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Youth Network in India takes on the issue of climate change

December 2, 2011

At the UN Climate Change Conference in 2007, when an Indian delegate snubbed current CIERP Fellow Kartikeya Singh and disparaged his role in the negotiations, his resolve to fight climate change grew stronger. This episode made him change his approach to the issue. Determined to bring a fresh perspective in the climate change debate and make his voice heard, Singh, along with Deepa Gupta, founded a group in Delhi called the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) for young Indians interested in climate change issues.

In 2008, the group organized the first Delhi Youth Summit on climate change (DYSoC), with more than 200 participants. The first summit proved to be a huge success and later on, IYCN organized several other summits and became part of climate conferences. In a recent interview with the Bridge to India consulting company, Singh, who is pursuing a PhD in International Affairs at The Fletcher School, recounted his IYCN journey and said that the human factor cannot be neglected if you want to achieve sustainable development in this world.

With offices in six cities and one village, the IYCN network is “more organized and professional” than when it started in March 2008. It has begun to decentralize, and local chapters have been founded, though it is still being run on a volunteer basis. Singh feels that his efforts have paid off and now the Indian government is taking them more seriously. “We were regularly in touch with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Special Envoy on Climate Change for input on policies and missions on India’s sustainable future and how to involve youth in the process,” said Singh.

His mantra for transforming India is to “engage a diverse range of stakeholders in order to be able to influence policy.” To this end, IYCN is promoting awareness programs and climate leadership trainings on college campuses.  In rural India, the group is making attempts to engage people through the Rural Climate Fellows and Rural Energy Projects.

When asked what the biggest impact of IYCN has been, Singh was quick to reply. “Our biggest impact is the wellbeing of all players involved in the climate debate in India. Because we are so vibrant and dynamic, we are creating interest amongst youth on this topic and creating the future leaders in the field.”

Before coming to Fletcher, Singh received his Master of Environmental Science degree at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale University. As a Junior Research Fellow at CIERP, he will be conducting research on climate change technology and innovation.

-Sachin Gaur, MALD candidate F13