Eco Optimism

Role of youth in combating climate change in South Asia


May 08, 2021


What is Climate change?

Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases. This results in large-scale shifts in weather. Since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth’s climate system causing change on a global scale.

The South Asian region (which consists of the eight countries Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka) is already experiencing significant, adverse impacts which are expected to worsen as the global temperature rises due to climate change. These impacts include sea level rise, cyclonic activity, and changes in ambient temperature and precipitation patterns. Ongoing sea level rise has already submerged several low-lying islands in the Sundarbans region, displacing thousands of people.

The following pictures show a side-by-side comparison of the temperature change within the South Asian region;

Who are mostly affected by Climate change?

Now that the definition of climate change and its adverse effects have been touched upon, who are the ones to be truly affected by it in the long run?

“Children are the least responsible for climate change, yet they will bear the greatest burden of its impact”- UNICEF

“Climate change is a youth issue and we know that the most severe impacts of climate change will be faced by the youth of today,” explained Nasha Lee from UNDP Malaysia

“As youth, we understand we are part of the solution,” Heeta Lakhani from the International Youth Climate Movement (YOUNGO).” Since the impacts of climate change has a gradual variation with time, it is logical to assume that the youth will be the ones to face it. This alone is enough incentive for the youth to start combating climate change.

How can the youth combat climate change?

Young people all over the world have begun to fight back on a scale never seen before. The most famous being a 15-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg who started a global movement of school-age students demanding stronger action from governments to fight climate change. Now millions are marching to demonstrate their support. Whether through education, technology, science or law ─ young people far and wide are tapping into their skills to speak up for climate action.

Youths can help stop climate change in their own simple yet purposeful ways. Such as: joining environmental organizations or groups; participating in various governmental, non-governmental, school or community programs and projects against climate change; joining clean-up drives at school or in community; participating in tree planting and go-green activities; garbage picking and recycling initiatives; getting involved in environmental protests and campaigns; using social media like Facebook, twitter or Instagram in promoting climate change and environmental awareness to the public; limiting the use of plastics; helping report illegal activities to authorities; walking or biking in short distances instead of riding fueled vehicles; segregating garbage at home and lastly, encouraging our friends, schoolmates and our family to do what we are doing.

Here are a few activists who were instrumental in the dissemination of knowledge on climate change in South Asia;

  • The #StopEcocideSL climate action event was organized by Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (RARE), Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Extinction Rebellion (XR) Sri Lanka, the Pearl Protectors, Earth Guardians Sri Lanka, and ‘Climate Action Now’ in Sri Lanka. The groups came together to raise awareness about climate change and large scale deforestation that activists claim is currently taking place in the island.
  • 8-year-old Licypriya Kangujam from remote northeast India clambered on an excavator in Bengaluru city, where she is now based; as a protest against the launch of a new electric car line by the Indian business tycoon Ananda Mahinda which would have lead to the cutting down of more than 8500 trees to widen roads. In 2020, she published a letter to the participants at the World Economic Forum with activists Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, Isabelle Axelsson, and Loukina Tille, calling on companies, banks and governments to immediately stop subsidising fossil fuels. She has been campaigning to make lessons in climate change mandatory in schools and as per her request the government of Gujarat has included climate change in school education. In 2020 Licypriya addressed the gatherings globally on Earth Day 2020 at Washington, D.C., United States.
  • Sathviga ‘Sona’ Sridhar, a 21-year-old artist from Chennai, India, was inspired to take action on climate change after her community was hit by devastating floods in 2015. Her character ‘Light’ – a half tree-half human who uses special powers to save nature from a warming planet ─ was ultimately turned into an educational comic book.
  • Disha Ravi co-founded the India branch of the FFF network and began organizing strikes across the country against the failure to tackle global warming
  • Fahad Rizwan from Pakistan, kicked off Green Squad’s first activity of tree plantation in 2017. The organisations’ record suggests that within two years, it has planted nearly 20,000 saplings all over the country with the assistance of over 100 volunteers.
  • Iqbal Badruddin, founder of Fridays for Future Pakistan, leads protests with the objective of waking the government and the international community up and encouraging them to take action on climate change

We should realize that we have an obligation to our planet and our future. Mitigating climate change is not an easy task by any means but every little contribution will amount to a massive impact if we all get together and act on it. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get together and contribute to the cessation of climate change and its impacts not only in South Asia but the world as a whole!

About the Author:


Piyumi Weeraman

I am Piyumi Weeraman, a 2nd year Medical Student with a diploma in IT and business management, and I've always been passionate about words and all that I can convey through them no matter how miniscule. I am thankful that I've been bestowed upon the opportunity to share them with you all.
"Words are seeds and bullets. Hope mine hit you on impact like a bullet and plant in your hearts like a seed, shining light on the path to better our society by bringing awareness to key topics."

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