Climate change is one of the greatest threats to a sustainable future, but addressing the climate challenge presents an opportunity to promote prosperity, security, and a brighter future. To mark Commonwealth Day 2022, JAAGO Foundation, with the support of British High Commission in Bangladesh and the Commonhealth, organised 15 round tables in 15 districts of Bangladesh. A webinar under the title of “Youth, Climate Action and Commonwealth” to generate discussion about youth engagement for climate action in Bangladesh and other Commonwealth countries was also arranged.
There was a series of roundtable meetings with the youth and community leaders in 15 districts of Bangladesh to discuss the outcomes of COP 26, Bangladesh’s commitment and youth engagement in climate resilience, adaptation, activism and solutions. The roundtables are being conducted in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Dinajpur, Bogura, Barisal, Comilla, Sherpur, Kushtia, Satkhira, Kurigram, Bandarban, Rangamati. 225 youths leaders participated in the conversation and pledged to work in their community to bring sustainable climate actions. The discussions also mentioned building a low carbon society in Bangladesh, building overall awareness at the community level utilising the largest workforce of the country, the youth.
Furthermore, it focused on climate resilience, global and contextual issues and identifying youth roles to contribute to mitigating climate impacts. One of the participants mentioned, “As a responsible youth of this country, we would like to request all the commonwealth youth leaders to come together to address this issue where we are being affected without being directly involved in creating the problem.”
In addition to this, on 24 March, a webinar was organised where renowned climate specialists from different fields were present and shared their suggestions around climate action and youth engagement. The country representative of Action Aid Bangladesh Farah Kabir said, ”Use the Commonwealth as a truly common platform, shredding its colonial heritage, and make the platform positive and inclusive of dealing with issues of climate crisis on a local, national and global level. She further added; when it comes to Climate Action, we must emphasise inclusivity, thus strengthening climate resilience among youth, women and girls.”
Prof. Dr Dilara Jahid, University of Dhaka, said, “Youth are the change-makers today. Any sustainable change in the community must need youth participation; therefore, it is important for the youth to gather knowledge around Climate adaptation and how climate change has various social impacts on our regular lives such as health issues, livelihood issues etc.”
Bareesh H Chowdhury, Research Lawyer, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA), said, “Climate change is a Human Rights Issue, especially for the people living near the coastal districts. If we want to develop accountability among us for climate change issues, we must utilise the youth as they are the source of change and sustainability.”
Climate activist Sohanur Rahman, CEO, Protiki Jubo Sangshad and participant of Cop-26 summit was present. He said, “The government and other organisations have to invest and include youth in the climate action process and make way for the youth so they can act as an agent of climate solution and mitigate the effects of climate change.”
The webinar also accelerated the understanding of the socio-economic impacts of climate change and how appropriate actions can be taken to address the crisis while motivating young people to be more vocal against polluters and take climate action to protect the world. The webinar was moderated by Tahrim Chaudhury Ariba, Bangladesh Lead, Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC), European Climate Foundation.
This initiative will help equip the youth with a better understanding and capability of Climate Action, Resilience and the Commonwealth. It was emphasised in the sessions about the COP 26 agenda and outcomes, the worldwide implications of climate change and the history and current scenario of climate change in our country. The highlight of the roundtables and the webinar is the climate crisis issues and feasible opportunities for youth to engage and contribute to mitigating the negative impacts of climate change. Mr Korvi Rakshand, Founder & Executive Director, JAAGO Foundation, said, “Our livelihoods are at risk, and climate change should be at the forefront of the agenda more than ever. We all need to catch this momentum and spread the word within our youth for collective action. In the absence of unity and awareness, the planet may soon become uninhabitable.”