As we find ourselves at a critical juncture where environmental concerns intersect with economic aspirations, the imperative for a responsible business approach and a just transition has never been more pronounced. Our world confronts an unparalleled triple planetary crisis: climate change, environmental pollution, and biodiversity depletion. This convergence jeopardizes not only the well-being of our planet but also the very survival of humanity. It’s essential to recognize that this crisis transcends mere environmental boundaries; it has evolved into a pressing economic challenge, demanding immediate, unified action from all stakeholders.

Central to this pivotal moment is the fossil fuel industry, whose relentless pursuit of profits has exacted a steep toll on our global welfare. Over recent years, the profits of the global oil and gas sector have soared to nearly $4 trillion. However, this prosperity comes against the backdrop of undeniable scientific evidence illustrating the devastating repercussions of climate change—extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and the irreversible loss of precious ecosystems and biodiversity.

As these profits soar, the human cost becomes apparent. Over the last five decades, our planet has witnessed 11,778 natural disasters caused by human-induced climate change, resulting in the loss of over two million lives and financial losses amounting to a staggering $4.3 trillion, according to the report of the World Meteorological Organisation. 

Bangladesh, among the worst-affected, has tragically borne the brunt, losing approximately five lakh lives – the highest death toll in the Asian continent. Amidst the ongoing floods claiming 49 lives in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati, and Bandarban, the added toll of 327 known dengue deaths this year, coupled with the World Heath Organisation’s warning of a spike in cases due to global warming, highlights the harsh reality of climate chaos confronting Bangladesh today. Such human suffering, driven by reckless profit-seeking, constitutes climate injustice and a gross violation of human rights. 

Our world stands at a precipice, with a clear choice before us – continue down the path of destruction and witness the catastrophic consequences, or take decisive action towards responsible consumption and just transition. It is time for governments, businesses, civil society, and especially the young people, to unite in demanding a radical shift towards a sustainable and equitable future.

Responsible consumption is a vital part of this transformation, emphasizing conscious choices in what we use and discard. By reducing emissions, embracing renewables, improving energy efficiency, and adopting circular economy principles, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and help combat climate change. This isn’t just a luxury, but a necessity for the well-being of both our planet and future generations. 

Equally imperative is a just transition that ensures no one is left behind in this transformative journey. As we strive for sustainability, we must protect the rights and livelihoods of workers and create new green employment opportunities, especially for the youth. Compassion, empathy, and cooperation must guide us as we collectively shoulder the responsibility of addressing the climate crisis.

The youth, informed, passionate, and resolute agents of transformation, wield the power to be driving forces of change. Riding the wave of heightened environmental consciousness, young individuals possess significant leverage in shaping market trends. Through championing sustainable products and services, endorsing eco-conscious businesses, and holding corporations responsible for their ecological footprint, the youth stand poised to ignite a profound and far-reaching positive transformation on the global stage.

Public awareness and education campaigns play a crucial role in promoting responsible consumption and environmental consciousness. Climate action transcends mere policies and conferences; it encompasses every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and the modes of transportation we choose. It is a collective movement that places the health of our planet, wildlife, and humanity above temporary profits.

Business leaders and investors, too, have a pivotal role to play in this transition. Prioritizing global climate commitments over short-term financial gains, transparent, and ethical practices are the cornerstones of responsible business. By translating ambitious climate goals into actionable steps, businesses can contribute to transforming our economic system, prioritizing social welfare, and environmental well-being.

As a global community, we stand at a pivotal moment – one that presents us with a clear choice. We can either perpetuate the path of destruction and face catastrophic consequences or take decisive action towards responsible consumption and a just transition. Governments, businesses, civil society, and especially the youth must unite to demand a radical shift towards a sustainable and equitable future.

Let us take a collective pledge to be the generation that transforms the future narrative of our planet. Let us stand united as a force for positive change, advocating for a greener, safer, and more sustainable planet. The urgency of the climate crisis necessitates that we set aside personal gains and prioritize the health of our world. 

In conclusion, the dawn of action has arrived, and it’s a moment filled with boundless potential! On International Youth Day, true success is redefined by advocating responsible consumption, nurturing sustainable consumerism, and leading a  Just Transition towards a brighter, eco-friendly future. Let’s establish a new norm where cars no longer symbolize success, and walking doesn’t mean poverty. The destiny of our beloved planet, along with the happiness of generations yet to come, is a magnificent responsibility placed squarely in our capable hands. As the vibrant voices of the youth, our determination must stand unwavering, echoing our call for ethical business conduct and equitable transition strategies. Side by side, we are architects of a future where prosperity harmonizes with the dignity of human existence and the preservation of our precious environment. Together, let’s craft this sustainable world, where profit and compassion coexist, as we pave the way towards a future we can all be proud of.

Sohanur Rahman is Executive Coordinator, YouthNet 

for Climate Justice

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