita, from India
Belonging to the riverine city of Kolkata, sudden downpours, coastal storm surges and urban flooding are things that inhabitants of the city have adapted themselves to. Over the last two decades, the impact of climate change has been obvious throughout the city: it is exposed to risks because of rapid urbanization and migration, while infrastructural inadequacies and institutional inabilities have only aggravated issues of waterlogging and stagnation. Conditions are worse in slum areas due to the burden of public health concerns in addition to lack of basic socio-economic facilities.
I was informed by our neighbourhood secretary that waterlogging, along with fluctuating temperatures, has given rise to increasing reports of water and vectorborne diseases in the informal settlements adjacent to our community. Having an academic background in climate change and disaster management, I was given the responsibility of leading the initiative taken by our community members to mitigate such health hazards in adjoining areas. We provided the community members and municipal school teachers with basic information on household level precautions to be taken to ensure proper solid waste disposal and prevent water stagnation that leads breeding of different water and vectorborne diseases in post-monsoon months.
Soumita Chakraborty works for Restless Development India.
Diamond, from Sierra Leone
Muskaan, from India
The National Capital Region (NCR) city of Faridabad is among the most polluted cities in the country, as revealed by a report on air pollution data compiled by Greenpeace India. The report revealed that the average level of PM10 in Faridabad was 272, making it the second most-polluted city in the country. As more and more industries are being set up in the periphery areas of Delhi, they are actively adding to this problem. The report clearly indicated that pollution levels have reached dangerous highs, and they are taking a toll on the health of the residents of the area. Another problem that is faced not just by my area but all of India is the problem of cleanliness, as people often choose not to dispose waste in bins.
In order to reduce this problem and do my bit, on the occasion of World Environment Day, I, with the help of members of the Residents Welfare Association (RWA) of my colony, organised a cleanliness and plantation drive in my local park. All of us collectively first cleaned up the park and disposed of the wastes by segregating them. After that we planted about 14-15 saplings within the vicinity.
Also, in order to generate awareness related to the problem of plastic pollution specifically, we put up exhibits of plastic products and their alternative biodegradable options that can be used. The residents actively participated in this campaign and took the pledge of reducing the single use of plastics and building waste management system by segregating waste.
Muskaan is a Communications Intern at Restless Development India.
Rachid, from Morocco
Morocco, like all other African countries, is among the least polluting but most vulnerable to climate change. Morocco is suffering from the effects of climate change because of its geographical position and the diversity of its ecosystems. Morocco started to take action early, by launching many plans, projects and strategies on clean energy, water, eco-systems and biodiversity preservation.
In The Tamount Green School project, in 2017, 1,500 rural young people were trained about climate change and how they can take eco-friendly action to mitigate it. Young people in Morocco represent more than 65% of the population; this is a concrete justification for them to play a part in ensuring the next crucial steps towards climate action are taken.
Generally, the Moroccan government, as well as other African ones, promote young people’s participation on climate change, with activities relates to education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation. But it still has a lot of work to do. We must empower young people in the various decision-making and climate change negotiation processes. On this occasion of 5th June, World Environment Day, I invite all African Youth to demonstrate the importance they have in climate action, their contribution to sustainability and low carbon development
We are planning to bring up the topic of effective waste management with the local government in our area. Whilst there are public waste procedures in place, they are often ignored due to a lack of knowledge and awareness of these schemes. Therefore, we hope to work with the local government to set up a scheme to raise awareness of how to dispose of waste efficiently, and get people engaged with the issues involved when waste is irresponsibly disposed.
For World Environment Day, we are going to a local school to plant trees, using it as an opportunity to educate youth on important issues such as waste disposal, and the damage excessive plastic use can have on the both the environment and their own well-being. We will encourage the children to make their own pledge on World Environment day, to allow them to engage with their own environmental responsibilities. Following that, we will set up a stand with a similar format, providing educational leaflets and encouraging conversations about how we can create a more sustainable India through our own personal actions, starting with plastic usage, the broader theme for World Environment Day. By talking with and educating members of the public, we hope that we can create a long-lasting shift in opinion on how our own actions impact the environment, and work with the government on trying to create a legacy of sustainability in India through individual responsibility.
The following interview with a local community member was on the subject of waste management, its causes, impacts and solutions.
‘There are procedures for the government collecting waste daily, that many people follow. But nobody can do anything when people put waste on the road. The government try to take steps, but the people are not responding as they are careless. It is due to carelessness, the people have to change themselves. They need to dispose of their waste in a safe way, it impacts the environment and causes many diseases. Lots of mosquitoes are attracted to the waste outside the house, it causes diseases such as malaria, dengue and diarrhoea. Children are particularly at risk from this. There should be CCTV cameras and fines for those who don’t dispose of waste properly’.
‘Choked drains… a myriad of colours…dotting the roads…strangling the earth…one plastic bag at a time’
It is difficult for me to walk on a street in Delhi without stepping on plastic bags, strewn like dried leaves in the autumn. A certain complacency and ignorance had lulled me into believing that the effects of climate change are something that I might not have to face. What could my daily consumption of a couple of plastic bags do to the environment? There was already so much wrong with our environment and the climate that I was sure that my ‘contribution’ in that damage would be insignificant.
A picture of a stork with its beak gagged by plastic was a jolt in the stomach, a rude wake-up call. Something needed to be done. But what? I could stop using plastic bags, I could convince my family to do so as well. I was sceptical if this would suffice.
I began to approach the shops in my locality, talking to the owners to stop putting the purchases of their customers in plastic bags. Switching to paper bags made out of newspaper could be an alternative. So far, two shops have agreed to switch to paper bags. I do not intend to stop here. It is a small effort, but I believe that small efforts, if scaled, can help in bringing about sustained change in our societies.
Nikita Khanna works for Restless Development India