SIO of India held its second consultation meeting with environmental experts as part of “Parisar Samvad” initiative.
The consultation is being conducted with the objective of understanding our symbiotic relationship with the environment and to explore solutions for the current environmental crisis. The second discussion was held on October 24, with the theme “Engagement with environmental crisis”.
The speakers included Disha A Ravi, a 23-year-old climate and environmental activist with Fridays For Future India, Akhilesh Chipli, General Secretary of SWAN & Man (Save Wild Atmosphere, Nature and Man), President, Village forest Committee, Author and Columnist. Abdul Rashid Agwan, President, Institute of Policy Studies and Advocacy, and also Author of Several Books and Activist.
Speaking at the discussion, Abdur Rashid Agwan said, “For the last 50 years, despite multiple alarm bells, people don’t understand the severity of the environmental crisis. The reason being the language used to address the problem is loaded with scientific jargons and as a result the issue hasn’t left the chamber of scientific community. Thus, we need a language to mobilise and engage with the masses.”
He also said that the common man has been handed over the burden to the Government. “Since Environment isn’t translated into Political Discourse, there is no action except Hollow Statements and rhetorics. Thus it is paramount that People understand the gravity of the situation and have a healthy engagement,” he added.
He stressed on the importance of making sustainable goals part of our culture, since people in India staunchly follow culture. He also highlighted how religious leaders can play an important role in shaping the communities, yet how they are unaware of the current crisis and the religious mandates with regards to the environment.
Environmental activist Disha Ravi presented the present spectrum of environmental laws and regulations including from Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to Forest Act, and expressed her concern on the trajectory of their dilution and opaque governance. She also spoke of the concept of open forest and how it is building a false narrative of forest cover being increasing when the opposite is the case. She added that the stakeholders like Adivasis and the indigenous people are at high risk and there is a need to redefine the discourse on Climate Justice.
Activist Akhilesh Chipli made a very interesting observation about the whole of idea of protecting our forests should essentially be about protecting wildlife and how in turn they help in rejuvenating the forests. He was very vocal about the need for us to relook at the Gandhian philosophy of life, development and Sustainability. He called the youths for public participation in such issues and understanding that it is our fundamental right to protect the environment and we shouldnt expect the government to do it.