Bangladesh is considered as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts due to its disadvantageous geographic location. Indeed, climate change poses a significant threat to the sustainable development of the country. At present, this is a critical development issue for the country and the rest of the world as well. Children, youth, and women of the Barisal district of Bangladesh are amongst the most vulnerable victims of climate change. Climate-related disasters pose a threat to the fundamental rights of children and youth in terms of theirdevelopment and in different aspects of their lives and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, children and youth are often neglected in the policy-making phase, in the society more generally, and even within the family. Meanwhile, the impact of the disasters on children and youth is enormous as it affects their education, safety, health, food, and mental health as well. Thus, the voices and participation children and youths need to be included in local disaster management planning and capacity building initiatives.
Youth engagement could be vital in influencing and establishing good governance in managing climate change projects. In this situation, YouthNet for Climate Justice contributes to building a strong platform to ensure integrity through accountability and transparency in climate-financed projects at all levels. Children and Youth participation have been highlighted in the Youth Conference on Climate Change Barisal-2017. This is a response to the lack of opportunity and capacity of children and youths to raise their voices properly to be heard by decision makers, planners and authorities.
The Conference was a joint effort of the Divisional Commissioner’s Office, Barisal Division, the Office of the Divisional Director of the Department of Environment and Forest, Barisal and UNICEF Barisal Office which was well supported by YouthNet for Climate Justice and other strategic partners. More than 500 adolescents and youths from coastal districts, including remote islands and islets, participated in the conference to enhance their capacity, build partnerships, networking and consensus among the youths of Barisal division.
Expert speakers from government institutions, academia, and NGOs presented 20 technical papers and conducted three capacity building events at five different venues in Barisal city. At the end of the conference, the Barisal Youth Declaration was made by youths. The declaration reflects the views of participants in several sessions on climate finance.
Therefore, the Barisal Youth Declaration 2017 has emphasized proper utilization of all resources efficiently related to climate financing. In a nutshell, the declaration highlights the role of government to mobilize climate change funds (e.g. adaptation and mitigation), and the need to empower and strengthen youth’s role in overall climate change discussion. The youths also stressed the importance of prioritizing women and children to ensure inclusive resilience.
The findings of the discussion revealed that lack of good governance obstructs the judicious implementation of climate-financed projects. Also, meaningful participation of young people, and the transparency and accountability of authorities, happen to be a questions for everybody. Therefore, the demand for capacity building on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation emerged from children and youths, particularly those who reside in the coastal areas.