Youth for Change | Unlocking potential of future generation : ICCCAD’s Youth Capacity Development Initiative for Climate Resilience

Addressing the issues of climate change in this era of ‘global boiling’ has become paramount in shaping a sustainable future and here – youth’s involvement is very crucial. The younger generation possesses a unique perspective to mitigate the challenges they will face in the next few years due to climate change. The ever-growing problems may not see light soon at the end of the tunnel but ICCCAD’s youth programme seeks to engage the youth and children of Bangladesh and beyond to come forward under one Banyan tree, regardless of gender to learn, understand, and share aspects of environmental and social problems of climate change through capacity building. ICCCAD’s youth programme understands the urgency of youth involvement in the identification of challenges and solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Youth Engagement for climate action can be a key driving force in propelling climate action forward. Young people are not only the victims of the

consequences of the older generation but also, they can be powerful changing agents by claiming their own rights. Their fresh ideas of cutting-edge innovative solutions can bring change to the table that will not only challenge the status quo but also push more to sustainable practices from the tech industry to policy making. The potential of young people to mobilize the governments and hold institutions accountable for their environmental responsibilities can be noteworthy. By being more conscious about the right to speak, young individuals are instilling hope to make climate action more impactful for generations to come.

ICCCAD’s youth programme encourages young people to take on leadership roles and contribute to building climate change awareness. It offers opportunities for education and discussion on environmental and social issues, recognizing the importance of youth participation in problem identification and solution. This program’s objective is to strengthen the ability of young people who are concerned about the environment and have some background knowledge on climate change and environmental management.

ICCCAD’s Youth Programme empowers young minds to confront the crisis head-on. Through initiatives like Youth Retreat, Climate Youth Initiative, and RISE, ICCCAD has nurtured over 120 youths nationwide. These passionate individuals now spearhead climate initiatives globally. Beyond enhancing capacities, ICCCAD prioritizes meaningful youth engagement in climate advocacy. The Youth Fellowship program creates platforms for dialogues and conferences, fostering a new generation’s active participation in vital climate discussions.

This year, ICCCAD’s youth program offered 20 youths from 14 districts of Bangladesh, with a 6-month fellowship under the CAP-RES project. The learning process began with a 3-day workshop introducing peers, motivating meaningful 6-month engagement, and providing basic climate change understanding – including impacts on gender and youth, adaptation, climate justice, loss and damage. Following this, a field visit to eye witnessing climate change impacts firsthand at Mongla and Paikgasa, two climate vulnerable areas in Bagerhat and Khulna districts were conducted. This practical experience aimed to equip fellows with knowledge and drive them to lead community resilience projects in their home regions. Additionally, 6 online training sessions gave them the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge on environment and climate that will help them in negotiations, climate advocacy, and understanding future career options in the climate change and development sector. The sessions included topics of environmental security, youth actions on climate justice, loss & damage, locally-led adaptation, climate negotiation, and careers in the climate change sector.

The youth leadership programme of the CAP-RES project also trained 20 youth climate negotiators through its 6 months of fellowship programme. This gave them a platform to learn about climate negotiation and contribute to national-level policy formulation and implementation. Late Dr. Saleemul Huq’s vision was to empower young individuals in the field of climate change to play a crucial role in the future, advocate for themselves, and disseminate knowledge to others.

The CAP-RES project has allocated SEK 600,000 to fund youth-led climate action projects across three categories – ICCCAD Fellows, University Clubs, and individual youth or groups under “Youth Innovation Fund” selected through a rigorous and multi-stage process. The grant winners developed innovative proposals for financial and technical support. Grantees’ initiatives involved collaborating with schools on climate education, creating knowledge products like an atlas, running campus green drives, and more. Additionally, the project provides opportunities for two youth fellows to represent ICCCAD at COP28 this year in Dubai. Ultimately, it aims to catalyze youth to drive solutions and become empowered climate changemakers.

Photo Credit: Courtesy , ICCCAD Youth fellow on a field visit to Sundarban

The founder and climate champion, late Dr. Saleemul Huq emphasized on empowering individuals to become advocates and knowledge spreaders on climate change. Hence, to keep Dr. Huq’s legacy, ICCCAD aims to continuously foster the next generation of climate leaders through ongoing mentorships, future negotiator and policymaker connections, and youth climate leadership platforms in Bangladesh and beyond.

Authors: Md Tariqul Hasan Rifat is leading the youth program as a Programme Coordinator at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)

Naznine Nahar is working in the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) as a Project Officer.

Joyee Chakma is a Youth Representative at International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).