Young students with smiling faces were sitting in a big conference room of the central library of International Islamic University Islamabad. It was our 2nd Connectors Training Programme in Pakistan. I and Majid were whispering how to make the today’s connectors’ presentations interesting to this young generation of Pakistan.
Our first impression about these students was quite different. We were thinking they might take the Climate Change topic very casual especially in the case when we are already having number of issues related to our youth in the current socio-economic and political crisis in the country.
However, these young students proved to be quite different than other students and why not, because they belonged to the Environmental Club of the university- a much encouraging students’ group that work to promote safe environment. And perhaps we created more interest in our discussion all the time because of the most interactive and touchy slides of the Al Gore years’ long work on Climate Change. And then we enriched our discussion with the presence of majority of the brilliant students studying in the Environmental Science department of the university. Keeping in view our audience as students, we set our three main objectives;1) Understand science of Climate Change, it’s cause and impacts 2) Build Connectors community in Pakistan to create mass awareness on Climate Change and 3) Engage Youth to advocate on Climate Crisis and take action for greener Pakistan
Why we need to create awareness on Climate Change? And why our youth need to come forward to take the responsibilities? These were the questions we focused all the time in our presentation. In Pakistan where majority of population is unaware about the facts of Climate Change, we lack strong political will to address this issue locally, nationally and internationally. Our youth has to look on these perspectives for our future generation along with other stakeholders.
Our youth is our future and we need our future safe and for a safe future, youth has a strong role to inform their friends, family and communities about the catastrophes of Climate Change”. Once people are aware, they will not only think to change their lives but also demand government to take action.
One of the good things about our host Environmental Club was its regular interaction with the environment ministry of Pakistan. “Why not to utilize this opportunity and ask government to advocate for Pakistan position strongly for Mexico COP16 this December”, I asked. It was really a fruitful discussion when we explored the facts and figures related to Pakistan and its comparison with the world.
“Our average temperature increase is more than global average. We have 20% water available per person of what we had 50 years ago. We are losing our coastal areas. 20,000 people die only in Karachi every year because of unsafe water. 60% infant’s die because of water related disease. Our all major cities have highly polluted air and environmental degradation impacts 6% of our GDP”.
Our message of the day was to change our self, families and communities and work on the plate form of the Environmental Club with government and other institution for safe environment.
“Let us understand sustainable development in true sense, I added. On one side we see rapid increase in vehicle use while on the other side population living below the poverty line continues to increase. But is it the solution to be 100% environment friendly at national level only in Pakistan? Of course NOT”, we emphasized.
“We will still be suffering from catastrophe of Climate Change even in best case scenario we are 100% free from environmental pollution at country level. It is GLOBAL carbon emission which has no boundaries in the atmosphere”. I added. “We contribute only 0.43% in global carbon emission while Australia has more than 25% share. Our per capita emission is only 0.7 t CO2, while an Australian produces 27 tCO2 per year. We are facing hours long load shedding but if there is a few minutes electricity break down in New York it becomes big news on media. In simple words we stand at the 12th most vulnerable nation in the world due to the Climate Change and we need a strong political will to advocate on it internationally.
What solution we have in front of us as youth in Pakistan? We asked. “Environmental Club has a strong asset in shape of these young students to reach more and more people. Influence your audience to change life style, save water, save lands, plant trees, and stop using plastic bags. And most importantly utilize your Club’ plate form beyond the approach of inviting government officials to talk on safe environment but advocate to take action for Mexico conference preparation for a legally binding agreement. Simply ask, we know huge commitment for adaptation and mitigation fund so bring it to our country, build institutional capacity and human resources and protect our people at risk from glacier melt, flooding, coastal erosion, food crisis, fresh water shortage and vanishing bio-diversity".
I must say I had such a fantastic group of students I talk to on the Climate Change issue. I found everything that I needed, interest, ambition, commitment and most important love for the nature.
I wanted to hear from these young energetic guys because I strongly believe our youth can really make a difference for a safe future. “Although we are already working on environmental protection but the today’s talk on Climate Change and the extra ordinary work of The Climate Project (TCP) in Climate Change has really widen our vision. We are ready to work for this voluntary campaign in Pakistan with all our support”.