If the climate crisis is not controlled, 12.5 million girls will drop out of school. In Indonesia, 89% of young people expressed concern about the impact of the climate crisis.

Women and young people are widely viewed as the most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. The United Nations attributed this to gender inequality, which resulted in these groups having limited access and formal rights.

In many regions of the world, women traditionally serve as the primary provider of food and fuel for her family and community but UN estimates showed that 80 percent of those displaced by floods or droughts are women.

Indonesia is no exception. The Central Bureau of Statistics (2017), shows 9.9 million households are headed by women, and are most vulnerable to natural disasters.

This position, according to Gracia Paramitha, a political observer on climate change and a lecturer at the London School of Public Relations, is drawing women’s interest in becoming agents of change. 

“It is time to shift the paradigm that women are merely objects or victims of climate change. Rather, it is time for women to be given more space, to be appreciated, and to have their capacity increased,” Gracia said.

The 2015 Paris Agreement recognized women’s empowerment, specifically mentioning the global need to increase women’s capacity to make climate decisions.

Women play an important role and can be the agents of change in dealing with climate change, Gracia said. For instance, 47 percent of women have changed their consumption habits to be more sustainable, compared to 36 percent for men, according to the 2021 Women’s Forum Barometer.

The survey was carried out in the G7 countries — the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and the European Union.

Gracia said that recent climate and environmental movements are dominated by women and young women such as Greta Thunberg (initiator of School Strike for Climate from Sweden), Vanessa Nakate (Ugandan climate justice activist), and Indonesian climate and environmental campaigner Aeshnina Azzahra from Gresik, West Java.

Their common ground: youth. 

Driven by concerns about the bleak and uninhabitable future of Planet Earth, this group has actively voiced and put pressure on decision makers about solutions to the climate crisis around the world. 

Putri Risa Fatmawati, a co-founder of Pratisara Bumi, a youth organization focusing on environmental campaigns, shared their sentiment and believed that the climate crisis is currently humanity’s biggest problem.

Through social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok, Putri and her colleague Aulia Salsabella created contents and held discussions on the environment and climate crisis. 

“The purpose of Pratisara Bumi’s campaign is to increase awareness among the younger generation who are active on social media, so that they are informed about the climate crisis, the environment, and conservation,” Putri said.

In 2021, Pratisara Bumi conducted an expedition on the environment and conservation on Tunda Island in the Java Sea, Banten. 

The activity was to empower young people and communities in applying sustainable ecotourism, including the planting mangroves and coral reefs to prevent the impacts of climate change. 

Putri saw youth participation in voicing the climate crisis as crucial. Central Statistics Agency data indicated that Indonesia will gain a demographic bonus in 2045, with the productive population reaching 70,72 percent.

This has lead to Indonesian youth showing a big interest in this issue, as they will face the brunt of by climate change impacts. 

“The young generation is the spearhead of the movement to voice the issue of climate crisis with social media tech. However, they will also be the group most affected by climate crises,” Putri said. 

Impacts of climate crisis on the young generation

In the latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) published last February, scientists warned of various climate hazards that are inevitable over the next two decades.

As global temperature rose by 1.5C, heatwaves, forest fires, droughts and floods will be more frequent and intense. Some impacts are predicted to be irreversible. 

An IPCC report also showed that approximately 3.5 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate impacts, and half of the world’s population is severely deprived of access to water at some point every year. 

In addition, one in three people is exposed to lethal heat stress. Scientists projected this figure to increase to 50 percent to 75 percent by the end of the century. 

With rising temperatures, there will be half a million more people at risk of severe flooding each year, and one billion people living on the coast will be exposed by 2050.

It is time to shift the paradigm that women are merely objects or victims of climate change. Rather, it is time for women to be given more space, to be appreciated, and to have their capacity increased.

Gracia Paramitha, political observer on climate change

Rising temperatures and rainfall will also contribute to the increased spread of human diseases, such as dengue. Plants, livestock, and wildlife will also be increasingly and more frequently exposed to disease or pests.

For young people, the impact of the climate crisis is more specific with data from Plan International, saying an increase of 1.5C in temperature will affect the lives of 9.8 billion children and young people. 

If this continues until 2025, the agency estimates that 12.5 million girls will lose the opportunity to complete their education. In other words, the climate crisis has a direct impact on the survival and the future of the lives of the young generation.

Jeri Asmoro, a digital campaigner from 350 Indonesia, an organization advocating for climate crisis issues, said that this what is driving widespread protests around the world. 

“Young people are familiar with and quite concerned with the issues of the climate crisis. This is due to technology and the rapid flow of information and knowledge on the internet,” Jeri said.

A 2021  survey of Indonesia’s 34 provinces revealed that 89 percent of respondents aged 20-30 years, knew and felt really worried about the impacts of climate crisis. 

They also viewed the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions as being land degradation and forest fires, at 38 percent, followed by vehicle and industrial pollution at 35 percent, and fossil energy-fueled power plants at 23 percent.

Jeri said that the survey showed that young people are increasingly critical in identifying impacts, as well as specific sources, that contributed to the climate crisis. 

This is shown by a nation-wide protests held by the youngsters in BNI branches in several cities as part of a collaboration between the #BersihkanBankmu movement with 350.org and the coalition of Bersihkan Indonesia, to call for a stop in coal financing. 

A study from the Urgewald institute in Germany reported that BNI is one of the six largest lenders to the coal industry in Indonesia, lending USD 1.83 million or Rp. 26.8 billion in the period October 2018-October 2020.

Also funding the fossil energy sector in the same period, were Bank Mandiri, BRI, BCA, BTN, and Indonesia Eximbank which provided loans totaling Rp 89 trillion.

Jeri believes that the students’ actions have the potential to put pressure on actors in the fossil fuel industry. “According to our records, BNI collaborates with 166 campuses in Indonesia, so students can use its services for all education-related expenses and transactions,” Jeri explained.

The good news is that BRI has announced its intention to stop funding fossil fuel industries such as coal and oil at the World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of May. 

For the record, the bank participated in the financing of two coal-fired power plants in Indonesia, as well as a US$400 million syndicated loan for coal miner PT Adaro Energy Indonesia Tbk.

G20 in the eyes of Indonesian youths

Young people’s voices not only echo on the streets, but in international forums. 

Gracia, also a G20 observer and Co-Chair of the G20 Youth 20 (Y20) Forum, said that this year, the forum has four engagement priorities: jobs, digital transformation, a sustainable and habitable planet, and inclusion and diversity.

“In the Y20 White Paper, we surveyed 5,700 young people from 19 G20 countries to determine the most pressing issues. We found that issues such as climate crisis, land or forest, and water are the most important for them,” Gracia says.

Climate change, according to Gracia, will make energy and water scarce in the future and therefore innovation or alternative refining technologies were needed. 

Crowdfunding, Gracia adds, is another form of action often undertaken by young people in many countries as more and more familiar with the internet.

“We will seek input from the Y20 delegation as well as best practices from each G20 country. We make it a recommendation as well as an addendum to the communiqué,” Gracia said.

She hoped that the G20 meeting in Indonesia will result in more concrete action and long-term collaboration in climate change.

The Y20 Summit, held in Jakarta and Bandung in July this year, unanimously adopted a communique that was later presented to the Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy by Rahayu Saraswati, Co-Chair of Y20 Indonesia 2022.

Rahayu says priority areas of the document are youth employment, digital transformation, a sustainable and livable planet, and diversity and inclusion.

“We’re here to contribute, and we need opportunities. Give us a seat, and we promise not to disappoint, even at the G20 summit,” Rahayu said, adding that she hopes President Jokowi will convey these aspirations to the G20 Summit in Bali in November.

The Y20 delegation demanded that Y20 representatives attend the summit event in order to encourage and influence world leaders’ decisions, she added.

The appointment of artist and singer Maudy Ayunda as government spokesman for the G20 presidency also demonstrated the need to involve young people. 

Communications and Informatics Minister Johnny Gerard Plate said that Maudy is tasked with disseminating information about the G20 Summit, particularly to millennials and Generation Z.

Maudy told a press conference last March that Indonesia welcomed the entire world to collaborate and recover from the pandemic together and become stronger in a sustainable way.

“The Indonesian presidency’s three priority issues are strengthening global architecture, digital transformation, and energy transition. These issues will be discussed in all sectors in order for the world to recover and rise even stronger,” Maudy said.

***

Indonesia’s G20 presidency, from December 1, 2021 to November 30, 2022, takes the theme “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”. Indonesia is the first emerging market to chair the forum.

A total of 20,988 delegates from member countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union – and from Spain as a permanent guest, took part in the deliberations.

“That’s where the strategic role is. Indonesia will undoubtedly become a role model if it provides many concrete things and actions that have an impact in the context of the climate crisis. Indonesia must polish the art on how to achieve this, especially at the summit,” Gracia said.

We’re here to contribute, and we need opportunities. Give us a seat, and we promise not to disappoint, even at the G20 summit.

Rahayu Saraswati, Co-chair Y20 Indonesia

Bio Andaru, a young activist from the Fossil Free Jogja Community, says that the G20 summit needed to immediately declare a climate emergency.

“Our planet is in bad shape, so we don’t have to wait to become a rich country first to start climate actions,” he said. 

Farahdila Virta Fauziah, Deputy Head of the Action and Propaganda Department of Student Executive Board of the University of Indonesia, hopes the G20 forum will encourage governments to consider the environment in their policies.

“Until now, I have not been able to see the government’s seriousness and level of understanding regarding the special relationship between humans and the environment,” says Farahdila. 

As host of the G20, the government must also reflect its climate change commitments in its domestic policies, particularly those related to energy transition and the climate crisis.

Today’s youth, the next generation of this country, are waiting for the government to take serious actions. And, first and foremost, the government must listen to the aspirations of and prioritize issues raised by young people and women when making climate decisions.

Liputan ini pertama kali terbit di Betahita dengan judul “Suara Anak Muda dan Perempuan Harus Didengar Ketika Bicara Iklim” pada tanggal 1 September 2022 dan didukung oleh Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

About the writer

Kennial Laia started her career as a journalist in 2013. Kennial discovered her interest in environmental issues and the climate crisis while covering forest fires in the Riau Islands in 2014. Based in...

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