Eating behind closed doors with trash piled up at the doorway.
The scenario is the same in every city across the country, including the capital, Dhaka. Random disposal of waste is not only polluting the environment, but with plastic waste contaminating the soil, urban dwellers are at long-term physical and mental health risk.
There are people and organisations who, despite all constraints, have waged war to save the environment. Clime Plus is one such timely initiative by the environmental organisation Pcycle, run by a group of dedicated youth volunteers for waste management and other climate resilience issues. Pcycle started its journey in 2021 under the leadership of Mehedi Hasan Bappy and a group of volunteers. Since its inception, it has supported civic activism on climate change and environmental protection. The innovative Clime Plus project is a result of this interest. British Council’s COP26 Youth Engagement Challenge Fund funded this project to make it even more dynamic in 2021.
Mehedi Hasan Bappy got involved with the British Council in 2018 through Active Citizens, a programme that gives participants the confidence to make a difference in their communities. The programme enhances the leadership and project management skills of local influencers. They receive specialist guidance in designing and running social action projects to generate positive change within their community. Participants also benefit from peer support via global Active Citizens network connections. More than 46,000 youth leaders in nearly 700 communities in 60 districts across Bangladesh have been trained through the programme. In 2019, Bappy and thirty youth leaders received ToT training on SDG-13: Climate Action. Later, they trained 400-500 young people on climate action through partner organisations. They have created a huge network of like-minded young people connected through social media platforms where they interact with each other, share ideas and knowledge, and get involved in community development-related social work.
‘Volunteerism has recently become popular among the young people in our society not only because they are motivated to do social work for community development but they are hugely benefitted from these activities. For instance, they learn leadership, communication, management, presentation, and facilitation skills. They also get the opportunity to network with people from different sectors, which help them in their career in the future,’ says Bappy.
Clime Plus undertook two different types of initiatives: short-term and longer-term. The first activity created 350 ‘Young Climate Advocates’ from different areas of the country through workshops and training. These advocates later became facilitators to create awareness among the wider community on environmental protection via online and offline activities.
Online activities included campaigns on social media through photo campaigns, blogging, inspirational videos, comic series and online messages. Offline activities included workshops, door-to-door campaigns, quiz competitions, and hands-on training for households on environment protection and waste management.
Out of the 350 climate advocates, 50 became deeply involved with Clime Plus. Their activities included raising environmental awareness among young climate advocates through training, generating employment through upcycling for marginalised communities, especially women and conducting community campaigns. In addition, five webinars were held on ‘Climate Action: Role of Youth’ for youth engagement and awareness.
The initial initiative was undertaken in the Mohammadpur area of Dhaka. Residents were provided orientation on waste management to inspire them to keep biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste separately by setting up an eco-friendly waste management model. Mini garbage bins were distributed among residents. The model turned biodegradable waste into organic fertiliser and recycled non-biodegradable waste. This campaign was mainly undertaken to raise awareness of the proper use of unrefined plastic waste, a huge threat to Bangladesh. The same garbage management model was extended to the divisional city of Barisal as a first step in expanding the initiative nationwide.
The social media campaign gained popularity and created a buzz among people, reaching out to many quickly. More than 2,000 people are associated with Clime Plus today, and the number is increasing daily. This environmental protection venture by young people has received recognition from several renowned organisations: second place in YECAP Climate Hackathon 2021 and third place in Springboard Cohort 4.0 collaboration with UNDP, Youth Co. Lab and City Foundation. In 2023, they won the Malala Fund for two years to implement their project idea on girls’ empowerment and climate action, and the team hired two staff who will be dedicated to implementing the project.
Bappy says, ‘When we received British Council’s scale-up grant for Social Action Project, we started implementing ‘Green Premises’, a sustainable waste management project idea for schools by capacity building of the students, teachers, and school management committee. This project idea recently helped us bag the 2nd runner-up position in USAID’s “Saving Mother Nature, Saving Us” climate action programme.
Clime Plus’s activities have also received mainstream media coverage, encouraging more youth to join this initiative and making it even more dynamic.
‘The Clime Plus project led by Pcycle team is working towards ensuring environmental protection through recycling and reusing non-biodegradable waste management, and we are striving to make our initiatives sustainable. However, we strongly believe that organisations of young people like ours will thrive if support from the government, development, and private sector organisations in promoting us is ensured,’ says Bappy.