BARCELONA — The global climate movement has been reenergized in recent years, thanks in part to the urgent calls for accountability and action coming from young activists. And in the Pacific, too, youth-led networks are playing an important role in raising awareness about the impacts of climate change on local communities.
In the first of two episodes looking at the role of young people and volunteering in small island developing states, Devex spoke to Komal Narayan, climate activist and volunteer with Alliance for Future Generations, a youth-led network in Fiji that focuses on engaging younger generations and local communities in climate resilience-building initiatives.
In the second episode of the Turning the Tide: Climate Champions audio series, Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, explains why he brought in policies to relocate the population of his country — and why there's ongoing debate in the Pacific region around climate-change induced migration.
Narayan attended her first conference in 2017 — COP23 in Bonn, Germany — and since then has participated in various climate events around the world, including last year’s COP25 and the United Nations’ Youth Climate Summit in New York, where she took part in the opening plenary with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and activist Greta Thunberg. “This is a time for the young people and the leaders to be working together hand-in-hand to come up with solutions,” she said.
On the local level, however, she stressed the importance of sharing practical ways that communities can protect themselves against the impacts of climate change. “What the community wants is a very simplified version of what you have to talk to them about,” Narayan told Devex. “The whole idea is for them to be able to sustain whatever they have started rather than depending on someone else to keep coming in.”
She also emphasized seeing climate change through the lens of climate justice — such as when thinking about the needs of communities that have been relocated, which is the subject of her master’s research. “When we talk about equity, it should include that these community members have access to decent jobs, adequate health care, or ensuring they have access to sufficient food and nutrition. These are some of the things that are particularly challenging for coastal communities that have moved inland,” Narayan said.
Visit the Turning the Tide series for more coverage on climate change, resilience building, and innovative solutions in small island developing states. You can join the conversation using the hashtag #TurningtheTide.