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Working Together: It’s Messy, Chaotic, but a Powerful Approach by Ruhie Kumar

Working Together: It’s Messy, Chaotic, but a Powerful Approach by Ruhie Kumar


Are you tired of hearing the words ‘act now’ ‘time is up’ or ‘the crisis is here? Me too.


Despite the fact that I am constantly looking at data and science on climate change, watching extreme and unusual events unfurl almost every other day, I still do not want to hear doomsday messaging. And here’s a good reason why – if you tell people, there is nothing left, we’re all doomed anyway, why would anyone try to help, participate? Taking action requires people to look at many different perspectives, look at their own circumstances. Yes, we can say ‘how can people not speak up against the polluters?’ and while it is disappointing for climate justice advocates like many of us, we should look at the larger issue and try to find different ways to address it.


I don’t believe in sugar-coating facts, I don’t think we should hide the truth, but at the same time, to look at the climate crisis as one big unsolvable monolithic issue – can be really unnerving. It causes people to think, there are very few possibilities.


But this is not true.


Collaborative and collective solutions to climate change have existed now for decades, let me correct myself, for centuries. Indigenous and Adivasi communities understand the intricacies of the interlinkages in nature, whether it’s about the ocean, soil, rivers, mountains, or forests. They are the guardians of the planetary boundaries, so it becomes only critical and obvious to have them at the decision-making and strategy table.


But let’s step out of this, and look at everyday climate problems, and their nature. Most climate issues are extremely local, for example – underground water tables drying up in a village, or a town, causing stress on the local farming and other activities dependent on the water supply. Similarly, there could be a compounded problem of pollution, one source of pollutant impacting, water, soil, and air, causing severe health issues for people living in and around that region.


The important thing to note is - not all proposed solutions will be possible to practice in the existing frame of injustice and social inequalities. Most of the solutions have not factored in what the local communities want. Which is why – working together is more critical than ever. We must look at how any solution or proposal is centered around that community and that region. There is a social, cultural, and political context to each issue, and that needs to be worked through.


For the youth across the world, working together with each other will be vital, and debating, disagreeing with each other will be far more vital.

But working together, with stakeholders, to get them to work differently, will also be equally necessary. The entire system needs a massive rework, and we need people, groups, movements, governments, and businesses to do this together. If the businesses do not want to go redundant and irrelevant, they will have to start stepping outside their comfort zone, and look at sustainability as a part of their ethos and not as an afterthought or a PR exercise.


If the governments have to create new communities and alliances, the invitation has always been open, invite the youth from different communities and hold a real, open, and accountable consultation. Leaders don’t get weak when they ask for help and support, they only evolve when they seek guidance from the very people for whom these decisions are being made.




Working together needs openness to dialogue, accepting mistakes, looking at the real footprint of past decisions, listening to one another, and evolving to build a future which is rooted in equity and justice, which is guided by compassion, love, hope, and sheer determination to shift things drastically.


Working together means to stand together, hold space for each other

Working together means working towards climate justice, it's time to connect the dots and make one big picture.



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About the Author

Ruhie is a climate change strategist, working in the realm of communications storytelling and engagement based in India


Currently, she's looking at the historical context of extreme events in India's modern history to understand the perception of climate change. She's looking at the journey of energy transition not just in terms of energy and people.


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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.