Raising awareness on environment issues and climate change in India through a large visibility campaign
India has deep roots in environmental conservation and ecologically sustainable practices in its ancient scriptures and traditions. Luminaries such as Gandhi advocated a simple lifestyle with deep reverence for nature. Later, even in the 1970's forest conservation movements such as Chipko (tree hugging) inspired environmentalists worldwide.
Despite,these traditions, the recent drive towards industrialization and modernization has taken a toll on environment and poses a threat to its biodiversity and rapidly deteriorating ecological systems.13 of the 20 most-polluted cities in the world today, are in India, with the national capital New Delhi topping the list. India is also a leading greenhouse emitter, after US, China and the European Union.Climate change impacts such as rising temperatures, increasing droughts and floods can have severe ramifications for already marginalized poor people; India houses one third of the world's poor.
While the government has taken several measures to address this situation through several laws and declaring a National Action Plan on Climate Change, significant change has not been seen. One of the reasons behind this appalling situation is lack of awareness and general apathy of public and policymakers on the significance of environmental issues. A study conducted by Universal Journal of Environmental Research and Technology, India (Autti, 2013) reveals most of the states with poorest environmental status such as UP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand also had poor environmental awareness, whereas good environmental status was perceived in environmentally aware states of Kerala, far North-East, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
The need of the hour is to increase public awareness on the urgency of this issue and find a way to connect to India's own ecologically conservative traditions and practices.
What actions do you propose?
Initiating a large visibility campaign, the ‘Climate Awareness Mission’ to create grassroots level awareness about climate change and its impacts
- Formulating Vision ,Objectives, Preamble and Action Plan of the Climate Awareness Mission
- Outreach to policy makers such as Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi, India and brief them through presentations and brochures
- Preparation of a report that outlines the Community based Action Plan under Climate Awareness Mission after acceptance of the idea by the government
- Launching the mission through Prime Minister/Environment Minister/Senior Government Functionary of the Government of India, endorsed by various celebrities on television, electronic and print media
The following actions are proposed under the mission
- Raising awareness on environmental issues through the medium of advertisements on national and local television channels, print and electronic media.
- Training of Green Volunteers (Paryavaran Rakshaks). Green Volunteer experience certificate would also be useful for applying to other jobs
- Paryavaran Rakshaks will regularly organize awareness and plantation programmes for schools, colleges as well as corporate offices. They will also organize periodic public meetings with municipal authorities to address local issues such as pollution, waste management, tree cover etc
- Adoption of rainwater harvesting in rural as well as urban areas and massive tree plantation programmes throughout the country
- Promoting establishment of sacred groves on the outskirts of every village and city, and on the outskirts of every industrial or non industrial project which involves cutting of trees to a significant extent
An autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests or a reputed envrionmental NGO, will be responsible for implementation and monitoring of the entire programme
Who will take these actions?
- The proposer along with Mactiv, a pune based event organizing and management agency, would design, develop and disseminate the entire campaign including garnering necessary political support. Mactiv has organized numerous conferences and exhibitions across India of similar nature
- PM/Senior Government Functionarywill be approached to launch the mission
- An autonomous body/NGO will be responsible for implementation of the entire mission including training of Green Volunteers
Where will these actions be taken?
- Initial outreach and advocacy for the campaign with the Government of India at New Delhi, India
- Preparation of brochure, documents and print material at Pune, India
- Launching of the mission at New Delhi, India
How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?
- People of India have united and come together on several occasions strongly for various social causes,such as corruption or safety of women, which has forced government to take tackling measures.Recognition of environment/climate change as an important cause among the public is necessary for substantial action on this front
- Celebrities and politicians have a huge influence on public mindset in India. The Prime Minister of India enjoys celebrity status and can wield considerable influence in adopting conservative and traditional environmental practices. Engaging famous sports and movie stars will ensure widespread reach of this message
- Increasing grassroots awareness among people can trigger further debates and action on environment. Increasing awareness and adoption of sustainable lifestyles will certainly help in better adaption and mitigation of climate change impacts
What are other key benefits?
- Improvements in terms of aesthetics; India is a wonderful country with its colors and ancient traditions. India is also a biodiversity hotspot with exotic regions such as the Western Ghats, Himalayas, Sunderbans, Satpura Ranges etc. It is imperative that the beauty of this country and its traditions is preserved; community awareness and actions will play a key role in ensuring this.
- Employment generation through various activities, Paryavaran Rakshaks would be a voluntary paid/unpaid role, however the work experience/experience certificates will be valuable for applying to government and private jobs
What are the proposal’s costs?
- Initial estimates of the cost for complete campaign and conducing initial awareness events are USD 44000
- After the initial launch and awareness workshops spanning about 6 months, it is expected that the government will make subsequent budgetary allocation to this scheme
- The initial preparation of documents and outreach to the central government will take 6 months
- The launch after initial preparation will take 2-3 months
- Further actions can be continued up to several years (as decided by government)
Chapple and Tucker. Hinduism and Ecology. Oxford University Press
Autti, P. H. (2013). Measuring Environmental Awareness in Nineteen States in India. Retrieved fromhttp://www.environmentaljournal.org/3-5/ujert-3-5-3.pdf