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A United Effort

Posted by NYCA Blogger on September 14, 2009


By Farrukh Zaman

The South Asian Youth Summit on Climate Change (SAYSoCC) was an incredibly delightful experience. It not only proved to be a productive one in terms of enlightening the youth about various environmental issues, but also, provided an opportunity for the participants to forge relationships that permit collective and collaborative thinking and action towards tackling climate change.

Even though the Summit largely comprised of young individuals, one cannot doubt the seriousness and hard work involved that made the event possible, and successful. The diversity and talent that the Summit attracted from1 different countries of the South Asian region was impressive. Under one roof, I met a project coordinator for UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) from Bangladesh, a journalist from Bhutan, a financial officer working for UN in Afghanistan, a Ministry representative from Pakistan and youth activists from Nepal and India, among others. This multiplicity proved that no matter which country we belong to, or whatever we do in our daily lives, we all share a common goal: to address the immediate concern of climate change through communication and partnership in South Asia.

Climate Talks

SAYSoCC featured informative presentations and sessions on several crucial issues and topics on climate change. The Summit was a critical information exchange platform, where the youth was imparted with specialized knowledge and awareness on climate change and its socio-economic and cultural predicaments. A workshop on Public Narrative was also conducted by Will Bates, which taught the participants on how to do effective campaigning against climate change. Furthermore, a simulation exercise based on the pattern of official UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) negotiations was also carried out that not only turned out to be a fun-filled activity, but also exposed the participants to the proceedings of the actual negotiations scenario.

Eco-friendliness

Occasionally does it happen that forums act in accordance with what they aim to project. SAYSoCC was once such event where one got to see the physical manifestation of the idea of eco-friendliness. The organizers of the Summit paid special attention to maintaining a ‘green’ disposition throughout the event. It was a pleasant surprise to know that the Summit venues, Mirabel Resort in Dulikhel and the Kantipur Hotel in Kathmandu, were environment friendly. For instance, the food that we had was recycled using a biogas plant, and the rooms had no fans or television. Upon hearing about the initiatives taken by local networks of different countries on reducing carbon footprints, it became apparent that the participants too really believed in living sustainable and environmentally secure lives.

Shared Vision and Action

However, the most important aspect of the Summit was the formulation of the South Asian Youth Declaration on Climate Change. The efforts of the drafting committee in this regard are noteworthy, who toiled on draft after draft, followed by a heated debate among the participants, to come up with the Declaration. Though the document is an initial effort which still requires further amendments and discussion, , what it offers is certain defined parameters for the South Asian youth and governments which can direct them in their climate change endeavors. One of the most pertinent aspects in the Declaration is the need to have consensus on establishing an adaptation fund (what is an adaptation fund?) that is ‘adequate, predictable, additional and sustainable to ODA (Official Development Assistance)”. However, what is further required for such an adaptation fund is to be effective and fast in terms of transferring the funds to the projects. Additionally, the Declaration also addressed others important areas, such as mitigation, technology transfer, finances and youth participation in policy matters. Overall, the Declaration recognizes the immediate need for regional action to curb the devastating impacts of climate change.

SAY said… With over 100 participants from 10 different countries attended the event, one can expect diverse perspectives and experiences. Aisha, an environmentalist from Maldives, thinks that “SAYSoCC was a focal point for me to meet new people and work towards addressing climate change”. Marina, a youth activist from Pakistan, saw SAYSoCC as “an opportunity to learn about environment issues of different countries”, while Masood from Afghanistan feels that “such events are necessary to empower our youth and make them well-informed about current issues”.

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