A great deal of public attention has been focused on climate change and environmental issues over the recent years – and rightfully so. This includes the involvement of youth climate groups that address essential concerns associated with nature, waste, pollution, health, livelihoods, and the like.
As part of its commitment to enable youth in Sri Lanka to engage with their local communities, the British Council has, in the past, been at the forefront of supporting youth leadership; including leadership for climate initiatives with an emphasis on climate activism.
It is with this goal in mind that the British Council has launched the Youth Leadership for Climate Action (YLCA) – a new project initiated in collaboration with the youth wing of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka, as well as Biodiversity Sri Lanka. The purpose of this project is to create a holistic awareness of climate change and empower young people to take effective action against it. “The YLCA project has made me look at the environment around me with a different perspective,” said one of project participants, showing the early impact the project has had on the youth. “For example, I see a tree as something which helps to reduce pollution in the air. The programme helped me to see the unseen side of climate change,” he added.
This year marks 75 years of UK-Sri Lanka ties, and the British Council will be engaging 75 youth through the YLCA project to mark this milestone. These youth will have enhanced capabilities to contribute to the growing climate action agenda as future leaders and concerned citizens. They will engage in interventions and dialogues addressing climate change through nature-based solutions, such as restoring threatened eco-systems on land, conserving ocean and marine environments, and addressing the menace of plastic pollution which put many eco-systems in jeopardy.
There is no doubt that South Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change and environmental issues. As a result, the objective of this initiative is to generate awareness and establish consensus regarding the role Sri Lankan youth can play in the global debate. The YLCA project is currently underway in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, and Kandy, with the aim to develop a generation-wide movement to address the climate crisis by inspiring, empowering, and mobilising young Sri Lankans to take climate action.