Young Thinkers’ Conference on ‘Climate Action and Resilience in East and Northeast India’

In the run up to COP26 to be hosted by the UK at Glasgow, Scotland in 2021, the British Deputy High Commission Kolkata in partnership with Asian Confluence organised a virtual Young Thinkers’ Conference on ‘Climate Action and Resilience in East and Northeast India’ on Saturday, 3 October.

Mr. Ken O’Flaherty, COP26 Regional Ambassador for Asia-Pacific and South Asia, who gave the COP26 Leadership Address at the Conference said, “It is the children and young people of today who will face the worst effects of climate change tomorrow. Young people are now engaging strongly to save the future of our planet. Their voice can be a powerful catalyst for change. The UK is determined for this voice to be heard as we press for global climate action ahead of COP26.”

Ms. Jan Thompson, the British Acting High Commissioner to India, said in her introductory address, The inconvenient truth is that climate change is speeding up. And we can see the impact of climate change the world over. India is particularly exposed to climatic extremes – as you know only too well in Kolkata following the recent effects of extreme storms and cyclones. And the COVID pandemic is not making things any easier. But despite these challenges it is inspirational to see the tremendous progress India is making to chart out a cleaner development path.  Using more renewable energy. Adding more electric vehicles to its fleet. And alongside domestic progress, working to mobilise the global community through initiatives like the International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and ‘One Sun One World One Grid.”

Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha; India’s Sherpa to G20/G7; and former Union Minister for Environment & Forest; Commerce & Industry and Railways, who was the keynote speaker at the Plenary session of the Conference, said, There is limited time for the world for climate action. We need to do something before we completely destroy the planet. India is focusing on solar energy to change the way energy is used among other things as part of its climate action policy. COP happens but we need action to follow globally and India is committed to supporting climate action, mitigation and building climate resilience.”

In the Session on ‘Governance and Climate Action’, Members of Parliament, Dr. Amar Patnaik from Odisha, Mr. Nadimul Haque from West Bengal and Mr. Gaurav Gogoi from Assam and former MP Kalikesh Singh Deo from Odisha discussed policies and climate action in the Eastern and Northeastern states. The Session was moderated by Mr Richard Barlow, Head, Political and Bilateral Affairs, British High Commission, New Delhi.

Dr. Francesca Datola, First Secretary, Embassy of Italy, New Delhi who spoke in the first session said: “Italy, Co-Chair of COP26, firmly believes in the key-role of young people in driving climate ambition. That is why we are hosting a “Youth4Climate” event – back to back with the Pre-Cop in Milan – gathering 400 young leaders from all of the world. They will be given the unique opportunity to present their proposals directly to policymakers and negotiators, injecting their innovative ideas in the COP process.”

Mr. Nick Low, theBritish Deputy High Commissioner to Kolkata, set the agenda for the Session on ‘Green Recovery and Sustainable Solutions. It’s fantastic to see young people across East and Northeast India taking climate action so seriously.  Their passion, energy and engagement shows our future is in good hands.  We look forward to working with governments, business, academia, civil society and, of course, youth in the run-up to COP26 and beyond to safeguard the future of our precious planet,” he said.

Mr. Sabyasachi Dutta, Executive Director, Asian Confluence said, “We are really pleased to partner in this important agenda of locating the overarching action on climate resilience to the context of east and north east India. It is a timely and important agenda that calls for immediate action both from the bottom up and the top down.”

Dr Tashi Dorji, Senior Ecosystems Specialist and Theme Leader, Ecosystem Services, ICIMOD, Bhutan, Ms. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association and Mr. Manjeet Dhakal, Head of LDC Support Team, Climate Analytics, Nepal, addressed the climate challenges faced by their respective countries and discussed sustainable solutions and ways to engage the youth in climate action.

A video message by Mr. Jadav Payeng, Winner of HMTQ’s 128th Commonwealth Points of Light Award and popularly known as the Forest Man of India was played out during the conference.

About Young Thinkers’ Conference:

This, the 4th regional edition in East/North East India, brought together policymakers, government officials, climate experts and environmentalists and representatives from NGOs and think-tanks from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal working on environment and climate related solutions for an exchange of ideas and engagement with the youth.

Nearly 300 participants, mostly young professionals, students, civil society and think tank members, from these countries joined the virtual conference today.