To say that the year 2019 belonged to the young people of the world would be understating it. Their voices were powerful and arresting with one clear message – “fall in line or fall by the wayside”.
Climate change was one of the issues the youth engaged with, globally. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist whom Time magazine recently named as its youngest-ever ‘Person of the Year’, had called for a worldwide protest in September. Thousands of youngsters responded to her call and flooded the streets across cities.
An offshoot of that movement was Fridays For Future (FFF), a group of dedicated young people working on climate change. Largely made up of college students and young working professionals, the group prides itself on being leaderless, with no vertical hierarchy dictating its workings.
One of its active coordinators, Disha A Ravi, who’d started with FFF as a college student, sat down with us on Citizens Live to discuss the future of this social media-driven movement, and the challenges of turning a global movement to develop hyperlocal solutions.
“The idea of not having office-bearers was so we keep the process transparent. Whoever is interested in working with a certain aspect pitches in,” she says. However they still seem to be figuring out a way to arrive at official positions on issues.
While the group works on decentralising the protests that have helped build their community, Disha says they also meet subject experts regularly for help in formulating their demands.
“The science on climate change is constantly changing and upgrading. So our new demands are a lot more ambitious than the details listed out by the Paris Agreement, and they need to be too,” she says.
As is the case with a lot of social media-driven agitations, the risk of fettering out can be cause for concern. But Disha says, “We haven’t just built everything on social media. What it did was allow us to build communities that have led to personal relationships, friendships.”
While world leaders have the responsibility of finding pragmatic solutions to the problems facing us, young people are all about the idealism that should colour their choices. FFF chapters across India are now deliberating on a set of demands that they plan to present to the centre’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.