Engaging Pakistani Youth in Climate Change Adaptation

By Amal Farooq Malik.

Of all the development areas, climate change is an area that is not getting its due share of importance amongst the youth of Pakistan. Youth aged up to 25 years of age accounts for more than 65% of the total population in Pakistan making them an important priority area to engage as stakeholders in the crusade to adapt to climate change. However, majority are too preoccupied with issues concerning unemployment, education, access to basic health and lack of other opportunities to be able to focus on that which cannot be immediately seen: the harmful effects of climate change.

Most young children and youth who even are engaged in environment related activities are confined to tree plantation, environment awareness walks and art or poster competitions. During the recent SEPLAA Young Leaders’ Club ‘Creativity for Change Semester’ held with youth in Lahore from August to September 2016, a number of discussion and youth policy dialogues on climate change adaptation were held. Out of the participants of these events, some who were interviewed expressed their surprise when they were told about world events that have led to mass migration of people due to the effects of political instability and war triggered by recent effects of climate change.

Where there is a lack of basic education facilities, expecting the youth to understand the gravity of the situation at hand related to climate change and the urgent need for adaptation measures is a rather utopian concept.

Children and Youth need to be engaged at various levels including creative activities of art and writing on a regular and international level so that they understand the gravity of the situation. But at the same time, they must be constantly taught about the changing world around them as a compulsory subject at school and university so that all that what they are studying becomes relevant to their actual learning. To this end school teachers and university teachers must attend compulsory refresher courses sponsored by the Ministry of Environment so that the students are intellectually and practically engaged in an understanding of the problems of the world around them.

About SEPLAA’s pro-environment activities:

In 2010, the SEPLAA Foundation conducted the nationwide ‘Recycled Water Bottles for Flood Victims Campaign’ which was an environmentally friendly innovative relief activity which involved over 200 youth and reached across to over 6000 flood victims. This timely environment and youth disaster management campaign gained international recognition and established the SEPLAA Foundation as a key player in youth development in Pakistan.

SEPLAA and it’s partners have arranged several Conferences, seminars and focal group discussions in the areas of environment awareness including climate change adaptation, social entrepreneurship, peacebuilding and legal empowerment. Since 2008, the SEPLAA Foundation has held various environment awareness campaigns ranging from the SEPLAA Recycling Awareness Drive in 2008 to the recent overseeing of the development of the SEPLAA Young Leaders’ Club Botanical Garden for preservation of the environment in 2016.

Amal Farooq Malik is the Co Founder of the SEPLAA Young Leaders’ Club.