SEA4CRD: A Unified Call of Southeast Asian Youths for Urgent and Just Climate-Resilient Development

Unless immediate and effective climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are implemented, our chances of securing a just and sustainable future become increasingly slim.

The science is clear – we are in a climate crisis. We have been for decades, yet we continue living as if we are not in an emergency. Progress towards climate change mitigation and adaptation remains frustratingly slow, displaying an utter lack of urgency towards the crisis we’re in. 

The recent IPCC reports on the Physical Science of Climate Change (WGI), Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (WGII), and Mitigation of Climate Change (WGIII) presented the devastating reality the world is already experiencing and how things can get worse in the years to come. Every phrase, every sentence, and every figure points to one thing: the impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt by people all over the world, especially by the most vulnerable communities, who are not only disproportionately impacted by this crisis, but also have the least capacity to adapt to its impacts – a cruel and unjust double-edged sword.

Reading through the jargon, one will find the heart of the reports echoes the lived experiences of people from the Global South who suffer the brunt of this crisis. Countries in Southeast Asia, in particular, are consistently among the countries that experience the most extreme weather events, such as typhoons, floods, droughts, and heatwaves, on top of everyday long-term climate change impacts, such as ecological collapse, food insecurity, and infectious diseases. Moreover, our countries also suffer from the societal impacts of climate change, namely internal displacement, human trafficking, and human rights violation, among other things.

Scientists’ projections for our future, under various development pathways, do not present a bright reality for us. Unless adaptation measures are effectively and urgently implemented, the effectiveness of these measures and our chance of building climate resilience, especially for the most vulnerable communities, will increasingly diminish with each incremental degree of warming. This means that we must act now – a phrase that seems to still fall on ears willingly deaf to the shouts of the masses that have long been suffering.

We, the youth, cannot afford any more delay. With each passing day, the earth we will inherit is further plunged into a future running on borrowed time. We only demand what we deserve and what past generations have mistakenly and dangerously taken for granted: a livable planet – and one that is climate-resilient and just.

We, the Youth of Southeast Asia, who are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and stand to suffer the worst, urge:

World Leaders to

  • Strengthen multinational and inclusive partnerships to ensure a unified act toward high Climate Resilient Development (CRD).
  • Adopt an ecologically-sound post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to protect the world’s ecosystems and restore previously degraded ecosystems to achieve ecological balance and ensure efficient provision of nature’s contribution to people.
  • Uphold national sovereignty and seek to prevent inter-state conflicts that lead to displacement and involuntary migrations, causing an added burden to the frontline and vulnerable populations to climate change.

The Global North to

  • Expedite the provision of the $100 Bn annual climate finance commitment from 2021-2025, and ensure that there is an equal split between mitigation and adaptation finance.
  • Invite the private sector to donate to financial institutions and mechanisms to provide additional funding sources for implementing CRD measures.
  • Commit to sufficient and demand-driven post-2025 climate finance contributions to enable developing countries to implement their near-term and mid-term climate targets.
  • Establish a Loss and Damage Financial Facility that will fund the efforts of the Global South to avert and minimize loss and damage from the locked-in impacts of the crisis.
  • Lead the immediate and just phase-out of all fossil fuels and subsidies to pave the way to an equitable transition to CRD.

Southeast Asian Governments to

  • Ensure that marginalized sectors of society – young people, women, LGBTQIA+, urban poor communities, farmers, fisherfolks, Indigenous Peoples, local communities – are included in every step of planning and implementing adaptation measures.
  • Demand climate and environmental justice in multilateral institutions, such as the Conference of Parties, in the form of reparations for Loss and Damage.
  • Permanently halt environmentally-destructive projects that threaten the stability of ecosystems in the region.

Everyone to

  • Understand and limit their individual impacts as much as reasonably possible.
  • Demand genuine climate solutions from their governments, urging decision-makers to end their empty promises.
  • Hold polluters accountable for their acts against nature and people, pushing them to stop destructive practices that put profit above the planet and its people.
  • Join us in spreading the word about the climate crisis.

We repeat: unless immediate and effective climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are implemented, our chances of securing a just and sustainable future become increasingly slim. 

Let’s make sure the world we envision is within our reach. Together, let’s work to create a better reality for all.