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Climate Debate: Building Climate Leadership

By Md Masud Parvez*

The Climate Debate 2023 is a debate tournament revolving around the fundamental aspects of climate justice that has taken place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The initiative has been organized by a youth led platform Beyond Candid in collaboration with Global Platform Bangladesh. The tournament ran over for the last four months from May-August 2023 holding each round of debate every Monday at the premises of Global Platform. The objective of the debate tournament is to bring young people from diverse backgrounds studying at Universities to raise their voice for climate justice. This also aims to enhance their negotiation capacities and increase knowledge on the aspects of climate change.

Globally, Climate change has been a growing problem, as it has impacted the way the world operates, how developing countries strive to obtain resources, and how we rebuild local communities after suffering the nasty effects of natural disasters due to global warming. Needless to say, climate change has continued to change life on Earth as we know it – and will continue to do so until we stabilize or cool rapidly rising global surface temperatures.

The first ever debate competition evolving climate justice in the country, The Climate Debate 2023 has recently been concluded after a successful run for four months. Harmonizing with the motto 'Make Noise, Raise Voice' - Beyond Candid, a youth-led platform, organized this tournament in collaboration with Global Platform Bangladesh.

Being the 7th most climate vulnerable country in the world, Bangladesh along with its younger generation is inevitably going to suffer the most due to climate change. The untimely rain, scorching heat, recurrence of flood and storms, emergence of internal displacement (climate migration) are already creating health hazards, causing unemployment and poverty, posing threats to women and children.

Therefore, it is high time that the young generation of this country start voicing their rights and advocate for the country in the global negotiation table. It is important to empower these young people with integrating capacity building initiatives, developing climate leadership and activism, providing advocacy tools, facilitating strategies to negotiate from local to international levels and undertake community based climate action. To build the climate knowledge, negotiation skills in climate decisions and establish climate leadership of young people, Beyond Candid and Global Platform Bangladesh initiated the debate tournament aiming to help young people comprehend the climate negotiation process in the local, national, regional and international level through logical argument on various topics throughout the debate series.

The Climate Debate 2023 has brought the grand participation of about 100 debaters from sixteen universities across Dhaka city. Apart from the debate itself, it has been able to create opportunities for the young people to share their opinion, logic, up-scale knowledge and learn experiences through the series of arguments.

The entire competition took place in several rounds gravitating the motions around the fundamental aspects of climate change. Climate debate topics were carefully chosen based on their relevance to climate change, potential for generating differing viewpoints, and their impact on society, policy, or the environment. During the campaign, all team members exhibited spontaneity. The propositions focused on four main priorities: Adaptation, Mitigation, Loss and Damage, and Climate Resilience. These aspects offered practical knowledge and educational value while engaging the audience and reflecting emerging trends. The key focus was on providing balanced arguments and addressing global implications, ensuring the debates promote insightful and informed discussions. All the rounds have been promoted both online and offline together to spread the messages and disseminate knowledge on a larger scale. Gradually, sixteen teams competed in the first stage, and 8 teams proceeded to the quarter-finals. Then, in subsequent rounds, the semi-finals and finals, four and two teams secured their positions respectively. The two finalist teams were Kabi Nazrul Government College and Daffodil International University.

The debate tournament also included a climate quiz competition among the audience which took place every week after the debate round. Quiz questions evolved around the debate topics aiming to scale up the audience's knowledge of climate change.

The grand finale of The Climate Debate 2023 took place on 10th August, 2023 on the eve of International Youth Day 2023 at GPB premises. Almost 200 young people, climate activists, young leaders, climate professionals were present to witness the final of this tournament. The final debate focused on the importance of green transition and green skills for the future generation and a sustainable world. Adjudicators of the final debate were Nazmul Ahsan, Manager, Young People, ActionAid Bangladesh, Arif Siddiki, Coordinator – Youth Hub and Mobilization, ActionAid Bangladesh, Kaniz Fatema from Capacity Development and Innovation team followed by the renowned female Climate Activist Jannatul Mawa. The moderator of the final debate was Md Masud Parvez, Founder, Beyond Candid. The adjudicators acknowledged the efforts of the debaters while giving them a final evaluation on the debate. “We look forward to organizing such knowledge building competitions more in the future” added Nazmul Ahsan, Manager, Young People, ActionAid Bangladesh. Arif Siddiki, Coordinator – Youth Hub and Mobilization, ActionAid Bangladesh, said: “I believe, our youth can raise their voice in the global climate negotiation tables for our country. They need to be provided more opportunities to grow their skills and knowledge.”

After a hard argumentative battle between both teams, Daffodil International University won the title of Champion followed by the Runner Up title by Kabi Nazrul Government College. Speaker of the tournament was given to a debater from Bangladesh University.

The organizers from Beyond Candid and GPB declared: “We believe, this year it has created a space where debaters, activists, young people, from all over Dhaka could gather under the same roof to understand the climate negotiation process, develop climate leadership, increase communication skills and overall knowledge on climate change.” As the campaign draws to a close, Beyond Candid and Global Platform remains resolute in their mission. Their intention to continue organizing such impactful programs reflects their dedication to being a catalyst for change. By encouraging informed decision-making and promoting sustainable practices, both organizations aim to create a ripple effect that extends far beyond the bounds of this campaign.

As we move forward, Beyond Candid as a youth-led initiative aims to emphasize the importance of engaging young people and providing them a platform to connect, measure and create impact - and the Beyond Candid team hopes to continue to inspire and lead the charge towards a brighter and greener future.

*Md Masud Parvez is a Youth Climate Activist and Founder of Beyond Candid


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