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Asia-Pacific Youth Celebrated Earth Day at YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024

Updated: Apr 25

Young people, government representatives, multilateral agencies, NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations across the Asia-Pacific region united at the YECAP Regional Dialogue to address pressing climate issues and explore youth-led solutions on Earth Day.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Group photo of the participants

The Climate Action Spotlight: Youth Power in Motion Regional Dialogue on Youth Empowerment in Climate Action, co-organized by UNDP in partnership with UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centre for Asia-Pacific, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), the British Council, YOUNGO, Movers Programme, and the 2030 Youth Force with support from Sweden, concluded its virtual run on 22 April 2024, coinciding with Earth Day.

The Regional Dialogue, following the YECAP Climate Action Week, serves as one of the key annual activities for YECAP and its partners to highlight the role of young people in addressing the climate crisis across Asia and the Pacific.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot of opening remarks speakers
Opening Remarks Session

Opening the dialogue, Christophe Bahuet, Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific and Director of the Bangkok Regional Hub, emphasized the significance of youth engagement in climate action and the platform's role in amplifying youth voices and solutions for a sustainable future.

Myo-Zin Nyunt, Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF East Asia and Pacific acknowledged the contributions of young people in driving positive change in their communities through innovative climate initiatives. "Young people are full and equal partners in our efforts to secure a sustainable future for our planet Earth," he shared.

In a video message, Daniele Violetti, Senior Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Regional Collaboration Centre for Asia-Pacific, stressed the importance of supporting young people as critical agents of change and that the Regional Dialogue opened opportunities to be heard. "At the Secretariat, we will continue to provide platforms and enable youth engagement at the regional level. At RCC Asia-Pacific, we connect the dots and maintain the vital link to the Secretariat and climate process,” he added.

AnnaMaria Oltorp, Head of the Development Cooperation Section, Regional Asia and the Pacific at the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok, highlighted Sweden's commitment to supporting youth-led initiatives in climate resilience and inclusive development. She said, “Sweden is promoting Inclusive Climate Resilience in Asia and the Pacific. Through the YECAP Fellowship and Indigenous Fellowship Programmes, and youth-led activities like the Regional Dialogue, we support young people’s self-driven initiatives, and we are eager to learn from their innovative solutions to the climate challenges.”

Throughout the dialogue, youth speakers, panelists, and participants actively showcased transformative solutions and best practices in climate advocacy and environmental conservation. The event facilitated meaningful discussions and partnerships among youth, development organizations, and other stakeholders, paving the way for collaborative climate action.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Celebrating Youth from YECAP Session

The "Celebrating Youth from YECAP" session featured young climate leaders like Pui Yee Leung from Hong Kong SAR and Sher Shah Khan Bangash from Bangladesh.

Carly and Sher Shah embarked on their climate journeys driven by the lack of youth voices in decision-making processes. Through workshops, policy engagement, and leveraging YECAP networks, they are able to empower other young changemakers in their communities with essential tools for climate action.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Panel Discussion

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot

Climate experts from various organizations co-led a panel discussion: Minsun Kim, Programme Officer from UNEP; Shiwa Karmacharya, Programme Officer from ARROW; Ticiana Garcia-Tapia, Adolescent Development Specialist from UNICEF EAPRO; Aishwarya, Thematic Facilitator, Policy Coordination Group, Children and Youth Major Group to UNEP; and Juliet Braslow, Sustainable Development Officer from ESCAP.

Participants learned that collaboration is key to effective climate action. Advocating for young people as equal partners and fostering an enabling environment for their participation in environmental decision-making and climate action are essential steps forward.

The dialogue delved into "Scaling Youth-Led Climate Action in Asia-Pacific" with sessions on Youth-Led Organizations, Digital and Climate Action, Green Entrepreneurship, and Wellbeing and Eco-Anxiety. Youth speakers with different backgrounds like Sadia Rothi, Nguyễn Văn Toàn, Leon (Sahertian) Pieter Sahertian, Aimah Moiz, and Tawhida Shiropa shared their expertise, fostering meaningful dialogue and empowering youth to drive climate action in the region.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Scaling Youth-Led Climate Action in Asia-Pacific [Session 1] on Youth-Led Organizations

Sadia and Nguyễn shared personal anecdotes detailing the challenges and lessons encountered in their green careers, while offering a glimpse into their envisioned future for youth.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Scaling Youth-Led Climate Action in Asia-Pacific [Session 2] on Digital and Climate Action

Participants learned from Leon about youth-led projects and the data showcasing their influence on the wider climate action landscape. They were also invited to use digital platforms, particularly social media, to broaden their audience reach and amplify the impact of their climate advocacy efforts.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Scaling Youth-Led Climate Action in Asia-Pacific [Session 3] on Green Entrepreneurship

Aimah discussed the potential for more waste upcycling, and that youth and children should be educated about sustainable living practices as change can occur at various levels of society.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Scaling Youth-Led Climate Action in Asia-Pacific [Session 4] on Wellbeing and Eco-Anxiety

The session with Youth Co:Lab alumna, Shiropa shed light on eco-anxiety, differentiating between myths and facts. It highlighted her startup, Moner Bondhu's efforts in addressing eco-anxiety and offered practical tips for managing anxiety through effective wellbeing practices.

Virtual YECAP Regional Dialogue 2024 screenshot
Closing Remarks Session

In closing, youth representative from Timor-Leste, Dircia Sarmento Belo, Assistant TNA Coordinator, National Directorate for Climate Change, and Founder of the Laudato Si Movement, encouraged participants to identify their areas of contribution to transformative changes, emphasizing the interconnectedness of climate action with every aspect of life. “It only takes one person to restore hope, and it starts with you,” Dircia delivered a powerful speech that captured the audience's attention.

Matthew Sheader, Senior Justice and Youth Engagement Adviser at the British Council, commended Asia-Pacific's young climate advocates for their leadership in the global movement for a just and sustainable future. He encouraged them to "mobilize, collaborate, be heroic" when sharing their voices and taking climate action.

Aneta Nikolova, Environmental Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), highlighted the urgency of engaging youth in the next 2025 NDC update cycle to achieve ambitious climate targets. She informed the participants, "Asian-Pacific Member States are embarking on the 2025 NDC update cycle, which requires exponential increases in ambition and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in compliance with Paris Agreement pledges to keep global warming within 1.5°C." Engaging youth to develop and design the transition to net-zero economies ensures climate resilience and sustainable futures for all in the region.

Last but not least, Akiko Yamamoto, Regional Team Leader, Asia and the Pacific, for the Environment and Energy Team of UNDP closed the event by calling for high-level commitments to design, implement, and finance inclusive capacity building of young people to accelerating climate action.

As the dialogue concluded, participants were invited to stay tuned for future activities from the Youth Empowerment in Climate Action Platform (YECAP), youth community, and partners, to continue driving climate action across the region.

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