In June 2020 Digo Bikas Institute brought together young Nepali climate activists working at local, regional and international level to discuss the role of Nepali youth in the climate movement. The webinar touched on policy, politics, organizing, and challenges that young activists have to face while trying to further the climate agenda in Nepal. 

The webinar started with a discussion on challenges of working as youth activists. Sagarika Bhatta founder of Powershift Nepal highlighted the fact that although youth are energetic, they are not consistent and have a difficult time earning trust and credibility. Similarly, climate activist Bindu Bhandari emphasized the need for youth-led movements to be well informed about the issues they are advocating. In the case of Nepal, it means keeping up with Nepal’s commitment outlined in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and relevant laws, and connecting with regional networks of activists. 

The conversation showed that the work of Nepali climate activists has created prioritization and streamlining of climate issues in Nepal. Shreya K.C from Nepalese Youth for Climate Action explained how NYCA was focused on mobilizing the youth to put pressure on policy-makers to take action. NYCA has organized letter writing and calling campaigns, lobbied to influence the content of Nepal’s NDC and declared plans at their national conference to push for assessment of climate change adaptation policies in local governments. 

Prayash Adhikari and Tanuja Pandey pointed out that climate activists are often considered extremists because of their participation in protests. The solution that they proposed was to collaborate with schools, and other participants to make sure that protests are also a learning opportunity and people are familiarized more with the urgency of the issue.

All of the participants highlighted the lack of political will to implement climate-friendly policies as a major hindrance for the youth and climate movement in Nepal. For example, Nepal’s government’s commitment to promote electric vehicles in the NDC while simultaneously increasing the tax on EV’s (now rolled-back), and the decision to go ahead with Nijgadh International Airport’s construction despite a stay order from the Supreme Court and civil society outcry. Anish Shrestha who has been involved in regional and international climate movements said that exchange of knowledge between these networks on how to translate public interest into political movement is crucial to inspire change. He also mentioned Nepali youth have a lot to contribute to regional caucuses so that issues of the region are represented in international climate conferences. 

Nepal has a youth population of 44% therefore an inter-generational issue such as the climate emergency should be at the forefront of every policy decision. Nepal is lucky to have activists who are contributing to the movement. 

You can listen to the full version of the webinar on our Facebook Page.

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