These real-life Captain Planets are helping the fight against climate change
Climate change is among the top challenges the world is battling today. While policy changes and big initiatives do get momentary attention, there are thousands of initiatives which are being driven on-ground. These initiatives, while tackling the larger issue of climate change, are also simultaneously helping some of the most vulnerable communities in India build resilience to climate change impacts. These young leaders are tackling the issue with different approaches to achieve a single goal -- driving climate action.
Helping citizens understand the complexities of climate change and holding the decision-makers accountable ~ Avijit Michael, Managing Trustee & Executive Director, Jhatkaa
“As a citizen mobilisation and advocacy organisation, we are working for more equitable inclusive and sustainable India. With climate, we realise that it's a very complex problem, and it requires a large number of different changes to various existing systems,” shares Avijit Michael, Managing Trustee & Executive Director, Jhatkaa.
Avijit believes citizens play an important role in holding decision-makers, both corporate and government, accountable. They leverage their expertise in creating viral and culturally-relevant content to engage and mobilise citizens at scale. Watch why Avijit says “The solutions need to be holistic and cross-sectoral in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change."
Bringing a behavioural and change in mindset towards the environment among young children ~Amishi Parasrampuria , Founder, Upcyler's Lab
Mindless consumerism gets promoted in the form of fast fashion and retail therapy today, without understanding the product’s carbon or water footprint. These products also get discarded as waste without segregation, posing a big environmental challenge. “The solution to combat this sort of environmental problem lies in bringing a shift in behaviour and change in mindset,” says Amishi Parasrampuria, Founder, Upcyler's Lab. To achieve this, the startup is using tools like storybooks, puzzles, and board games to promote and inculcate sustainable healthy practices at an early age. Watch how these play-based tools act as great nudges and conversation starters for children to ask those important and relevant questions around complex environmental topics.
Bridge the gap between needs and affordability of sustainable and affordable energy sources in the last mile ~ Moirangthem Seth, Founder, SNL Energy Solutions.
“Climate change has affected mostly communities in the last mile. It has impacted life, destroyed homes, caused displacements and impacted livelihood. That’s why we can’t ignore sustainability anymore,” shares Moirangthem Seth, Founder, SNL Energy Solutions. Moirangthem started SNL Energy Solutions, a social enterprise with a goal of providing reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy services to the unserved homes and businesses, especially in the rural areas. Watch how they have enabled people engaged in pottery, sewing, blacksmithy and agro-processing to switch from traditional electricity sources to customised and integrated solar systems to enable better livelihood opportunities.
Developing sustainable and environment friendly housing solutions, making them accessible and affordable and enabling beneficiaries become self-reliant entrepreneurs ~ Ashish Bhuvan, Founder, Building Resource Hub
“Houses for low-income groups are built using poor quality of materials. In addition, they are dependent on the unskilled labour force who often lack formal training in design and construction technology that can combat the effects of climate,” shares Ashish Bhuvan, Founder, Building Resource Hub. Today, the Hub is working on ground to change that narrative. For instance, in Coimbatore, they have used waste from local quarries to develop precast modular wall units for an affordable housing project, where they even identified the masons within the community and empowered them to take the entrepreneurial plunge in eco-friendly construction. Watch how the Building Resource Hub is plugging this gap in energy energy-efficient and climate-sensitive housing for the low-income groups.
Making climate crisis movement, a movement for social equity and justice - Aprajita Pandey, Founder, Haiyya
A climate and environment is a key focus area for Haiyyaa, a youth-led feminist campaigning and network-building organisation. Aprajita Pandey, Founder, Haiyya, shares, “Although young citizens’ participation in climate issues has gained momentum especially in the last few years, there’s still more to do. We are right now at a pivotal point where climate crisis movement can become a movement of masses rather than a work of a few technical experts.” Watch how Haiyya is catalysing the climate crisis movement
Amplifying voices to keep sustainability and climate action in focus
Avijit, Amishi, Moirangthem, Ashish and Aprajita are among the 40 changemakers whose Innovations and ideas are being showcased at the #OurClimateSolutions campaign - a joint initiative by SELCO Foundation and the ICC. These changemakers represent a cross-section of people - from grassroots leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, civil society organisations and government officials to policymakers and researchers.
"Through Our Climate Solutions, we are trying to create a movement to support young climate leaders from all walks of life, to raise awareness and strengthen commitments to solutions that are ready to be scaled. These young leaders are the architects of a better tomorrow for India and deserve platforms that support and elevate their voices and their accomplishments. We need to keep our focus on pathways for sustainable development especially now, as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic." adds, Amita Ramachandran, Program Lead, ICC.
SELCO Foundation and the India Climate Collaborative (ICC) believes that the youth driving climate and development solutions will be the leaders of tomorrow and therefore need to be encouraged and given the right opportunities, exposure and platforms.
“We need to amplify the voices of today’s young changemakers, and inspire more innovators to follow their footsteps- we need to encourage new thinking and diversity in actions. We need platforms that bring together young farmers, designers, community mobilisers, technology developers, researchers to collaborate and inspire each other to build solutions,” says Rachita Misra, Associate Director, SELCO Foundation
While SELCO Foundation has been working towards eradicating poverty by developing sustainable energy solutions driven by innovations in social, technical and financial models, since its inception in 2010, ICC is India’s first collective response by business and philanthropy to drive climate action in the country launched earlier this year The two organisations have been working to draw attention towards climate change and prioritising climate goals
The initiative has a dual objective. The first is to inspire and build a solutions-oriented mindset, wherein every individual can take responsibility and look for solutions and play their part in mitigating this humanitarian crisis. The second is to recognise and amplify the voice of young leaders who are thinking innovatively, acting with a sense of urgency, and working hard at the grassroots level to make their communities more resilient in the face of a destabilising climate.
“We have already experienced and witnessed multiple disasters this year. These will continue to occur at increasing frequencies and scales of destruction. This may well become the new normal in the coming years, if we don't address climate change. Many have predicted that pandemics like COVID-19 will recur if we are not able to find a balance,” says Rachita Misra.
Why climate action is relevant today more than ever
Every year, the first week of June sees a disproportionate peak in interest in conversations around the environment and climate change, given the fact that June 5 marks the World Environment Day. But, ironic as it was, this year, the week coincided with a number of unprecedented climate-related disasters across the country - from Amphan cyclone to the desert locust outbreak, to floods. If anything, it has only made clear that we are on the brink of a planetary emergency.
“To make matters worse, the burden of this crisis, unfortunately, is borne by the poor due to lack of formal resilience networks and safety nets. It is estimated that this year alone, 70 to 100 million people will be pushed back into extreme poverty,” shares Harish Hande, CEO and Founder of SELCO Foundation.
He adds, “For a country like India, with a large impoverished population, climate mitigation strategies must be developed through a social equity lens. Without a development angle, the solutions will leave out the poor, who invariably constitute a large part of our population and make them more vulnerable. This inturn will widen the disparities. Most often, people believe you have to prioritise either climate change or development. But, this is a false dichotomy. It needs to be both.
Harish says that despite the evident challenge at hand, there is a silver lining - the numerous existing solutions that combat both climate and inequality-driven vulnerabilities. “If replicated in the right manner, these can not only solve poverty, but also create an inclusive society and remove disparities while being climate-sensitive. This gives hope for the creation of an inclusive society and a healthy planet.”