Asian Youth and Climate Change


Amira is a member of ECO Singapore, hoping to bring forward the gravity of the climate change issue in Copenhagen this December. The group is part of the International Youth Climate Movement (ICYM) at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) .

At COP15, we met with youth from East and Southeast Asia during a caucus session at the Conference of Youth (COY). Compared to the delegations from Europe, the US and Australia, there were very few youth from our region at COY.

At the risk of sounding post-colonialist, it was starkly apparent that the youth from the West played a more active and dominant role in the organisation of COY and in the youth climate movement on the whole.

Many of the perspectives shared at COY as well as the ideas and issues discussed were viewed from the lenses of our friends and collaborators from Australia, Europe and the US. While they were insightful and thought-provoking, the silence on Asian issues was starkly apparent. But Asian youth have a huge stake in climate change and the policies that emerge from COP15 and all the UNFCCC negotiations too.

While no region can claim to suffer the detriments of climate change disproportionately more than the others, it’s undeniable that Asia is impacted by a vast spectrum of climate-related threats: food security, rising sea levels, water contamination, forest degradation, and community displacement. Asia is a unique continent which spans a diverse range of countries with various social and geographical landscapes and which are at differing stages of economic development and political maturity.

The way we are affected by and cope with climate change are extremely different. Far from bearing the brunt of the changing world on our own, climate change also affects us on a regional level as each other’s most immediate neighbours. The haze, rising food prices and refugees from floods in South Asia are testimony to the fact that climate change makes boundaries in Asia more fluid, national problems more amplified and regional support structures more crucial.

Asia has proven to be capable of immense integration across all differences on economic platforms and so, is similarly capable of initiating solutions for addressing climate-related effects, developing programs for carbon reduction and trading, innovating urban solutions and forestry mechanisms. Success in these efforts could not only benefit our region but serve as a role model for the rest of the world.

Already, Japan is a world leader in carbon reduction and clean energy solutions while China is leading the charge on solar power, and carbon emissions reduction projects. There are so many things we can learn from each other. To this end, ECO is establishing an Asian caucus at the sidelines of COP to begin a dialogue on climate change in Asia and to discuss the role of youth in creating solutions to address this regional, and most definitely, global concern.

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