Climate Action: From Yangon to Paris,Governments follow the will of the people

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 - 09:07

In 2011, as one of 10 young people from around the world, I had the privilege of attending the UN climate talks in Panama and South Africaas a citizen journalist.Blogging and using social media,my role was to shine a light on the role of the Australian government. I also communicated messages from young people to Australia’s Climate Change Minister and top diplomats. Pressure from people inside the talks and outside, including demonstrations, social media and campaigns, meant that leaders were accountable and had to act.

This was also the case in Paris at the UN Climate Summitwhere people power - a petition signed by 2.7 million people, protests on the streets of Paris,solidarity marches from Melbourne, Manila to New York, and much more –pushed world leaders over the weekend to sign a historic agreement. The agreement will limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2 degrees, aiming for the 1.5 degreemark that least developing countries, particularly low lying islands states and NGOs were demanding. Whilst the Paris agreement does not go far enough to protect the world’s poorest, it does provide a framework for governments to follow the will of the people and ramp up future actions to tackle climate change.

At the same time as world leaders were putting the ink of the final agreement in Paris, 35 young people from across Myanmar were developing their own solutions to climate change at a workshop in Yangon hosted by UNICEF, ActionAid and the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance.

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Using design thinking, six teams of young people focussed on children and youth impacted by climate change as the starting point to develop innovative solutions to climate change. These included communication campaigns, tree planting, protecting mangoes, clean water projects and training teachers. The ideas were put to a panel of judges with the winning teamdevelopinga campaign aimed at engaging young people through schools using a mixture of games, cartoons and behavioural change activities. This group of young people will travel to Naw Pyi Taw next year to present their ideas to the government. Their ideas will hopefully form part of Myanmar’s new National Climate Change strategy.

The Global Risk Index ranks Myanmar second placeglobally in terms of vulnerability from extreme weather events related to climate change. More droughts, shorter and more intense monsoons, rising sea levels are all expected to affect poor people and those already vulnerable to shocks.

So as the world turns a new page on climate action,it is clear that the Myanmar governmentshould look to the countries youthand ‘people’ led solutions in dealing with climate change. The great ideas developed in Yangon over the weekend are a great place to start.


Written by Clancy Moore, Manager – Global Platform ActionAid Myanmar