When going gets grim, green gets goingApon Zahir
AMIDST the relentless political intrigue and violence, and the countless other shortcomings that society faces today, a looming catastrophe seems to have eluded the minds of people at large. When dealing with the issue of climate change, people perhaps tend to be somewhat indifferent. However, just as the fabled turtle eventually overtakes the complacent rabbit, our indifference, and even unwillingness, to take any significant action could prove ominous for the generations to come. Yet, all may not be lost; while the times are bleak, a few enlightened and enterprising youths are trying to make a difference. Fadia Hossain’s is one such story.
Fadia is currently a PhD candidate in the communication department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; she got her master’s degree in the same subject from the same institution. She earned her BA from Hampshire College, MA, USA. Her PhD research is on youth participatory initiatives and environmental and climate change action. Her research led her to conceptualise and concretise the BGreen conference, which was held in the capital Dhaka on January 10 and 11. BGreen is a platform that she hopes will lead to a targeted youth environmental movement in Bangladesh.
She is spearheading this project to mobilise youths and youth groups around the country to work together and get active in the local environmental movement and create strong solution-building networks. ‘BGreen’s goal is to integrate dynamic Bangladeshi youth with diverse environmental experts, professionals and other climate-concerned citizens of Bangladesh. We hope to inspire the youth to take direct action in developing innovative plans, sustaining environmental awareness and planning for the collective future as a nation,’ Fadia tells Youth.
She adds that student participants in the conference have been from diverse social backgrounds and engaged in a variety of discussions around the issues of environment, climate change and sustainability. Beyond the conference, the ultimate objective of this conference is to kick-start environmentally focused micro projects that target environmental and climate change challenges in Bangladesh, using the voice, power and vision of the youth.
The BGreen project is ambitious, and Fadia looks to be exactly the right person for the job. Having started social work at a very early age, she has experience in a wide range of fields, whether that be interning at the United Nations, interning at Grameen Bank or freelance writing on human trafficking in Bangladesh.
In her time spent here and abroad, Fadia came to a realisation. ‘I am privileged, far more than most of the youth in Bangladesh. I went to Sunbeams School till grade 11 and then went on to live and study in the USA. Due to the field of my study I have acquired a lot of resources like specialists and experts I have met in my time abroad and during my studies. Since I have the human resources, why not use them to help others?’ Fadia rationalises.
Indeed the achievement Fadia has accomplished thus far is something to behold; the founding of a platform for the enthusiastic youth and skilled experts to congregate together and form and materialise ideas. The potential of BGreen has not gone unnoticed since lots of prominent third parties approached her to be involved in her vision. Prominent partners include organisations like Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative, Bangladesh Youth Movement For Climate, Journeys For Climate Change(Australia), EMK Centre Bangladesh, Islamic Relief Bangladesh, etc.
‘The first step was bringing together all these important actors into the project and get them involved with a creative and independent think-tank comprising the youth of the country. We have done that through our first ever BGreen conference held in ULAB on January 10 and 11. We received a lot of good ideas from the 100 young, enthusiastic participants and the next step is to let them sit down with specialists and discuss how to bring those ideas to life,’ Fadia informs Youth.
When asked about why focus on the youth particularly in dealing with climate change, Fadia replies, ‘The youth is the largest demographic in this country, and as such are the ones who stand to lose the most through the effects of climate change. The youth can inject fresh insight into older traditions and are better equipped to come up with innovative solutions to the problems at hand. There is nothing wrong with traditions, but why waste such a valuable resource by keeping them isolated from all the problems? We have to face the consequences of the actions of our forefathers eventually.’
Fadia Hassan’s vision has just begun to materialise, and if all goes well, soon we will have a huge movement, involving youth battling climate change and its inevitable and disastrous effects.
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