On the occasion of World Environment Day 2021, Limitless Stree organised Youth Talks as a part of its Maitri Series. It was an insightful discussion on the issues around the environment, and the steps that these youth change-makers were taking.
In the panel, we had:
Garima Lunia (Guest Speaker, Karamveer Chakra Awardee, Member at ISWA International Solid Waste Association)
Anwesha Borah (Climate Reality Leader),
Mohammad Siraj (Founder, Pahchan Foundation),
Ibothoi (Climate Reality Leader),
Harina Kaur ( LS/RSF Representative in Panel)
Question 1 How can we work at the local level addressing regional problems and contributing to the more significant cause of the global environment?
As we are digitally connected we could consider the local and global problems. Ecosystem - Trees, Marshal Lands and towns are tightly bound.
Consider the local Problem and take action on it
Talk to the people about the ecosystem
Waste Management - as we all are part of it and we could segregate and provide to others who can make use of it. For example - cow dung, organic manure can be sold to others
Future land is in today's people's hands. Join the movement which works towards it, via this we can learn new skills as well as we could help the movement with our existing skill which would help to make the campaign or movement more engaged.
Love for all, all for one. We should consider what areas reduce the Carbon footprint. We should access the resources which are available locally. We should consume everything thoughtfully.
Electricity which we consume should be considered and we should turn it off when it is not required. We should not overuse it
Stop plastics bags instead we could use the cloth bags to store vegetables
During his work, he found it hard while educating the rural people regarding environmental degradation. Later he connected with farmers, created awareness about chemical fertilizers which would spoil the earth and ecosystem.
Start to think about local problems
Share and discuss it with youth
Initiate it and start addressing the local problem
September 25, 2020, Global Climate Strike was performed by different people and on September 27, 2020, on the occasion of World River Day, Siraj executed his idea on cleaning the small pond with the help of local volunteers. Post this he had an idea to clean the River Ganga where people usually do the spiritual activities and other human activities in Ganga river as part of this people started populating this with plastics, photo frames, etc. So Siraj and the team decided to remove it and they were successfully doing this for 31 weeks and they collected nearly 1000kgs of garbage. Even they donated the farmers to others and they felt happy. Due to the Pandemic, they could not continue it. Small things can make a big difference
Don’t expect others to initiate this or that, instead, you take an initiative and start it from yourself
I believe and you believe, the small initiative is enough
As we all know many people helped others in this pandemic by providing food which increased plastic usage more than 10 times. Even a single biscuit packet is wrapped with a plastic cover.
Each individual should take action. Consider an example that I will not use a plastic bottle from today - which makes a huge difference
Question 2 How to increase the effectiveness of the policymaking of ecosystem restoration and biodiversity?
Yes, of course, the government can do maximum in policymaking.
But at the individual level, the people have to put their own effort into restoring the environment.
Mass actions taken by the people at the individual level will create pressure on the government in changing the policy and also they will concentrate on the effective implementation of the existing policy.
Not just protesting alone can make changes in the environment, but the contribution of each and everyone in the society can bring a positive change in it.
With regard to policy making, I would like to quote an example.
The government banned plastics and asked the retailers and the common people to use jute bags/ paper bags instead of plastics.
But, are all the retailers able to afford it? The answer is No.
The government had made a good policy but the implementation of it was not effective.
Also, the budget allocated for preserving or restoring the environment needs to be increased.
They should also keep in mind the local's problem while making an industrial policy. The way it will affect the individual's life in the local region should also need to be considered.
This will definitely help in the improvement of environmental restoration/preservation.
Siraj while sharing his views on this question stated that "Policies are good, but the implementation of it was not taken care of properly by the local bodies ".
"Banning of plastics is a good thing, but a proper and affordable alternative to it was not provided. Hence, provide the alternatives first, make the retailers and the common people aware of it. And then implement the Ban. This will help in the effective implementation of the policy"
Harina in answering this question said, "Apart from the policies that the government takes, it is necessary for NGOs or any youth initiatives to focus on"Behavioural change communication campaigns ". These campaigns will ultimately support advocacy. She also added, "In my area, we have two separate bins for depositing the waste. One is for degradable and non-degradable products. But ultimately, both of them were taken to the same place for decomposition".
"This is where the Behavioural change communication campaign comes in. Each campaign should have a common goal, towards which it should move. This will involve connecting with a lot of youth which will then become a youth initiative. Once a mass initiative is started by youth, it will be ultimately supported by the government, leading to the victory of the campaigns"
Ibothoi, while answering to this question, wanted to share the day to day difficulty that the people of Manipur were facing as he is from there.
"Manipur is surrounded by a lot of hills. Most of them were living in the hilly regions. For the purpose of agriculture or for transportation purposes, people in the hilly areas started cutting the trees which ultimately leads to deforestation. We can't blame the people over there for this. Because like everyone one of us, they wanted to ease their living, which led to the cutting of trees. "
" Hence while drafting a policy related to the environment, it should be made separately for each and every region considering its geographical factors, rather than drafting a policy for the whole nation "
Question 3 How do you feel the youth today contribute to ecosystem restoration at an individual and societal level?
Each individual should act towards environmental restoration
Small in the beginning would make a difference
Nowadays youth are more sensitive to climate change
They choose the steel bottle, steel straws instead of plastic in the social development sector
Innovation that is good for climate and world
Emphasize that youths are the Change Makers and the Future
The little contribution makes the difference
Learn and teach others
Youth are sensitive towards Climate and Environment
We need to share the ideas with other youths
Natural calamities, Temperature raise from these all youth could advocate to address
Start the initiative with their own capacity
Most of the youths are contributing towards it
RSF and LS took an initiative towards it
Work on Reduce/ Recycle/ Reuse
We can create a platform where we could make other engaged, and people are looking for some general reminders/ motivation/ small push towards with small appreciation on their engagement
Question 4 How has the pandemic affected your initiatives regarding the environment?
Garima while sharing her views on the pandemic stated that "Although it affected the fieldwork that we do as a volunteer, I got to connect with more and more people through social media and get to know the real depth of the issues that we are facing right now. Also, we have started many digital campaigns which give awareness to a lot more people on the prevailing issues and the problems. Hence, to me pandemic affected positively the initiatives"
Anwesha had a different view on the pandemic, she added that " Yes field works were affected. But not only that, it created more unemployment to the youths, which let them concentrate more on their career or their basic livelihood rather than focusing on the environment. Even the government's focus shifted towards the prevailing pandemic. Hence, the pandemic shifted the focus of people. But also, I got more time and learnt a lot of things. Got to know more about digital campaigns. So the pandemic had both positive and negative feedback in the initiatives that I had taken".
Siraj Says, "Pahchan Foundation's major initiative of Cleaning Ganga was stopped due to this pandemic. Also, on World Environment Day, which is Today, we usually plant more and more trees in collaboration with schools or with local bodies which are also not doable at this point in time. However, on this day we had taken a small initiative of presenting saplings to the frontline workers as a token of appreciation for their tremendous support during this pandemic"
Harina while answering this question added that "I got to know the impact the digital space had created. Also, I was able to connect and collaborate with a lot more people and spread awareness from a broader perspective." Also, she gave an awesome acronym which on abbreviated gives a tip in reaching out to people in Social Media. She said" In the digital platform I always reach out to people in SIMPLE method. "She abbreviated it as" S for "Short", keep the content Short. I for "Interesting", keeping the content very interesting for the audience. M for "Motivation", keep the audience motivated to learn the content. P for "Planting", thoughtfully planting the content. L for "Longevity", the content should give a long term impact on the target audience. E for "Engage", engage the audience through the content."
She personally feels that this pandemic had given a digital impact on her initiatives and affected her goals positively.
Ibothoi feels that the pandemic had been affected badly as he said" From the time this pandemic had started, I would have planted at least 50 trees. But this was stopped due to the pandemic. And also I would have gone to many colleges and given awareness about climate change and how it affects them. It was also stopped due to the pandemic. But I got more time to learn a lot of real-life problems and how to deal with them".
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