Imran, who hails from Noakhali, one of the most climate-vulnerable places in the country, brought the matter to Rutte at a resort in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where he was invited along with 12 other youths from different parts of the globe to a dinner with the Dutch PM.
Rutte, according to Imran, responded to the youth by saying, “Do not blame me but blame the conference as a whole as it fails to meet your demand.”
The response brought little solace to the Bangladeshi youth. The impacts of climate change means a lot more to him than an average person; because, according to him, it was a disaster caused by climate change that killed his father.
Coming from a family living under the poverty line and having to constantly battle disasters caused by climate change, Imran’s fight against disasters began a long time ago.
He was born in Hatia of Noakhali, a coastal district of Bangladesh, where he lived with his parents, and a younger brother. He has been familiar with cyclones and floods, and the damages these disasters cause since his early childhood. But for him, these were just natural occurrences and there was no one to blame, at least up until now.
Imran’s father was a low-wage earner, who was fired from his job out of the blue and had to begin working on agricultural land owned by other people as a day laborer. One day in 2009, a storm was brewing in their area. Dark clouds covered the sky, thunderstorms roared through the village, and wind speed was extremely high. On that day, his father went to work on the cropland he was farming and never returned.
“We assumed that a tidal surge washed away my father. We never found his body,” Imran said.
Later on, Imran learned that his father was a victim of cyclone Aila, which caused tidal surge up to 6.5-meter-high and killed at least 339 people across Bangladeshi and Indian coastal areas. The disastrous cyclone left more than one million people homeless.
Imran, a fifth-grader at that time, was shocked and confused. For a long time, he could not make sense of the incident. Meanwhile, his mother was left alone to look after him and his three-year-old younger brother.
One year later, Imran’s family was forced to migrate to Begumganj upazila of the same district, where his mother managed a job in a garment factory.
Later in 2019, Imran had a chance encounter with Sohanur Rahman, executive coordinator of YouthNet for Climate Justice. The climate activist told him about climate change and how it is impacting the weather patterns and intensifying natural disasters.
“For the first time in 2019, I realized what climate change is. I came to know about its impacts on vulnerable people like us. I also realized who is responsible for the killing of my father, the biggest loss in my life,” Imran said.
This year, Imran applied for the CVF-Youth Capacity-Building Fellowship. The CVF (Climate Vulnerable Forum) is a forum of 46 countries that are the most vulnerable to climate change. The fellowship offered youths an opportunity to talk about their communities’ situation at the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) in-person.
Imran got selected for the fellowship and obtained a UNFCCC acknowledgement letter to attend the conference.
Now, in the COP27, he is working with the youth group to raise awareness about the adverse impact of climate change. He is teaching others that climate change is happening due to human activities, fossil fuel burning and the dirty way of industrialization.
“We are 30 young people working together in our district now. We all are trained and training others so that they can raise their voice and can demand compensation from those (The developed country) who are responsible for the climate change,” Imran said.
He is educating his community about climate change so that they can try to adapt with the changing reality of nature.
“One of my losses cannot be compensated and that is my father’s death. No one can compensate this loss properly. But the polluters, the perpetrators behind the crime of killing my father, must pay,” he told TBP.
He is also taking part in the campaign “Payment Overdue”; a demand campaign. CVF secretariat organized the campaign to get $100 billion per year in climate finance from 2020 and onwards which was committed by the developed countries together in 2015 in Paris COP.
This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published in The Business Post on 16 November 2022 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Banner image: Imran Hossain at an exclusive interview in Sharm el-Sheikh / Credit: The Business Post.