Youth Policy Forum (YPF) partnered with the British High Commission and The Commonwealth to host a dialogue titled "Youth, Climate Action and The Commonwealth: Delivering a Climate- Resilient Future Together ' on 11 March.
The purpose of this dialogue was to reflect on the highlights of the COP26 and discuss how the countries of the commonwealth can come together to become more climate-resilient and the role youth from the commonwealth nations can play to make their local communities' climate-resilient.
The Business Standard was the media partner of the event.
Promoting the outcome of COP26 and Glasgow Climate Pact
The event started with a brief presentation from two members of the YPF Environment Policy Network.
The first presenter of the evening, Samiha Khan who is also a lecturer at Daffodil University, started off with a presentation on the outcome of the latest climate conference at Glasgow and the lessons from this COP26.
One of the biggest highlights of this year's COP26 was the pledge to phase "down" coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, by the middle of this century.
"The Glasgow Climate Pact," said Samiha Khan adding, "put science front and centre and urged countries toward a more ambitious climate response."
Then she went on to give an outline on how these goals can be achieved. On the issue of climate finance, she noted that most of the financing is inaccessible to poorer countries due to high interest rates of these loans.
She furthered that more funding needs to go toward climate mitigation, especially for countries like Bangladesh.
The UK presidency at COP26
Meanwhile, the initiative's second presenter, Nivedita Alice, talked about the important role played by the UK presidency at the COP26.
She gave an overview of the UK's NDCs, driving pillars of change, some examples of actions to date and provided some policy recommendations. Some noteworthy domestic commitments included planting trees on 30,000 hectares of land by 2025, making climate related disclosures mandatory by 2025, creating up to 2 million green jobs by 2030.
The UK presidency at COP 26 aims to drive change through five pillars.
Nivedita put the rapid transition from coal and gas to renewables as a high priority policy recommendation.
She said that the government needs to move fast and do everything possible to ensure a rapid transition away from fossil fuels.
"Tax incentives can play an important role here. Government has to make sure that businesses of all sizes make climate resilience their strategic priority," she added.
Feasibility of Glasgow Climate Pact
Professor Mizan R Khan who Is the deputy director of ICCCAD said that previous COPs were mired with procrastination and indecisiveness. Relative to that, COP26 made some concrete progress such as the commitment to provide 400 million dollars in climate finance towards adaptation and LDC fund which is a result of strong lobbying efforts from climate vulnerable countries.
Professor Mizan pointed out that, while developed countries have been very reluctant to provide climate finance to poor countries, the military spending around the developed has been rising even during the pandemic. This goes on to show that the main obstacle for climate financing is not money, it's the willingness of developed countries.
He also noted that the challenge of the subsequent COPs would be to reach out to the local communities. He emphasized that more needs to be done in terms of lobbying and youth leadership. He also strongly suggested the youth leadership from the global south need to forge a stronger coalition with the youth leadership from the developed countries.
Climate resilience in local communities
Eva Peace who is from Rwanda and the co-founder of Loss and Damage Youth Coalition talked about the needs of her community. She said that different cultures have different needs and there should be a need-based assessment for projects, funds to ensure the best use of already scarce climate funds.
In order to build climate resilience, Eva observed that local communities on the ground need to be involved in the negotiations and the local people should be given proper authority.
Iqra Zaheen who is the founder of Al-Iqbal Foundation of Pakistan shared her experiences and the challenges she faced in the course of her climate activism.
She mentioned that public and private collaboration are crucial for scaling up small youth-led climate related projects.
Youth has to be given priority here. Youth in our country can play a pivotal role in engaging their local community if they are provided with proper platform and funding.
There is no substitute for local knowledge
Tanvir Ahmed Haroon, honourable fellow at the YPF, stressed on the need for more community engagement and representation at future COPs.
He said, "Champions must come from private sectors, marginal communities and they need to be visible in the COP negotiations."
Instead of a top-down approach where experts at a luxury hotel decides how to help marginal and coastal communities, a bottom-up approach is needed where the experts listen to people from these vulnerable communities and take their concerns and sufferings into account., he added.
The live recording of this event is available on YPF's Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter profile.