January 2017
The Outlook for Youth Leadership on Climate Action and Sustainable Development

Submitted by: Ms. Kehkashan Basu
Founder of Green Hope
2016 International Children’s Peace Prize Winner
NGOCSD-NY Honorary Adviser for Youth Leadership & Climate Action

Our world today has the highest number of children and young people more than ever before. The future, ostensibly, belongs to us, but we are helpless to change or influence the present that will determine the way we live. Our dignity, or rather indignity, is determined by the insatiable hunger of the global economic powerhouses which turn virgin rainforests into ugly mining pits and pollute the pristine water of our rivers with toxic chemicals, pushing thousands of species to the brink of extinction. This is the harsh reality that stares us in the face , but many of us choose to either look away or shrug helplessly thinking it is someone else’s problem.

This must change and this is why young people like me are speaking out and demanding conservation of the environment and the right to live with dignity, because we are the citizens of tomorrow --- but we will not live to see tomorrow if our today is not taken care of.

This led me to establish Green Hope in 2012, on my return from Rio+20 to engage, educate and empower young people to take actions on mitigating climate change, achieve biodiversity conservation , promote the use of renewable energy , gender equality , sustainable consumption, social upliftment and future justice. Green Hope runs a lot of environmental activities such as recycling of waste, cleanups on beaches and mangroves, tree planting and awareness campaigns engaging hundreds of young people in the process. We conduct “Environmental Academies” which are workshops and conferences, conducted “by youth – for youth”, through which we spread awareness about various aspects of sustainability. Green Hope now has collaborations and chapters in 10 countries across the globe with over 1000 young people engaged as volunteer members. 

My advocacy work has been further strengthened by my appointment as the Honorary Advisor for the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY opening new avenues to engage a greater section of my fraternity. It is a privilege for me to have this role and it enhances my ability to convey the needs of young people in making a meaningful difference to the sustainable development process. 

I feel immensely humbled to have been awarded the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize. There were a record number of 120 nominees from 49 countries and it is a huge honor for me to be chosen as the winner. I believe the jury recognized the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability and the need for children to be involved in driving this change while deciding on the winner. People will now know that children's rights and environmental protection are connected and extremely important for the future generations.

Our rights can never be secured if the environment that we live in continues to be plundered and degraded wantonly. Future Generations deserve to inherit an environment in the same pristine conditions that our forefathers did. More species have been obliterated in the past century than in the entire documented history of our planet. Climate change threatens our survival yet policy makers continue to ignore the dire consequences of global warming, while our energy hungry economies choke the atmosphere through fossil fuel emissions.  

Environmental apathy is at the root of this problem and this must be done away with. Young people, whose future is at stake, are extremely concerned about the desecration of the pristine beauty of our environment. It is time for us to take action and take charge of our destiny. 

Global Common Goods: Security and Realism by Jonathan Granoff

The winter 2015 edition of International Law News, the publication of the American Bar Association's International Law Section, focuses on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the successor to the Millennium Development Goals, which were to be developed between 2000 and 2015. In this special issue, the contributing lawyers demonstrate that the rule of law is one of the main cornerstones in the implementation of these goals. 

In his contribution to the ILN, Jonathan Granoff writes that the critical and existential threats we face in the twenty-first century require cooperation and the establishment of international legal regimes, "the pursuit of which will amplify the capacity of nations to work together and find common ground in addressing issues where current differences preclude critical short-term progress." He compares the ad hoc way by which legal regimes are emerging at the global, regional, and national level, with the far more stable intentional legal regime that regulates global commercial matters, and calls on lawyers to actively advocate for treaty regimes to protect the global common goods: stabilizing the climate, protecting the oceans and rain forests, and insuring that nuclear weapons are never used. 

Read "Global Common Goals and Goods: Security and Realism," or download the entire issue of ILN

A Ray of Hope

The Rann of Kutch in the Indian state of Gujrat is one of the most desolate and arid regions in the world. It’s a vast, barren land of salt marshes with very little vegetation and means of subsistence. This arid landscape is one of the major sources of salt not just for India but globally. Temperatures during the day soar to above 50 deg C while the nights are bitterly cold. These salt marshes are home to migrant labourers, called “Agarias” who toil in pitiful conditions to manually extract salt through natural evaporation of the sea water. They live in temporary shelters with no electricity and trek on bare feet across this vast wilderness, in search of work. Dubai based youth organisation, Green Hope UAE, which works on sustainable development believes in engaging all sections of civil society, especially those who are marginalized, in the road to progress. With this objective, a team of three Green Hope members, comprising of its 15 year old Founder, President Kehkashan Basu, Pragna (age: 14) and Erin (age: 13) collaborated with Cummins Middle East and travelled to Zainabad, a village on the edge of the salt pans of Rann of Kutch in Gujrat , India. They carried with them a cargo of 100 solar rechargeable lights and several cartons of books to distribute to the children of the “salt farmers." At Zainabad, they were assisted by a prominent local business and social entrepreneur Mr. Dhanraj who has established a school for the underprivileged children, including those of the salt pan workers. The Green Hope team conducted a half day workshop at this school, spreading awareness about the sustainable development goals, the current state of the environment and the important role of young people in mitigating climate change. Thereafter they donated the books that they had carried all the way from UAE, to the school library.  Kehkashan and her team, thereafter forayed into the arid salt pans with their cargo of solar lamps. The huts of the salt farmers were spread far and wide across the vast Rann of Kutch, with each hut several kilometers away from the other. Each farmer family thus lives, works and tries to survive in isolation as they extract salt from marshes. The blistering heat of the sun and cold winds of the desert night, combined with the constant exposure to the corrosive salt make every day of their lives one of misery and a struggle to make it to the next day. Mortality is high and their children have little or no access to healthcare or education. Traveling across this harsh landscape on a SUV driven by Mr Dhanraj, the Green Hope team went from hut to hut distributing the solar lamps. Pragna and Erin opened the packs and demonstrated to the Agarias how the lamps work on solar energy. According to Pragna “the look of pure of joy on their faces as they saw the lamps light up made our effort worthwhile." The Green Hope team traversed several hundred square kilometers, treveling deep into the night, reaching out to a hundred huts with these lamps. Erin said “Tonight 100 huts across the Rann will light --- it is really fulfilling that we were able to bring a ray of hope to their lives."  The following day, Green Hope joined the children of the Zainabad village school to plant 25 Neem and Jetropha trees as a mark of solidarity and Climate Justice with the ongoing Climate Change Conference in Paris. This project was Green Hope’s was first step of using clean energy for the benefit of civil society and encouraged by its success, the team plans to build on it and light up the lives of all salt farmers in the Rann of Kutch.

We held our monthly NGOCSD-NY meeting with a Special CSW60 session Co-Hosted by the Mission of Sri Lanka to the United NationsFriday, March 18th at the Mission.  The meeting was on "Domestic Violence Against Women & Girls: A Major Obstacle to Women's Empowerment."  We were honored to have joining us: Honorable Ms. Chandrani Bandara Jayasingha, Minister for Women and Child Affairs in Sri Lanka; Honorable Mrs. Sicily K. Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary, the Republic of Kenya, Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs; Honorable Mrs. Nana Oye Lithur, Honorable Cabinet Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Republic of Ghana; Honorable Ms. Carolyn B. Maloney, U.S. Congressional Representative of New York District 12; Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.  We were very grateful to H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN and Ms. Sonali Samarasinghe, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka for their outstanding and generous support.  During our meeting we put forth a Global Call to Action to Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence so we truly Leave No One Behind

Please look under NGOCSD-NY EVENTS on our website for other activities CSW60.

Signing the Paris Agreement on Earth Day 2016:
At United Nations Headquarters in New York on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 over 170 member states signed the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change making way for a process that should begin setting standards for our sustainable future, globally.  Never before have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. The signatures came on Earth Day, the worldwide day in support of environmental protection. We all are stakeholders in our sustainable future and we must truly leave no one behind. (Lindsay, If you can download a photo of the SG at the signing and Leonardo DeCaprio at the UN signing that would be great and add it to this section, thanks.)

Finance for Development:
The ECOSOC Forum on Finance for Development was held April 18-20 with the inaugural ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The theme of the Forum was "Financing for sustainable development: follow-up to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda." According to its mandate, the Forum would address the follow-up and review of the Financing for Development outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The modalities of participation of those utilized at the international conferences on financing for development.

Check back for updates in the coming months.