Earth Day 2012 Mobilizes India

Earth Day Network catalyzed and coordinated over 1,000 events in India for Earth Day 2012.  These events spanned all of India’s states and geographic regions; from the Himalayan region to rivers valleys, coasts, deserts, and biodiversity hotspots in India’s Northeast and in the Western Ghats, there were multiple programs in all. More than 35 million people participated.

This incredible reach is even more remarkable because of the fact that a majority of the events were initiated at the grassroots level. People came forward in large numbers to organize Mobilize the Earth™ events that raised the profile of environmental issues in India and amplified the call for collective action to address them. From toddlers who learned about the need to protect trees to senior citizens who rode their bicycles for miles to show solidarity with the movement – there was an outpouring of action for the planet in nearly every part of India.

Here are some highlights from around the country…

EDN coordinated with Paryavaran Mitra on outreach to some 100,000 schools in India and an environmental photography competition and online quiz in which 21,000 students participated. The organization also helped corporations take part in clean-ups of heritage sites in Delhi and supported a Greenathon  over 1,500 miles in India.

EDN partner WomenPowerConnect, India’s largest network of women’s organizations, mobilized their over 1,400 member organizations to build awareness about the significant role women can play in the growing green economy. EDN also helped many of WomenPowerConnect’s member organizations to hold Earth Day events.

Sanctuary Asia, India’s best-known environmental magazine, worked with EDN to run a range of unique programs that built awareness about the need to conserve wildlife.

In the Himalayan Region, EDN worked with film maker and radio host Dr. J.P. Panwar on a series of programs that included environmental film screenings and lectures.

EDN partner Nature Bodies, an NGO in the tribal state of Chattisgarh, organized “Melas” (fairs) where various interactive games taught participants about climate change, while Green Vigil held special programs for elected officials. 

In the Northeast of India, where there are eight states, EDN helped Impulse NGO Network hit the streets to talk to people about the environment and get them to pledge an act of green as part of the A Billion Acts of Green® campaign. Impulse also helped 300 security officers plant trees and took part in a TV debate on green issues. 

In Tirupati, one of India’s holiest cities, EDN partner Animal Care organized public rallies to call attention to pressing environmental issues. 

In remote Madhubani (Bihar state), the NGO Contact Base worked with EDN to help local women better understand the need to preserve nature. These women then used their traditional talent of painting with natural colours to produce beautiful wall paintings on their huts.

The response to Earth Day Network’s call to the people of India was indeed overwhelming.  The largest outpouring was from young people. Their enthusiasm was palpable as they organized debates, competitions, art shows, rallies, nature walks, essay competitions and more.

Students at over 40 colleges and universities in India competed in EDN’s MobilizeU campus environmental competition, and an Indian college, the Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, won the global competition.

EDN, in collaboration with the National Council of Science Museums – the largest network of science museums anywhere in the world – launched a unique program: the Green Action Congress. This competition had schools appoint students to monitor resource waste in schools and develop plans for the schools to go green. At a ceremony in Kolkata, the schools presented their reports on what was achieved and what they plan to do in future. 

Governments came forward as well. In Andhra Pradesh, the Andhra Pradesh Environment Connect, an organization that the government helped establish, worked with EDN to bring together forest department officials, NGOs, and academics for a series of programs on Earth Day focused on outreach to farmers and those that live on the outskirts of large cities. In West Bengal, EDN partnered with the Forest Department to orgnaize Earth Day programs for school children, while the Nagaland Forest Department held programs in all of its districts.

Tree planting was a common thread running through many events – whether in small backyards or along miles of roads. Children at the Calcutta International School even made their own tree replica with leaves that had green pledges written by students.

…and there was so much more. Click here to see some of the photos.

In India, there was no doubt that Earth Day 2012 had an immense impact and further built the country’s burgeoning environmental movement. And Earth Day Network-India will harness that power and keep that momentum going through its year-round programs to protect the environment.