Published On: December 28, 2022 07:53 PM NPT By: Samiksha Shrestha
Photo: WWF Nepal/Facebook
KATHMANDU, Dec 28: Climate crisis is a major problem but developing nations such as Nepal are not committed to manage and carry the burden of such global problems. Despite certain political decisions being made in regards to national climate policy and the political parties backing the issue of climate change and environment in their election manifestoes, implementation of national climate strategies seems a pipedream in Nepal. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)’s framework of the Paris Agreement explicitly allows countries to simultaneously consider national policies and global climate objectives, but often in our communities where climate actions are crucial, the interactions between states are neglected, leading to an unclear picture of the decision-making process in climate change.
With a focus on identifying and implementing the climate change mitigation strategies by the decision-makers in Nepal, and to facilitate the interaction between the three tiers of government in Nepal, Save the Children and WWF Nepal organized a national-level event titled ‘SHIFT-Shifting Power to Young People’ in collaboration with five youth groups on Tuesday, December 27.
Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa as well as Manushi Yami Bhattrai, Tara Chettri Karki, deputy country director of Save the Children Nepal and Ghana Shyam Gurung, country representative of WWF Nepal, Phunjo Thangmu Lama, Guinness world record holder for climbing Mt Everest in 39 hrs and 6 minutes and Anil Keshary Shah participated in the event. Youth campaigners from various parts of Nepal raised their concerns regarding climate change and urged decision-makers to invest more in climate justice.
They also demanded the establishment of environment departments at the local units and awareness to shift the perception and myth of community people towards climate change such as ‘god is doing everything’, ‘we cannot control it’. Members of youth networks demand that the voices of Nepali youth be included in national documents and also presented in international forums. The five youth campaigners were Nepalese Youth for Climate Action (NYCA), Pariwartak and Eco-Warriors from Kathmandu, Forestry Students’ Group from Hetauda and Kayapalat from Dhanusha, who were selected through an open competition that Save the Children and WWF Nepal organized in April 2022.
Addressing the programs as a guest, NC youth leader Gagan Thapa, a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Representatives (HoR) said, “I participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) 2009 due to my interest in issues of Climate Change, although I am not the member of Climate Parliament and not in any committee of the parliament related to climate justice. In Nepal, most of the MPs don’t seem to have any interest in this issue. MPs and leaders tend to talk about these issues in social discourse, programmes, debate, parliament, political meetings, policy making courses, but in private conversations even those policy makers and stakeholders who live in the same community don't think that the issue of climate change is the issue of ours. They think worrying about it is the responsibility of international organizations.”
He added, “From all levels of government- federal, provincial or local level, they think that climate change is not an urgent problem and is not the problem of ours. For instance, even if we go to the mayor with the problem of climate change, they show reluctance to help. This is all because of the gap that has been created due to miscommunication. So, it is necessary to address such issues through programs like this. Through the engagement of youths, we have to change the behavior pattern. Youth should change the way of conversation so that the policy makers could connect themselves to the issues of climate change, bring local stories, connect climate issues through culture. There should be discussions about green jobs, National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and there should be necessary actions from local governments as well.”MP Thapa also expressed his hope that through such programmes, youths will be able to draw the attention of concerned authorities to take initiatives for climate justice.
At the program, the youths connected culture with climate. They gave narratives of the cultural festivals of Newar, Kirant and other communities in relation to the agricultural-ecological system. The festivals such as Yomari Punhi, Indrajatra, Udhauli-Ubhauli relate to pre-monsoon (preparation for paddy plantation) to post-monsoon ( rice harvest) events. In the event, a skit was shown and all five groups presented their climate campaigns.
Nepalese Youth for Climate Action (NYCA)
This youth group, who has a long history and a vast nationwide network, worked on increasing climate awareness among more than a thousand children across 25 public schools. They reached audiences through a range of outreach activities, including flash mobs, a social media campaign, contests and more. “The issue of climate change needs to be politically addressed and though young people can do a lot, big change is not possible without political will. Our objective is to influence the decision makers to take immediate climate actions. We want to influence the decision makers through our campaigns,” said Deepshikha Nepal from NYCA.
This team incorporated the global trend of “plogging” (picking up litter while jogging) with their endangered native mascot, the red panda, in a campaign which aimed to recruit 500 new members in three months. They aimed to reduce plastic pollution in Kathmandu through public events, competitions, social media challenges, involvement of celebrity and media outreach. “Climate change impacts children and youth the most as they will be the ones facing the consequences of today’s negligence. Hence, it’s time for us to come together as an alliance and raise our voice for more investment and accountability from the government for climate action so that the risk of climate change can be mitigated and children and youth can have a safer future,” said Ramesh Devkota from Pariwartak’s Kathmandu Ploggers team.
Forestry Students’ Group
This group focused on the impact of climate on marginalized indigenous groups. Their campaign focused on the threatened Chiuri tree — a multi-purpose tree which the Chepang people rely on for their livelihoods and traditional practices. Their campaign focused on increasing awareness of sustainable Chiuri-based products and the promotion of alternative livelihood solutions.
This proud LGBTQ+ group will develop a campaign around an ethical fashion label. They have plans for a sustainable fashion show involving influencers and media outlets. They also funded the installation of 50 solar panels in Karnali Province. Their campaign aims to engage the LGBTQ+ community in the climate response whilst at the same time raise awareness of alternative renewable energy sources and reforestation.
This team used social media and a series of public events like ‘Plastic Man Campaign’ to engage at least 50 young volunteers across the Madesh Province, raising awareness on climate change and the need for action, with a focus on plantation and beautification projects. Diwakar Upreti from Dhanusa who leads Kayapalat said, “Young people are doing a lot, but we have limitations and if we have the support from both federal and local governments, our campaigns will be more meaningful and effective. Climate change should be the government’s main agenda as we have already experienced its impact in our lives.” He also pointed out how ‘climate change’ was the agenda in every political party’s election manifesto but those issues are likely to be forgotten as soon as the election is over.
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