Indian youth and my plan for a sustainable future
Published 24th October 2009 - 4 comments - 2517 views -
As one of the rapidly growing developing nations, India is progressing rapidly on an unsustainable development path which will soon dwarf carbon emissions of today’s large developed economies. India needs to accomplish the dual objectives of sustainable development and inclusive growth by making choices that do not further burden the atmosphere with emissions. Youth, who form the biggest chunk of Indian population, need to play major leadership roles in engineering a shift from a carbon intensive economy to a low carbon one.
The action or inaction of Indians today will directly affect our and the future generation in 30 years. A little over 60% of India’s population is under the age of thirty. We youth form the major portion of India’s population. It is absolutely essential for us to lead and play our part for India to achieve a sustainable future. To influence Indian youth to change their personal lifestyles and be a part of the low carbon, new energy economy I propose the creation of the Indian Sustainability Network (ISN) which will be a non-profit country wide network of colleges and schools.
I’ve drawn on my experience of working with student entrepreneurship clubs, youth NGOs, the Indian Youth Climate Network, organizing an international business plan competition and being part of the policy team of the Indian Youth Delegation to the COP-15.
There are three overarching aims that form the foundation of the network
- Reduce emissions of the network organizations
- Introduce sustainability in education at all levels
- Identify, encourage and support: research and startup companies
The Indian Sustainability Network (ISN) will achieve the above aims by setting up Sustainability Clubs (SC) in the colleges and schools. The founding member institutions are selected through a nation-wide competition to find and fund the top five best student teams in the country to run the first set of clubs. This is an important step because the founding teams will produce the knowledge, resources and also strategize for growing the network.
Each member institution that joins the ISN will be provided with resources and funds to start a SC, under the mentorship of a previously established institution. The objectives of the clubs will be the following:
1. Local emissions reduction program: The student members achieve reductions in the emissions of their institutions, by coordinating with the institute management to take the necessary steps to reduce electricity consumption by increasing efficiencies of electrical appliances used; reduce and segregate waste by spreading awareness and installing separate bins; setup biomass plants for organic waste; and recycle or properly dispose the metallic waste.
2. Sustainability curriculum: Introduction of sustainability and climate change in education is an absolute necessity for a shift to a low carbon development path. Designing this curriculum will be best achieved through crowd sourcing i.e. using a mass collaboration to design, edit and review the education material. The education material will be introduced from elementary school- where the focus is on inculcating values of recycling, reusing and reducing consumption, middle school- where the focus is on basic science and environmental effects of climate change; high school- where the focus is on careers in the low carbon, new energy economy; and college- where the focus is on managing environmental risks and innovating for reducing emissions.
3. Sustainability awareness: The clubs will play a crucial role in educating the local community about ways to achieve sustainable living. Campaigns to spread awareness about reducing emissions, reducing and recycling waste are run. Regular town hall meetings will be organized where local issues are discussed and solutions are agreed upon.
4. Local representation: Students of this club will be the ideal citizens to demand for action from the local leaders on various issues that affect the constituency. Basic demands would range from banning plastic to proper disposal of waste.
The national network of ISN creates the perfect platform to reach out to a large community of aware and educated youth. From my experience with the National Entrepreneurship Network I’ve found that sustainability on a national scale can be achieved through the following:
1. Innovation contests: Contests will be the best way of encouraging and identifying technological innovations occurring in universities. Technological innovation is required for India to leapfrog from today’s inefficient and high emissions technologies. These contests will carry a substantial funding grant for future research and to enable commercialization.
2. Startup investment fund: An investment fund is necessary to encourage new sustainable businesses that are potential drivers of the economy and source of employment. It is crucial to invest in early or seed stage companies run by youth because few funds invest at this stage. Businesses can be identified through a business plan competition.
3. Participation in policy making: The network is a great way to create consensus on national issues and then discuss appropriate policies required for sustainability. Youth have unpartisan views on most issues, which make them important to the process of creating effective unbiased regulations and laws.
Our excesses in the past must serve as lessons to consider structural changes in our economy that is currently carbon emissions intensive and unsustainable. Therefore we must immediately embark on a path to completely transform our economy and society into a sustainable one. Youth form a major chunk of Indian population and are crucial to achieve a sustainable future.
My proposal of an Indian Sustainability Network will create a platform of educated youth from various educational institutions who locally work to reduce their emissions, introduce sustainability into the curriculum and take part in local level decision making. On a national scale the network can encourage, identify and fund technological innovations and businesses that will be a part of the low carbon and new energy economy.
This is the first time I'm writing about my idea for such a network in public with the hope that I'll get ideas from the Th!nk About it community. Yours thoughts will be appreciated greatly!
About the author
- Solving India’s exploding urban waste issue
- A retour Amsterdam-India, why not… by train?
- Possibility of climate change by pre-modern farmers?
- India changes stance to push for a global deal at Copenhagen
- My Conceptual Framework on Climate Change
- Sustainability Neverland or Dyssekilde x Sao Paulo
- India plastic-free?
- TCKTCK: Got only 10 years to save ourselves!
- Denmark cries in Sea of Blood, 950 Whales and Dolphins KILLED…
- Micro pigs - the ultimate sweetheart energy saver
- If you want to see nude people click here
- Do we really care about our planet? Think twice before answering.
- Bunnies for fuels: not a good story to share in a grade school classroom
- Evolutions in the history of Environment Part 2