It is often said that students can become agents of change, but transforming such cliché into an actionable statement requires schools and colleges to go the extra mile. Such effort requires commitment and leadership, a type of leadership that is fueled by the right moral values and principles
With the Glasgow summit on climate change soon approaching, it is high time the youth of Nepal stood up and fully realised how important this issue is for their future.
Throughout the monsoon season and even, as we just saw a few days ago, at the end of it, entire communities across the country have been swept away by calamitous natural events that, with no doubt, have been turbo charged by climate change.
It has become a lethal pattern with hundreds and hundreds of people every single raining season dying of what could have been, in many instances, preventable.
The government in December 2020 came up with a new ambitious "master plan", the second National Determined Contribution (NDC), the blueprint that each member party to the Paris Agreement, under Articles 4.2 and 4.11, have to present periodically.
But unless there is a drastic change in the way the governance of the country is shaped and structured, which means, in practice, effective and transparent policy making supported by political stability through bipartisanship, nothing will come out of this grand plan.
For example, you can notice how once in a while, you can find news about radically transforming public transportation in the Kathmandu Valley.
Many feasibility studies have been made about a variety of options from a subway to a monorail system to a cable car transit model, but, at the end of the day, citizens do not really know what remains of such plans.
Probably nothing I would guess, and this is due to lack of political stability with a political class too preoccupied with preserving power by pursuing mere self-interest and nothing else.
Politicians are bogged down by internal rift and have no time to govern for the people. We are aware of that, and that's why it is important for the youth of the nation to become more informed, more interested and more engaged in the search of the public good.
Climate change is one of those issues that should bring them all together, no matter what their passions and interests. The reason is simple: it is really about their survival and prosperity.
I know it seems too "hyper" and too sensational to link the future of the national youth to climate change, but the science is clear. We need to reduce our emissions, we need to change our way of living, and we need to take a stand to make things work for a future that can be greener, more inclusive and more prosperous for all.
The tasks ahead are so gigantic that we need to work at multiple levels, all at once. Campaigning is definitely key, and I do not necessarily think only of strikes but to a variety of creative forms of raising awareness and bring about change.
In this regard, it is crystal clear that learning institutions have a huge responsibility.
A nice add on in the form of a green club, a useful extracurricular activity practised by many schools and colleges around the country, must become the starting point of a new way of teaching and imparting learning, one that is able to create conscious students who are enabled and capacitated to think critically and take actions.
It is often said that students can become agents of change, but transforming such cliché into an actionable statement requires schools and colleges to go the extra mile.
Such effort requires commitment and leadership, a type of leadership that is fuelled by the right moral values and principles.
Working with teachers on devising such game-changing curricula should be the top national priority project that the country should invest on.
From having engaged and committed teachers and students, schools and colleges can truly become beacons of hope, innovation hubs, youthcentered policy-making springboards.
Yes because campaigning and awareness making are not going to be enough.
We need to focus on creating the conditions for good governance, a participatory and deliberative one that can thrive in the country, and here bottom up policy making is essential.
At the end of the day, politicians are elected by the citizenry, but the citizenry should remain involved and given a chance to participate more easily and on a continuous basis.
Schools and colleges, and with them also the myriad of youth clubs and youth driven not-for-profit organisations, including those led by traditionally marginalised groups, have a huge responsibility in coming up with new ideas and turning local communities into vibrant civic localities.
A lot already has happened, but the outreach work to involve the outsiders, those many members of the communities that have nothing to do with learning and have no links with schools and colleges and youth clubs, remains a neglected priority.
Youth are a bridge, a connector, they are the ones who can reach out to those disengaged and disinterested and help them understand the stakes at play.
Climate change and with it climate action should be at the centre of every discussion and activity. It is going to be more and more cross cutting and central, linking and connecting all the remaining dots. Gender empowerment and all the multifaceted aspects of inequalities, massive youth unemployment, better paid jobs, better governance, these are all issues that must be discussed through the lens of climate action.
With a very possible rebounding of the economy, we need an extra effort to talk and act more on climate change at all levels.
Everything will depend on a shared responsibility and common leadership.
No one should step back, instead everyone should be enable to step up and commit to be a better citizen, pursuing different trades and interests, but all aware of the need of a personal commitment to climate action.
Youth can play a decisive role, but let's enable them to take charge and the responsibility.
Galimberti is the co-founder of ENGAGE, an NGO partnering with youths living with disabilities
A version of this article appears in the print on October 28, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.