Participating in a youth forum made me see that we aren’t too far from other countries in terms of climate change adaptation.

 

It all started with a movie. After watching “Day After Tomorrow” in Grade IV, I was haunted by a question—"What if? What if the world froze like in the movie?” When I expressed my worry to kaka, he told me that the world wasn’t freezing but getting warmer. I felt relieved. But later, in my Environment Science book I learned that the earth was warming up pretty fast and was at a risk of a severe climate change. And since then, I have been obsessed with anything related to global warming—from climate change and green house gases to ozone depletion and deforestation. I have spent a lot of time reading about climate change, looking for ways that would stop the phenomenon or at least help us adapt to it. So when I heard that the Asia Pacific Youth Forum and Training Workshop 2014 (APYF) was being held, I jumped at the opportunity.


The four-day event (September 21 to 24), under the theme Adaptation in the Mountains: Issues and Gaps beyond Boundaries, was organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain (ICIMOD) in partnership with the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network. Held mostly inside the ICIMOD headquarter at Khumaltar, the forum consisted of field visits, lectures and presentations on climate change and on adaptating to it.


There were a few activities that fascinated me, one of which was watching a documentary called Disruption. The documentary on the People’s Climate March rally, which took place in New York last September, captivated the audience with the grave depiction of the risks we all face from climate change. When the documentary ended, nobody spoke for a minute. But later, a question was raised regarding the film—although the movie although showcased the causes and effects of climate change effectively, it failed to point out that mountains are also victims of climate change. Maybe this shows that the technologies used to adapt to climate change needs to be built according to the conditions in the country. For example, flood siren (a prototype of which was demonstrated on the final day) in Nepal need to be different from that in Bangladesh because of the speed of the flood, terrain and geography.


The siren demonstrations done by the ICIMOD staff, along with a simple application to provide farmers with information on current farming practices, and a smart phone app on disaster management—made me believe that we can develop our own solutions to overcome this daunting challenge.


We also made a field visit to Namobuddha Resort to observe the water recharge ponds inside the premises. Water recharge pond is a small pit-like structure where rainwater is collected to refill the underground water spring. According to Narendra Dangol, the resource person from the resort, all but two of recharge ponds were built by the resort.

“When we asked the locals, they said that they had built this pond a long time ago to collect water for cattle,” he shared. As someone who spends half of her time daydreaming about technologies that are both low cost and easily available, these technologies that merged local knowledge with modern technology came as an important revelation to me.


With forty-seven participants from 17 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region representing different interest groups—journalists, students, programmers, environmentalists, youth activists, government officers and geologists—the event also provided an opportunity to interact and learn about techniques, culture and practices of people from other parts of the world. Even after the event, some of us are still sharing news and research papers published on climate change with each other.


Although the workshop was focused on adapting to climate change, the event also had presentations on disaster preparedness and sustainable development. Learning about these technologies made me realize that we aren’t that far from other countries when it comes to climate change adaptation.  


Participants’ say

Amol Acharya, a sustainable development officer at Namsaling Community Development Center (NCDC) in Ilam: “I will try to put in some of the low cost adaptation technologies like the recharge pond which we saw during the workshop, into the periodic plan of the Village Development Committees (VDCs) since my organization provides technical assistance to local bodies of Nepal Government in formulation of their periodic plans.” Suman Ghimire, a fourth year Geomatics Engineering student at Kathmandu University: “The workshop provided me with the platform to interact and share my vision amongst the participants as well as with the facilitators. I think these interaction are essential for awareness and also for developing a global mindset.”