KUALA LUMPUR: A non-governmental organisation called Belia Prihatin is using the power of ‘creative arts’ to raise awareness about nature conservation, and hoping to encourage the younger generation to act decisively now rather than later.
Earlier this month, they released a documentary titled “Sampah Merata, Alam Merana”, highlighting the issue of plastic pollution, especially in Malaysia.
Speaking with FMT Lifestyle, the group’s president Luqman Hakim Md Zim, said the documentary is only one part of their “Cabaran Jaguh Bumi” campaign.
“Although the focus is garbage pollution, our main agenda is to spread awareness about being responsible consumers. For example, can we choose to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic in our lives?” the 28-year-old asked, adding that the campaign was launched in May.
According to Rijal Rozman, 29, the executive producer of the documentary and secretary general of the NGO, it took over 150 hours to produce the 27-minute documentary.
He said the documentary was filmed in Melaka, Penang, Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur and involved a 20-member production crew.
The documentary was screened at Impact Malaysia, an NGO in Puchong, Selangor on July 4 in conjunction with International Plastic Bag Free Day. Additionally, it was also screened on Astro Awani, and they are planning to screen it at several universities in the future.
And in July last year, the organisation released their first documentary titled “Bukan Nelayan Gila” about the importance of the country’s mangrove ecosystem to the environment and the fishing community.
This story focusses on fisherman Illias Shafie from Penang who has planted over 180,000 mangroves over the past three decades.
The documentary is part of the organisation’s “We Be-Leaf Together” campaign. Launched in February last year, the campaign focusses on tree planting, namely mangroves, to help combat climate change.
“It’s our way of contributing to tackling global warming. One of the causes is carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere, and how trees can absorb carbon dioxide,” shared Luqman.
Besides documentaries, the NGO also organised the Tapirama Art Exhibition in September last year.
Held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC), it showcased the work of two local artists, Nur Azmi Mohktar and Ida Sri Sulo, and focussed on animal species like the tapir and pangolin, that are on the verge of extinction.
And what’s creative arts without an element of music? To that end, the organisation collaborated with local artistes Pele L, Fuego and YBJ to release the song “Tumbuh Bersama” in July last year.
Available on major platforms such as YouTube and Apple Music, Luqman said that through the song, they hope to “inspire Malaysians to be an example to other countries in tackling the climate change crisis.”
A tangible impact
Beyond using creative arts to spread awareness, the organisation has also been making a tangible impact on the ground.
Under their “Cabaran Jaguh Bumi” campaign, they picked up over 30 tonnes of garbage along three rivers at Kampung Sungai Melayu in Johor, Bandar Hilir in Melaka and Sabak Bernam in Selangor.
Meanwhile, under their “We Be-Leaf Together” campaign, they planted over 5,000 trees throughout Malaysia, becoming one of the recipients of the “Eco Champions Award 2022” by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia in the process.
More importantly, over 5,000 young volunteers have since participated in their activities since they were formed in June 2021.
Curiously, they had a very different objective when they started as they were providing food aid to the poor. However, when the floods hit Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam in December that year, they stepped in to help – and began to question the reason for the floods.
“That’s when we shifted our focus from welfare to environment and climate change,” he said, adding that they now have more than 7,000 registered members aged between 18 to 35.
So, what’s next for them? In November, the NGO will be organising the Regional Conference of Youth for Asia Pacific in Johor, said Rizal, leading up to the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP28 in Dubai this year.
They will also be organising the Youth Climate Forum 2023 on Aug 19 at Panggung Bandaraya, Kuala Lumpur. Apart from corporate figures, speakers will include youth leaders actively involved in environmental initiatives.
On World Nature Conservation Day, Luqman said: “Young people need to lead by action, go down [to the ground] and do whatever it takes. And invite your friends if you can!”