With an aim to mobilise youth, build their leadership skills, and empower them to lead the fight against climate change, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) organised the Global Youth Climate Summit, in partnership with Foundation for Climate Restoration, Resilient Markets, and the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge, recently. The two-day virtual event brought together 500 young change makers, aged between 13 and 24, and engaged them in an inter-generational dialogue with leading experts in the field of climate change.
The second day began with a workshop, "Leadership for Climate Action". The session kicked off with insight from Ejaj Ahmad, President and Founder of BYLC. "The purpose of leadership is a desire to help others," he said. "We have to focus on all aspects of the ecosystems, and I believe the youth can help mobilise the sector and lead the way towards change".
The workshop was organised in 4 groups, with 150 members in each one. The break-out sessions focused on four pledge points: Adoption of clean energy and low carbon transportation, exploring a more plant-based diet, considering having a smaller family and urging one's community and government to prioritise the well-being of both ecosystems and human beings.
The second session, "View from the Frontlines", moderated by Sohara Mehroze Shachi, MSc Student, Environmental Change & Management, University of Oxford and Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Bangladesh Accelerator Lab, began with an enlightening presentation by Dr Nurul Islam Nazem, Professor and Chairman, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Dhaka and Taieba Hosne Ishrat from BYLC. The presentation highlighted the findings of survey-based research titled 'Youth and climate change: Bangladesh context' conducted by BYLC.
Speakers Harry Verweij, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh, Judith Herbertson, Development Director, Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), Bangladesh and Dr A Atiq Rahman, Executive Director, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, were also present in the discussion. "The world is still trying to respond and recover from the coronavirus pandemic and I say that for the next big struggle will be results of climate change," shared Harry Verweij. "Turning our backs to issues like carbon emissions and greenhouse effects won't save us. The urgency to act has never been greater. Let us all move together as we owe it to the future generations."
Twelve climate champions were competitively selected from the delegates and recognised for their ideas to combat climate change at the closing plenary and award ceremony of the summit. Each of the champions will receive a full scholarship to attend a BYLC leadership course and a USD 1,000 award for their climate restoration projects.
The programme was moderated by Farzana Kashfi, Governing Board Member, BYLC. Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Honourable Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament, and Sir Christopher Ball, Former Warden of Keble College, Oxford University; First Chancellor, University of Derby; Director of Learning, The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, were present at the session, among others.
The climate champions are Lamia Tasnim, Md Fahim Hossain, Ashraful Islam Rokon and S A Rifat Osman (Bangladesh), Jimcale A Faara (Somalia), Sanchit Jain (India), Lisa Rizka Amelia (Indonesia), Fares Shmayssani (Lebanon), Florah Kendi Juma (Kenya), Imtiaz Ali (Pakistan), Beatrice Phiri (Guinea), and Ninive Ariana Mendez Gonzalez (Paraguay).
"We are very proud to offer these scholarships to those who are doing wonderful work for the future," said Sir Christopher Ball, whose generous contribution has made this summit a successful one. "We look forward to progress reports from BYLC after a year and hope that this initiative will inspire other such donors and sponsors to contribute to this cause."
The programme ended with a speech from Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury. "I am very happy to see such change makers from over a hundred nations who look forward to fighting climate change with their innovative ideas," she mentioned. "To move the youth across six continents and motivate them to lead the way out of adverse events of climate change is no lesser of an achievement."