Youth for Climate India is the newest to combat climate change and its impact

The pan-India, student-led movement Youth for Climate India—launched in Delhi—is the newest organisation to combat climate change and its impact
A forest walk initiated by Youth For Climate at the Aravalli Biodiversity Park
A forest walk initiated by Youth For Climate at the Aravalli Biodiversity Park

From Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg to Indian youth climate change activist Disha Ravi, youngsters have taken centre stage to spearhead a global fight to mitigate the impact of climate change. 

Their voices are louder, spirits shatterproof, and aspirations far-sighted. The pan-India, student-led movement Youth for Climate India-launched in Delhi-is the newest to combat climate change and its impact. A registered not-for-profit organisation that marshals climate strikes across the country, Youth for Climate seeks to “fill various gaps in the struggle against climate change”.

“We are looking to deploy advocacy, research, and training to address climate literacy,” says Srijani Datta (19), a Hindu College student, who is a core team member of the organisation.

With over 40 volunteers across the country, the network has been actively advancing their cause through both online and offline channels.

“Youth For Climate is mostly run by teenagers and students. We do not have a lot of experience when it comes to activism but it is the fervour to bring a change that drives everyone here,” says Rishika Gupta, a 17-year-old student who joined the organisation in June this year.

A threat to the young

Realising that climate change is a grave threat for their generation, young activists today are at the forefront of the climate debate. The level of engagement that early-age activists have shown for climate justice is earnest. The United Nations reports year after year affirm that “adjusting to climate change will be a defining feature for the future of youth.”

UNICEF released its Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) in September 2021, stating that nearly 1 billion children live in one of the 33 countries that are most at risk of the climate crisis. India ranks 26 on this scale.

This means that decision-makers need to pay heed to young people and incorporate their views in climate policies. Similarly, it is pertinent to involve young adults in climate-related decision making, impart climate education, and help them adapt through the changes in the environment.

“There is a strong desire to bring a change because the ramifications of climate change would be the most extreme on our generation,” Gupta comments.

A student-led movement

To draw attention toward this issue, Youth For Climate organised climate strikes at 15 cities across India in September this year. They have been actively working to “champion youth leadership for environment advocacy” through forest walks, climate marches, collating and distributing information, among others.

The organisation has also been trying to disseminate important information about climate issues in local languages to build environmental literacy. “Often, those who are most affected due to climate-related issues do not have access to resources. We have a network of those who can translate policies, press releases, and reports into local languages, and we circulate them in communities,” Gupta says.

However, not all has been easy for them. “Authorities only give tokenistic answers when we seek accountability on various policies. Even though mechanisms and policies are intricately drafted, a lot is not actually being implemented,” shares Datta. 

Even though the organisation has primarily students leading the way, it welcomes members of all age groups to join the cause. “If I compare my childhood with my daughter’s, I see a drastic change in the climate. The environment is deleterious and this generation is at risk,” says Aakansha Singh Jadon (32) from Moradabad who is an active volunteer of the network. 

The message of the young advocates from Youth For Climate who are on a path of reform that has no about-turn is clear -‘If not us, then who’.

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