These in-their-own-words pieces are told to Patricia Lane and co-edited with input from the interviewee for the purpose of brevity.
Abul Bashar Rahman (Bashar), a 21-year-old economics student at the University of British Columbia, is spending his summer cycling across his home country of Bangladesh raising awareness of his people’s remarkable ability to remain resilient in the face of climate catastrophes.
Tell us about your project.
As I travel to interview marginalized people, our social media posts, written accounts, documentary film and interactive climate atlas will amplify their resilience and adaptation efforts, make the Global North aware of its responsibility, and mobilize funding for local initiatives. We are also making the World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal accessible to folks in Bangladesh.
You can follow our journey here:
- Website: http://storiesofchange.co/
- Instagram: @change_stories
What people are reading
Tell us about your team.
Twenty young people volunteer their time and skills to plan the route, set up interviews, prepare videos and film, provide social media or look after logistics. Once we begin in the middle of May, others will join us cycling or help in other ways.
How did you get involved?
When I attended COP27 in Egypt as a youth delegate from Bangladesh, I was shocked by the underrepresentation of my country. Bangladesh, with a population of 164 million, had 97 in its total delegation. By contrast, Quebec with a population of under nine million, had 80 NGO delegates alone. We could not attend some meetings and I was frequently the only person from my country at others. The voices of those in the Global South — who have done the least to cause this crisis, suffer the worst impacts and need financial support the most — were muted. The 1,070 delegates from oil, coal and gas had 10 times our voice.
I want the world to hear our call for meaningful financial support. I want to share the courage of farmers whose livestock are swept away by floods and just start over, the creativity of the women who tend mangrove forests in new ways to protect against rising seas, and how locally directed funding can help farmers adapt by growing new varieties of rice or engage in aquaculture.
What makes your work hard?
Seeing people lose everything because they can’t obtain more sustainable technologies. On a personal level, it is 40 C now. I will ride early in the morning but it is still very hot.
What gives you hope?
In Grade 9, a teacher helped me start an organization to raise climate awareness. When I left high school, “Green” had engaged over 100,000 high school students in 42 schools. Some of them are working with me now. Giving up is not an option, so we remain hopeful as a tool to keep going.
What do you see if this goes well?
There will be financing for local projects to make people’s lives better. People will have more choices when they see what others are doing and expert advice is accessible.
How did the way you were raised affect you?
My parents are compassionate and supportive. They taught me to use whatever advantages I have to support others.
Do you have any advice for other young people?
Don’t be afraid to be a bit blind to complexity if that blindness allows you to take a step forward. It might not be perfect, but it will matter.
What about older readers?
Use your advantages to provide your time, your encouragement or your money. It really helps.