Civil Society Program

Nothing About Us Without Us: Asian Youth's Call for Inclusive and Intersectional Approach to Climate Action

Learning with Partners (Asia Pacific Youth Exchange and ChildFund International Asia Region)

Sunday, 5 May 2024, 9:00 am - 10:30 am (Asia/Tbilisi)
Museum of Fine Arts



Mariam BerdzenishviliDisaster Peer Educator, Helping Hand Georgia

Mariam Berdzenishvili has been an outstanding volunteer of Helping Hand since 2018. She focuses on climate change and environmental protection through increasing adolescent awareness of climate change risks, and consequences and engaging young leaders and volunteers in advancing climate action. In 2022 she participated in an international youth conference as Georgia young delegate. She also organizes and leads workshops for Helping Hand’s volunteers on volunteering; safe water; climate-resilient water, sanitation, and hygiene; and climate change.

Cristine DillaDisaster Risk Reduction Officer, ChildFund Philippines 

Cristine Dilla is a program officer with a focus on disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and child protection in emergencies at ChildFund International in the Philippines. She has represented the organization both nationally and internationally, such as at the 4th National Young People’s Planning Forum and the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, demonstrating her commitment to advocacy and development work. ChildFund International in the Philippines is part of ChildFund International Asia Region, a not-for-profit child development organization working in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka to connect children with the people, resources, and institutions they need to grow up healthy, educated, skilled, and safe.

Yuvraj LamaGeneral Secretary, National Indigenous Disabled Youth Association, Nepal

Yuvraj Lama is an indigenous youth who is functionally blind. He was an inclusive entrepreneurship trainee under the MTOT program by the World Bank and a participant of the Everest International Model United Nations 2018. He recently completed a bachelor of arts in social work and is currently working with indigenous youth with disabilities.

Sarah Sunny Lawyer, Javed Abidi Foundation, India 

Sarah Sunny, a Bengaluru-based hearing-impaired advocate, is the first lawyer to present a case before the Supreme Court of India using sign language. She is an active member of the Human Rights Law Network and is interested in constitutional law and disability law.

ADB Panelist

Bruno CarrascoDirector General, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department, ADB

Bruno Carrasco leads ADB-wide knowledge, innovation, policies, and strategies in all thematic areas. He also oversees the administration of trust funds and global funding initiatives and provides advice to management on strategic, operations, and policy matters. He has over 26 years of experience at ADB. He has also worked for the United Nations Development Program and was on leave from 2000 to 2003 working at the European Central Bank. He holds a doctorate degree in Economics from the University of Essex.


Shameer Rishad Ambassador, Asia Pacific Youth Exchange, India

Shameer Rishad is the founder of Javed Abidi Foundation, youth chair of Religions for Peace India, secretary general of the Asia Pacific Interfaith Youth Network, and a member of United Network of Young Peacebuilders Asia Youth Advocacy Team. He was part of the Youth Engagement and Empowerment Program offered by the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism and was also a youth ambassador ADB in 2023.

The session was unique as, in the words of the moderator, “it is not only youth-centered but also youth-led and will talk about the youth’s lived experiences and our challenges, rather than listening to others.” The event started with each youth panelist introducing themselves, their work, and the community they represent. Bruno Carrasco noted that the session is a good example of meaningful engagement with youth to discuss critical bridges to the future.

The panelists were asked to comment on how climate change affects them. Cristina Dilla cited the flooding of low-lying areas in the Philippines that is destroying livelihoods and spreading waterborne diseases. Sarah Sunny, a human rights lawyer who is deaf, noted that many deaf youths miss out on disaster warnings as they are often audio-based. Yuvraj Lama, who represented the blind community, noted that rising heat and drought in Nepal adversely affect food security and fuels conflict between humans and wildlife. Mariam Berdzenishvili discussed how women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change, e.g., women are responsible for securing water in agriculture and household chores, which become extremely difficult in the face of heat waves and water scarcity.

The discussion shifted to solutions and youth representatives shared the following ideas: youth can be agents of change by mobilizing peers to influence government, join actions to protect the environment, expand education programs in schools to teach protection and conservation, ensure focus on the most vulnerable when designing programs, collect and publish disaggregated data on marginalized and those affected by climate change, promote inclusiveness of people with disability and their needs, promote transparency and accountability in climate finance, and include people with disabilities in projects and events such as this.

Moderator Shameer Rishad then presented the 2024 Youth Agenda, which is the outcome document of the 4th Asia Pacific Youth Symposium held on 17-19 April 2024. The agenda has recommendations covering three major action areas: green jobs and green skills, youth and climate advocacy, and gender and green transition. He emphasized meaningful participation and collaboration among stakeholders over competition.

In his response to the recommendations, Bruno Carrasco pointed out that engaging with youth is vital for ADB as part of the bridge to the future (the Annual Meeting theme) and to build a better world. Further, it is about the intersectionality of poverty and marginalization where we need to do more with our resources. He emphasized that youth have much more at stake than anyone else in building a sustainable future. As part of inclusive engagement, disabled people should receive attention. He urged youth to organize and use digital means to amplify the various identities of youth and their voices.