Millions in India Took Action for Earth Day 2013

With 1.2 billion people and 3.28 million kilometers of land, India is a subcontinent of massive proportions. And across the country, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation are readily seen.

Once lush forests have now been reduced to insignificant levels; intense smog and pollution are a part of daily life in cities; piles of garbage can be seen in several places; underground water tables have been reduced; temperatures in the summer are soaring beyond average highs, and other seasons are also experiencing  changed weather; and rising sea waters have eroded coastal lands and even submerged islands. This is indeed a dismal picture.

However, as Earth Day 2013 proves, millions of people across India are ready to take action, protect the planet, and show The Face of Climate Change.

Earth Day programs were held in every state of India – from small villages to large cities.  Events were planned by multinational corporations and , local NGOs. Students from primary school to those in PhD programs participated. People from different income brackets, races, genders, and religious backgrounds all came out to show their support for the environment. 

In 2013, Earth Day Network-India registered a marked increase in the number of major campaigns for Earth Day. Here are some highlights: 

  • The South Asia Youth Environment Network organized a pan-India photography competition for ‘The Face of Climate Change.’ Students submitted photographs to the campaign, and the best photos were chosen as winners.  
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) inspired 200,000 school children to learn about waste reduction and recycling as they made and decorated bags out of used paper as a greener alternative to plastic bags. 
  • The Government of India’s National Council of Science Museums, the largest network of science museums anywhere in the world, held special Earth Day programs and saw thousands of people visit their twenty museum centers across India.
  • The North East Network worked with women’s organizations across eight states of northeast India to hold programs in each of those states, many of which are located in internationally-recognized biodiversity hot spots. 
  • Channel Mountain Communication and The Central Himalayan Environment Association held multiple events to  build awareness among mountain communities about ways climate change could affect them and about the urgent need to conserve sensitive mountain regions around the world, in particular, the Himalayas. 
  • Tarumitra, an organization that works with students, held programs in multiple states.  Many of these focused on ways to increase the green cover. 
  • Sanctuary Asia, recognized for their significant role in wildlife conservation, held unique Earth Day programs that brought together stakeholders to ensure a concerted effort to save wildlife. 
  • Paryavaran Mitra, a programme that works with 100,000 schools, held competitions for students in several states through their vast network of on-the-ground organizations. 
  • The Government of Nagaland, inspired by their Environment Minister, organized programs in each of their districts, many of which are inhabited by tribal communities. 
  • Bichitra Patshala hosted an environmental film competition for students called Earth Reel.  iLEAD lent support to the program. The eminent panel of judges was so impressed with the films that they suggested the winners be entered in international competitions. 
  • Nature Bodies organized events in multiple states across India, including one where hundreds of saplings were planted in the shape to read “The Face of Climate Change.”  These were later distributed to villagers.
  • Earth Day Network continued its  Go Organic campaign, which aims at building awareness about the benefits of using organic products, by co:hosting with Swissotel, an organic brunch, along with a fashion show of dresses made with natural and organic materials. The event was a runaway success. 
  • The Indian Youth Climate Network held programs in India’s northern most state of Jammu and Kashmir and also in the coastal regions of Gujarat state. 
  • Green Vigil, an organization led by academics from India, was effective in leading campaigns to conserve water. 
  • Chintan and The Sanskar India Foundation utilized railroad stations in major metropolitan areas to catch the attention of thousands of commuters for their waste management and anti-plastic campaigns. 

Across India, individual actions for Earth Day were just as critical to making this effort a success. In small towns and big cities, hundreds of educational institutions put together programs to promote environmental awareness. The massive awakening among students is particularly significant, as youth make up over a quarter of India’s population.

As another Earth Day has come and passed in India, we can see the momentum generated by so many wonderful events and individuals who care deeply about our planet. As we continue to raise awareness on issues related to climate change, we hope that you will continue to support our campaigns in India and around the world.

Visit www.facebook.com/EarthDayNetworkIndia to see more information on how you can get directly involved in our India programs.

Here are some photos from Earth Day 2013 events in India:

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