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Youth-led advocacy calls for improved climate finance for resilience in Bangladesh

September 2021

A virtual dialogue about the importance of facilitating youth-led advocacy to improve climate finance efficacy took place on 19 March. The event aimed to build momentum for action ahead of the upcoming COP26 climate conference this November. The dialogue was attended by Nahim Razzak, Convener of Bangladesh’s ‘Climate Parliament’, and Syeda Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK.

The speakers emphasized the urgency of engaging youth in climate action. The voices of young people have played an important role domestically. Last year, over a million children were engaged in a historic Children’s Climate Summit, which led to a Children’s Climate Declaration, presented to national leaders in the spirit of intergenerational solidarity. In the Declaration, the children call for decision-makers to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; to invest in education, training, and a green economy; and to protect children against the impacts of climate change.

Tasneem also recognizes that Bangladeshi youth have also an important role to play on the international stage. “The younger generation has to raise its voice in front of the climate movement because they have to live in the world to come. … Everyone now needs to work together with special civil society, the youth community, women, and people with disabilities to address the negative effects of climate change,” she remarked.

One area where youth engagement can impact urban resilience is through helping to unlock climate finance flows to Bangladesh and other climate-vulnerable nations. It is hoped that Bangladeshi youth can show their first-hand experiences of dealing with climate disasters and bring local resilience solutions to the world stage. Such exposure is important as climate finance flows are currently not sufficient to deal with the scale of the challenge in climate-vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.

The chair of the event Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed, pointed to the potential to support climate-resilient development through international funds such as the Green Climate Fund. However, he noted that Bangladesh has received only $100 million in grants and $250 million in loans through international channels for climate finance. “Young people can play an important role in bringing accountability to the local implementation of climate projects,” he said.

The event was jointly organized by Protiki Jubo Sangshad, Coastal Youth Action Hub, and Youth net for Climate Justice. The Coastal Youth Action Hub and Youth Net for Climate Justice are based in coastal districts such as Patuakhali and Bagerhat. YouthNet for Climate Justice is a youth-led organization that acts as a platform for promoting climate action by young people. This platform enables local youths to demonstrate aspects of climate injustice relevant to particular geolocation and urge the local government and institutional actors to take appropriate action.

The Coastal Youth Action Hub is hosted by Protiki Jubo Sangsad (Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament) and YouthNet for Climate Justice and aims to combat a climate emergency in the country in partnership with the ActionAid Bangladesh and the British Council. The Youth Action Hub is a two-year-long pilot initiative, serving as an incubation space for grassroots youth activists based in the coastal area of Bangladesh.

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AUTHOR

  • Manik Kumar Saha