Youth power needed to solve water crisis
Bhubaneswar, 6 December 2023 – The “Youth4Water India” campaign held its “Idea & Strategy Summit” today at Bhubaneswar to decide on the next year’s course of action. Ranjan Panda, Odisha’s Water Man and Co-founder of the campaign, coordinated the summit in which Mr. Pradeep Kumar Jena, IAS, Chief Secretary, Govt. Of Odisha, joined as Chief Guest. Mr. Manfred Auster, Consul-General of Germany at Kolkata joined online as the Guest of Honour.
The inaugural session was also joined by Prof. Nidhi Nagbhatla from the United Nations University Brussels; Mr. Biswanath Sinha, Director, Policy & Technical Support, WaterAid India, Delhi; and Ms. Shilpi Reema Rath, young programme manager from Aaina, Bhubaneswar.
The Youth4Water India campaign has been an important forum for youth and their mentors to create awareness and action in the state and beyond.
This collective should intensify outreach among youth, students, PRIs, communities and women SHGs to work on water issues such as conservation, preservation, Recycle-Reuse-Rejuvenation, and sustainable use in the common interest of saving the planet.
I have all my support for this campaign,” said Shri Jena in his address to the participants who joined offline as well as online.
Mr. Jena then unveiled the “Youth4Water Circle” logo that comes with the message “Each 1, Reach 10” asking people associated with the campaign to spread the outreach of this pan-India initiative.
Mr. Auster joined the programme online and narrated how he has found these campaign messages very effective. “I myself took the “Plastic-Free Picnic Challenge”. It was not just about sending a video message but acting on the issue as well.
This challenge has been successful. The campaign could take several other innovative initiatives to reduce plastic pollution and step-up environmental conservation,” said he.
Prof. Nagbhatla, emphasized on the national and international collaborations between academics and such campaigns. “I am really happy to be part of this campaign and we are exploring ways of providing appropriate opportunities to youths from both rural and urban areas through various streams of interventions in this campaign which will go a long way in helping ensure water security and sustainability,” she said.
Mr. Sinha said, “Water quality is one of the potential areas of intervention in which students can help monitor water bodies.
Ecologically vulnerable places are made more vulnerable with garbage and plastics during picnics. The plastic issue this forum is taking is extremely important particularly in eastern India. We are happy to be a part of this initiative.”
Ms. Rath had it that the children are facing climate change in a way that the elders had not faced. “This campaign could also engage with children and mentor them in becoming future green citizens by combating climate change impacts,” she emphasized.
Several youths active in promoting water, WASH and climate actions, and are active in the campaign, spoke among others.
To name a few Sasmita Mohapatra, Naresh Behera, Hrusikesh Pradhan, Sushree Rajeswari Maharaha, Pratap Chandra Deo, Ipsita Ruchi, Subodh Pradhan, Ratikanta Pradhan and Subhashree Banita spoke among others.
The summit was also addressed by Bishakha Bhanja, NAWO; Anurag Gupta, WaterAid India; Swapnasri Sarangi, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Dr. Ripin Kalra, Westminster University, UK; Prof. Sutapa Pati, XIM University; Prof. Elisabeth Eide, OSLO MET University, Norway; Abha Mishra, UNDP India; Ghasiram Panda, Action Aid India; Birupakshya Dixit, Practical Action; Anup Pattnaik, Business Person; Bikash Pati, WaterAid India; and other experts.
“Green Picnic Awards”, as part of the “Plastic-Free Picnic Challenge”, were announced and cash awards worth 22, 500 rupees were given away to the three winners by Debasish Patanaik, Founder of the DALMA Group of Restaurants.
Aradhya Youth Club, Sambalpur; Zone 2 – TATA STRIVE Odisha; and Tricity Picnics, Chandigarh won the first, second and third prizes of Rs.10,000, Rs.7,500 and Rs.5,000 respectively.
Earlier a detailed presentation about the campaign was given by its Co-founder Mr. Panda.
The campaign is now forming its strategy for the future actions and this summit is just the beginning of that process, informed him.
The summit was participated – both offline and online – by more than 100 people from across the country and abroad.