In conjunction with World Children’s Day which takes place on Nov 20, Unicef and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supported by EcoKnights, has released a report entitled Change for Climate: National Youth Climate Change Survey.
In the report, the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of youth towards climate change are revealed. 92% of young people think that climate change is a crisis. Nine in 10 youth in Malaysia have experienced environment and climate-related effects in the last three years.
"Instead of watching sea levels rise, youth should rise up, lead the movement, and stir the waves of change for a better tomorrow. Humans are the root of the problem, but we can also be the solution for change,” says University of Malaya law student and member of the Malaysian Youth Delegation Toh Zhee Qi, 22.
The report, which surveys 1,393 youth in Malaysia, recommends that youth be included in the process of making climate policies through regular consultations; youth from rural and lower income families be encouraged to participate in climate action by moving the conversation beyond urban centres; and indigenous youth activists, community groups and civil society organisations that are leading climate action initiatives be recognised and offered a platform and support.
UNDP Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam resident representative Niloy Banerjee says: “The way we engage young people today on critical issues like the climate will determine the prospects for our planet and for sustainable development.”
“Youth bring with them an incredible drive and commitment to change things for the better. We must utilise their potential as powerful agents of change, involve and empower them in the development of policies, and support their participation in climate action at all levels,” says Banerjee.
Youth-led initiatives have played an important role in addressing the climate crisis, and there is a need to cultivate an environment for youth empowerment.
“Young people have been telling us that they are concerned about the environment. This World Children’s Day, we must listen and we must include them in the decisions that shape our shared future,” says Unicef Malaysia representative Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar.
The survey also reveals some barriers towards doing something about climate change.
Young people say that a climate-friendly lifestyle is expensive, and that they need more information and knowledge on what they can do to tackle climate change.
Some also do not think their individual actions can make a difference, which may lead to discouragement and indifference.
“Youth are the voices of the future, and the stakes are higher for them as they are the ones who will face the consequences of the climate crisis if nothing is actively done to reverse it,” says EcoKnights programme director Fadly Bakhtiar.
To launch the Change for Climate report with the National Youth Climate Change Survey, a youth dialogue entitled “Youth Talks! Climate Change” will take place on World Children’s Day (Nov 20) at 8pm online. This will be streamed live on Unicef Malaysia’s Facebook page.
The youth-led dialogue on climate action and environmental justice will provide a platform for youth to share their experiences in addressing climate change, and launch a call to action mobilising youth to participate in the climate action agenda.
The dialogue panelists are Tonibung assistant manager Joe Baxter Bernard, MyHutan campaigner Aidil Iman, EcoKnights Project Vocal Celine Ng, and Ministry of Environment and Water Climate Change Division’s Climate Change Policy and Negotiation Unit senior assistant secretary Muhammad Ridzwan bin Ali, with Toh as moderator.