Updated: Jul 20
Youth delegates representing the Youth Empowerment in Climate Action Platform (YECAP) and Asia Indigenous Youth Platform (AIYP) met with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)’s Director-General, Ms. Carin Jämtin to discuss Stockholm+50 priorities and climate movements.
On 2 June 2022 and in the margins of the Stockholm+50 conference, Sida's Director-General, Ms. Carin Jämtin organized a meeting with three youth leaders and leaders of Indigenous groups to discuss priorities for the Stockholm+50 global meeting and today’s youth climate movements. The meeting took place at Älvsjömässan, the same venue as the main Stockholm+50 conference. A representative from the Youth Task Force also joined this conversation.
Dr. Michael V L Chhandama, Mover Envoy under the Movers Programme and YECAP Fellow from India attended this meeting alongside Barsha Lekhi, member of Asia Indigenous Youth Platform from Nepal on behalf of young Indigenous leaders.
The Asia Indigenous Youth Platform (AIYP) was formed in June 2019 with support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The AIYP envisions a sustainable world in which Asian Indigenous youth play a leading role in achieving respect and equality for Indigenous peoples through the full recognition of their human rights.
During the private meeting with Ms. Carin Jämtin, Dr. Michael and Barsha shared their emotional, personal stories and their youth in climate action journeys in Asia and the Pacific.
Dr. Michael received his PhD in Biotechnology, specializing in Bioenergy Production, and has been in the research field for more than five years now. He comes from Mizo tribe, one of the Indigenous tribes in India and has personally experienced the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities. This has led him to actively taking actions through conducting research and awareness in different communities about climate change ever since.
When asked about his motivation for joining the movements, Dr. Michael said that the Movers Programme and YECAP have provided the kind of support and a sense of community that he needed during the COVID-19 pandemic time where he felt more connected with and inspired by other youths in the region who shared similar goals, ambitions and interests.
Other than the Movers Programme and YECAP, Dr. Michael is also a member of Young People Action Team (YPAT) under Generation Unlimited and a young ambassador of Earth Day organization. As a YECAP Fellow, he has helped the regional youth community in Asia and the Pacific organize multiple climate action workshops, panel discussions and facilitated a Climate Justice National Consultation for the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force in India.
After learning from all these youth-led events and activities, Dr. Michael co-founded his own organization called, “Chawikan” meaning ‘to uplift’. Chawikan works to spread awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the youth in the community through initiatives. The organization also supports young local entrepreneurs by promoting, advertising and marketing their products for free. Keeping in mind the importance of 21st century skills for the development of youth especially in the tribal community, they have conducted various workshops on 21st century skills and shared various opportunities available including internships, scholarships, competitions and more with the youths in Mizo tribe.
When Barsha was asked about her expectations of Stockholm+50 and how Sida can support youth more, she highlighted the meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples and documenting the Indigenous knowledge so that it can be transferred to the next generations in the future to come and not disappear over time. For her, the connection with the Indigenous communities has always been held close to her heart.
Barsha Lekhi is an environmental activist holding a Masters’ degree in Environmental Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India and is the awardee of the Silver Jubilee Scholarship. Barsha is passionate about research and advocacy for environmental protection as well as the rights of Indigenous peoples and women.
In the year 2016, she won the title of Miss Nepal International 2016, the first-ever awardee from the Indigenous Tharu community and represented Nepal in Miss International held in Japan where she won the People's Choice Award. In the same year, she was nominated as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Clean Up Nepal Campaign. She was associated with the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme as their National Indigenous Peoples Fellow, and is a member of the Asia Indigenous Youth Network. Currently, she is working as an Indigenous Engagement Specialist for UNESCO Nepal.
Other topics of discussion during the meeting include the youth’s perspective on the costs of services of nature and environmental projects to combat climate change, the sustainability of the YECAP and AIYP platforms, and whether Dr. Michael and Barsha feel optimistic or pessimistic about the current climate situation and challenges.
For Dr. Michael, he admitted that anger can be one of the change drivers for him to act more and meaningfully engage more, but both he and Barsha are optimistic because of the progress that the young climate leaders, champions and activists in the Asia-Pacific region are collectively making especially when they are able to share and amplify their voices in safe and inclusive spaces with the support of Sida and other key partners, stakeholders, donors, organizations and civil society organizations.
To learn more about YECAP and get connected with the regional youth in climate action community, please visit: https://linktr.ee/yecap.ap