Every year, June 5, is celebrated as World Environment Day which is the UN’s initiative for creating global awareness. When it comes to protecting the environment, Qatar is on a par with global organisations, and one of the groups that has taken the lead in this is Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCM-Q).
AYCM-Q was formed following the UN climate summit 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) that was held in Qatar in 2012, the first in the Gulf region. The summit called upon the Arab youth to lend voice to and take the lead in creating awareness about climate change in the MENA region. This led to the formation of AYCM, an independent, non-profit voluntary body.
The Qatar chapter of AYCM was founded by two Qatar-based environmentalists Qatari Maha Khamis al Sulaiti and Indian Neeshad V Shafi in 2015. AYCM-Q is represented by an executive board comprising six members who make decisions and lead the chapter here. There are currently 35 active members in the group which comprise both Qataris and expatriates.
Shafi, who holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering, and has been working in Qatar for two years, has been instrumental in getting the organisation off the ground and is also involved with numerous other environmental groups in Qatar. A youth educator, speaker and activist, he was also invited to represent AYCM-Q at the historic Paris Agreement signing.
“I believe that environmental issues like climate change are one of the greatest threats facing humanity. As young people, we are the inheritors of this planet and the key stakeholders in humanity’s response to this crisis,” he said.
When Shafi came to Qatar, he realised that there was a lack of awareness about these issues among the youth. He felt that a serious problem like global warming cannot be tackled unless young people are made aware of the problem. This drove him to adopt the cause and take up the issue of spreading awareness.
“I have been into a number of environmental advocacy groups to support campaigns, have been working as a youth policy advisor and have written numerous articles on various online and offline platforms,” said Shafi.
Shafi says Qatar’s ecosystem is fragile and it faces environmental issues in various key areas like water scarcity, climate change, desertification, recurring sandstorms, biodiversity and increasing air pollution.
“Furthermore, on the impact of climate change, Qatar acknowledges the fact that the country is extremely vulnerable to the rising sea-level as it is liable to flooding of 18.2 percent of its land area with just a five metre rise in sea-level. This will have an adverse impact on the population as 96 percent of people live in the coastal areas. Also, on a global scale, climate change would cause the extinction of species such as whales, dolphins and turtles in addition to causing coral bleaching and impact the migration of marine species and sea birds,” he added.
In the last two years, AYCM-Q has worked with various local stakeholders in organising and supporting events on awareness, advocacy and action on various environmental issues.