Young Climate Activists Of Indian Origin Join Hands With UN Showcasing Achievements

The United Nations in India launched its climate campaign ‘We The Change’, which aims to showcase climate solutions pioneered by young Indians as a celebration of India’s climate leadership on Monday last week. Through the WeTheChangeNow call to action, 17 young climate champions invited fellow young Indians to join the movement by sharing their climate action stories on the campaign website, also launched on Monday.

“The campaign – inspired by the stories of India’s young climate leaders – encourages us to adopt a more solution-based, innovative approach to fight climate change. We know solutions are already within reach to solve the present climate crisis. We hope that through the WeTheChangeNow campaign, we will inspire bolder climate action from people, communities and the national and state governments,” said UN Resident Coordinator in India, Deirdre Boyd. The campaign celebrates and curates innovative, sustainable and equitable climate solutions and actions being pioneered by young people in India. The focus is on strengthening engagement with governments and civil society for a more collaborative approach to climate action, a release said.

“We need enabling spaces for co-learning and collaboration for effective climate action. It’s inspiring to be part of a journey that allows me to meet other young people who are championing climate action and advocacy while collaborating with various policymakers and other climate stakeholders,” young climate campaigner and member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, Archana Soreng said.

“India has shown great leadership in combating climate change through its strategic and timely climate policies. Currently, India is on track to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitments and is likely to outperform its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in critical sectors, including renewable energy. Challenges remain, and the valuable contributions of young people in green action and recovery, can propel breakthrough innovations to protect India and the world, especially the most vulnerable, from the impact of climate change,” the release said.

“Over the course of the campaign, we will create spaces for young people, civil society, climate groups, media, and governments to collaborate through online dialogues, discussions, and face-to-face interactions,” it said. “The campaign’s 17 young climate leaders represent innovation and action across diverse sectors, including renewables, forest management, financing, climate entrepreneurship, sustainable agriculture, disaster risk reduction, ecosystem restoration, water conservation and waste management,” it added.

UN Secretary-General’s Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals, actor and producer, Dia Mirza, who has lent her support to the digital campaign, said: “We can still make a difference, restore our planet, and make peace with nature. These 17 young climate leaders, the faces of the ‘We The Change’ movement, are showing us the way ahead towards climate justice and climate action. Their stories have inspired me and I hope they inspire people everywhere to share their climate actions, big or small, using #WeTheChange now.” The Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), a Delhi-based organization that uses the judicial system to advance environmental goals and empower vulnerable populations, has won the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel”.

It shared the award with three activists: Marthe Wandou, a gender and peace activist who has worked to prevent sexual violence against girls in the Lake Chad area of Cameroon; Russian environmental campaigner Vladimir Slivyak; and indigenous rights campaigner Freda Huson of the Wet’suwet’en people in Canada.

Founded in 2005 by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, LIFE’s attorneys are among India’s leading public interest lawyers. It has represented tribals in Odisha against Vedanta over its Bauxite mines in the Niyamgiri Hills, local communities against the Jindal Steels and Power’s mine in Chhattisgarh, horticulturalists opposing Lafarge’s limestone mining in Himachal Pradesh, and mango farmers in Ratnagiri against JSW’s thermal power plant, among others. (A 2013 profile of Dutta here on ET)

LIFE has helped communities fight against some of India’s most significant environmental threats: the construction of ecologically destructive projects in violation of the law, preventing deforestation and making industrial polluters pay for the damage caused to the environment and public health, the Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said.

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