Environment: Make way for Generation E
[This piece was originally published in Dawn Newspaper]
The debate on climate change — the actions we should or should not take — has long been undermined by political and financial resources. The burgeoning increase in population, escalating consumerism and rising industrialisation have moreover, added further obstacles. But for every cynic and sceptic who believes that either it’s too late to save the planet, or, even worse, that global warming is a myth, there are scores of committed idealists working to halt and hopefully reverse the havoc we humans have created in the only home we hope to have: Planet Earth.
Since cynicism comes with age, it is no surprise that the people leading the movement to save the earth come mainly from the youth. Children and young people with high enthusiasm, imagination and abundant energy are seen undertaking constructive actions, acting as effective communicators in their communities and are involving themselves in international decision-making arenas to reduce the implications of climate change. UNICEF, in its yearly report on the State of the World’s Children (SOWC 2011), as well as the United Nations have especially emphasised the importance of youth-led activism and have acknowledged how the role of young people is continually changing for the betterment of mankind, especially in developing nations. Youth delegations from all over the world are appearing in important climate talk arenas such as Cop-16 and the United Nations General assembly sessions to discourse on issues encompassing climate change.
These young leaders are making their presence felt and are generating dynamic green projects all over the world. They are also implementing ideas and strategies in a different way to their predecessors. Many of the youth-led projects have changed their focus from campaigning for simple green schemes and have instead moved onto commercialising various methods of large scale environmental sustenance ventures. Some of the most impressive projects have come from developing nations — projects like solar powered energy stations in China, wind farms in India and adapted boat schools in Bangladesh. Given the increasing role of the youth in the field of environmentalism, they have been described best as Generation E, for Energy and Environment, by Andrew C. Revkin in his Dot Earth blog for the New York Times.
These passionate eco-friendly teens are making a difference in every nation in the world; one such member of this prolific teen legion is Indi Li, a student from Binghamton University in New York, and a young environmentalist. “It’s aggravating when I realise, as a 17-year-old, that some adults disregard global warming and climate change as impending world issues simply because they can’t see the long-term impact,” said Li, whose family hails from eastern Europe and China. People like Li and others are paving the way for youth preservationists all over, and this has been recognised time and time again by international mediums.
Generation E is also making its presence felt in many parts of urban Pakistan, with environment based activism also spreading towards rural areas. A perfect example of this can be seen through the endeavours of Pakistan Youth Climate Network that is working towards creating climate change awareness in the country while also initiating action towards mitigating its effects. The young environmentalists running the organisation have already gained acknowledgment for their comprehensive research publications on climate change adaptation and development, and also for their campaign called ‘Rebuild Pakistan’. Through this, they are working towards helping some 1,200 families, beleaguered by the disastrous floods last year.
Another esteemed NGO, home to environment enthusiasts from all around, is Pakistan Sustainability Network (PSN). This youth-run organisation has created communities of youth activists around environmental issues and has initiated projects ranging from urban farms — where they train and help others to convert their aesthetic gardens into productive gardens — to the annual screening of environment related eco-Films in educational institutes. They have even established an Environment Youth Council through which they have reached more than 2,000 environment enthusiasts from all over Pakistan.
Kurt Archer, the co-founder of PSN says “As a fairly new organisation we are still struggling to walk, but so far we’ve accomplished quite a bit without any funds and just pure volunteer commitments”. He further adds that he’s hopeful about the future of young activists and organisations working for environmental sustenance in Pakistan. “I am very optimistic, but I’m mostly optimistic that environmentalists can help people see that we are all environmentalists; that caring for the planet is a human trait. And that environmental work isn’t just about saving trees, it’s about saving people, species and, in a nutshell, all life on earth because these issues are connected, not separate.”
Picture 1: PSN members Enthusiastically celebrating Earth Hour in Lahore
Picture 2: PSN holding its Environment Awareness AIESEC session
Picture 3: 10/10/10 Climate Work Party; the biggest ever day of positive action on climate change worldwide on Sunday 10th of October 2010
All pictures uploaded by user