Sherry calls for youth’s engagement against climate challenges

Published May 18, 2022
Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman speaks at a youth dialogue organised by the embassy of Sweden in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID website
Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman speaks at a youth dialogue organised by the embassy of Sweden in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID website

ISLAMABAD: Hope lay with the young generation to save the planet by engaging with unrelatable climate science of the world that is becoming a daily challenge, said Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman.

“Climate is giving us a powerful message. If you take the moral action required, the universe will give back. Be the leaders you are destined to be,” she told youngsters at the ‘National Youth Dialogue on Right to a Healthy Environment.’

Organised by the embassy of Sweden, United Nations Development Programme, World Wildlife Fund Pakistan and Stockholm+50, the dialogue engaged youth, multilateral organisations, civil society and policymakers to have a focused conversation on what such a right meant in the local context.

The dialogue aimed to create more awareness among the youth regarding their role at a multilateral level, at the policymaking tables such as the Stockholm+50 International Meeting and at the climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COPs).

Says Pakistan lacks resources to create nationwide sustained response to crisis

Ms Rehman said engaging the youth was fundamental to changing dynamics on the ground. Climate stress is real for Pakistan, she said, calling it existential crisis. Heatwaves, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), water scarcity and ferocious weather events are biodiversity responses to human activity.

The minister said Pakistan was under-resourced in terms of expertise and climate funds to create a nationwide coordinated and ongoing sustained response to a crisis brewing for years. She was critical of the creaky, unyielding, governance structures of South Asia, which lacked framework of enablement and the dynamic thinking was limited to policy formation on paper.

“The age of the Anthropocene, where man made, less so woman made, activities have changed the earth, our lives and nature,” she said quipping.

On a serious note, she feared for the vulnerable, mostly women and children, unempowered and others living at the bottom of the social pyramid, who would experience climate stress differently, just like they experience conflict differently.

Ms Rehman reiterated that Pakistan had less than one per cent carbon foot print. “If we are to reverse the worst effects of climate colonialism in the world, the developed countries have to do more,” she added.

“The youth must lead climate conversations at home, in the minds, motivate and mobilise every decision to help the community and the country,” she added.

Henrik Persson, Ambassador of Sweden to Pakistan, said: “Sweden is on the track to become world’s first fossil-free welfare state, reaching net zero emissions by 2045. Stockholm+50 is an opportunity to consider what is going well, what can be improved and what we can do to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Voices of youth needs to be communicated to the leaders to drive action to achieve sustainable development. It is possible to create a better future if we act together. Sweden is open for collaboration.”

Knut Ostby, UNDP resident representative, said: “Pakistan is the fifth most populous and one of the youngest countries. Currently, 68pc of Pakistanis are below the age of 30 and 27pc are aged between 15 and 29. The current moment presents an opportunity for young Pakistanis to drive transformative changes on ground and be ambassadors of climate action.”

Hammad Naqi Khan, WWF-Pakistan Director General, said they have been working to foster young people’s connection with nature. Last year alone, we engaged with over 14,000 youth through various initiatives.

Over 60 young people aged between 11-25 participated in the dialogue and shared their policy proposals. The dialogue was moderated by Saher Rashid Baig, a Pakistani member of the Stockholm+50 Youth Task and a Global youth advocate for climate, ocean, gender and human rights.

The desired and concrete policy demands of the youth dialogue would be communicated to the Stockholm+50 Secretariat and incorporated in its policy positions.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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