Recent upsurge and activism among youth across the globe responding to prevailing environmental degradation including climate change has brought their active role into the forefront. The youth with enormous power and potential to transform our societies towards a sustainable, low carbon and climate-resilient future are now shouldering this responsibility and challenges with multifarious approaches and strategies.
Whether it is one of the poorest global rankings in Environmental Protection Index (177 out of 180 as per EPI 2018 ) or being fourth highest the global emitter of carbon dioxide and sixth largest GHG emitter or witnessing 12.5 per cent of all deaths due to air pollution, India is grappling with environmental challenges coupled with growing problems of poverty and population. With half of its population under the age of 25 , the youth in India has enormous roles and responsibilities with high expectation of people to counter the challenges of climate change
A cursory glance of recently emerged waves of activism among the youth indicates the preponderance of reactive approach to deal with the ongoing climate change issues are it global warming or increased CO2 emission or loss of biodiversity, there has been uproar and protest to control and promulgate drastic policy changes to take concrete, visible and drastic action by policymakers aiming to meet these challenges. We should also, keep this fact in mind that the success of any such reactive approach depends largely upon the positive response among policymakers who are not much responsive to these mainly due to subordinacy of environment to economic growth and also due to the fact that the environmental conversation efforts by and large warrant compromising with individual’s comfort and convenience and any such drastic action not only hamper the much required economic growth but also invite the wrath of people. Further the environmental programmes in developing countries including India are targeted mainly towards mitigation measures like planting trees, adopting energy-efficient technologies for optimum utilisation, combating pollution, conservation and protection of natural resources which include forest and wildlife etc. The adaptation as a strategy to counter climate change-related problems, by and large, does not suit politically, economically and socially since a sizeable population in developing countries live below the poverty line for whom the survival is more important than the concern and care for environment and this sole reason desist the policymakers from taking drastic policy decisions and regulations.
With this kind of prevailing state of affairs in the background, the more desirable and long-lasting approach is to adopt proactive strategies which are more effective and workable in the long run for a country like India where the youth can play an active and contributory role in awareness building, campaigning, encouraging sustainable lifestyles, developing and conserving biodiversity, supporting eco-friendly practices in usage of water, energy etc and facilitating mitigative interventions aimed at controlling and tackling challenges of climate change.
It the youth of today who is going to bear the brunt the consequences of climate change predominantly hence their uproar, apprehension and concern is genuine and warrants immediate cognizance and action.
There are various ways and means which the youth can adopt for becoming an active partner in ongoing programmes of the governments aiming at climate change. Participation of people including youth has already been identified as one of the proven and tested strategies of governance and implementation of various programmes for the last few decades.
The list of activities through which youth can engage themselves in various ongoing programmes of climate change are enormous and many of these depend upon local conditions requiring suitable changes for making the strategy workable. However few of the common activities which can always act as integral components of any such engagements seeking direct or indirect involvement of youth are summarised as under.
1. Involving people (children, college students, villagers and other stakeholders ) for making them aware through various forums.
2. Motivation of various stakeholders for adopting sustainable/eco-friendly approaches.
3. Talking about climate change.
4. Joining ongoing movements aiming at climate change.
5. Campaigns involving various social media platforms.
6. Practising the mitigation and adaptation interventions at a personal level.
7. Lobbying through mass movement/various stakeholders like children, local citizen, villagers or through any NGOs for specified purposes.
8. Awareness building, rallies, peaceful demonstration etc on local issues.
9. Taking part in action-based activities like tree planting, waste collection and segregation, energy saving interventions with multiple stakeholders.
10. Assisting and facilitating local governments and other governmental and non-governmental institutions in their climate mitigation programmes like tree planting, soil and water conservation, energy conservation, usage of resources etc. to make the programme effective and successful.
11. Assisting the governmental and non-governmental institutions in monitoring and evaluation of programmes.
12. Involving and assisting Local Panchayat Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies. In this regards the recent initiative of the government of Telangana to accord much-awaited and due priority to the environment in recently amended the P.R.Act and Municipal Acts is worth mentioning wherein the Sarpanch and Secretary of Panchayats and Chairperson and ward members of Municipalities along with concerned government officials have been entrusted roles and responsibilities with regards to planting of trees and their protection, green action plan, the responsibility of 85% survival of plants and also a provision for green fund. This historic policy changes/legal support coupled with institutional and financial support are indicative of a strong political will, care and concern for the environment by making both public representative/heads and officials of local institutions and ULBs accountable and concerned.
13.Palle Pragti (Village Development) and Pattana Pragati (Town Development) are recently launched programmes of Telangana governments aiming at comprehensive development of Villages and Towns (Urban Local Bodies/Municipalities) with more emphasis on cleaning and greening, public health, sanitation etc with the active participation of people. The youth can become partners and torch bearers for various governmental schemes under these programmes by engaging themselves to meet the objectives of climate change strategies suiting local conditions.
The selection of activities be it an action-based personal initiative or involving and motivating various stakeholders for both mitigation and adaptation initiatives, the effectiveness of any programme involving engagement with youth depend primarily on the suitability and acceptability of such initiative and also on the response from the related agency or government organisations hence require much of ice breaking and persuasion in initial stages to start with any such programme of climate change but with the high degree of commitment, innovative ideas, being interconnected and with persuasive skills, the youth can easily overcome these initial impediments.
email@example.com Twitter : @pargaien
(The views expressed are personal.)