(1) How would you like to Introduce yourself?
I am Neeshad Shafi. I Co-founded the Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) Qatar in the year 2015.It went on to become the first & only registered, youth led Environmental and Climate education, advocacy, and policy based NGO association in the State of Qatar. I was also selected as World’s 100 Most Influential people in climate policy in 2019 by Apolitical for my work with youth on climate & environmental in the Arab World especially in the Gulf region. My work encompasses mainstreaming climate change issues across sectors and at multiple scales from local to national to regional. I’m passionate about youth advocacy and grassroots work and my work in the Middle East region has supported various private sector, NGO’s, governments and multinational agencies in taking evidence-based decisions and delivering impact on the ground. This is my passion & I am following it.
(2) Tell Me Something about your Family
My parents lived in Qatar for more than 15+ years. I have 3 Siblings two brothers & one sister.
(3) Tell me about your Best/Memorable Childhood Memory
Hmmm…… I don’t remember any incident which is best or memorable during my childhood but yes I want to share an incident from my university days which is still memorable for me. We used to have an eco-club in university where all my friends did mention Neeshad you have the leadership qualities & may be you can have greater impact for the society. Well, those days remains most cherished and always provide motivation for doing better.
(4) Tell me about your Hobby/Interest
I love reading especially climate related, culture, regional politics & as well as writing articles relating to the environment which are published on various news and online platforms.
(5) One of the biggest fear of your life & how you have overcome it
I would say failure is the biggest fear of my life. I am a person who believes in intuition. I faced a major failure when we tried to register Arab Youth Climate Movement in Qatar and got it rejected. But still I believed in my intuition & our team resubmitted with credible evidence & yes FINALLY we were successfully registered as Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar LLC(G) under QFC. So yes Failure is my biggest fear & I fight back to overcome it.
(6) Tell me about your work Journey
Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCM) LLC(G)
After my graduation in 2015 I moved back to Qatar. I started my full time job in Qatar but after my office hours, i wanted to contribute something back to the community and take part in volunteer works, Since I was interested in the environment related issues I thought of starting a youth group or club for the environment in Qatar as there was none and much of youth community didn’t have a platform to work on community based initiatives.. With help of some of my community friends both Qatari and residents we started a small group for the environment consisting of young people in Qatar. We used to meet for coffee over weekends to discuss the Environmental issues especially climate change back in 2015 when even the media was not covering much about here in Qatar or globally. So we thought how can we reachout to the community in Qatar to make them aware of these environmental issues. We faced a lot of challenges in the initial phase – Reaching out to the community and having people on board, which has changed ever since 2015, Arranging for funds for organizing the events and getting people to be part of volunteering work etc. was a uphill task, challenging & difficult.
In the year 2016 we hosted one of our first Earth Talks Series, an event in collaboration with Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC). We invited an international speaker to talk to the public regarding environmental issues. We did a lot of campaigns to invite people to attend the public even but we were surprised to see when only 10 people showed up, . But that didn’t stop us moving forward. The speaker himself motivated us by saying that in this way any movement starts & doesn’t give up on it. Today we are proud to say we hosted Inspirational leaders, activist, Nobel Peace prize winner to UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary. Our last Earth Talks Series in partnership with Qatar Foundation with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Mr Ovais Sarmad attracted 500+ in person and more than 1000+ virtually through various social media.
In the year 2017, AYCM Qatar members met with members of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment of Qatar & discussed our initiative for support and working together. Then we realized the importance of having a registered entity to represent the community voice and raise the concerns legally to have credibility. The requirement for nonprofit organization registration in Qatar is very difficult. . Being as such a new initiative we were not having funds to put on it so we gave up the idea of registration.
But our team pushed all the boundaries to get AYCM Qatar registered, finally Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) got registered under QFC in May 2019. A BIG DAY
From a struggling start to a well established Youth NGO association in Qatar, AYCM Qatar went on to represent Qatar at the first ever United Nations Youth Climate Summit in 2019 at UN headquarters in New York on the invitation from Qatar Ambassador to United Nations and MOFA, Qatar. Today, AYCM Qatar is the most connected and networked youth led NGO association in the Middle East.
Our five-year strategic goals are intended to strengthen our environmental programs in Qatar and to work toward building an independent Environmental Institution with support from various public and private sectors and other foundations in Qatar that reflects the true diversity of Qatar. Only by doing so can we engage and empower a movement of the size and power required to bring about the changes the planet needs.
So yes this is quite an exhausting journey. A journey which can only be followed by passion without it I don’t think would have been possible. AYCM QA’s Journey is not only a journey of Neeshad or individual, it is a journey of all those people who really believed in the concept of non-profit initiatives, and need of a youth lead voluntary organization in the state of Qatar. .
(7) What inspired you to set up the Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) Qatar & Can you tell us about its mission?
Back in 2015, there was no organization in Qatar which was dealing with environmental issues and especially led by young people while the global north had already started the youth environmental movement. I feel that was the biggest inspiration for me to set up AYCM in Qatar, to bring arab youth to the global climate movement.
“The mission of the AYCM is to build a movement that fosters an understanding of our natural ecosystems, empowers and inspires the community to take effective action in resolving the current ecological crisis, and advocates for evidence-based policies to adapt, mitigate, conserve and protect our ecosystem.”
“A community with a reawakened ecological consciousness”
(8) What kind of activities are undertaken by Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) & how can others get involved in it ?
There are basically 5 kind of activities undertaken by Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM)
Environmental Ambassadors of Qatar is an active, educational leadership program, a first of its kind in the state of Qatar focused on timeless, universal ecological principles applicable to all-natural ecosystems for those interested in personal, collaborative, and community engaged learning. The program offers opportunities for critical and creative engagement, and experiences for youth to practice their leadership skills and sustainability competencies through learning, planning, and idea implementation.
Households, industries and businesses are the three major units of the economy. All units contribute to national emissions, some more than others.
AYCMQ’s target is to engage with the communities to reduce household carbon footprint. Proceeding this campaign, ACYMQA will collect data from the households through surveys, identify the potential areas of concern (high emission sources), and work with the community to develop innovative, creative and feasible solutions.
In a world of unprecedented complexity and uncertainty, interdependence and opportunity to talk across boundaries, the discourse for the future will have to be led by the world’s brightest minds in dialogue with youth. The Earth Talk Series invites speakers of global eminence from among the world’s leading intellectuals and policymakers to spark discussions to make a transformative change in the community for a better sustainable future. These Lecture Series are expected to inspire the community to be sustainable and conscious of our role in protecting the environment. The Series will not only invite influential writers, scientists and policy makers, but also invite practitioners from NGOs and development agencies to provide a fresh on-the-ground perspective.
(D) ECO Literacy for Imams
A carefully structured program will provide an overview of environmental issues across the world to the Imams in non-scientific language. The program blends information from science and Qur’an/Shari’ah.
(E) Bringing close to Nature
This initiative is aimed at developing a series of thirty-second videos on various environmental issues in a systematic approach instead of giving prescriptive suggestions for people to take action.
(F) Zero Waste Qatar
Our initiative will work towards zero waste Qatar and will start to see how zero waste and plastic free becomes mainstream in Qatar. To host a series of workshops, webinars, conferences long term online and offline campaigns.
How can others get involved in it ?
(9) You were named as one of the ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy 2019’ by Apolitical.-How Proud you feel about it?
Yes definitely I feel very proud about it. I would say the entire credit goes to my team. . They are the main pillars who helped me in securing the name in ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy 2019’ by Apolitical. I’m proud to represent the State of Qatar and the Arab world in general, though Qatar is my second home, It has even me all the opportunities & recognition in my life & I am proud to work and represent Qatar at the global stage in the climate and environmental movement.
(10) Tell me Something about Qatar.
Qatar is a beautiful & developing country. This country definitely has a lot of opportunities for young and passionate people like us. They support innovative & creative ideas & help you in achieving your dreams. I would say Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world. The Beautiful Architecture, natural wonders like mangroves & desert will make you fall in love with this country. I am proud to call Qatar my Home.
(11) What Message you want to give to our viewers?
Environment or climate movement is not just one hour work it’s an ongoing work which needs a lot of time & dedication. It’s not a one time hippie thing, it’s a long time commitment. Climate change is a global issue & everyone has to play their part to help in resolving environmental issues from local to global. I request more & more young and adults to come forward as volunteers to join Arab Youth Climate Movement(AYCM) – We are focused on environmental awareness, education and climate policy and in bringing more young people into the mainstream environmental movement to address the ever-increasing threat of the ecological crisis we face today. Let’s be part of a bigger movement & make the world a better place for our generation and our future generation.
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