Present at the Copenhagen climate summit in unprecedented numbers, youth are increasingly working together across national boundaries to be an effective force for change within the global climate negotiations. Youth from Sri Lanka too joined hands on this global effort to fight climate change. Shehan Amaratunga, Vositha Wijenayake and Ashrifa Ali are in the Denmark’s capital Copenhagen raising the voice on behalf of Sri Lankan youth.
“We all work toward a common goal of pushing the world leaders and the negotiators to make the right choices” said Shehan sending an exclusive email message to the Mirror Magazine from Copenhagen. Both Shehan and Vositha took part in the 5th Annual Youth Conference held at Copenhagen during the weekend, which saw the participation of youth from over 100 countries. They learned, shared and planned how they will directly influence the outcomes of the critical UN Climate Summit. “Copenhagen is a great city and with lots of youth from different countries, it is fun too. But we are all staying focused on why we are here,” young SriLankan delegates voiced together.
Both Shehan and Voshitha contributed locally on acting upon effective Climate Action, and were selected as the official Sri Lankan Youth Delegates to the UN climate change conference. Vositha is the Executive Coordinator for the Sri Lanka Youth Climate Action Network (SLYCAN) which is an umbrella organization functioning to bring together youth that work towards combating climate change. Shehan holds the position of the Project Coordinator for the Sri Lanka Youth Climate Action Network and is the Environmental Program Coordinator of the pioneering youth organization, Beyond Borders Sri Lanka.
British Council International Climate Champion, Ashrifa Ali has also flown to Copenhagen to make her voice heard on behalf of youth, especially in the region. She joins with two hundred climate champions from more than forty countries worldwide.
Before leaving the country, Ashrifa revealed her ambitious expectations about a fruitful climate deal in Copenhagen. “The Sri Lankan youth are ready to take to the frontlines in the combat against climate change to save our beautiful little island. Our country contributes only a very small percentage to carbon emissions, yet we are and would be affected drastically by climate change, Ashrifa said.
The British Council’s Climate Champion Program is a growing global network of more than 1500 individuals aged between 14 and 35 who share an interest in finding sustainable solutions to tackle climate change in their communities. With a focus on local initiatives, the Climate Champions Program is already making a positive impact in community and beyond. Ashrifa has assembled a green army in her locality to act on various aspects to take climate actions.
The Climate Champions represent part of the wider United Nations’ Youth Constituency of over 2000 young people attending Copenhagen. Ashrifa will be involved in a wide range of activities including interventions at meetings with official delegations and will have the opportunity to showcase their projects and solutions to climate change.
“After all, we – today’s younger generation will experience the worst of climate change in our lifetime if actions are delayed. So Youth must unite to hit the breaks on Climate Change!” This was Ashrifa’s request to all the SriLankan youth.