Sustainability in the age of Climate Change
BEING a hotbed of climate change disasters, the sustainability crisis in Pakistan is embedded in youth political consciousness, innovations and collaboration, cooperation and interconnections.
These are key areas affecting efforts towards sustainability and major indicators of climate change governance in the 21st Century.
The huge young population of Pakistan is a great resource for sustainable development interventions.
Further, the use of digital technologies, infrastructure of innovation and critical thinking along with the idea of partnership leads to maintaining global dignity, prosperity and peace.
Climate catastrophes are a major threat for global peace and humanity and causing major impediments towards meeting the Goals of the United Nations up to 2030.
Pakistan being one of the largest landscapes of South Asia having over 23 crore population has been under severe climate catastrophes ranging from heat waves to flood disasters.
This caused a natural unrest in the regional life and habitat. This alarming situation is not going to end here but encapsulates the southern and northern regions of the earth zone.
The melting of ice zones and glaciers as well as formation of salinization of sea dried zones is creating a major threat to the mother earth.
The idea of sustainability and climatic change are inversely proportional to each other in the midst of large scale industrial production and extraction of natural resources.
The hunger of capital concentration and global economic growth are the two major indicators which lead to creating climatic unrest.
In this scenario, economic growth and the questions related to the survival of life are contradictory to each other.
At this critical juncture of human history, there is a need to structure a balance between economic growth and questions related to life on earth.
This is a way through which we can ensure sustainability. With the generous cooperation of the China-Pak Youth Exchange Community, KORT and other friends, I have mobilized young people along with relevant stakeholders towards humanitarians’ response in flood hit areas particularly in the neglected areas like Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa etc.
Due to rapid and quick and planned interventions, we rescued thousands of women, children and old aged people.
Now, my team and I are busy with rehabilitation programs. Moreover, we have also launched climate education and resistance programs to facilitate the indigenous and local population in safeguarding ecosystem and biodiversity in different regions of Pakistan.
We are also planning to collaborate with the global community to uplift the livelihood and economy of the local population so that they can avail the opportunity of dignified living through sustainable means.
We are working closely with rehabilitation of biodiversity and besides food supply we distributed blankets, tents, mosquito prevention and hygiene kits.
This is not only a livelihood support to the flood affectees but it is more than that by imparting civic education and preservation of dignity of life in these affected areas.
The local mobilisers, philanthropists and activists were taken onboard for effective service delivery and engaging the locals with climate education.
In the history of floods in Pakistan, it has been observed that many religious and militant organisations came to flood-hit areas on humanitarian grounds and recruited the local flood oppressed people for their nefarious desires and militant operations.
These floods remained an opportunity for these interest groups and militant organisations for long decades.
This time we entered into humanitarian and relief efforts with sophisticated and well-prepared programs along with climate education to ensure the dignity of indigenous flood affected people.
My suggestion is to include marginalized and indigenous communities to mitigate climate crises and also help them to raise their voices.
Further, the accessibility and inclusion of the youth in decision making circles is a way forward.
Presently, the political crises in Pakistan is not the politics itself, it seems more generational crises.
The political leadership and even the political party who have more youth accessibility can win the political aspiration of 70% of the population that consists of the youth.
If the government is willing to mitigate climate change disasters and have political will then it must include the indigenous youths to meet future challenges.
In a Stockholm+50 International Meeting, convened by the UN General Assembly, over 4000 people from nearly 150 countries gathered, including several heads of state and more than 60 ministers, with the purpose to focus on the climate and environment and come up with bold and urgent action needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet.
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, attended the event in Stockholm.
Genuine engagement with the youth, their vision and desires in shaping the future, was featured strongly at Stockholm+50.
A youth task force brought together representatives from youth organizations, constituencies, and other young people from around the world, including Pakistan.
One of the primary purposes of this Task Force was to put forward policy ideas that represented the demands of young people worldwide.
In a Policy Paper produced by the Task Force, young people listed numerous demands calling on world leaders to take drastic action to halt and reverse environmental damage with specific points related to biodiversity conservation.
In the lead-up to the conference, there was a six-month-long preparatory process consisting of numerous open consultations.
In Pakistan, the Embassy of Sweden in collaboration with the Youth Task Force members and other partners organized a dialogue between youth and key stakeholders in which the youth outlined recommendations that were presented there.
At the meeting in Stockholm, around 300 young people participated, along with several thousand joining online.
More than 700 youths also played a role in the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force preparations for the meeting.
From Pakistan, I myself along with four other youth representatives attended the event. The Youth Policy Paper was mentioned in the official Presidents’ meeting summary.
It was not simply mentioned in passing; the presidents specifically encouraged all world leaders to look to it for guidance on implementing the vision of Stockholm+50 and ensuring intergenerational equity.
—To be continued.
—The writer is a Pakistani Climate Youth Leader, UN SDGs Advocate and an expert on Youth Development in the Global South.