For the last two months, Janjri Jasani and Natasha Zarine have been juggling their routine work and updating themselves on all the developments in the discussions around climate change.
That’s because, later this month, the duo from Mumbai will be part of an eight-member Indian Youth Delegation at the United Nations’ climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. Starting November 29, they will track negotiators and negotiations, participate in actions, lobby with government officials and report back to the Indian youth.
“The idea is to get youth involved in climate change mitigation. Those making policies won’t be there in the next 50 years,” said 24-year-old Jasani, who works with the Centre for Environmental Research & Education, an NGO. “We, the youth, will be impacted with the decisions made today.”
In September Jasani and Zarine were selected through a nationwide competition held by the Indian Youth Climate Network to build on from last year’s Copenhagen delegation, connect with other youth, government organisations, raise funds to cover their costs, and lead the movement for climate change mitigation and action.
When they are not working or studying, Jasani and Zarine spend at least four hours every evening responding to emails, participating in conference calls with other members of the delegation or reading up and preparing for the meet.
A fortnight before the negotiations begin, the youth delegation is drafting its own policy recommendations on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, which will be presented to the Indian negotiators, environment ministry and civil society groups.
“Reacting to climate change must be seen not as a burden but as an opportunity. It’s a chance for a fantastic leap into the second industrial revolution. It’s a win-win situation,” said Zarine, 23, a second year student at the Government Law College.
The delegation will also rally with other youth to take the message back to their own countries and thereby work towards pressuring the government.