By Mudassir Raja
At a time when young people everywhere are marching to demand action on climate, it is more important than ever to celebrate and support those with the most power to act, the people driving tangible policy change.
‘Apolitical’ is a global network helping public servants find the ideas, people and partners they need to solve the hardest challenges. Drawing on hundreds of nominations from experts and leading organisations every year, the group finalises a list of 100 most influential climate advocates. The list celebrates politicians, civil servants, academics and activists.
The recently released list called ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy for 2019’ includes a young climate advocate from Qatar also.
“Those recognised include high-profile advocates whose work is indispensable to raising awareness and demanding change. Others are rising stars, who are making their mark in local communities and are a driving force behind governmental progress,” noted Apolitical while releasing the list for this year.
Neeshad Shafi, a Doha-based Indian expatriate, is executive director of Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCM Qatar). He has been named among the world’s 100 most influential people with the likes of David Attenborough, an English broadcaster and natural historian; Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman, US Congress. The Apolitical’s annual list also includes worlds inspirational politicians, advocates, youth activists, academics and diplomats.
The list was curated from nominations from hundreds of public servants as well as experts at UNDP, Harvard, Oxford, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Climate Action Network and other such organisations.
Community approached Neeshad, who is the first man selected in the list from Qatar. He said: “Yes, I am the only one selected from Qatar and GCC as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in climate policy for 2019. I am very happy to be in the Apolitical’s annual list alongside inspirational politicians, advocates, youth activists, academics and diplomats.”
The young climate advocate’s passionate work towards improving the climate made it possible for him to be in the prestigious list. “I have been a youth environmentalist, educator, and social change advocate and also the co-founder AYCMQ with five years of experience in analysing global environmental and climate politics, with a special focus on the Middle East.
“Being a member of several global environmental youth groups, I have contributed to international summits related to climate policy, sustainable development goals and youth’s role as partners for climate action.
When asked how his being selected in the list would help in his endeavours towards a better environment, he said: “The list highlights the people currently making the biggest impact on climate policy. It is a great achievement as an advocate for climate action and will help leverage to push for climate change education and advocacy regionally and globally.
“By being a part of this influential list of climate policy leaders from across the world, I hope to have more collaborations and exchanges to accelerate the effective response to the global climate change threat in Qatar, the Middle East, and in the world. It is important to celebrate and support those who are influencing the climate policy.”
Neeshad spoke high of Qatar. He said that being in Qatar had helped him in raising his knowledge towards climate change and shaping him as an advocate for the cause. “The Qatar National Vision 2030 emphasises the need to strike a careful balance between the interests of the current generation and the interests of future generations. Qatar is making a significant contribution to the global partnership for sustainable development through various forms of international co-operation. This spirit of partnership, and the national commitment to address climate change, provided me to be proactively engage and work with numerous local, regional and international agencies. I co-Founded AYCMQ, only youth climate change advocacy, awareness and non-profit organisation in the country.
“AYCMQ aims to provide knowledge that serves the public interest and maximises the general welfare. We do this by raising the ecological consciousness of the citizens and residents through high-quality awareness programmes targeted at various age groups and audiences in Qatar.”
When asked to share some message with other environmental activists in Qatar, Neeshad said: “Well, we need a generation-wide movement to understand, contemplate and reflect on the essence of nature and its attributes. We need to educate, inspire and mobilise the community to take effective action in resolving the ecological crisis like climate change.”
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