Bangladeshi youth will hold accountable the governments and businesses with concrete actions for ensuring climate justice at COP26
We are in a global climate emergency situation with huge adverse impacts on our planet and people. Developing countries like Bangladesh have the least contribution to the current climate catastrophe but pay the highest level of cost of loss and damage each year. We, young people are dealing with major extreme events, which are depriving us of essential basic social service provisions. The sense of protection is endangered in the future as well as the present too.
As a coastal resident myself, I witnessed many tropical cyclones from my childhood. It had been a very terrifying experience, realizing how many people have lost their houses in my very own community due to climate-induced natural disasters. After witnessing several extreme events, I had recognized how vulnerable coastal people in Bangladesh really are.
To make a difference and to help the people in coastal Bangladesh, I got involved in climate activism. A few years back I had traveled to Andar Char (island) of Patuakhali district for documentary purposes. It was an eye-opening visit for me, the island is incredibly at risk of climate-linked disasters where eight thousand residents have access to just one cyclone shelter and no high school.
Observing the human suffering on the grounds, I was determined to do something more that ensured climate justice for the vulnerable people. I wanted my work to amplify the unheard voices of these communities. So, I initiated a youth network called YouthNet for Climate Justice, which implemented different action plans for community mobilization, campaigns, advocacy works.
Currently we have mobilized over 1,500 volunteers across Bangladesh. This nationwide network is also providing capacity development training to local youth. Moreover, on last year's International Youth Day we hosted a coastal youth action hub with the aim to promote youth movement building and policy advocacy.
Involvement with Fridays for Future Movement
Fridays for Future (FFF) is a global youth-led climate strike movement started in August 2018 led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. The aim of the movement is to place moral pressure on global leaders, to concentrate on the scientists, then to wish urgent action to limiting global warming.
I also involved myself in the FFF movement through some international young friends on Facebook who were also involved in Greta’s movement. We followed their involvement with climate strikes, then offered to fight together.
Following in the footsteps of Greta, we started climate strikes with the lens of climate justice and urged the national and world leaders to act against global climate change with urgent action. We’ve faced many ignorance and systemic barriers but tackled these challenges through advocacy and positive engagement with the policymakers.
Considering our demands, Bangladesh Parliament has taken the first-ever motion on the point of global climate change as Planetary Emergency and this year the government has declared the Mujib Climate Prosperity plan to decarbonize the economy.
Moreover, as per to news online the government announced recently that Bangladesh is going to cancel 10 coal-based projects as they revise the country’s power system master plan (UNB, 2021).
Greta Thunberg appreciated our initiative of FFF Bangladesh and all climate activists who were behind to cancel 10 coal-fired power plant projects within the country. Currently, we are working closely with Parliamentarians to develop a roadmap and Youth Vision Document to achieve climate justice.
However, we also changed the word 'global south’ and adopted a term called MAPA: Most Affected People and Area, to make the communities that suffer the most from the impacts of the climate crisis more visible.
Recognizing this term, FFF is getting ready to host a subsequent global climate strike #UprootTheSystem on September 24, 2021. It’s time to break the global system within the era of loss and damage from human-induced climate crises and Bangladeshi youth will keep pushing through the challenge to hold accountable the governments and businesses with concrete actions for ensuring climate justice at COP26.
Focusing on the COP26 UN Summit, we are going to develop a vision document by organizing a series of youth consultations. After finalizing this document, we will share this agenda with our policymakers and then it will be presented at Youth Summit-COP26 in Milan. This vision document will reflect our demands and climate pledge.
Sohanur Rahman is Founding Member of the Fridays for Future Bangladesh and Coordinator of the YouthNet for Climate Justice.