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Youth volunteers interact with MP Dr Amar Patnaik on Climate Change and Environment

Bhubaneswar: Youth volunteers from different districts of Odisha participated in an interaction with MP Rajya Sabha and Sansad Ratna Awardee 2022 Dr. Amar Patnaik, for an interactive session titled ‘Mainstreaming Young People’s Voices in Public Policy on Climate Change and Environment’ held in Bhubaneswar.

The young people who attended the session are part of UNICEF-supported Youth4Water campaign in Odisha which works with around 1.3 lakh youth members making them aware of climate and water issues and encouraging them to find solutions to build more resilience for their communities.

Monika Nielsen, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Odisha said that young people could play an important role in climate action as they are agents of change, entrepreneurs and innovators.

She further said,” UNICEF firmly believes in bringing decision makers and influencers together with young people to not only put a spotlight on issues that matter to young people the most, but also generate additional opportunities for child-focussed actions and initiatives.”

She applauded the efforts of the Youth4Water cohort.

Shipra Saxena, from UNICEF, shared more about the Youth4Water campaign. While Marije Broekhuijsen, OIC WASH Chief, UNICEF India shared some global insights about Youth and Climate Change.

Sharing his experience as a policy maker Dr Amar Patnaik gave an insights into the democratic processes that shape public policy. He said “Ideation is the most important thing and it comes from the younger generation. Innovative ideas along with a dedication and selflessness can lead to social change.”

He also said there was a need for behavioural change practices in the community which should be led by youth.

Lauding the spirit of volunteerism among the young champions, he said, “A successful volunteer takes into account the grassroot realities and then convene communities to take charge of their natural resources. Any small positive change for the environment can have an impact on all other eco systems.”

During the interactive session youths shared their concerns, views and desire to work for environment and climate change. The MP addressed all their queries about how to have their views heard by policy makers, how to have their concerns addressed and how to contribute to creating a sustainable, safe Odisha.

Participants brought in their perspective and sensitized the participants to the spiral effect that climate disasters or lack of access to WASH facilities has on the lives of women. All these youth, highlighted the need to be inclusive – in policy design, implementation and in our day to day lives.

The participants also included youth entrepreneurs in climate change and WASH. With products such as E-waste recycled laptops, Natural face wash and wall paint made of cow dung and urine, Eco-products, Home décor from waste among others. These environmental entrepreneurs passionately spoke about their vision and challenges.

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