RCE Srinagar Provides ESD Perspective at National Seminar on Environmental Awareness

A ‘National Seminar on Environmental Awareness for NGOs and Media’ was recently held on 28-29 January, 2019 by the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development (IESD) at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), India, to create awareness on the latest developments in the areas of the environment and sustainability.

As an expert in these fields, RCE Srinagar Coordinator Dr. Abdhesh Kumar Gangwar was invited as the lead speaker on the first day of the event (for media), and as Chief Guest on the second day of the event (for NGOs).

More than 70 attendees were present, including students, faculty members, media, and NGOs from Varanasi and the Uttar Pradesh region.

Dr. Gangwar spoke about the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) movement, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), and the concept and role of RCEs towards achieving the SDGs globally, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

He spoke about the need for ESD to be ingrained at the village and town level, both in governance and education, as well as how IESD and BHU can collaborate with RCEs in India and overseas and benefit from the vast knowledge, experience and good work being done throughout the RCE network.

Dr. Gangwar also emphasised how strengthening village-level governance systems, capacity building, and skill development of the Gram Panchayats can help to foster the incorporation of sustainability, climate, and disaster resilience factors into Development Plans.

He also mentioned that primary and secondary education is of utmost importance and that higher education institutions like IESD and BHU must focus upon this sector. Without sound primary and secondary education, higher education and research will remain weak if students entering the University system do not have a solid foundation.  

Achieving a sustainable, climate smart and disaster resilient society can only happen when villages and schools are strong. The media and NGOs both need to play an active role in fulfilling this task. RCE Srinagar and IESD have plans to further strengthen their ties and promote ESD using both media and local NGOs.

In the current climate of population growth, increasing consumption and consumerism, and the disconnect from nature and the environment, a change in mindset and behaviours is needed to guide more positive actions towards sustainability.

Speaking about the role of the IESD, its Director, Prof. A.S. Raghubanshi, explained that IESD aims to act as a knowledge hub and resource centre for reliable information and data that citizens, media and policymakers can use. The institute wishes to take a pro-active role issuing alerts and forewarnings to help citizens prepare themselves and develop resilience against environmental problems, including climate change, extreme weather events, and disasters.

Media can also play a vital role in taking the information and data generated by IESD to the public, creating awareness and helping people towards achieving the SDGs.

Photo credits: RCE Srinagar