MUMBAI: On the eve of International Biodiversity Day, Tata Steel and The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), under the banner of the Green School Project, organised a special online webinar on the theme ‘We’re part of the solution’ for educators, young professionals and budding environmentalists from project locations.
Every year, May 22 is celebrated as ‘The International Day for ‘Biological Diversity’ (IDB) with an aim to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
‘Loss of biodiversity’ is the next big global challenge with irreversible consequences for food security, economic activity, human health and environment.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2021 cites biodiversity loss as the top global risk the society faces along with infectious diseases, climate change and other environmental issue.
Aligning with the current situation, Tata Steel in association with TERI has taken up the Green School project to spread environmental awareness amongst the youth with ‘biodiversity conservation’ as an important component.
In the past years, ‘International Biodiversity Day’ were celebrated by organising series of webinars, interactive sessions, activities and online competitions for students to inculcate within them the required knowledge and skills to preserve the surrounding natural capital.
Dr. Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI remarked, “The role of educators will be at the heart of India’s efforts to conserve its rich biodiversity. Your knowledge and wisdom will guide the younger generation to adopt sustainable production and consumption practices and appreciate the web of life that sustains us. I urge all educators to lead their students to protect their immediate environment, and make biodiversity conservation a real, lived and joyful experience, beyond their textbooks.”
Pankaj Satija, Chief Regulatory Affairs, Tata Steel, set the context by sharing his thoughts on the need for conserving natural resources for a sustainable future. He said, “Biodiversity is the cornerstone of ecosystem services and interlinked to global food systems, health and ultimate wellbeing and security of the societies. Continuing business as usual is not an option anymore. We all need to be a ‘part of the solution’ to ensure conservation of our natural resources, flora and fauna for a healthy, happy and sustainable future.”
This was followed by a special address on ‘Government Policy: Fostering Biodiversity conservation’ by Sandeep Sharma, Assistant Inspector General of Forest, Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change, Govt. of India, sharing of case studies on biodiversity conservation in Jharkhand by Dr. D S Srivastava, Nature Conservation Society, Bihar; Ex-Member 11th Five Year Plan, Wildlife & Biodiversity was undertaken and two expert sessions – ‘Together We Can – Community Based Documentation of People’s Biodiversity Register of our village’ & ‘Battling Climate Extremes in India’by Dr. Yogesh Gokhale, Senior Fellow, Centre for Forest Management & Governance, TERI & Saurabh Bhardwaj, Fellow, Earth Science and Climate Change, TERI respectively.
Sandeep Sharma said, “Biodiversity conservation is the key to resolve several sustainable development challenges. All nature-based solutions to climate crisis, food and water security problems, sustainable livelihoods, etc. involve the use of biodiversity. This is the apt time to take action and complement the actions of the government to protect the natural capital of India for a healthy and prosperous society.”
The session saw participation from around 200 educators and young environment enthusiasts. The audience included the teachers, students, professionals and students from the project locations across Jharkhand and Odisha with representation from the civil society and academia.
‘The Green School’ is a joint initiative between Tata Steel and TERI that was formally launched in April 2017 on the eve of Earth Day (April 22) to help the students across Tata Steel’s operational areas in Jharkhand and Odisha to improve their critical, interdisciplinary, and holistic thinking.
The focus of the project is to create awareness and enable school fraternity to comprehend their relationship with nature and make concerted efforts to conserve it for a ‘quality’ environment with improved standards of living through effective resource management initiatives at local levels.
Reminiscing the achievements, this project was presented in India Pavilion at COP24 in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 and again in COP 25 in Madrid, Spain in December 2019. The project has been recognised as a replicable model in G20.