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Youth excited to spring into action after Gobeshona conference

  • Published at 05:22 pm February 19th, 2019
Gobeshona Conference_2019_6

Youth reflections from Gobeshona 5

Twenty four youth from different public and private universities attended all six days of the conference including the two youth days. They talked to experts, policymakers and development practitioners about climate change problems and possible solutions on topics they found interesting.

Students were involved in sessions which included engaging with country-specific discussions about climate change, where students were asked to identify potential climate change problems in the global south depending on which countries the students came.  

Sessions focused on the role of youth in identifying climate change solution. Students discussed possible approaches they can take to help in solving these issues. Also discussion on the importance of building a more extensive cross-country network of youth took place. Students were then asked to come up with ideas as to how they can create this network, which virtual platform can they use, who and how will they manage a year-long communication with other universities/youth groups and what will be the common themes they can work on.

Gobeshona 5 initiated the Youth Days as a way to identify the future climate change leaders in Bangladesh and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). While the prime objective was to introduce a small group of university students to the world of climate change science and policy research, the outcome turned out to be much better. 

It began the journey of a broader youth network in Bangladesh and slowly going around the South Asian countries. How will they contribute to the climate change research community while they are still studying? Will they spread their newfound knowledge among the climate – vulnerable populations? 

Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) says otherwise. It is not sharing knowledge but action which will bring changes in the student’s locality hence the larger community of the country. 

He also emphasised the fact that while a joint action plan might be useful to guide what needs to be achieved in the long run, immediate action will convey an even stronger message to the world. Therefore, Dr Huq’s note to the Youth participating at the 5th Gobeshona Conference was ‘to go home, identify a local problem, make a plan to tackle the problem and then mobilise supporters to tackle it. After six months they will report back on their action.’ 

He also opined that the concept of raising awareness has been going on for a long time and the time for youth to take action is now. As an example, he talked about 16 years old Greta Thunberg from Sweden who came to media attention with her action on climate change and a powerful speech to the world leaders at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. 

If a school student can make an effort by striking in front of her school to fight climate change, then everyone should be able to do some small everyday task which in turn will help in tackling climate change. All that is needed is an intention to do something good for Mother Earth.

International Youth Participants 

“I enjoyed all three segments of the conference; youth day, science conference and science policy dialogues which were indeed great and knowledgeable. 

During the science elements of the conference, I received a lot of information mostly about climate-induced problems in Bangladesh and some innovative ideas to tackle those problems. It highlights the problem of climatic change in the different sector from food security to migration. 

The conference has been tremendously useful in terms of gaining new understandings, as researchers brought forward brilliant ideas such as genetic changes to cope with the changing climate and the use of different techniques for solving the problem. 

Likewise, another segment that focused on science policy dialogues on the conclusion of COP24 and NDC targets was very illuminating. It also discussed the ongoing process of NDC targets implementation in Bangladesh.

In spite of the above positive aspects of the conferences, both the science conference and science policy conference had a very broad approach and the presenters could only speak in general terms rather than going into their research in more details.

I see the youth days as the most attractive part of the conference, as there was considerable interaction between youths of different cultural and geographical background where we were free to express ourselves. 

Communication between us youth was so good. We were able to find the real burning problem of climate change and ready to highlight some approaches to solve those problems. To make the learning of the conference effective, the organizer requested all the youth participants to develop an action plan to tackle the environmental issues and do some action for better environment change within six month time period which I think is a beautiful initiative. 

Overall, the platform of the conference was useful for knowledge gaining and sharing.  Beyond that, the networking opportunity was very exciting.” 

- Lata Neupane, Student of Masters of Science in Environmental Management at  the School of Environmental Science and Management in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

“Gobeshona is a network where the researchers on climate change get together and share their experiences. Moreover, to discuss the plans and projects to adapt ourselves to climate change impacts and to be resilient. 

We know that climate change is a global problem and it is necessary to involve people globally in working towards minimizing the impacts of climate change. So, we become more knowledgeable in the subject and build resilience to climate change impacts. 

As a youth participant in Gobeshona 5, I got to learn more on climate change its related issues so that I can work on becoming more resilient. We need to go one step ahead to mitigate its problems. We have to start from within if we want to achieve a lot, as it is said that everybody’s work becomes nobody's work. 

For me, the one of the best outcomes from the conference is, I will first look into the arising issue related in my locality. Then I will look for a solution to that, which will help in mitigating climate change and adaptation.”

- Ugyen Penjor, Student at the College of Natural Resources at the Royal University of Bhutan.

Local Youth Participants

“Climate change is no longer an issue we can ignore to accommodate economic growth. The main danger of climate change is its chronic nature, where a significant amount of damage may occur without immediate signs or symptoms. For this reason, many people, including some important public figures, dismiss climate change as being false. However, people are more aware of climate change each day in countries like Bangladesh, which, even though a developing country itself, has positioned itself at the frontline to take actions against this global problem. 

Bangladesh is now a focus of extensive research, and the involvement of youth in this sector is remarkable. As an undergraduate student of Environmental Management in Dhaka, I get to witness many of the works being done and attend workshops, seminars and conferences on environmental issues. 

Gobeshona is currently the largest platform dealing with climate knowledge issues in Bangladesh. Entering its 5th year, Gobeshona 5 spread its wings beyond the national boundary to attract professors, practitioners and specialists from the world over. 

This experience has been beneficial for youth participants such as myself, because we got to know in detail about the ground-breaking work being done across the globe and also personally interact with the people behind such innovations, something which would not have been possible otherwise. 

In my personal experience, I have learned about many of the innovative studies going on in Bangladesh and across the world, such as Solar Geo-Engineering, Sandbar cropping, innovative utilisation and management of polders, etc. 

The organizers of Gobeshona recognise the importance of youth involvement, and in this year’s event, we had two special days only for the youth participants. We were briefed on various aspects of the conference before it started. The youth days helped to rekindle our curiosity for knowledge. 

We were encouraged to socialise and exchange ideas with the specialists attending, as well as build a network of fellow national and international youth participants. This has really helped expand our horizon of thinking. 

Finally, we prepared an action plan for one year with our pledge to personally take action regarding climate change. Overall, Gobeshona 5 has been a unique experience for me and all the other youth participants, and it has motivated us to take action both individually and collectively.

- Shaiyan Siddique, Undergraduate student at the Department of Environmental Science and Management at North South University, Bangladesh.

“International conference on climate knowledge, ‘Gobeshona 5’ is my first ever experience of an international conference. 

I learned about many new topics and gained a bunch of new experiences,  particularly from the youth day, where we planned to make an action plan for next one year from our acquired knowledge and experience from the conference. 

After four days, we all have a lot of ideas, and we cannot decide which one we should select for our action plan, they all were great ideas. Collectively, as a group we made a cross-disciplinary, cross-university and cross-national team for the year. There are pupils from environmental sciences, environmental management, forestry, disaster management, geography and environment and even from economics included in this group. 

Working on the same topic like climate change with peoples from different backgrounds is a hard job. We have two foreign members of our team, one is from Nepal, and other is from Bhutan. 

Regarding climate change, Nepal and Bhutan are facing entirely different problems than Bangladesh. Their hilly terrains have different characteristics than our floodplains and delta. So, it is also a great experience to know the spatial varieties from the citizens of other countries, their geographies, and their climate change-induced problems. 

Researchers from different parts of the world described their country problem and what are they doing on that problem. The conference had many sessions. I attended most of the sessions and every single one of them was interesting to me. From the rhizobacteria as an adaptation technology to the floating house as an amphibious architecture, every presenter had an interesting topic. 

As a second-year undergraduate student, this was a tremendous opportunity to know climate change from different approaches, viewing angles, the multi-disciplinary and national-scale views. 

- Sakib Rahman Siddique Shuvo, Student at the Department of Geography and Environment at Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh

“Attending conferences is meaningful to me and I have participated in a couple. I have acquired remarkable experiences from Gobeshona 5 because the conference had considered youths’ perspective for their future climate-related work. 

I think the conference was very well organised. I thoroughly enjoyed the event with so many interesting plenary and parallel sessions including science policy dialogues on climate change research. 

Several of the sessions were hosted by ICCCAD, BRAC, Friendship, VSO, BCAS, UIU, IDRC, and Water Aid. The sessions I attended were very informative and insightful on their distinct subjects. I got a chance to connect with researchers, practitioners as well as policymakers from all over the world and shared experience with them. They had also given me valuable feedback, and I had returned home with new ideas. 

The conference was an opportunity to learn what other people in the field of climate are doing and become motivated by their acts. Particularly, I can mention Dr Elizabeth C English's ‘amphibious housing’ concept. Amphibious housing is an alternative flood mitigation sustainable strategy for the flood-prone region. This idea was entirely new to me. I also had a chance to listen from world-leading climate scientist Dr Saleemul Huq. 

Last but not least, it was a fabulous time to make some great international new friends from Nepal, Bhutan, India and Zimbabwe and know about the climate challenges in their countries. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the organisers of Gobeshona 5 and good luck for Gobeshona 6.”

- Afrida Nurain, graduate of Environmental Sciences from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh.

Jennifer coordinates the ICCCAD Youth programme.She has a MSc degree from Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) in Climate Change and Development (2015).Jennifer's work mostly focuses on education and training in the climate change sector.

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