Tree planting celebration in Pune’s Bio Diversity Park

Written by Aina on . Posted in India, News, Take Action

Last Friday, 12th of August, was a very special day for us, here at Nektarina. We were celebrating the International Youth Day and our 7th anniversary with a very inspiring activity organized by Suresh More, our E4S Project Manager in India: a tree planting in the city of Pune.

The activity took place early in the morning in the area of Katraj Gujarwadi inside the Bio Diversity Park reservation on the city’s hills and involved the participation of around 60 young children aged 3 to 5 years old, teachers, and representatives of the “Little Diamond” school.

Fifty trees provided by the school, organizers, and supporters of the activity were planted in the Bio Diversity Park reservation, which is an important protected area managed by Pune Municipal Corporation consisting of 978.540 hectares of land on the hills surrounding the city.

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The protected area was created after vast areas of the hills were severely deforested for timber and infrastructural use in the 2000s. Ever since, Pune Municipal Corporation has been protecting the area and promoting its reforestation as the total area represents more than 90% of the city’s green areas, thus has the potential to become the green lungs of this rapid growing city.

We are very satisfied to have been able to organize this meaningful activity involving children from such a young age. The tree planting activity is not only a source of inspiration and knowledge for children and their communities, it also helps to connect and create a bond with nature, with the land, with the origin and growth of a tree, its needs and care. At the same time we are glad to have contributed a little with the reforestation of this area of the city that was formerly so neglected and abused.

We are confident that the experience and the enthusiasm that our young participants showed during the tree planting activity will stay with them forever.

In trees and children there is always hope!

 Click here to check out all the great photos of the activity  

2016 World Environment Day celebration

Written by Aina on . Posted in India, News, News & Updates, Take Action

Last Sunday the 12th of June, Nektarina Non Profit and its local partner in India, Zest Youth Movement celebrated together for the third consecutive year the UNEP – World Environment Day (WED) with a special event in the city Pune.

Each year the WED day is organized around a theme or pressing environmental issue. This year’s chosen theme focused on the illegal trade of wildlife under the slogan Go Wild for Life – Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

Around 250 people participated in out event. The wide majority were children and youths but also whole families, members of other social organizations, and public officials, attended.

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The event was officially inaugurated by Pune Municipal Corporation Member, Ms. Bhratitai Kadam who was welcomed by our E4S – Country Manager Mr. Suresh More, with the symbolic present of a small tree.

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An environmental rally commenced early in the morning at 7:30 and went from Sarasbaug to Shniwarwada streets. During the rally participants identified with a special T-shirt, walked in procession carrying banners, flags, and other messages to spread awareness about the environment and how to protect and take care of it.

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Afterwards a community clean-up took place at the Mutha river bank in support to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Mission national government campaign.

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Finally on a big banner displayed until the end of our event, participants were invited to write and share environmental related messages.

We are very proud of having contributed with our celebration to raise awareness of the need to preserve our environment and all species living on it because we all depend on the well-being of our planet.

A special thank you to all the participants and supporters of our event. We look forward to organizing our next activity in Pune.

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To look at more pictures of our event please follow this link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/122900157@N06/

World Environment Day 2015 in Pune

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in India, News, News & Updates, Take Action

Our World Environment Day celebration was the highlight of June. As we consider the environment to be a matter of vital importance, Nektarina Non Profit were excited to celebrate WED in India with its local partner, Zest Youth Movement. Not simply a celebration, the event aimed to contribute to raising awareness of environmental protection among the population, with a particular focus on youth.

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Over 300 people took part in our rally through Pune City. Among them, students from different institutions and universities, colleges, school children, representatives of civil society organizations, companies and political parties, Pune Doctors association, Chartered accountant association, private coaching classes, and many other. Girls and women have been notably present, as well as disabled and elderly people, which is comforting as we strive towards inclusive and sustainable progress.

The rally was launched by Mrs Bharati Kadam, Municipality Member, and a special guests delegation, among them famous environmentalist and social activist Naur Mohammad Patel and Mr Prakash Kadam, president of the Pragati Foundation.

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Mrs Bharati Kadam introduced the event by addressing the public with a speech. She mentioned Pune’s different environmental problems and how they are affecting the health of people around city. She said waste management, transport systems, and cleanliness should be take in account and we should strive to find permanent solutions for these challenges. She pledged to raise her voice on these issues as a municipality member.

Before the parade set off, student Sneha read a message from Miss Sandra Antonovic, Nektarina Non Profit Co-founder and CEO. In her message, Miss Antonovic said “I am touched, honoured and humbled that so many of you have gathered here today to celebrate the World Environment Day and to show that people do have the power to change things if they come together and act together. As a community, as a nation, as global citizens.

“You are showing us how to be global citizens, how to come together, how to act together; and we are humbled by your example. We are also inspired, and we follow you on your path of sustainable living. Now, more than ever, sustainability is important for all of us.”

The participants then walked in procession through the roads of Pune, showing banners and calling out environmental awareness slogans and reached the polluted riverbank.

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We undertook the riverbank clean-up to support Prime Minister Naredra Modi’s Initiative Swatch Bharat. The cleanup was launched by Shri Dattatray Dhankwade, Mayor of Pune. He gave a speech congratulating attendees for taking part in such initiatives and encouraged people to engage in such programmes often. He also said that more focus should be given to such issues within education because educated people can be more proactive, leading to cleaner and healthier lifestyles for everyone.

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Equipment was distributed and together the participants removed a huge quantity of litter from the riverbank. At the end of the cleanup, everyone took an oath for a clean and non-polluted river.

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Throughout the event, we invited people to write their messages on a 20 ft banner, and there was face painting available, with many people opting for environmental slogans on their face and hands.

We are extremely proud of this celebratory event and thanks to everyone who attended and engaged, we successfully cleaned up a strip of riverbank and raised awareness of this vital cause. The high level of participation drew the interest of the press and we hope to have an even larger event next year!

This Earth Day, Stand up for Youth Engagement

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, Regions, Take Action

first-photograph-of-the-entire-earth-nasa-apollo-8-1968Photo Source: Google

It is true that the most celebrated photograph in the world is of Earth, famously called Earthrise. In 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 mission took a photograph of Earth from space. The photograph of a beautiful azure planet floating peacefully changed our perspective of Earth as not just a mere dump. Humanity started viewing it as a delicate living planet where millions of species live together, sharing this vast space and calling it home.

The photograph is also credited for initiating the environmental movement and giving birth to 22 April as Earth Day. For once I am happy to know that Earthrise is the most celebrated photograph in the world and it is not of a woman. Knowing how a woman’s body is objectified these days and is used to sell everything from men razors to boxer shots. This restored my faith in humanity.

We can’t take the earth for granted especially given the fast deteriorating condition of the global environment. Sustainable lifestyle choices are the need of the time. With youth making up half of the population, it is important to raise awareness among young people on how to take care of the earth so that life may persist.

This Earth Day we need to stand up for youth engagement. The Earth Charter Principle 12c stresses the importance of youth engagement.

 “Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.”
Education for Sustainability, a project of Nektarina Non-Profit, believes that to establish a just and sustainable society it is important to engage youth, empower them and work to build their capacity. In the past, Nektarina Non-Profit has worked closely with the Earth Day Network, keeping in mind the Earth Charter principles. Nektarina Non-Profit has been offering platforms to youth to learn the values of a sustainable way of life in India, Ghana, Cameroon , Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.  It plans to continue supporting youth, encouraging them to embrace the sustainability vision of Earth Charter.

To celebrate World Environment Day 2014 in India, Nektarina Non-Profit organized a rally in Pune. Students from different institutions, universities, schools, and colleges; representatives of civil society organizations, companies, and political parties were gathered at one event to celebrate World Environment Day. It did manage to raise awareness among young people about the environmental issues and how to make sustainable lifestyle choices, care for the Earth and be an active participant in the environment movement. This year again Nektarina Non Profit will be holding an event in India in June.

Youth engagement is not just a buzzword in the development field. The term has more to do with youth involvement in challenging unsustainable norms and taking responsible actions to create positive change. Instead of waiting for a grand cataclysmic change it is time to give our little contribution, whenever and wherever possible. So this Earth Day let’s stand up for youth engagement and put the planet Earth in the hands of informed citizens of tomorrow.

Rendezvous with Gulalai Ismail, Commonwealth Youth Award winner from Pakistan

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, E-Magazine, General Information, News & Updates, Take Action

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Photo Source: Google

Gulalai Ismail, a 28-year-old Pakistani human rights activist from Peshawar, has been awarded the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work recently. Gulalai was chosen as the winner from the Asia region out of a shortlist of sixteen extraordinary young people from across the Commonwealth.The award recognizes outstanding young people under 30 whose development projects and programs have had significant impact on their communities, countries and across the globe.

Speaking to me, Gulalai said that we should speak up no matter what, “Silence perpetuates more silence and speaking up will bring change, a smaller and a humble change ” she said.

Congratulations Gulalai for being awarded the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work. How does this award affect your work and commitment towards the cause you stand for?

I think this award has increased awareness about the role of young women and girls in promoting democracy, peace and human rights. This award is not just recognition of my work as a person, but recognition of the voices of the women and young people who are working in extremely challenging and life risking situations for their rights and development of their communities. Today, in Pakistan young people makes the largest population dividend, at least 50% of these young people comprises of young women, but unfortunately if we look at the statistics only 18% of women in Pakistan has received more than 10 years of education, 90% of the women are becoming victims of domestic abuse, and millions of girls around the world are forced into early marriages. I believe a decent, peaceful and developed world isn’t possible without investing in gender equality, without making the world a better place for women. This award is the recognition of similar voices.

Can you please tell us a bit about your organization and its work?

Aware Girls is young women led organization, an organization which has been established by girls and young women in 2002 with the purpose of providing a leadership platform to young women where they can get information about their rights, institutes and policies which protect their rights, can strengthen their leadership skills and can act as advocates of change, equality and peace.

Our objectives are to empower young women and girls by strengthening their leadership skills and by creating a conducive environment where young women and girls can exercise their human rights which includes sensitizing communities about different issues and rights of girls and advocating for systems and policies which ensures that young women and girls’ can live a decent life and can exercise their human rights.

We are working on human rights education, girls’ leadership, civic and political empowerment of young women, economic empowerment of young women, sexual and reproductive health rights of young women and on countering and preventing violent extremism in our communities i.e. in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan.

Through our work we are changing the lives of girls for example few years back, Shazia, who was then 14 years old participated in our HIV/AIDS education campaign which inspired her, she took became member of our AIDS Discussion club which was like a leadership incubator for her, she started raising awareness among her peer through peer to peer education about HIV/AIDS prevention. It increased her self-esteem and confidence. When few years later her family told her that she can’t take admission in college because it is against their culture and family values she didn’t accept the decision, she stood for herself and convinced her family that she has to go to college. Today, she is studying in a medical school getting her degree of Lady Health Worker. There are thousands of other stories like this which are encouraging us to keep on going against the odds.

You were just 16 years old when you set up Aware Girls, was it challenging?

Even after working for more than 12 years, it’s challenging. We are still reclaiming our leadership spaces. Our society is yet not comfortable with the idea of a women leader though Pakistan has some amazing women leaders but even then we have to go a long way to create acceptability of women in leadership roles.

There was so much inspiration and sense of responsibility around me, I was determined. I knew one thing only and that was: I have to play my part in making this world a better place, it doesn’t matter how small or big role I play. It would have been really unfair if I would have just let things happen around me and not do anything about it.

How has your father being a human rights activist contributed in your view point considering that it is challenging to voice concerns on extremism and violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?

My father is amazing, he always taught me “Speak up, no matter how shrill your voice is, no matter how huge the opposition is. If you feel like speaking up- just speak up and don’t worry about the consequences”. He himself is a very brave man and has always challenged the structural inequalities in the society, my parents are my inspiration. When we were young, long before 9/11 my father was put in Jail in a Blasphemy Case because he was speaking up for peace and because he was advocating the idea that we shouldn’t support any militant group in Afghanistan. He fought the Blasphemy case for 7 years, only because he spoke for peace and non-violence. But even then he remained brave enough to speak for peace. I come from the family of fighters- so it was kind of okay to start up a venture for empowering women and girls.

We witnessed what happened to Malala Yousafzai when she tried talking about women issues, wasn’t there a threat for you coming from the same place?

Well as I said, we still have a long way to go! It’s not easy to speak up on women rights, to speak against Talibanisation and to speak for Peace while living in the heart of the Province where the militants have a stronghold. But that makes me stronger, becoming weak and fearful is not an option. The only option we have is to be strong enough to reclaim our society; we can’t leave it to the extremists, militants, and to the patriarchal culture.

There is quite a lot of negative propaganda on social media against me, we received threats, we have been attacked as well but all of this just makes me stronger, happier! Because then I know that yes, my work is bringing change in my community- be it a smaller change.

What do you think is different between you and her that protect you from the extremist elements?

I think Malala can’t be compared to the work of anyone. She is extra ordinarily brave, she was in Swat and she was raising her voice at a really young age when everyone was afraid of speaking up. She was already an icon in Pakistan, a young leader who put her life at risk. For me, she is a hero not because she was attacked but because of what she did before she was attacked. She is a role model for the world!

What message do you have for women on International women’s day?

Speak up- No matter how shrill your voice is, silence perpetuates more silence and speaking up will bring change, a smaller and a humble change.

Justice Deferred is Justice Denied

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, E-Magazine, General Information, News, News & Updates, Take Action

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Photo Source: Google

On Wednesday the Federal Government of Pakistan temporarily deferred execution of a 14-year old Shafqat Hussain just few hours before he was set to be hanged. In Pakistan the use of torture evidence and execution of juveniles is illegal. Surely the legal system has specific procedures for dealing with juvenile delinquents yet Shafqat Hussain was arrested and tortured to confess to killing of a child.

The only evidence the courts had was his confession he made after nine days of being tortured in a police cell. He was not tried as a juvenile nor was he given access to a lawyer.

Moments like these make me recall the famous quotation; peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice. Justice is a fascinating word. We hope to get justice in an unjust world, made unjust by our power hunger, selfishness and greed. Where is the compassion we are seeking? Why are we seeking it in the first place?

What a shame that it took the weight of civil society and an uproar to push the Minister into deferring the execution just hours before he was due to be taken to the gallows. We seek the judicial system for justice and what if the same system is flawed as an entity? We don’t know how many other juveniles are facing the same fate.

Being a signatory of child rights conventions, Pakistan should take measures to meet standards of juvenile justice. Sarah Coleman, Child Protection Chief, UNICEF

The existing Juvenile Justice Ordinance 2000, consisting of only 15 sections, does not cover many important aspects pertaining to child delinquencies, the ordinance needs to be improved. Barrister Salman Safdar

Shafqat Hussain was kept in solitary confinement, blindfolded and beaten brutally by the police. He was being electrocuted and stubbed lit cigarettes on his arms while being asked to confess to the crime.

 I was tortured so severely and continuously that my mind ‘just stopped’. I have no recollection of the trial. Shafqat Hussain

It is important to note that after a seven-year moratorium, Pakistan has reintroduced the death penalty and has also introduced military courts. It will begin executions where clemency and appeals are no longer an option. Following the 2014 Peshawar school attacks that killed over 100 children, the death penalty was reintroduced last December.  According to Amnesty International since 2012, 24 people have been executed including three whose convictions were unrelated to terrorism.

Is this shameful retreat to the gallows a way to resolve Pakistan’s persistent security and law -and -order problems? Those who argue the shallow logic of an eye for an eye, it is worthy to note that the charges of blasphemy, adultery and apostasy are also punishable by death. It is indeed a moral catastrophe for Pakistan. The death penalty and military courts are not known to be the deterrents of crime, especially the military courts where the judges and prosecutors come from army ranks. This indeed is a controversial addition to the flawed judicial system along with Anti-terrorism Courts.

Two months after Pakistan’s Interior Ministry stayed the execution of Shafqat Hussain and ordered an inquiry into why a juvenile was given a death sentence, Pakistan’s Anti-terrorism Court issues a fresh execution order.

Draconian courts like these operate on the premise that the accused is guilty unless proven innocent. Shafqat Hussain who has spent 11 years on death row was not a militant and had nothing to do with terrorism. He worked as a caretaker of an apartment building during his brief freedom in Karachi.

In an era of injustice, shameful violence and intolerance it is our duty to raise our voices for sanity and compassion.  We can’t call Pakistan just and democratic when it provides assistance to banned armed outfits, violent sectarian groups and puts innocent juveniles on death row.

Deliberating on Sustainability

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, News & Updates, Publications, Take Action

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A poster at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit

The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit is held every year around a theme that is identified as the most pressing issue of the current times. The themes at DSDS have ranged from protecting the global commons to global challenge of resource efficient growth and development.

Currently energy crisis, water and food crisis are emerging problems. To create a robust green economy these three interlinked and interdependent resources should be secured.  “Sustainable Development Goals and dealing with climate change” was identified as the theme for the 15th edition of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, held from 5-7 February, 2015 in New Delhi, India.

From Lima to Paris while stopping by in India these gatherings that bring together important personalities and decision makers provide a platform for people to come together and talk about issues that have become a huge concern of this century. It is just a matter of time whether these talks will be materialized into actions, productive actions that will put a full stop on the abuse of earth’s resources.

This year’s Summit at Delhi discussed these specific issues, striving to find ways forward towards a sustainable future.  Mr. Kofi Annan (Nobel Laureate and Former Secretary-General, United Nations) gave an inaugural keynote address in 2014 stating that just like the developed world the developing countries cannot continue to exploit the resources of the world as lack of access to energy, water and food withholds the growth of the developing world.

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Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger with other prominent speakers at DSDS

Several eminent world leaders participated in the event including speakers from diverse sectors like the famous action hero and former Governor of California Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In terms of Gujarat’s clean energy actions he termed Gujarat as “the California of India”. He said:

“Climate change is not science fiction and it is impacting us right now. This is bigger than a movie and this is the biggest challenge of our times.”

“Mr. Modi has shown that small actions and sub-national governments have tremendous power. They don’t have to wait for national governments to create action,” he said adding that Mr. Modi would prove the naysayers in the world wrong. Mr. Schwarzenegger said, “We must think differently if we are going to win the battle [against climate change] and change the world.” He added.

Despite managing to gather eminent personalities in the global south, the DSDS did not get enough media attention like the other big conferences on similar issues. This does raise a question here. Is the developing world considered less important when it comes to tackling grave problems knowing it is being affected the most?

Recently the environment minister of India said that clean energy will form a main part of India’s national climate strategy yet Prakash Javedekar added that India would resist any outside scrutiny with reference to the European calls for transparency.

“There is no question of an ex-ante review in an independent country and democratic country like India,” Javedekar said.

On speaking about the road to a UN summit in Paris this December, where world leaders hope to come up with a global climate deal, Mr.Prakash Javedekar said that since the last half century the carbon emissions have increased with each passing day and now the developing world is asking the developed world will it vacate the carbon space?

By the end of March the developed countries are expected to reveal their draft contributions towards the international effort to limit carbon emissions. India is among a number of developing countries that promises to publish its climate plan.Susheel Kumar, a top official and climate negotiator, said that the government is striving for a transparent and comprehensive national climate strategy that will be based on consultation with civil society in India . He added “There is no room for international intervention.”

The grave problem of climate justice that affects the entire world population should be about coming up with a strategy that is inclusive and is not discriminatory. Here we have to put aside the hierarchy of the developed and developing world as we all are together in this.  Green growth talks about the earthlings. It has been recognized to have the potential to develop a resilient, sustainable and inclusive pattern of growth across countries.

This is the message we need to take back with us from these high profile conferences and not a rift that highlights the polar extremes as a hindrance to achieve the stated goal.