August 12, 2022
By Xari Jalil
The issue of climate change and its impact on young people is integral to the future, as at least 27 per cent of Pakistan’s population is between the ages of 15 to 29 years and the number of youths in Pakistan is expected to rise by 2050. Youth is the biggest stakeholder in climate action because of the intergenerational nature of climate challenges and deserves to be at the forefront of all planned policies and action.
This was discussed in an event on International Youth Day, August 12, 2022, at the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) Islamabad, with support from the German Development Cooperation hosted the Youth for Climate Action seminar. Over 65 students and activists from Mardan, Peshawar and the twin cities were in attendance along with policymakers and dignitaries, who motivated the youth to engage in climate action in Pakistan.
Keeping in view the Pakistan Vision 2025 the seminar aimed to integrate intergenerational voices in climate action. The seminar was hosted and moderated by Ameera Adil, a climate change communicator and founder of clim-8.org.
Senior Advisor Adaptation to Climate Change at GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Dr Mohammad Abid, emphasized the role of youth in successful climate action and invited their support to act as role models to secure their future.
“We all know that addressing climate change is not a topic of discussion for policymakers only. The time is now for everyone to become part of this global movement to save our precious planet,” he said.
Kamran Naeem, of ‘WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) ‘Enabling Environment & Climate,’ UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) introduced the concept of ‘COP in my City’ events which are planned around COP 27 in the major cities of Pakistan.
As an exercise, participants were divided into groups to develop a policy brief and statement of youth on various issues of climate change such as flooding, migration, drought, locust attacks, GLOF (Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding), rise of sea levels and heatwaves.
Each group simulated a country’s parliament, complete with ministers, presidents and prime ministers and envisioned a climate resilient path/adaptation, developed youth-led Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) implementation project ideas, and a roadmap to establish cooperation mechanisms between youth leaders and policymakers. They discussed their policies and cross-questioned each other resulting in a dynamic learning experience for all.
Meanwhile, Antonia Peters, First Secretary Development Cooperation – Embassy of Germany, Pakistan said, that all over the planet, young people were leading action to combat climate change.
“(They are) fighting for their future; fighting for our futures. And together, your hard work and perseverance will help to move this issue right up the political agenda.”
The seminar also had a panel discussion between Herman Nasir (SDG Coordinator – UN (United Nations) SDG Student Program), Haniya Imran (Founder – Youth Climate Activist Pakistan) and Reem Sharif (transgender rights activist). The panel spoke about how society at large was being affected by climate change and that change needed to happen now.
“Climate change is a human rights issue, and we need to change now as we do not have time. The government needs to trust the youth. We are not made part of the policies and are not the key driving forces for the implementation of policies,” said Herman Nasir adding that the youth is not given enough knowledge to become part of the change.
“As humans, we tend to ignore issues unless they come knocking at our door,” said Reem Sharif. “Climate change is here now. And if we talk about the vulnerable communities, especially the transgender community, it is exceedingly difficult for them to cope with regular issues let alone climate change and climate change will affect them the worst,” she said.
“In Pakistan, we are still trying to understand what the problem is and there isn’t much expertise on the issue,” said Hania Imran.
The event ended with a note by Tobias Becker, Country Director – GIZ Pakistan.
“Young people have provided a paradigm shift to the overall climate discussions and remind us of the urgency we face and what we are all working towards – a climate just and sustainable future,” he said.