Kathmandu, 20 May 2020: During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in Nepal, the Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation) tried to extract the best opportunities from the situation and began a webinar to gather youth for collective discussion for the better future on the very relevant subject “Sustaining Economy, Public Health and Environment for the future of humanity”. Successfully the first webinar was held on 7 May 2020. The most recent follow-up webinar on the same subject was held on 18 May 2020. This webinar is a joint initiative and co-organized by Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation (YFEED Foundation) and the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY). The YFEED Foundation is a Non-Government Organization founded in 2017 in Nepal that works for youth rights, focusing mainly on indigenous youth rights and their societies, Sustainable Development Goals, and youth training and development.
The program had inclusive participants of youths from all over the world. There were four guest speakers, both national and regional. The program was beautifully hosted by Ms.Heeta Lakhani who is the Focal Point from the global south for the youth constituency of the UNFCCC. The session started with issues facing in the world in different fields such as economic crisis, energy markets, public health, inequality, and minority prejudices due to Covid-19.
The first distinguished panellists from the second webinar was Dr. Christian Hübner who is the Head of the Regional Project, Energy Security, and Climate Change in Asia-Pacific of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation (KAS) based in Hong Kong SAR, China. He spoke on Green Economy and COVID-19 Crisis. He said that Covid-19 has enormously changed the political agenda and green targets. He added that the effect of the global Covid-19 pandemic has led to a plummet in demand for fossil fuels such as oil and gas, and a crucial supply exists. He said renewable energies are an alternative best solution and have no disruption to the supply chain. He also stated that Covid-19 had an impact on the workforce, and there is an unprecedented rate of unemployment. He urges the government to take decisions on extreme conditions, to be very cautious about public spending, and to make smart decisions.
The second speaker was the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS), an independent think-tank of Nepal and a well-known expert, Dr. Nishchal Nath Pandey. He spoke on the topic of International Diplomacy and Cooperation in the COVID-19 Crisis. He said the Nepal government doesn’t have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), sanitizer, quarantine facilities, and other resources to combat and cope with the pandemic. He said that focusing on microeconomic activities in today’s situation is the path toward a better economy. Covid-19’s influence in Nepal has led to an economic slowdown, a major decline in remittance inflow, a change in monthly wages, job losses. He further claimed that the government needs public-private partnership, helping NGOs and INGOs financially and logistically.
The third speaker was Dr. Abhay Sagar Minz an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University, Ranchi, India. He spoke on the topic Holistic Overview of a current global pandemic: An Anthropological Perspective. He said that though World Health Organization and other leading institutions are trying to help India to mitigate the Covid-19, the people who are in shadow are the daily wagers, refugees, minority group, rural areas where there is a shortage of water, and for poor people who cannot afford high-cost health insurance. These are the most vulnerable and most affected people by Coronavirus and lockdown.
Lastly, the fourth speaker was Mr. Raja Devasish Roy Wangza, the current titular Raja (King) of the Chakma Circle, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh since 1977. He spoke on the Community Empowerment and COVID-19 Crisis. He shared the stories of Bangladesh’s indigenous people and the Chakma culture, who were grappling with Covid-19’s struggles in health and economy. He said indigenous peoples’ best thing and strengths to combat in this epidemic era are their capacities for self-sufficiency, indigenous wisdom, and group cohesion in sickness and health.
After completing all the presentations, the webinar moved for the second session i.e. Question / Answer session in which all participants were free in the specified topics to raise their questions. Lastly, synthesis and call for action sessions were conducted by Miss. Mai Thin Yu Mon who works as a young indigenous rights advocate from the Chin community in Myanmar. She is a Program Director of the Indigenous Peoples Development Program of Chin Human Rights Organization.
We should understand that Covid-19 is a disease that kills the human but it is not the end of the world. In general, the session ended in an intellectual, very interactive, and insightful way.