Members of the youth,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening and I convey ‘International Youth Day’ greetings to all of you!
I would like to thank ‘YouthNet for Climate Justice’ for organizing such a timely event in line with the theme of this year’s International Youth Day which is “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.I am indeed honored for this opportunity to be here tonight.
August is the painful month as the Father of the Nation and the members of his family were martyred in this month. But their sacrifice only strengthens our resolve to achieve the ‘Sonar Bangla’ as dreamt by our Father of the Nation. I pay my deepest respect to their memory and contribution to our nation.
We have a glorious history of the youth in our country. From our struggle for liberation under the great leadership of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the heroic sacrifice during the War of Liberation in 1971, our youth repeatedly showed us the right path. Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has made tremendous achievements in involving and empowering the youth and our development has become role model for many other developing countries.
Today, in the context of the phenomenal global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and menace of climate change, the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is more important than ever. In this context, I sincerely appreciate the initiative of YouthNet.
We all hear that the youths are our future. Actually they are also our present. The history proved that it was not possible to overcome the global challenges and to open new horizons of opportunities without the involvements of the youth. And climate change is the most critical global challenge of our times. We are experiencing our increasing vulnerability to climate change which is affecting agriculture, endangering food security, causing sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones and river erosion thus increasing the intensity of natural disasters and triggering extinction of the species, uprootings our people from their homes and dwellings.
Following the trend of the last three decades, Bangladesh will see an average temperature increase of 1.0 Celsius by 2030 and 1.4 Celsius by 2050 considering 1990 as the base year. This is translating to many challenges including frequent natural disasters, degradation of forest areas, wetlands, and agricultural land leading to a plurality of socio-economic issues. By 2050 one in every 45 people in the world and one in every 7 people in Bangladesh will become displaced by climate change. I am afraid, these developments are irreversible. We are talking about adaptation measures and Bangladesh has emerged as a global leader for adaptation. But we must remember that there is a limit to adaptation and we cannot just increase our adaptation while the polluting countries do not adopt the necessary mitigation efforts.
So, climate change is real and happening. The solutions won’t come only from conference rooms and official platforms of the government officials, scientists, big corporations and politicians. Instead of being the part of the solution, many of them are actually the part of the problem. Since the future belong to the youth, they have to fight and claim for their future.
Youths are usually uncompromising, innovative and connected. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that young people worldwide are nearly two times more networked than the global population as a whole. So, social media can be an important tool in empowering youth, strengthening their cause and conveying to the decision makers that current business as usual policiesare unacceptable. We’ve all seen how young people took the forefront in solving complex problems. Most of the Forbes’ billionaires started as young entrepreneurs starting from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergei Brin, Jawaid Aziz, Salam khan, Fahim Saleh, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg to name a few.
You are all aware that Bangladesh took over the leadership of the CVF for the next two years. We now have the opportunity to lead the South-South sharing of knowledge, experience and expertise in adaptation to climate change amongst the vulnerable developing countries. In the era of Covid-19, this provides Bangladesh with the opportunity to show both national and global leadership in tackling the public health emergency as well as the climate change emergency at the same time engaging young people.
Hon’ble Prime Minister is likely to participate at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland next year not just to represent Bangladesh, but all the 48 most vulnerable developing countries that are members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). We consider that we should have the voice of the youth adequately heard at the COP26.
Here may I tell the youth to spread the information on climate change. Spread the science. The information and awareness about Climate Change and environmental impacts must reach all corners of society. Bring those topics to your conversations with friends, family, coworkers, partners and above all to the media whenever possible and also try to save the pleasant earth.
Climate Change is affecting us all, so we all have to change our mindset, and more than that, our way of living. We produce too much and we also consume too much. Actually we are over spending from our future generations’ account. As youths you can bring that change. We have to turn concern into action. We should try to ensure, “ No food waste , no food loss.” Let me remind you what Mahatma Gandhi said and I quote, “ God has given enough to meet the needs of people, but not enough to meet the greed of a few
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Having the menaces of the COVID-19 and fast aggravating climate change situation, we are surely passing one of the most critical patches in the history of mankind. We need to be mindful that climate change and biodiversity loss would generate social and economic damage far larger than those induced by COVID-19. Prioritizing short-term economic growth and efficiency over long-term resilience will surely have huge societal costs.
An effective engagement of the young people in our recovery plan will add great value.
We are expected to reap the demographic dividend over the next couple of decades as the majority of our population is young and where youth are at the forefront of our SDG implementation efforts.
Our youth and especially the volunteers have been instrumental and inspirational in our efforts under our indigenous and tested strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in early warning of cyclone and emergency evacuation that has effectively reduced deaths and injuries from natural disasters.
Youth-led organizations like YouthNet for Climate Justiceand The International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), ActionAid Bangladesh, British Council Active Citziens are working on climate issues at the ground level. This year we have been declared as The OIC-Youth Capita 2020.
With the recently declared a special `Delta Fund’, we commit to promote young people’s innovations & solutions in building greater resilience to combat climate emergency. We want to see the young people in the global fight to achieve climate justice for Bangladesh.
In conclusion, I am pleased to join this digital dialogue and launching ceremony of Coastal Youth Action Hub'.I hope this Hub will create more opportunities for vulnerable coastal young people and amplify their voice at the global stage.
Like the UN Secretary General, let me reiterate what he said, “ there can be no Plan B, because there is no planet B.”
I thank you all!
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu!
Long Live Bangladesh!