Youth-led climate activism in countries like Pakistan should shape environmental negotiations

Youth-led climate activism in countries like Pakistan should shape environmental negotiations

Short Url

The world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24, making it the largest cohort of youth in the history of mankind on the planet.
Around 710 million children are living in countries at the highest risk of suffering from the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Every child born today faces multiple health and economic harms from the impacts of climate change. The youth has contributed the least to the climate crisis but every child living on this planet is inheriting more frequent extreme weather events than ever before. Extreme temperatures are leaving many families, especially those living in developing countries, with less food, access to clean drinking water and malnutrition. Rapidly deteriorating air quality is wreaking havoc with the immune and respiratory systems of the body. According to Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change study, children are particularly vulnerable. Health damage in early childhood is persistent and pervasive with lifelong consequences.
Wildfires, floods, hurricanes have become a frightening new normal, destroying homes, properties, jobs, infrastructure vital to children’s well-being. Droughts and flash floods are damaging crops and disrupting food supply chains. The cumulative impact of these are economic losses and climate migrations, putting further stress on the physical, emotional and mental health of children and adolescents.
Youth around the world is becoming increasingly aware of the challenges facing them in the backdrop of the climate crisis and of a collective sense of urgency to steer policy makers toward forming policies to address the crisis. Their unprecedented mobilization around the world shows the massive power they possess to question and hold decision makers accountable.

Although Pakistan only contributes 0.8 percent of total GHG emissions, it ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, alongside India and Bangladesh.

Mehreen Mujtaba


In this arena of climate activism, youth from Pakistan is also participating in making their voices heard. Although Pakistan only contributes 0.8 percent of the total GHG emissions, it ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, alongside India, Bangladesh and other countries in the region. Youth climate activists have been holding various rallies in different parts of the country demanding climate and social justice and a liveable planet for their future. Some of the youth activists from Pakistan also participated in the strikes held in Glasgow this month, to highlight the climate change impacts in Pakistan. It was heartening to see so many young people from different countries, ethnicities and backgrounds coming together and rallying around a common cause.
This month, CoP 26 in Glasgow saw some intense climate marches organized by young climate change activists from around the world, gathered together to demand climate justice. These young people, who are going to be the victims of the climate crisis demanded immediate and concrete action plans. They are frustrated with the red tape-ism and slow bureaucratic procedures which underline ambitions and commitments set out by governments and multilateral agencies. They want to take matters into their own hands. Youth-led climate strikes worldwide have brought to the fore the realization that future generations want immediate answers to this crisis because they are the ones who will have to face its devastations. In a way, it’s a unique movement which challenges the traditional role of the older generation in decision making.
Addressing an issue like climate change is not an easy job, but at the same time it’s not an impossible dream either. The urgency the youth is feeling needs leadership on environmental issues. Another way is finding tangible, innovative technological tools for mitigating the impacts of climate change, definitive commitments from world leaders to reach net zero as well as accelerating their deadlines to publish more ambitious climate goals.
In order to make climate goals a reality, youth participation and involvement needs to be an essential part of climate negotiations, especially youth from countries that are facing the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.

- Dr. Mehreen Mujtaba is a freelance consultant working in the areas of environment and health.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view