The Minister of Environment, Hon. Naseer Ahamed, participated in the Asia-Pacific Youth Environment Forum on the 1st of October 2023. This significant event precedes the fifth Asia Pacific Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities, the largest regional environmental event in the Asia Pacific region, set to convene in Colombo from October 3rd to October 6th. The forum is jointly organized by the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
During his address at the forum, Environment Minister Hon. Naseer Ahamed highlighted the critical importance of the Asia-Pacific region in the global fight against climate change. He noted that the region is home to 60 per cent of the world’s population and is among the most vulnerable areas to the climate crisis. A recent UNDP survey revealed that approximately 63 per cent of people in Asia and the Pacific recognize climate change as a major global emergency.
Minister Naseer Ahamed emphasized the growing frustration among youth in the region regarding the perceived lack of climate action by their leaders. He acknowledged the youth-led movements and climate strikes that have emerged in response to this frustration, emphasizing that their voices must be heard.
The Minister underscored the necessity of engaging with the youth to strengthen the region’s resilience in the face of overlapping crises, which he referred to as the “Triple Planetary Crisis” encompassing climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
Addressing the Asia-Pacific Youth Environment Forum 2023, Minister Naseer Ahamed stressed the need for coordinated action to combat rapid environmental degradation and align the three pillars of sustainable development: the Economy, the Environment, and Society.
Minister Naseer Ahaned also drew attention to the vulnerability of coastal and low-lying cities, such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Jakarta, to sea level rise and extreme weather events. Rural areas remain highly susceptible to drought and flooding, with children and young people disproportionately affected.
The Asia-Pacific Youth Environment Forum aims to promote collective, impactful, and sustainable measures to address the Triple Planetary Crisis at the national, regional, and global levels. Minister Naseer Ahamed proposed a comprehensive focus on environmental degradation, economic challenges, and social disparities in the region.
Distinguished attendees at the forum included Thomas Kring, Chief Technical Advisor, International Labour Organisation; Marlene Nilsson, Deputy Regional Director, UNEP; Marc-Andre Franche, UN Resident Coordinator Sri Lanka; Andrew Gray, Deputy Chief of Mission, IOM; Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP; and Shyamalee Jayasinghe, Country Coordinator, UNV.