Thiruvananthapuram: Campus Leaders chosen by the Regional Centre of Expertise acknowledged by the United Nations University towards pushing forward the efforts towards Sustainable Development, now have the privilege of being part of a movement that would work towards sustaining an ecological civilization that has been continuing for over thousands of years, renowned environmental thinker, philosopher of science and policy advocate Dr Vandana Siva said today.
Formally launching the ‘Campus Leaders for Sustainable Development’ programme rolled out by the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Thiruvananthapuram which has its headquarters at the Centre for Innovation and Social Action (CISSA), at the Senate Chamber, University of Kerala, Dr Vandana Siva pointed out that education for earth’s citizenship is the education that one doesn’t have to receive, but create. She said this can be done only through practice, as no book can provide that education.
Pointing out that development is a biological term which was later taken up by the economic sector. Development is that of a seed or of an embryo that develops inside the mother’s womb. Development in biology, unlike economics, is internal. It is the self-evolution, and self-organising of a seed. It is internally-driven and structural changes happen. That’s magic. You plant a coconut, you get a coconut, you don’t get an oak tree. It is built into those seeds to evolve into what they are to become, she said.
“If a river isn’t allowed to flow due to destruction of the catchment area, you don’t have a sustainable eco system. If you pump more greenhouse gases, it will cause atmospheric pollution, which will lead to climate change. There is no point trying to deny it,” she said. Looking back at the cyclone that recently affected lives, she said such catastrophes are results of earlier actions at some point of time.
Dr Vandana Siva lamented the situation that has been seeing famer suicides increasing day by day in the country and how this has a negative effect on sustainable development. Stating that the soil is where our future lies, she said it is important to eat what we grow.
According to Dr Vandana Shiva, Kerala has tremendous opportunity when it comes to sustainable development as it is a state where religions all religions exist in harmony. Drawing attention to the Prime Minister’s Swachch Bharat Mission, she said the country would become really clean only when the generation of plastic is fully checked.
T P Sreenivasan, former Ambassador, who presided over the launch function, said it wasn’t the western world that taught us sustainable development. It was the Upanishads that did that. The term ‘sustainable’ was added to ‘development’ as a compromise by the developed nations as their idea was the economic growth of the nations, he added.
RCE Thiruvananthapuram, CISSA and the Department of Aquatic Biology & Fisheries, University of Kerala, are partnering various government organizations, private entities and civil society organisations in addition to individual mentors committed to the cause of sustainable development, to implement and carry forward the programme.
The Campus Leaders for Sustainable Development programme ensures and widens youth participation in the process at a time when the whole concept of sustainable development has seldom become a topic of effective discussion in the campuses of India. Among the many aims of the Campus Leaders Programme, one is to promote the principle of sustainability deep rooted in Indian culture through promoting the philosophy of ecological civilization. The focus will be centered on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At the regional level, the campus leaders will work on sustainability related to environment, economy and society with a strong focus on education for sustainable development.
Offering an introduction to the program, Dr A Bijukumar, Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Kerala, and one of the mentors for the programme, said the youth have been chosen for this programme as youngsters form the majority of the Indian population. He added that youth participation is an inevitable tool towards sustainable development.
As many as 11 mentors were selected from walks of life to guide the Campus Leaders. Dr Achuthshankar S Nair, Director of Internal Quality Assurance Cell, University of Kerala; Padmashree Architect G Shankar, L Radhakrishnan IAS, former Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Kerala; Dr A Bijukumar, Renowned Aquatic Biologist and Environmental activist and founder member of CISSA; Dr R Harikumar, Director, Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology, Department of Power, Government of Kerala; Adv Harish Vasudevan, young environmental law expert and activist; Ushakumari S, Programme Director of Financial Management and Living Ecosysytems, Thanal; Padma Mahanty IFS, Director, Directorate of Environment and Climate Change; Dr Subhash Chandra Bose, Director, CCDU; Prof E Kunhikrishnan, renowned photographer and environmental educator; Dr Meena T Pillai, Director, Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Kerala, are the 11 mentors.
Padmashree Architect G Shankar while addressed the Campus Leaders said the programme launched today should try to build a bridge between poverty, development and sustainability. L Radhakrishnan IAS, talked about need to conserve the marine ecosystem by not dumping waste into the water bodies. Dr Achuthshankar S Nair reminded the gathering how important it is to stay happy and satisfied in life even when we are facing a difficult situation. Aravind A R, HR Regional Centre of Expertise welcomed the gathering. Dr C Suresh Kumar, General Secretary, CISSA, proposed a vote of thanks.