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Propelling Youth Climate Action

‘Climate Change’ has been a growing concern worldwide, with its consequences looking at a far off future. Now, as the world ages day by day, the future we look towards starts today.

Climate change risks our futures, poses a threat to our later life conditions. It directly impacts our mental health, with climatic changes also leading to a surge in psychological conditions. The extent of the problem is such that it seems hard to tackle, but what is most important is to break it down; to break it down such that our individual actions come together to create massive change.

Youth all over the world have the enormous capacity to carry forward change. In India itself, with a population of 1.4 billion, and one of the largest youth population’s worldwide, our collective ability to induce change is huge. All across the world, the numerous youth campaigns that have taken place have been the spark to something bigger. It’s this power to mobilise support all over the world, this power to take our drive and drive forward a generation to come that sets us apart from other demographics.

A situation where basic learning becomes hard, basic healthy being is affected and basic necessities are put at risk due to depleting resources is one which we must avoid. A precursor to doing so, is to involve a widely overlooked demographic in efforts to mitigate climate change.

In order to involve youth in climate action, it is important to provide a platform to undertake the same, concrete methods to contribute and lastly, support to carry it forward.

This might raise the question “where do we find such a platform?” The answer lies right in front of us.

Schools and school networks serve as an integral foundation in shaping ideologies and people. In order to create actual change, it is important for the government to target schools and school networks.

This mobilisation of youth can be done in the form of a Youth Climate Leaders Program. Targeting youth and teenagers below the age of 18 years, the Youth Climate Leaders Program could aim to engage teenagers and youth of India on an on-ground level and build Climate Leaders in schools that carry forward action in their communities through Climate Action Clubs. The program can focus on building a school-wide network of students, across cities, to mitigate climate change in their own communities.

The Youth Climate Leaders Program (or YCLP for short), will consist of four main components, Climate Action Clubs, YCLP Integrated App and Portal, schools to lead initiatives, and finally the students initiating action. Other than the main components, the program would also consist of overlooking factors, that is, the bodies overlooking the working of the program which include City Secretariats and The YCLP Board.

The first major component of the program includes Climate Action Clubs. Climate Action Clubs are school-wide clubs that undertake creative activities based on sustainable ideologies to further climate action in their own localities and raise awareness. Activities can range from small scale drives to large scale projects. As an example, small scale drives could involve limiting the use of plastics within schools, or holding workshops for specific age groups while large scale drives could be having a reduce plastic campaign across districts or targeting sustainability throughout schools. Hence, flexibility in club activities would allow for students to freely experiment in the way they can contribute to climate action. However, keeping this in mind there would still be a method to track progress. Progress would be measured by a system of badges, which serve as a reward to high performing clubs and clubs that have significantly impacted their localities or certain sectors.

The program could also come with an integrated app, where schools could register. The app would serve as a method to involve students with low time commitments, through daily checklists of tasks. These would be based on a system of points and schools would accumulate points through the activities they undertake. Based on the idea of social proofing, the app would also include a map based visualisation in order to visualise impact made by individuals and clubs in their communities.

Coming to the overall structure of the program, The Board will be the body consisting of experts that will be overlooking the whole program. Under the same, there would be the City Wise Secretariats, which would overlook the city wise Climate Action Clubs. Secretariats would consist of the top 5 highest performing clubs and would also be the ones responsible for rewarding badges to clubs. Each City Secretariat would set a yearly agenda including the sector they want to target and clubs would undertake activities based on the same. For example, if the Delhi Secretariat were to set their agenda for the year as ‘Waste Management’, then clubs across Delhi would be undertaking activities to target the same.

As such, the program could create an integrated network of school-wide climate action clubs, across cities, each targeting climate action in specific sectors. This network could also create a foundation for more widespread youth driven campaigns as well as a platform which allows for direct contribution to mitigation of climate change. Students would also be equipped with knowledge and experience and the program could also serve as a spark for massive social change.

While all these currently just serve as methods to engage that can be launched by the government and its respective bodies, would true change ever occur unless we the youth desire it? In order to create true change, we, need to desire it. We, need to work towards it. And lastly, we, the youth need to drive it forward. Our generation is one which is capable of widespread change, but that is only possible once we take the first step and inculcate the desire to take it forward. After all, it rests in our hands to lead today into the future of tomorrow.

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