Young eco-activist on mission to rally youth generation to act on environmental justice and climate change

AIDIL Iman Aidid has done more for social activism than many peers of his generation. An inspiring eco-warrior, the 22-year-old is working tirelessly to inspire youths to seek social change.

From a young age, Aidil has been raising awareness on issues close to his heart and encouraging young people to take part in environmental campaigns as well as educating them through speeches and sharing information.

“I was inspired to get into climate activism as I understand the concept of climate justice, where everyone should be given fair and equitable resources,” said Aidil.

“I understand the fragile relationship between biodiversity loss and climate change and for years, it has been treated as independent issues when in fact, protecting carbon-rich ecosystems is part of climate action.”

He hopes that future generations will not face the consequences of animal species extinction and other eco-issues which have an impact on nature and the ecosystem, as well as human society.

How would you define environmental justice?

It is about fair and equitable distribution of environmental benefits to the people, regardless of race, gender, class and other status. Orang Asli having inadequate water access, or women not being able to participate in discussions regarding conservation are among issues related to environmental justice.

What prompted you to advocate this cause?

I was motivated when I saw how human rights were being affected by the consequences of environmental degradation. There is a connection between social justice and the environment as most of our basic human rights depend on nature, such as the right to food and water.

What do you do at MyHutan?

It has been a year since I joined MyHutan and the experience has been great. MyHutan is a movement powered by Undi18, focusing on institutionalising forest conservation in Malaysia. I am one of the communication campaigners. I focus on building engagement with youths through social media curatorship and awareness-building. I also manage partnerships with other non-governmental organisations or movements for collaborative purposes and brainstorm new content with my team to mobilise sustainable forest action. I have also spoken on behalf of MyHutan in my webinars and events.

How do you reach out to youths to support the cause?

I mainly use social media platforms to mobilise discussions and awareness relating to the environment. I use Twitter and Instagram to share news, petitions, opinions and infographics on issues such as the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. I have managed to get young people on board by urging them to share my posts. I had the privilege to speak at local universities, engaging students on environmental advocacy. I have also spoken at important interactive platforms such as UNICEF-UNDP, Awani Pagi and Bernama.

Why is it important for youths to get involved?

Youths must engage in environmental activism as we should be the last generation to address these ecological crises. I am among the last generations of the last century to witness the extinction of the Sumatran Rhinoceros in Malaysia. We cannot allow our future generations to see the same fate befall our Malayan tigers. We must realise that we are the force that demands accountability, driving change through petitions, forums and protests.

What can youths do to support the movement?

Youths can contribute to climate action in many ways. I always advise my peers to volunteer and establish a network with local climate movements like Klima Action Malaysia and Malaysian Youth Delegation. I encourage young people to support environmental movements like MyHutan, KUASA Perak and EcoKnights. Youths should also stay connected with members of Parliament as they can urge for action against polluters, demand accountability and better environmental governance.

What is your hope for the future?

I hope to see Malaysia achieve net zero when it comes to emissions, and aligned with the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report. The climate crisis is not a future problem, it is already here affecting livelihoods and nature. I also hope we retain and widen the protected areas in Malaysia in order to allow biodiversity to heal.

What are your future plans?

I plan to be a policymaker and to make good, sustainable changes for biodiversity conservation and climate action. I want to be a part of something meaningful, something that can save our species from extinction while protecting the livelihood of communities.

Favourite youth advocate: Jasmin Irisha from Unicef Malaysia.

Pivotal moment in life: When I first joined the Climate Strike in Kuala Lumpur.

Favourite book: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy .