Ithaca, N.Y. — Queen Elizabeth II will honor a first-year Cornell graduate student this June for his work on climate change, according to a statement from the university.

Bangladeshi student Shamir Shehab, who is getting his master’s in public administration, is one of 60 people who were chosen for the Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

Shehab established the Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative in his native Bangladesh. Since 2009, it has trained more than 500 young environmental leaders and set up 30 environmental school clubs, according to the university’s statement.

Shamir Shehab

The statement also quotes Shehab as saying:

“I’d like to dedicate this recognition to my team and to all the energetic young people in Bangladesh who believe, in changing a small part of Bangladesh if not [all of] Bangladesh … Their talent, creativity, positivity and strong desire to become a part of the narrative of solution inspire me to do what I do.

“If I can build a small organization like BYEI, there are so many talented young people out there in Bangladesh to make things way better than what we experience in our everyday life. All it requires is courage, commitment and some sacrifices. I believe if we start fighting for what bothers us most, we’ll see a much better Bangladesh soon.”

Writes BDNews24.com, “Bangladesh’s first Internet newspaper:”

“The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society, has established the programme in honour of the Queen’s 60 years of service to the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee.

It is to celebrate the achievements of young people who are taking the lead “to transform the lives of others and make a lasting difference in their communities”.

And from the British newspaper The Daily Star, using — fittingly — the Queen’s English:

One of Bangladesh’s greatest gifts from nature is its climate and geographical features which make it one of the most fertile and productive countries in the world.

Unfortunately very few initiatives are there to preserve our precious environment.

Unlike many of us, Shehab realised this years ago when he was a university student. He says, “We often discuss about the unabated environmental degradation and criticise the government, policymakers, and others for it.  But how can we contribute and create a narrative of solution for this crisis? This question triggered me to engage youngsters in a movement to protect our environment.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.