Most baby boomers refuse to believe that climate change exists. Millennials are scared climate change is going to be the death of them. Amidst this tussle of ideologies over the legitimacy of the issue, the one who is suffering the most is our earth. Climate change is real. Denial is no solution to the fact that the world around us, the earth that we live in is in a dire state. The hard-hitting impacts of climate change might not be felt from our high- rise buildings and air-conditioned rooms, but that does not imply the problem is negligible.
Time and again, the world has been reminded of the magnitude of climate change. The recent tornado in Bara of Nepal, Cyclone Fani in India, series of frequent hurricanes in the United States of America are evidence that this is a global phenomenon and one that does not discriminate- the repercussions having spread over third- world to first- world countries. Yet, world leaders and the ones with the power to influence have shown bleak sense of urgency towards the issue. Despite a range of massively fancy conferences and treaties over the years, the problem has not been adequately addressed.
The youth of today, however, have emerged as the real champions of climate change. They realize the gravity of the problem and are not willing to stay as silent spectators to the chaos that climate change has evoked. They rebel, they protest, they call out world leaders, adopt a more sustainable approach to daily activities and most importantly do not fear to occupy space. They lead by example and constantly remind big corporations and leaders that our future is in danger and quick action is imperative. The activism shown by youth all around the world for climate change has been exemplary.
Global Climate Strike is one such initiative led by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old Swedish school student. What emanated as Thunberg’s symbolic absence from school to protest against climate change in front of the Swedish Parliament gained a huge momentum and has led to a global alliance of youth pressurizing big corporations and leaders to take immediate action for climate crisis.
The wave of solidarity among youth has also reached Nepal. A silent rally in support of Thunberg’s global movement was conducted in May in Nepal by CREASION. Further, Nepal Youth Environment Coalition (NYEC) formed by the active volunteers of CREASION along with students of environment science of various colleges brings together environmentally conscious youth with the zeal to work towards the environment and various environment-related issues. The youth group has been actively organizing discussions and interaction programs to integrate a larger network of young people from various walks of life in climate-related dialogues. Hamro Pariyavaran is a talk show by NYEC that brings into light different national and international climate issues through interactions with climate activists and workers.
Similarly, a recent session on Climate Interactive Tools with Dr. Bindu Bhandari was a first of its kind climate-related event held in Nepal which worked on Model United Nations approach and emphasized on solving climate-related issues. The workshop divided the participants into different groups known as ‘committees’ who were then assigned the responsibility to provide strategies to cope up with certain climate issues. All the different committees had to reconcile at a strategy that would help meet the agenda. Such workshops are an innovative way to engage youth in problem-solving and generate ideas through mutual understanding and consideration of each other’s positions. Considering the usefulness of this workshop to youth, NYEC also plans to take it throughout Nepal.
Highway Clean-Up Campaign is another project in CREASION’s pipeline. With a waste collection of the area between Thankot and Chitwan by engaging local volunteers, the campaign aims to instigate in locals the need for proper disposal of waste- mainly plastics and plastic bottles. Besides, the engagement of youth in the campaign is a good way to integrate them in the movement towards a healthier environment. The long term vision of the campaign is the creation of a golden triangle and expansion of the highway clean- up campaign. NYEC also plans the expansion of their chapters in the ten different locations- Thankot, Naubise, Mahadev Besi, Benighat, Galchi, Gajuri, Malekhu, Mugling, Ramnagar, Narayanghat- that are set for the campaign to form an alliance of like-minded and environmentally conscious youth. Recycler Saathi project that is underway to manage and formalize the waste management sector of Nepal is also beneficial for the environment.
Despite the magnitude and the seriousness of climate change, one encouraging thing that has come out of it is the enthusiasm shown by youth around the world to right the wrongs done to the environment. The level of commitment, amount of care and intensity of passion shown by youth for the environment and to fight climate change is commendable.
Such multiple efforts by CREASION to give youth an organized direction and platforms to interact about the sensitive issues of climate change are important and necessary. Youth have the power, understanding, and enthusiasm but they require the right guidance, institutional support and conducive environment to foster and materialize their concern towards climate change. Hence, youth hold the power to bring change and with the enthusiasm that they have, it is likely that they will take the lead in the fight against climate change.