Gujarat [India], June 10 (ANI/ATK): To commemorate the World Environment Day 2022, an event titled ‘Youth for Climate Action’ was organized by Elixir Foundation, UNICEF, Earth Day Network, Gujarat Youth Forum, and UNNATI in collaboration with the Department of Climate Change, Department of Environment and Forests and Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation (GEER). The theme for World Environment Day this year is ‘Only One Earth’. It calls for collective and transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore the Earth. With these agenda in mind, the ‘Youth for Climate Action’ event included two-panel sessions with a congregation of highly esteemed panelists who talked about sustainability, technology and mitigation of the environmental crises the world faces today. The event opened with an inaugural session kicked off by Madhish Parikh, President of Elixir Foundation. He welcomed our audience by setting the context of sustainability, “We are privileged to have seen and experienced the beauty of nature. It is, therefore, our duty to ensure that those who come after us are not bereft of the wonders that lie deep within the forests and that flow within the waves of the oceans.” He welcomed our esteemed speaker Dr Janki Shah, the Programme Coordinator of CEE. She talked about the work towards rural youth that CEE has engaged in and elaborated, “It is pertinent to involve the rural youth in local ecosystem restoration. Their involvement would enhance their own capacity to contribute to environmental action and protect their home.” Her speech was followed by Kunal Gadhavi who took an administrative perspective on climate change and enlightened the audience on the interconnections between different departments of the government. R K Sama, Former, Project Director, WASMO and one of the founding members, walked the audience through the history of drought programmes, watershed development and other small strategies incorporated in several areas in Gujarat to combat climate change. He stated that, “It is very necessary to involve the community. Their knowledge of their surroundings is unmatched. A paradigm shift towards decentralization and community mobilization, therefore, needs to be catered to.”
Next, Prasanta Dash, Chief of UNICEF Gujarat, expanded upon the linkages between climate change and child rights by expounding upon the impact of climate change on women and children. Moreover, R K Sugoor, IFS, Director, GEER Foundation, shared his personal observations and stories through which he pointed out the risks and long-term consequences of rapid consumerism. The key insights provided by these speakers were inspiring, illuminating and extremely valuable, given the youth mobilization context this event stressed upon.
The first-panel session of the program ‘Only One Earth: Youth for Climate’ was moderated by Kirit Parmar, Chief of Program Operations, Unnati. The first speaker, Nishu Kaul, Director, Earth Day, South and S East Asia shared her insights on the imminent threats faced by the planet, their effects on local communities and what the youth can do to mitigate the crises. Followed by this, Bindi Patel, Founder and Director, ECOrrect shared her knowledge about bioplastics as sustainable alternative solutions to plastic. Her words, “Never give up on your dreams even if you meet multiple failures, keep pushing and success will definitely come your way” served as an inspiration to the audience. Next, Arijit Soni, Founder and CEO of MYBYK talked about his entrepreneurial journey and inspired the youth to follow their passion. “My goal was not just to ensure profitability but also sustainability and that is what drove me to a social entrepreneurial direction.” Lastly, Piyush Girgaonkar, Senior Private Secretary (Policy and Research) to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, spoke about the relevance and significance of urban planning in mitigating the climate change crisis. The Panel session ‘Climate: Action to Reality, everyone, everywhere to live sustainably,’ was moderated by Moira Dawa, Communication, Advocacy and Partnership Specialist, UNICEF. The first speaker, Hitarth Pandya, Founder, Chairman at Kids for Environmental Development Initiatives (KEDI), shed light on the importance of environmental education and awareness right from a young age. He pointed out, “Children need hands-on experience with nature. Rather than learning about crops, yield and water management in textbooks, it would be more efficient to give them practical experience.” Next, R. K. Sama, Former Project Director of WASMO enlightened the audience about the initiatives undertaken by WASMO. Representing the Government of Gujarat, Kunal Gadhavi, Section Officer, Climate Change Department, Government of Gujarat aptly pointed out, “Awareness and small steps such as recycling and one-time plastic use are some strategies that can be adopted at an individual level to save the planet from a grave future.” Speaking on the importance of youth participation, Shyam Dave, shared, “It is upon the youth to engage in discourses and understand the importance of sustainable solutions.” Next, the GEER Foundation Representatives gave a Presentation on ‘Climate Resilient Interventions of GEER Foundation for vulnerable communities of Kutch region. They stressed upon the adaptive capabilities and resilience initiatives that can help alleviate the climate change crisis.
As the focus of this event was centered around mobilizing the youth for climate action, four passionate young changemakers talked about their initiative on saving wetlands. Dipankar Sah, a 16-year-old, said, “With KEDI, I learnt how to apply practically the concepts I learnt in school. Not just that, I learnt so much more that the textbooks don’t even begin to cover.” The session concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by a GEER Foundation representative, Rupak Solanki, Deputy Director, GEER Foundation as he stressed upon the key takeaways of the day and urged the young audience to partake in Climate Action to contribute to our planet.
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