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In Search Of A Far-Sighted Solution
Arvind Nayar explains, “We need to combine Environmental Awareness with Urgency and not let it be an agenda for the succeeding generation.”
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The Pandemic has reshuffled our priorities, and one that stands taller than the rest is humankind’s relationship with nature. As we inch towards recovery and settle into old habits, it becomes key to evaluate if the recovery is a green one and we go back instead to a sustainable lifestyle, collectively. A similar sentiment was raised by B Thiagajaran, MD and Chairman of Bluestar Limited at BW Businessworld’s World Environmental Day webinar. “The post-pandemic agenda must be towards a Green Recovery with a link to Sustainability,” he said.
The current situation has also plunged us a step behind on the global environmental agendum of reducing the consumption of single-use plastic. The medical protective gear used in everyday life and the individual generation of medical waste has sharply risen, taking us away from the goal of reducing plastic. A viable solution to this was proposed by Shukla Wassan (Ex-General Counsel at Hindustan Coca-Cola) who believes that finding a commercial value for single-use plastic and including them in the recycling chain would result in better plastic management.
Individual Initiative and Ownership
Saving a planet requires raising a clarion call for collective action. It requires an innate understanding of the connection we share with the ecosystem. Urbanization and greed for a flamboyant and unsustainable lifestyle put us in contact with animals whose habitats have been altered, inducing the risk for diseases like the coronavirus. Sridhar Potaraju, an Advocate on Record explains, “We are all interlinked and inter-dependent and we need to contribute together for a cause larger than self-interest”
However, the role of the individual is far greater in terms of mitigating and preventing further degradation. Professor Dubey of the Indian Institute of Forest Management opines that while the pandemic brought on a level of consciousness, humans tend to settle into old habits, slipping back into regressive and unsustainable practices. He believes in public advocacy and a philosophical change to instil a pattern of sustainable lifestyles on a personal level.
The answer to preventing further damage has always been awareness, but to cope with today’s climate crisis, we need to build on it. Advocate Arvind Nayar feels that there is much scope for increased awareness. “We need to combine Awareness with Urgency and not let it be an agenda for the succeeding generation.” He advocates a more spirited environmental consciousness that begins at the primary school level to imbibe conservation as an elementary instinct. The emergence of ‘Fridays for Future’ and the global youth movement for climate action too evidence much hope in this approach. And this hope is contagious as it can inspire policy changes. Citing the UN mandate for this year, Environmental lawyer Sanjay Upadhyaya feels that the time must be used to set new baselines and look towards reconstruction, recreation and reengineering our attitude towards the environment. He believes the “It (global agenda) should be firmly based on the Principal of Non-regression”- one where we don’t retrograde post-pandemic.
Apoorva Bose who is associated with the UNEP Geneva believes nature-based solutions and upscaling community-based restoration measures is a step in that direction. She added that individuals, organizations and governments need to be far-sighted in their efforts.
Farsighted efforts require a universal understanding of the basics of conservation. Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty here explains how cartoons help “deliver a message, simplify scientific jargon and instil a love and respect for nature in its readers.” Through his latest book, ‘Green Humour for a Greying Planet’ he hopes to achieve the same.
Industry leaders and manufacturers are key stakeholders in minimizing and mitigating damage. This highlights the need for a stronger sense of Corporate Environmental Responsibility. B Thiagarajan advises ‘Green manufacturing’ must be a part of the ‘Green Recovery’ that economies look forward to. He believes India Inc’s focus must be on fostering ecological responsibility just as profitability. Shulka Wasaan succinctly surmised it as, “Without sustainability, business continuity is at risk”
Geeta Luthra, a Senior Advocate pinpoints that while corporate responsibility and individual awareness are needed, the real model of example must be the Government must prioritize environmental restoration at the same pace of economic progress. Development projects that affect the environment must be adequately addressed. She adds that it is time to “Make Polluters pay and fix responsibility on producers.”
The larger message that remains amid the agenda of saving ‘Ped, Pani and plastic’ (trees, water and plastic) as Moderator Sudhir Mishra of Trust Legal categorized it, is an attitudinal shift and a deep-rooted understanding. Professor Dubey remarked, “It’s time to treat Oxygen as a Natural Resource.” The need for clean air and an oxygen-rich atmosphere bears special significance to India and the World in today’s times. And the most important agendum for this Environment day is to realise that restoration and recovery stem from the healing of hearts, minds and the planet as a whole.