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Meet the five young voices driving climate action

Meet the five young voices driving climate action

Tuesday June 30, 2020 , 6 min Read

The warming of the atmosphere and ocean, diminishing ice caps, rising sea levels, dying coral reefs, stressed water sources, unseasonal cyclones, food insecurity - these dramatic imageries are synonymous with climate change today. While these are evident and large-scale impacts, climate change is far more complex and relevant to everybody.

Today, climate change is posing significant risks and is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems. Extreme weather is damaging critical infrastructure, human health and productivity. Studies also link the increase in the prevalence of parasites and diseases that affect livestock to climate change. There is scientific consensus that indicates that climate change can produce waves of refugees, trap more people in poverty and reduce the rate of economic growth. Despite the severity of the risks and its urgency, conversations around climate change are often just a whisper in the larger scheme of things, in India and the rest of the world.

But, the good news is that collective action is underway. The government, organisations and people have realised the urgency and significance and are working in their capacities to mitigate risks. India Climate Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind, India-focused collaborative, is one such entity that has been driving visibility towards climate action in India and has been working towards amplifying and expanding the climate efforts by building a collaborative platform for diverse voices. To put the spotlight on youth driving climate action, the collaborative has partnered with the SELCO Foundation, a non-profit committed to eradicate poverty by developing sustainable energy-efficient social, technical and financial models.

In a month-long campaign, ICC and SELCO Foundation are putting the spotlight on the work of 40 changemakers tackling climate challenges. These change-makers are tackling climate change with innovative solutions.

Swapnil Tembe, Deputy Commissioner - East Garo Hills, Government of Meghalaya

Meghalaya is home to the wettest place on the planet. Heavy rains are a key characteristic of the state. However, in the last few years, the state has been subjected to vagaries of weather, contributed by climate change. The frequent and unannounced cyclones and hail storms lead to a lot of damage to houses and due to which a lot of the government funding needs to be allocated to relief measures which otherwise could be used for other development work. Given this context, Swapnil Tembe, Deputy Commissioner - East Garo Hills, Government of Meghalaya, shares more details about the impact of climate change, their work in the area of building weather resilient houses in the rural areas and why the current COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated the need for rural areas to be self-sufficient.

Anshul Ojha, Desert Resource Centre

India is home to a large pastoral community - a traditional community engaged in raising and breeding large livestock like cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and camels. However, today, the traditional way of practicing pastoralism especially in the desert areas, is facing danger and becoming a survival challenge. “Pastoralism in particular has been a great way of living. They contribute to the national economy, enrich the soil - all at zero cost and input. However, due to extreme disruptions and variability, today they no longer have access to fodder, water or even routes that the communities were taking for generations,” explains Anshul Ojha. Watch the video to see how the Desert Resource Centre has been working to build community resilience and are investing in pastoralism value chain to help the communities battle the impact of climate change.

Sheetal Pal, Community Action Group (CAG) Member, Mahila Housing Trust

Energy efficiency and reducing energy demand are key factors in the fight against climate change. While attempts are being made to reduce energy demand at policy and enterprise level, reducing domestic energy consumption has been a challenge. But, community mobilisers like Sheetal Pal are catalysing efforts on the ground to bring change to that narrative. A Community Action Group (CAG) Member of Mahila Housing Trust in Bhopal, Sheetal shares how they are working on ground in slums and low resource settings to bring awareness on the need to adapt energy-efficient and renewable energy products. Watch the video to see how grassroots leaders like Sheetal are driving the organisation’s efforts in the area of habitat development, climate resilience and participatory governance, an effort that is replicated by over 10,000+ grassroot leaders across 34 cities in India.

Sobia Rafiq, Co-founder, Sensing Local

Waste management is a key issue for cities across the world. “We are the contributors to the problem as well as the solution,” shares Sobia Rafiq, Co-founder, Sensing Local, an urban ThinkTank organisation based out of Bengaluru. Gaps in waste management is a key contributor to the pollution of local water bodies, rivers, oceans. It also adds to land pollution and carbon emissions. In addition to the environment, vulnerable communities also get impacted. In fact, waste workers and the informal sector workers get drastically affected by waste mismanagement. Sobia shares how their pilot in Bengaluru is tackling this issue with a two-phase approach - which looks at making the invisible visible with database management and also simplifying the system to get more people involved in the solution. Watch more about their framework and collaborative approach that can be replicated and scale to tackle waste management in cities.

Varun Deshpande, Managing Director, Good Food Institute, India.

“Industrial animal agriculture or factory farming is a global whitespace within climate action. Scientists at the UN Food and Agriculture organisation have included it among the top three causes of the world's most pressing environmental problems. But, despite the growing conversations on factory farming, the demand for meat and dairy has been on the rise over the years. The reason behind increased consumption is that dairy and meat are seen as an important and easy source of protein. Varun believes that there's a need to effect a protein transition to a more healthy, sustainable and just food system. Watch how the Good Food Institute is working with governments, entrepreneurs, scientists academia, large corporations, other non-profits and philanthropists to usher in this protein transition and why this is an opportunity to align people, planet and profit.

These are just five changemakers, but there are 35 other equally bold voices that are driving the change on ground. Check out the series #OurClimateSolutions by SELCO Foundation in collaboration with India Climate Collaborative on their social media channels and hear the young voices tackling the climate change challenge.

If you are anyone you know are doing equally compelling work to drive climate action, join the #OurClimateSolutions conversation.