As climate change is becoming a common phenomenon it is intensifying floods, droughts, wildfires, sea level rise, and ocean acidification. However, vulnerable groups such as the youth, women, and girls are trying to turn this disadvantageous scenario into a golden opportunity by becoming agents of change to tackle the climate crisis. They are showing their relentless efforts in creating sustainable and greener business models, leading climate strikes, and raising awareness amongst their communities.
In Bangladesh, several youth-driven platforms, social enterprises, and organizations are flourishing currently — such as Gross International Nature, Garbageman, Reach Community BD, Footsteps, YouthNet, etc to become part of solving the climate crisis. However, the youth are still under-represented when it comes to policy-making or decision-making at the local, national, and global levels. Against this background, Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is a Bangladesh-based knowledge-sharing advocacy platform that aims to bridge the gap between the youth and policy-makers by promoting active and informed discourse on policy issues.
YPF has a number of networks but its most recent one was launched in 2021, which is the Environment and Climate Change network. This is mainly run by young future climate leaders and enthusiasts who are volunteering as leads, coordinators, and associates regularly. The group of young individuals supports the policy-makers by conducting secondary research to make evidence-based decisions. For instance, the young group of researchers provides a summary of key documents such as IPCC reports, the Paris Agreements, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), etc. Additionally, the youth of this network also conduct ad hoc research for the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF).
Recently, YPF’s Environment and Climate Change network got invited to take part in the consultation of Bangladesh’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP). During the consultation, one representative from the network had the opportunity to take part in group work and discussions to validate the NAP. Additionally, the youth network is actively working with the Earth Society (Climate Parliamentarians) to analyze the FY2022-23 Budget and find the relevant climate change and environment allocation.
Moreover, knowledge dissemination and capacity-building are key priority areas of the Environment and Climate Change Network. In March, the youth network partnered with the British High Commission in Dhaka and led a project called Youth, Climate Action, and the Commonwealth. One of the key activities of this project was to collect primary data from the south-western part of Bangladesh in Khulna and Satkhira, the two most climate vulnerable regions of Bangladesh.
The young researchers went to the field and collated climate change and disaster-related data through Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and Key Informant Interview (KII) from the local communities. In addition to this, the researchers also arranged virtual webinars on loss and damage; and youth’s role in commonwealth nations to tackle the climate crisis. This year, the young researchers initiated a standalone conference titled Road to COP27 to bring NGOs, civil society organizations, policy-makers, and academics to pave the way forward for COP27.
This dynamism of the environment and climate change network of YPF signifies how the youth has the potential to understand the intersectionality of climate change and develop solutions through transformative knowledge dissemination.
When the perspective of the younger generation is incorporated into policies and initiatives, it resonates with higher transparency and inclusiveness of the government to build greener habitats. In the future, YPF’s environment and climate change network aims to provide tailored capacity-building sessions to its young research associates on locally-led adaptation, usage of renewable energy in rural areas, and non-economic loss and damage.
Additionally, in the future, the network intends to transmit local, vulnerable communities’ messages to policy-makers at COP27 and the global platforms, and also develop capacity-building modules for future youth negotiators to participate at COPs.
Afsara Binte Mirza is working at ICCCAD as a Junior Research officer. She is also leading Youth Policy Forum’s Environment and Climate Change Network working. Reach her at [email protected] Masrurah Tahiyat is pursuing her B.Sc in Botany from University of Chittagong. She is a content writer of PolyUno and Associate of Environment & Climate Change Policy Network of YPF. Reach her at [email protected]