E4S Awareness Session in India

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in News, Uncategorized

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As part of the Education for Sustainability project in India, we have continued work with our partner Zest Youth Movement, focusing particularly on awareness sessions as one of our main initiatives.

There is an urgent need to educate people in general, youth and children in particular, on sustainability, as knowledge and information can be a tool of great empowerment for change, and this is the only way we will become more sustainable. Therefore we use these awareness sessions and workshops to reach out to thousands of students directly to teach them about sustainability, inform them about sustainable lifestyles, and make sure they are aware of key environmental issues.

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We recently conducted an Education for Sustainable Development awareness session at Yashwantrao Chavan Secondary School and Vishwakarma English Medium School, in Pune, India. More than 500 students and 20 teachers attended the session.

The awareness session was just one part of the Environmental Awareness Week program organised by Pune Municipal Corporation. We also held a Best Out of Waste session and hosted a screening of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s documentary HOME.

Through these sessions, we hoped to achieve multiple goals:

  • To reach as many students as possible, and contribute to making them aware of environmental issues and sustainable lifestyles.
  • To have an additional successful activity which can be used to strengthen advocacy arguments by showing how schools and students are interested in sustainability.
  • To enable the realisation that we have a shared responsibility to care for the earth and that individuals have the power to become agents of change.
  • To spread the message of UNEP – Every action counts, and when multiplied by a global chorus, becomes exponential in its impact.
  • To help children and young people understand that resources need to be managed carefully to be sustainable.
  • To address global environmental issues like excess waste, food, deforestation, climate change, etc.
  • To encourage students to take action to improve their local environment by making it cleaner and safer.

As well as the awareness session and the documentary screening, there were several other activities for students to engage in, from other videos to open discussion sessions.

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Best Out of Waste Contest – India

Written by Marianne on . Posted in General Information, News, Uncategorized

Nektarina and its Indian partner Zest Youth Movement undertook the Best out of Waste Contest in Pune from November 2014 to February 2015.

The concept

Students were invited to prepare any object they want (like utilitarian or decorative objects, accessories, furniture articles, showpieces, etc), from any waste material, using their inspiration, ideas and creativity, understanding that waste material is something found in the garbage or something that is normally intended to be thrown away.

Our goal through the activity was multiple:

  • To reach maximum number of students and contribute to make them aware about environmental issues and how to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle,
  • To collect some ideas from students through self-expression,
  • Strengths advocating arguments in showing how schools and scholars are interested in sustainability topics,
  • For students to learn and progressively understand that resources should be used carefully, that they could reuse waste material and not always depend on new things,
  • Engage parents and families in the activity and moreover raise sustainability awareness among them, considering that part of the activity will be done from home,
  • Spread inspiration, awareness and sustainability understanding to other students through the exhibition of the works.
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The contest

Mr Suresh More, E4S Country manager for India organised the activity with some volunteers’ help.

Approximately 600 students, from 10 to 17 years old and from nine different schools very enthusiastically participated in the competition.

The response from the students was very good. They prepared very nice things from different waste materials, which were then put up in the exhibitions. The teachers cooperated positively as well and very much liked the topic.

We focused the competition on children, as we aim to bring them to understand the importance of preserving the environment and moreover learn more about sustainability: That we should not throw away waste things, that we could use them again for different purposes and that we should not cause harm to nature.

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The outcomes

The jury has chosen the best works at school level, out of which the 6 best ones were selected. The winners received awards (jute folders and certificates) by the hands of the Principals of Schools in presence of students and teachers representatives. An exhibition and ceremony took place in each school.

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We are very proud of the beautiful works made by the students!

Look at the selection below and all the works here (Flickr).

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Participating in the 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit

Written by Marianne on . Posted in India, News, News & Updates, Take Action, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events

Nektarina, together with its Indian partner Zest Youth Movement, is glad to inform on its participation in the 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) that will take place in New Delhi, India from 5-7 of February 2015.

DSDS flyer

“The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), since 2001, annually organizes the DSDS, an International Summit to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on all aspects of sustainable development. Over the past 14 years, the Summit has hosted 37 current and former Heads of State, ministers from over 50 countries, and delegates from across continents. Each year, the Summit brings together Heads of State and Government, Nobel Laureates, business leaders, and academicians to address issues of global sustainability.”

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DSDS 15 will take place under the theme “”Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change”. This year is indeed marked by a crucial agenda on the way towards sustainable development through the framework of the Post-2015 Development Agenda definition process and launch, and the negotiations towards an agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) expected to be reached in the 21st Conference of the Parties in December 2015.

We are active in India since 2012 to implementing the Education for Sustainability project by approaching governmental institutions in order to convince them that teaching sustainable development at youngest ages in school is a necessity, networking among local, national and international organisations having similar goals, conducting a series of activities and events with schools and civil society and promoting our goal in the media, online and offline.

Fostered by the positive feedbacks and encouraging progress we made so far, we see our participation to DSDS 2015 as a great opportunity to spread our word and contribute to the way toward a sustainable India.

For more information about DSDS: Official website

Exercising the Divine Obligation

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, News, Uncategorized

At some point in our life we do tend to question humanity. In my lifetime I have questioned this virtue many times revolving around the basic ethics of altruism. Someone rightly said ignorance is bliss and knowing too much can only make you suffer. But how can we stay aloof in a world bombarded with news talking about the crimes committed on fellow beings just because they have a different color, race, religion, gender and so on.

We love to brag about peace, social cohesion, justice and it is true that there have been incidents where your faith in humanity is restored but then comes the reality check.

A few days ago I read about the brutal killing of a Christian couple in the suburb of  Lahore, Pakistan. Shahzad Masih, twenty eight years old and his five months pregnant wife Shama Masih, twenty four, were brutally tortured and later set ablaze by an enraged mob at a brick kiln.

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 The deceased Shama and Shahzad Masih

Photo Source: Dawn.com

According to a newspaper source:

 “The entire episode took place in the presence of policemen and on the orders of a local Panchayat comprising notables and clerics of the area,” said Javed Shahbaz, a close relative of the deceased couple.

On Tuesday, November 4th, the prayer leader at the mosque of Chak No 59 of  Kot Radha Kishan, a suburb of Lahore made a provocative announcement on the loudspeaker urging all the male members in the area to gather at the kiln where the couple worked.

 “O villagers, I have a sad news for you. A Christian woman has burned the holy Quran. Therefore, all reasonable men and even young male children (of this village) are requested to converge at the brick kiln as early as possible so that a decision could be made ” Sadiq, a 55-year-old man quoted the cleric making the announcement.

 Within an hour people poured in big numbers at the kiln. It is also reported that earlier that day the couple was locked up in a room to stop them from fleeing bonded labor by the owner of the kiln over monetary dispute. While the angry mob attacked the ‘blasphemers’ the police stood there helpless. The blasphemers have left three children under the age of six.

 This is not the first incident of blasphemy to be reported where before the matter is taken to the court the incited mob headed by a cleric heads out to attack the ‘blasphemers’. The state institutions always claim not being able to handle the situation leaving everything at the hands of the charged groups. The same state institution looked different when protests were being staged in the capital to oust the democratically elected government, that time they weren’t ‘helpless’ and could handle the situation.

 It is no secret anymore that many accusations of blasphemy are used to settle personal scores or to harass the religious minorities. Interestingly the Council of Islamic Ideology, that advises the parliament on Islamic aspects of laws, stated that no amendment to the blasphemy laws will be considered.The blasphemy cases have been stacking despite many assurances. According to the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies the blasphemy cases have been registered due to nonsensical reasons that a sane mind can’t decipher.

The hostile stories of blasphemy cases where people rather entire villages are set ablaze remind me of a troop of Savanna baboons in Kenya, the Keekorok troop.  Dr Robert Sapolsky studied the troop for 30 years identifying stress and hierarchy in baboons. These amazing yet Machiavellian creatures required a kind of baboon political shrewdness. The study showed that the most cunning and aggressive males gained top ranks in the hierarchy and all the perks like personal groomer, females for their choosing and all the food to eat.

In the troop every male knew where he stands in the society and whom he could torture. The tough and snarly baboons once fought with a neighboring baboon troop over a garbage dump containing meat tainted with bovine tuberculosis. The strong baboons did get to eat all the food but that led to selective killing of dictatorial and vilest males. A social and behavioral transformation occurred after that which was unique in the notoriously aggressive primate. The calamity had a profound effect on the Dr Sapolsky’s research. Every alpha male was gone and the Keekorok troop was transformed left with more females and socially affiliated males that altered the atmosphere of the Keekorok troop.

So what does this alteration teach an average person? Don’t treat somebody badly just because you are having a bad day and don’t just place on somebody in any sort of manner.  Social connection and harmony is a very powerful thing and this is what the baboons taught us. If they were able to transform sort of an engraved in stone social system we don’t have any excuse saying that human social systems have certain inevitability. We now have a haunting question from Dr Sapolsky’s life work that is are we brave enough to learn from a baboon? After the complete transformation the Keekorok troop not only survived rather thrived with a congenial atmosphere and without stress. Can we?

For the love of…

Written by Sarah on . Posted in Uncategorized

…tadpoles in springtime, snorkelling, swallows, coffee, cricket, coffee, chocolate…  

For the love of…’ is asking us what we hold dear that is threatened by climate change.  

Coordinated by The Climate Coalition, the campaign started a few month ago and is aiming to raise awareness on climate change, to encourage people to show that they care in order to push politicians to act.  

The Climate Coalition has been involved in lots of political lobbying, much of which has been successful, but it knows that in order to achieve political change now, our governments need to see that society is passionate about stopping climate change.  

People can take up the campaign themselves, and indeed many have already: the website is full of people’s personal stories of things they love, and the many member organisations of the Climate Coalition have been producing their own videos and posters based on the theme.  

What is also interesting is the thinking behind the campaign: the Climate Coalition aims to avoid a perhaps typical and somewhat abstract rhetoric on ‘environmental issues’ and instead looks to be more tangible, highlighting personal concerns and the effect climate change will have for these, embracing the diversity of interests of our population instead of projecting a single unifying voice.  

For the moment, ‘For the love of’ has been primarily UK based, but it is looking at expansion into other countries as it continues to motivate people to show why they care.

You can visit their website here, find out about what others love and add your own story.

Environmental Sustainability in Fiji

Written by Sarah on . Posted in Uncategorized

2014 is the year that the UN celebrates the contribution of Small Island Developing States. This group of 39 countries characteristically host a range of biodiversity often including endemic species, one of the drivers for their often flourishing tourist economies, they have an important relationship with the seas that surround them, but are also threatened by the same waters, as they are acutely vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters [1]. Fiji is no exception to any of these features: the rich range of biodiversity hosted over its 332 islands is among the attractions for the numerous tourists who visit the country, but the tourism industry itself, and many other sectors, put considerable pressure on the island, all of which is exacerbated by the effects of climate change.  

Fiji’s coastal and marine environments are of much importance in both economic and social terms; they are key to tourism, transport and food provision and also hold significant cultural values. However marine biodiversity is endangered by unsustainable fishing practices (the use of poisons and explosives for example) [2], overfishing and the introduction of alien species [3]. Pollution in these environments is also a threat, to which various sectors contribute: agricultural chemicals escape into waterways through run-off [2], solid waste accumulates on beaches and coastal areas in part due to a lack of municipal waste collection strategies [4], irresponsible management of tourist developments means sewage and other waste is dumped into the sea along with industry and mining waste [2], and given Fiji’s importance as a transport hub, oil spills can be observed almost daily around the large ports, with shipwrecks and abandoned marine vessels not uncommon [4].  

Moreover, the degradation of mangrove ecosystems and coral reefs, important habitats and homes for biodiversity in themselves, is set to intensify the country’s environmental concerns. Both of these environments provide protection against coastal erosion and mangroves absorb excess nutrients from treated sewage effluence, thereby reducing the impact of waste water. WWF has deemed Fiji’s coral reefs “historically healthy” but notes the threat posed to them by activities such as pollution, bleaching and coastal development. Mangrove ecosystems are also threatened by coastal development and by waste disposal and firewood collection [5].  

With the degradation of these natural coastal protection systems, the effects of climate change are all the more severe. Sea level rise is already a reality; some crop areas have already been contaminated by salt water and the government has moved populations from certain islands to the mainland [6]. The lack of coastal protection also makes Fiji increasingly vulnerable to the extreme weather events associated with climate change. Many reports point out that island nations like Fiji are the first to suffer from climate change, despite being insignificant contributors.  

On land, both tourist development and urbanisation put stress on Fiji’s environment, all the more so when unplanned as rapid urbanisation this has led to the emergence of squatter settlements [7]. The widespread practice of waste incineration is a major contributor to air pollution in the country, as are vehicle emissions in urban areas [8]. Deforestation and soil erosion have also been significant problems; a contributory factor to erosion is the clearing of land by bush burning, a widespread practice which awareness campaigns have seemingly been unable to prevent and which threatens bird species and the endemic ground frog [9].  

Of course, these issues of environmental sustainability cannot be abstracted from their social, economic and political context. Environmental practice has a significant impact upon the economy and social situation, and vice-versa.  

Fiji remains highly dependent on the tourism industry, and environmental degradation threatens to spoil the paradisiac beauty that attracts foreigners, and with it the source of income for a significant part of the Fijian population. The obvious irony is that much environmental damage is caused by the tourist industry itself, as it feeds the coastal erosion and associated loss of tourist developments and homes, the pollution and aesthetic degradation of coastal areas and the damage to the exotic biodiversity so attractive to tourists. Clearly unsustainable, even self-destructive, practice is not unique to the tourism industry: unsustainable agricultural and fishing techniques jeopardise the resources for future generations.  

And not only is environmental degradation detrimental to the economy, it also poses a social risk. Coral reefs, for example, constitute an important source of food and income for many people globally and their loss thus threatens livelihoods. Water contamination is a risk to the health of Fiji’s population.  

Fiji shows some signs of moving towards a more sustainable environment. Its potential capacity for renewable energy generation is promising and currently over 50% of its electricity is supplied from hydropower [10]. There have also been initiatives to promote the use of biofuels [11]. The island of Koro, the sixth largest in Fiji [12], hosts one of the country’s Biofuel Mills; the biodiesel it produces, cheaper than straight diesel, is enough for the entire island and allows increased energy independence, meaning communities can still access fuel and electricity if boats do not arrive from the capital Suva [13]. The country has benefited from ecotourism and from conservation initiatives by resorts and tour operators, in some cases facilitated by the Fijian government [9], as well as signing numerous international protocols.  

But efforts towards sustainability have been hampered especially by political and economic instability. Fiji’s weak growth rate has led the country to focus more on economic recovery than on environmental issues [11]. It has often relied on overseas aid to realise environmental programs [11], but this is arguably made difficult by international isolation as a result of political instability and weak democratic structures [14]. The country underwent 4 coups in 20 years, the last of which in occurred in 2006, led by the current ‘Interim Prime Minister’ whom the United States currently refuses to recognise as leader. Racial tensions run high in the country and there is much animosity between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians. Just as income inequalities in society create barriers to sustainability by hindering the capacity for collective action, so it would seem logical that racial tensions impede collaboration.  

In a context where the marine environment seems so key to Fiji’s sustainability, Nektarina is proud to be supporting ‘Sustainable Sea Transport in the Pacific Talanoa’ as part of our partnership with the University of South Pacific. This 5-day conference, which concludes today and is the second event of its kind, is taking place in Fiji with the theme “Celebrating the Past – Sailing into the Future”. It brings together those connected with seafaring (stakeholders such as seafarers, communities, NGOs, government agencies and industry) in order for them to share expertise and research, celebrate the region’s seafaring heritage and plan for a sustainable future [15].  

References:
1. UN SIDS Information
2. Presentation by Malakai Finau, Fiji Ministry of Lands and Minerals Resources at International Workshop on Environmental Management Needs for Exploration and Exploitation of Deep Seabed Minerals (2011)
3. WWF on Fiji Barrier Reef
4. Integrated Coastal Management Plan (2011)
5. WWF leaflet
6. New York Times report on sea level rise (2014)
7. Fiji entry on Encyclopaedia Britannica
8. Information on air pollution from Fiji Department of Environment
9. Thomas 2007, Fiji Department of Environment 2007, Davies 1998 referenced in Integrated Coastal Management Plan
10. Review of the Fiji National Energy Policy (Draft Energy Policy – July 2013)
11. Fiji National Assessment Report
12. Information on Koro Island
13. UNDP Report on Koro island’s biofuel project
14. 2010 report on MDG progress in Fiji
15. SSTT Page from University of South Pacific

Crowdfunding to provide bicycles and school supplies for children in Thakarwadi, India

Written by Sarah on . Posted in Uncategorized

As many of you know we are running a lot of activities in India, as part of our Education for Sustainability project.

You can see some of the best moments from the project so far on our flickr page.

We are currently fundraising for children in the community of Thakarwadi in Maharashtra state, India. Money raised will enable us to buy materials for school such as books, shoes, clothes and study materials to enable children to benefit from school, as well as bicycles so that the children can travel the 6km to school more easily. Our crowdfunding page can be found here

Please help us reach our goal by donating, if you are able to; or by spreading the word about this campaign to your friends, family and colleagues. We would be very grateful for any support.