Inheriting the world’s climate disasters

Children are the future of climate change activism, and young people like Licypriya Kangujam are already showing us how their voice can make a difference

In 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg made headlines when she started skipping school to strike for climate action outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm. A year prior, Jamie Margolin founded the protest group Zero Hour in Seattle, Washington, also at the young age of 15.

Over time, the movement has snowballed. Young climate activists from across the world have since come out in force, starting protests, addressing global leaders at events, and kickstarting campaigns in their nations, all geared towards protecting the planet from the ongoing environmental crisis.

Young people are at the heart of the fight against climate change. They realise that their generation will have to deal with the impact of climate change due to no fault of their own, and they’re not shying away when it comes to making their voices heard.

Young and unafraid

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Closer home, 10-year-old Licypriya Kangujam is one such climate activist. Licypriya and her ongoing efforts have been highlighted by 101 India x MG Changemakers, an initiative that brings stories of inspiring women who are torchbearers of change in their communities. The latest season focuses on stories advocating for the sustainable development of communities.

Born in Manipur, Licypriya spent her early years in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, where she watched not one, but two cyclones — Titli in 2018 and Fani in 2019 — devastate the entire region. The family then moved to New Delhi, hoping for a better life. But once there, they were faced with more issues, especially in the form of air that was unbreathable. This was the turning point for young Licypriya.

She says, “Many people told me: ‘You’re too small to get involved in such activism. But I’ve proven to them that age doesn’t matter when it comes to making a difference.’”

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Licypriya has since gone on to be recognised as India’s youngest climate activist. In the last few years, she has led protests, addressed world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference 2019 (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, and been invited to speak at numerous TEDx Talks.

She says, “This is the time to wake up. This is the time to open up your eyes. We have to change our behaviour. The best gift parents can give their children is not a beautiful house, expensive cars, or a lot of money. The best gift is a beautiful green planet.”

Building an army of climate warriors

Last year, a global study revealed that climate anxiety affects the daily life of nearly half of young people (aged 16-25). The research surveyed 10,000 young people across 10 countries. But to ensure a sustainable future for every child, it is important to involve children themselves in designing and implementing solutions.

To make this happen, international bodies have been calling for climate change studies to be taught in schools as a formal part of curriculums. The United Nations says that it should be part of teaching in all schools by 2025, because “knowing the facts helps eliminate the fear of an issue which is frequently coloured by doom and gloom in the public arena.”

Among the many projects that Licypriya is involved in, one worth focusing on is her call to governments to make climate education mandatory in schools. As per reports, so far, the governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan have paid heed and introduced climate change as a subject in their school curriculum.

She says, “This will help us fight the climate crisis from a very young age, and at the grassroots level. It will hopefully also get our world leaders to take the situation more seriously, especially when their children and grandchildren start talking to them about the issues the world is facing.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101india.com.

Written By: Shraddha Uchil