Category Archives: Climate Change

Climate change is one of the greatest social, economic, political and environmental challenges facing our generation. The debate around climate actions is a strategic objective of the British Council where it seeks to achieve a faster transition to sustainable, low carbon economies.

The British Council’s Climate Change Project in India & Sri Lanka will focus on mitigating the effects of climate change in an urban environment. It is part of the British Council’s major global climate security project and India is, along with China, one of the top two priority countries for this work. Sri Lanka, with less than 2% of India’s population and correspondingly lower carbon emissions, is a lower priority.

In Durban…

Its been a rare privilege and great learning experience. I have been involved in various activities all over Durban, some have been such a great experience where I met key people.
On 25th at the opening session of COY7, I conducted a workshop on “Building Grassroots Groups”.  I spoke about my experience with starting up an organization. I was grateful that people really appreciated my talk, and asked me to present the again on the following day (26th) at COY. I presented again to a much bigger and a much diverse audience and went into details using my own experience and some that I had gained from the workshop in  Bangalore. I used stories of Climate Champions in India to motivate them to fight for their cause. The event was received with much warmth and appreciation and I was humbled  by their kind words.
On the 27th, we went on the Climate Train. The much anticipated event saw the Executive Secretary Ms Figueres, Ms June Joseph-Langa, CEO of Indalho Yethu (SA’s main Environmental Agency) and the Mayor of Durban. I interacted with Ms. June and she invited me to hold a workshop for young South African kids aboard the Climate Train!. It was a great honour indeed and I will be conducting them next week.
On 28th, I attended the session chaired by Dr, RK Pachauri, Director of TERI. The session focused on “Response of Indian States to Climate Change: Development of State  Action Plans against Climate Change. I asked Mr. Pachauri the following question: ”Thank you for the opportunity Sir. My name is Saket, I am the British Council’s Climate C hampion from India. I have been keenly following the development of State Action Plans on Climate Change. How in you’re opinion can young people take part in development and implementation of such policies?”  I later managed a photo with him as well!.
Climate Champions and the Climate Caravan were hosted for a business leaders dinner on 28th night. I met up with British Council representatives, Mr. Sundru Pillay, the project manager of the Climate Train, Mayor of Durban and several other key partners of the British Council in South Africa.  Mr. Pillay (who is also the President of Lions International) invited me to deliver a guest speech at the Annual meeting of Lions Clubs International (South Africa) to be hosted aboard the Climate Train on December 2, 2011.
I spent a day on 29th, doing workshops with school children in Durban. Kids had come in from all over Durban. It was very delightful experience seeing  how seriously going green is being taken in Durban :) Nguyet from Veitnam and I conducted a quiz where we divided them into groups name Methane, Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide and asked them to draw their sources. The other team then had to guess. Following this, was a short quiz designed to raise awareness about the intricacies of Climate Change. We planted a sapling with them as well!.
I was invited to a dinner marking the launch of WWF’s book on “Towards a Greener Economy” in association with NedBank on 29th evening. The exclusive event saw a panel discussion chaired by the CEO of WWF, CEO of Nedbank and a prominent ecologist. The session focused on major challenges faced by the world current economy and how we can achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. Amongst several notable people I met was Mr. John Smith, one of the negotiators with UK delegation and the Director of Climate Change Initiative of the British High Commision of SA. He was keenly interested in my project and encouraged me to continue my endeavor. We discussed about India’s stance and the future of Kyoto Protocol.
On 30th, I was invited by the Manager of eThikwini Municipality to be a part of the Climate Change Learning Exchange which had representatives from 13 different countries like Germany, France, China, Ghana, Somalia, Norway, Taiwan etc. And I was also the youngest member there! The event was attended by several government representatives with a panel discussion on “Climate Change Adaptation”. It was perhaps one of the most amazing experiences at COP17. We were doing case studies and then building strategies to solve the key challenges highlighted by the case study. It was such a learning experience solving key problems along with policy makers from around the world. On the sidelines, I met with the Deputy Director of French National Bank, and discussed the future of Carbon Markets.
On 1st, I was invited by Ms. June Josephs-Langa, CEO of Indalho-Yethu to attend a breakfast meeting marking the launch South Africa Youth Chapter on Climate Change. The meeting was attended by representatives from various organisations from all across Africa. The afternoon was followed by the Webex session with Christiana Figueres  I attended with other champions. I met with the team of official Indian negotiators in their country office as well.  In the evening I was invited to attend a Gala dinner hosted by Ms. Maneka Gandhi and the Director of the movie 11th hour. The theme was “Going Vegetarian”. The event was attended by Government negotiating team from India, and several other key people. I was interviewed by the media present there, who wanted me to talk about my work on Climate Change. Executive Director of EmpowermentWorks (an international NGO)  was very appreciative of my work, and was very keen on collaborating with my project!
Saket is at Durban attending COP17 as part of the British Council delegation.

Saket Dave, International Climate Champion, India

 

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From India to Durban – Champions head to UN Climate Talks

With Dr. R.K.Pachauri

After an exciting week of reading up and getting ready for the Climate talks being held in Durban, South Africa. I am finally here to a land where Gandhiji began his initial fight for freedom. It gave me some inspiration about the kind of fight, we youth were participating in – to make this world sustainable. Our work reflects “Satyagraha” – or peaceful protest, analysis, advocacy and that is exactly how we work. We have patiently learnt, engaged, and inspired the masses with the nuances of the issue and policy implication of Climate change and climate talks. Another very important reflection I had was of his principle of Swadeshi – which is reflected in our grassroots actions. Seven champions from around the world – Indian, Greece, Vietnam, Italy and South Africa gave a presentation at the Conference of youth (COY) , which is a preparatory three day youth event leading to the climate change talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The climate champions spoke about their respective projects and how to build a grassroot project and integration of our work under the aegis of – British Council. We were a diverse group of people not only in terms of nationality but also in terms of our projects. We conveniently integrated our message under trust, support and unity towards making this world a more beautiful and sustainable.

The President of the Conference of Parties hosted a fantastic welcome reception for the attendants of the negotiations. Five of the champions attended the reception which was filled with good food, drinks and welcoming South African music and dance. Quite a grand welcome! We met, Dr. R.K.Pachauri , who congratulated each of the champions on the fantastic work being done back home and that negotiations were just a political excuse and that we champions and grassroots work were the real “champions” of the Climate and people trying to save the climate.

The British Council climate booth in the Workshop area is also attracting a lot of people interested in knowing about our work and the message British Council gives. The postcards from around the world, giving a message of sustainability is particularly giving a colorful aura to the booth.

The champions also went to schools in Durban and gave various workshops on climate change, ideas for projects and a small preview of policy talks. The children were very excited and wanted to know more about how they could participate in greening the world. Thus the journey of educating and engaging began.

Talking of journey, another incredible initiative by the South African government which was supported by British Council in South Africa was the Climate Train which passed the entire length of the country through its rural areas, promoting awareness of climate change and also initiated tree plantation and waste management projects. The champions welcomed the train to the Durban station which was attended by the Mayor of Durban, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC and other dignitaries.

It’s been a busy first few days of the Durban talks and journey as climate ambassadors and when people ask about what we do, we say “ Inspire, Engage, Educate”  indeed.

This is the message from us champions to the people and the UN climate talks!

Priti Rajagopalan, International Climate Champion, British Council India

Priti is a young environmental policy and negotiation enthusiast from India with a plethora of experience in climate adaptation in Bangladesh, climate finance, Flexible mechanisms and low carbon transportation modelling. In her spare time she likes to make funny faces in fogged mirrors.

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An Extended Adventure!

By Mark Bessen, International Climate Champion, USA
 30 January 2011

After the Climate Camp officially ended, I wanted to spend a bit more time in India before flying back to Los Angeles. Using the International Centre Goa as a home base, I promptly began my adventuring. I stayed in Goa for a week, and then took the train up to Mumbai and stayed there for another three days. This was the first time I had travelled alone – much less traveled internationally at all – so I was understandably nervous. But I found the friendliness and willingness to help from almost everyone in Panjim and elsewhere to be very comforting.

On day one I decided to do the typical Goan touristy thing to do – go to the beach. First on my list was Calangute. As it turns out, the beaches of Goa are just about the only part of the state I did not like at all. Maybe I don’t appreciate them fully because I live near the beach, but they are just overwhelmingly overcrowded and strewn with garbage everywhere. Every two meters you walk, someone is trying to convince you to participate in some form of water sport – parasailing, jet skiing, wind surfing, tubing. Finally I gave in and decided to try the parasailing. As it turns out, it was great! Definitely worth all the hype, even though I was only in the air for 30 seconds or so. It felt like I was floating, drifting away from the concerns below me. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to find a place to go paragliding.

From Calangute I ventured a bit north to Anguna beach. I bumped into a man who was just starting a “paraboating” company, and decided to give it a try. If you’re as confused as I was about the difference between parasailing, paragliding, and paraboating, here are the basics: parasailing is when you’re pulled by a boat with a round-ish parachute; paragliding is where you go off cliffs with an elongated parachute and “glide” along the wind currents; paraboating, paradoxically, is more like a small plane – you have an elongated parachute, but there is a large fan and motor on the back to blow you whichever direction you choose. As I said, I tried paraboating. I was in the air for about 20 minutes total, and the view was breathtaking. I could see the whole coast of Goa, all the beaches, all the landscapes.

The next day I went to the Spice Farm in Ponda. I was taking buses everywhere in an attempt to reduce my carbon emissions, so due to a combination of my getting lost and the changing of bus routes, it took about 3 hours to get there. The spice farm was fascinating, which was a pleasant surprise (I expected it would be generic and somewhat unexciting). I had a one-on-one tour with a guide who was able to answer my exhaustive list of questions, and I learned quite a bit. Did you know that nutmeg and mace (the stuff in pepper spray) come from different parts of the same fruit? After my tour, I wanted to check out the main attraction of the farms – the elephants. It was terribly depressing. The conditions of captive elephants are absolutely atrocious. The two elephants I saw – one female and one bull – were chained up so tightly they couldn’t take more than two steps in any direction. The bull had his tusks hacked off, and both were being brutally screamed at by the people in charge. Every time they screamed, I could see the elephants flinch in anticipation of being whipped again and again. I asked if I could spend some time with the elephants and have them unchained for a while. They told me the only way to do so was to participate in one of two activities – an elephant ride, or an elephant bath. I didn’t want to subject an elephant to carrying me, so I went with the bath. Those in charge coaxed the elephant to the watering hole with a series of commands and physical abuse, at which point I was able to pet and spend time with the elephant. I just wanted to be near it, but the guides were intent upon having the elephant “perform”, showering me with water and splashing with its trunk. All in all, I highly recommend the spice tour, but if you’re any sort of animal activist, as I very much am, the elephant escapades are a bit traumatic.

On Monday I went to visit Aayush Surana, International Climate Champion, India at his university, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS). I got a taste of authentic Indian dorm food, and I was thoroughly impressed. Aayush tells me that meat is only served once a week – the other 6 days are purely vegetarian! I’m envious of the ample availability of vegetarian fare in India. I learned to play carom, a game similar to American billiards. On Tuesday I went out in the field with Parag Rangnekar. Most of you know Parag as “the butterfly guy,” who led us through a nature preserve where thousands of butterflies saturated the air. However, wildlife (primarily butterfly) preservation and research is only a hobby for Parag. Professionally, he works for the Mineral Foundation, an organization implementing grassroots projects in communities surrounding mining sites. The Mineral Foundation receives subsidies from mining organizations, including Sesa Goa (where we saw the building made entirely out of bamboo) to fund projects relating to how the local communities are affected by mining. Parag’s work focuses mostly on water management. Mining dramatically disrupts the water table and diverts the natural flow of rainwater (particularly in the monsoon season). Since much of Goa’s population relies on agriculture – primarily rice farming – the issue of irrigation is critical for their livelihoods. The Mineral Foundation has funded the building of walls to normalize water flow, regulated wells which can be used for fresh water, and even funded the development of preparatory schools in local communities. These projects both improve the villages around mining sites and provide jobs to villagers. I got to see some of those projects firsthand.

The following day I met with Dr. Banakar of the National Institute of Oceanography. NIO is run by the government, and security is incredibly high. It seems almost like some sort of CIA operation when you get through the three levels of doors into the main office complex. It was nice to be able to see some of the research used in current research, but my visit turned me off a bit to working in a lab. The cold, windowless labs were not too welcoming. While I was visiting Aayush at BITS, I noticed that there was a conference going on regarding Wastewater Treatment and Energy Production. As my Champions project was on Microbial Fuel Cells, I was very excited. I very infrequently find any active work going on surrounding this topic, and it was heartening to see some of the innovative research going on. I was inspired to pick up my research (which I had previously put down for a while due to lack of resources, i.e., a lab) upon my return home. The conference was a great networking experience, and I met experts in the field from around the globe. It was a bit intimidating, though – I felt like I was the only one there without a Ph.D.!

After a 12 hour train ride, I was in Mumbai. I loved the city. Yes, it was chaotic and congested. But everything felt so active and full of life! It was fun to spend time just walking around to try to get a sense of what everyday life is like in such a populated city, which consists of so many economic groups. I visited some of the slum areas of Mumbai, which were quite heart wrenching. The children begging were the most upsetting. I felt somewhat helpless, as I couldn’t just keep handing out money to everyone. I also went on a boating tour to Elephanta Island, which I saw some of the caves created to honor Hindu gods and goddesses (the main cave depicted Shiva). It was great to see one of the religious sites in India, and presented a very different viewpoint. After all of that gallivanting, I was ready to get on the plane back to Los Angeles.

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Fifteen Nations…. Thirty five champions… thirty five different projects…six days… one COMMON Goal … and one biodiversity hotspot of the world…!!!

By Akanksha Gulia, International Climate Champion, India  

That describes all about the 3rd Annual International Climate Champions Camp, Goa! International Climate Champions from Bangladesh, Finland, India, Ireland, Japan, Maldives, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Uganda, United Kingdom, and the United States met at Goa from 15th January to 21st January 2011 to gain understanding about impacts of climate change on the diverse landscape of the area and to find the practical solutions to curb or treat the effects to save beautiful Goa – also known as the ‘Tropical Paradise’. Goa, the land of golden beaches, tucked away between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is under legal protection in the form of four wildlife sanctuaries and one national park. But the fast growing socio-economic development and activities like mining, tourism, fisheries and other small scale industries has led to fast degradation of the delicate coastal, marine and terrestrial ecosystems in Goa. Thus the objective of champions from this camp was to address people from all strata of society – from residents of Goa to government to policy makers to national and international organizations with a declaration to take effective measures to save flora and fauna of Goa.

Six days spent in the camp, the champions underwent different activities: field trips to Wildernest, SESA Goa Mining site and reclamation site, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambarjua Canal, Mollhem National Park; interactive sessions with eminent scientists, researchers , policymakers; visiting National Institute of Oceanography, Goa Science Centre and Goa University and understanding the cultural heritage of the state tasting delicacies of Goa, listening to portugese music and viewing the miseries of forests through a street play performed by native students of Goa. Sharing a review of Goa Declaration, champions focused on five aspects, namely – Biodiversity, Mining, Eco-tourism, Oceans and Coastal Ecosystems and Education and Media. Following are the points:

  • Protection of ecosystems with high levels of endemism and no encroachment of inhabitants into Western Ghats. 
  • Geographical restriction, community engagement and Environment Impact Assessment to limit mining. 
  • Promoting Ecotourism to the level of understanding of the ecosystems of the area. 
  • Regulation of exploitation of water resources and coastal habitation. 
  • Involvement of local people in conservation through practical field work and spreading the message via mediums of communication.

To conclude, I will say “A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE”!!!!!

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End of one and a beginning to another!

20 January 2011

By Joanne Kotalawala, International Climate Champion, Srilanka

Day 6 of the ICC International Camp in Goa, many are filled with mixed emotions today as it is the final day of activities of the camp. Once again we begin the day early and head in to the coach for a somewhat different field-trip. Today we will explore nature by boat. We are heading out to visit the mangrove eco-systems of Goa and we were also visiting Cambarjua Canal, where we hoped to sight crocodiles, who are the keystone species in the mangrove ecosystem of Goa. We were privileged to be in the presence of Dr.Untawale and Dr. Borekar who are experts in these fields and were able to give us a great deal of information on these. We first visited the Mangrove ecosystems, where we first sited the white egrets dotting the green background of mangroves. Here we were able to observe the unique structural and biological nature of growth of the mangrove species. En route to the Cambarjua canal we made a stop at the Dr.Salim Ali Bird sanctuary, which is located along the edge of the mangrove forest. Along the way we observed birds such as Kingfisher, Eagle etc. Then it was a smooth ride to the Cambarjua canal, it did not take too much time to spot a crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) quietly basking in the muddy waters on the banks of the mangroves. It was truly amazing to observe a crocodile in its natural habitat. From here we headed back to ICG, where the groups made the final additions to the Goa declaration and prepared for their sessions with Sam Harvery, Director British Council, West India and also with David Viner, Head Climate programme, British Council, London. After this it was time for a lovely dinner, overlooking the beautiful beach of Goa.

By Abhishek Acharyya, International Climate Champion, India

When I touched down at the Kolkata Airport I ended a phenomenal journey which started from the same place a week back. In the last 7 days. I have learnt so much not just about the environemnetal isssues but about many more things. About life in different parts of the world, about environmental problems in different parts of the world. Also how they are tackling those. These 7 days of my life have been one of the best days of my life. There were many first in life in these 7 days. From flying to a live video conference and more. Even though I live so close to the Sunderbans I have never been able to go there. But thanks to British Council I have seen how estaurines ecosystem work. I think I should not write a lot about what happened when as it will take ages to explain and my climate buddies have already written about it.

But I would like to thank British Council for organising such a wonderful camp for all of us. In this world spinning out of control due to selfishness and conflicts we the young people of the world came together and worked for the same goal ‘a better future’. We may live thousands of miles, separated by seas, oceans and un- erasable lines. We might speak different languages, we may belong to different religions but we are one – we are Climate Champions. We are doing different kinds of works and in all these works I have a strong belief that we will contribute to a better world in the future.

The journey now we will begin will decide whether we will get to live in this world as humans, whether our young cousins will get to play in those fields where we used to play when we were young. Whether we will restore the dignity of our Mother Earth. And whether we will give the helm of affair of a better world to the coming gerenation. I wish you all a very best of luck and I strongly believe that we with our youth power will find answers to these questions.

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“Lizards of the sea” with “Horns of cattle in the mouth”

19th Jan 2011

By Abhishek Acharyya, International Climate Champion, India

Do you want to Know about the “Lizards of the sea” with “Horns of cattle in the mouth” or “Solar powered, Pulse stabilizer and tidal subsidizer”. If yes read on. It’s the 5th day of the 3rd International Camp of ICCs at Goa. Today we had a tight packed schedule first we had presentations by some of the Climate Champions. I gave a brief presentation on the Children’s Day event we organised at the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata and the special camp where I went to our neighbouring village. Then there was a lecture on the Forests of Goa by Shashi Kumar, followed by another educative session with Parag A. Rangnekar on butterflies of Goa. Some of us including me also bought a book by him on the same topic. After a brief break we had another round of presentation by other Climate Champions. Then Mr. Ajay Gramopadhye, a passionate wildlife photographer, environmentalist and our guide at the camp showed us some of the best wildlife pictures I’ve ever seen. Here I would also like to mention the kind of creative work our climate buddies Shenaz from Maldives have shown us of his country. It is sad that such a beautiful country like theirs will get wiped off the face of the earth if we don’t start solving our problems rather than creating more. Sunita our Climate Champion from Nepal showed us a documentary  she is working on, though half finished, it was very good. It is about the effects of climate change on women . It is true that climate change affects women in a much more profound way than men. We also had a great session with Dr. Untawale , who is always with us and is so  helpful solving all of ours queries all the time. He explained to us about mangroves today which filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge. Finally two professors form the nearby Goa University told us about the botany and zoology of Goa, sealing in all the small gaps which might have been there. And they told us how mangrove and other ecosystem acts as the thing I wrote in the intro and how Portuguese described Crocodiles in Goa. But before we left for Old Goa, we had a lecture to catch by Ramesh Kumar, from NIO. He told us about the Monsoon and Climate Change. And answered all the left over questions which I had.

Finally we went to Old Goa and Panaji. There we went to a very old home. Being a History student it was the icing on the cake which thanks to British Council and especially to Sharlene I could eat. Therefore summing it up I guess it was the best day till now but I think I should say that yet as every time I say that British Council does something better. So I am eagerly waiting for tomorrow.

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Baghvan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary

18/01/2011

By Godwin, International Climate Champion, India
The Dry Evergreen and Semi Deciduous Forests still stand magnificently on the slopes of this part of the Western Ghats. The forests resembled a familiar structure of an upper canopy interlaced by several bird calls and streaks of colors formed by energetic birds evading eyes. The calls of the Malabar grey Hornbill Lower down, climbers, lianas, wild pepper, creepers, epiphytes and interactions such as the strangler figs on host trees were inter-spaced in the forests. Having re-charged themselves in the morning sun the variety of butterflies were out in hundreds congregating at shrubs and stream beds; appearing around us like fantastic happy forms fluttering all around. Concluding on one of the highlights of the forest at this period was the flowering of a plant belonging to a very special genii. Srobilanthes plants occur all over the Wesster Ghats and different species occur according to the diversity of the landscape. The strobilanthes plants flower only once in given period of time, which could range from 4 years to 24 years. If they flower whole masses of characteristically tubular shaped flowers colored usually in white, blue, lilac and even yellow. We were all very fortunate to witness the Strobilanthes sp. plants in flower. The flowering period of this particular species is not known though, however it is thought that haphazard flowering of these plants nowadays are an effect of climate change. Since the plants shrivel up and die once they have commenced flowering such changes put these unique and endangered plants in even more danger.

By A H Tehzeeb, International Climate Champion, Bangladesh
Today we had to start early as we were going to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary which is almost like a dense forest. Experience of walking through the forest was really intense. We have witnessed quite some varieties of butterflies, different types of trees, also we learnt about the four types of forests in Goa. Then we went to the Goa zoo and witnessed different animals and their life style. We learnt about the breeding of animals in zoo that are in the danger of extinction.

Also how temperature of snake cages are kept normal, tolerable and also regarding their food habit. At late night we had a session about the situation of Antarctica due to climate change and also the condition of the species over there.

By Bipashyee Ghosh, International Climate Champion, India
It was about 10 o’clock in the morning that we reached the Bhagavan Mahaveer Wildlife sanctuary. The sight of the dense forest at a glance a very soothing and a gave great peace for our minds. As we proceeded through the forest, the variety of Flora of the mixed deciduous forest attracted me the most. We witnessed the deciduous varieties of Eupetorium, Crocodile Bark tree, The Naked lady etc- each with unique characteristics well described to us by the expert. Specially, witnessing the Western Ghats strobilenthes plants flowering was a rare opportunity for us. Among the fauna, we came to know about the Malabar Hornbills, Golden Backed Woodpicker, the Crested serpent Eagle, sunbirds etc, unique to this region. We got the chance to recognise various bird species through call,and a few rare moments to see them on flight. But the Butterfly conglomeration was a golden moment to witness, adding to the study of different species of Butterflies here in Western ghats. The trekking headed to a beautiful waterfall in the forests and ended by visiting a 700years old Tambri Surla Temple, right within the forest.
 
By Sikander Sabeer, International Climate Champion, Srilanka
After an inspiring day at the  National Institute of Oceanography and Goa Science Center , ICC’s were ready to enjoy an another productive and joyful day. After the breakfast we left to Tambli Surla Sanctuary. We enjoyed elegant and pure nature during the nature trail and observed different species/kinds of butterflies. 

First time in my life I saw a migrating butterfly colony gathered at a small place to enjoy the warmth of Goa. It was evident the importance of Goa in terms of biodiversity. We enjoyed the water flow of the stream, which passes through the forest, observed different kinds of butterflies, fish and insects. Though we didn’t forget to release our warmness of the body  by the cold and pure running stream. We didn’t  forget to visit the Hindu temple located in the sanctuary.

After the lunch we visited the Bondla zoological garden and  were able to refresh our knowledge on in-situ conservation. Later  headed to ICG. Had our dinner at the the usual spice restaurant and got ready for the reflection session, a suprise lecture was organized on Antarctic and climate change, Mr Deleep Deobagkar shared his experiences and latest research on Antarctic, the group reflection session took place before switching off lights for the day.

 


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Colva

17/1/2011
By Preeti, International Climate Champion, India  and Madeline, International Climate Champion, USA

Our visits today:

The National Institute of Oceanography 

  1. Scientific proof of sea level rise needs to be communicated concisely and clearly to the general public, so that people realize that climate change is real and happening.
  2. In the presentation we wish that the topic of how climate change affects specific weather events in India, such as the Monsoon, was covered. 

University of Goa

  1. The teachers’ refresher course on climate change was a good concept. We hope that such courses are more frequent and wide spread, so that teachers are motivated to spread the message of the urgency.
  2. We desire that climate change science be made compulsory in school curriculum in the future.

Goa Science Center

  1. Promotion of cartoons to convey the importance of climate change to a diverse audience through mediums such as newspaper competitions, billboards, etc. 
  2. Exhibition of the British Council cartoons in other venues like slums, schools, and libraries would increase awareness.  

Anjuna Beach

  1. High pollution levels could be prevented by having presentations on the rich benthic biodiversity of the area for visiting tourists.  

By A H Tehzeeb, International Climate Champion, Bangladesh

Today we visited National Institute for Oceanography (NIO) and Goa Science centre. We really liked both the places. In NIO, we learnt lots of stuff regarding ocean and climate change. And in the Goa Science Centre, we have seen several scientific interesting projects. Also we witnessed quite a number of wonderful cartoons at Goa Science Centre about climate change. Then we went for a river cruise, which was really fun with all the entertainment. Like other days today ended with the review of what we have done throughout the day.

By Md. Muhib Kabir, International Climate Champion, Bangladesh

We  have passed our 3rd day in the camp. We went to the National Institute of Oceanography where we learned about the ocean science, impacts of climate change in ocean biodiversity and a lot more. Dr. Unnikrishnan took a session on sea level rising. He shared his knowledge with us, answered our questions. We were shocked to know that the net sea level raise of Diamond Harbor is 5.74 mm/yr. Land subsidence is the this area compared with other areas. After lunch we visited the Goa University where we learnt about how they are disseminating knowledge about environment, climate change to the teachers from different institutes. From the Goa University we went to the Goa Science Ccenter (GSC). We found the place very interesting. Theory of basic science was shown at GSC. Then we attended a cartoon exhibition there. The competition was arranged by British Council all over India. We found it more effective to raise awareness among the people. We watched a movie on climate change there. We went to a rocky beach where we learned about the effects of Climate Change on the marine Biodiversity. From GSC we went on a  river cruise, which was really enjoyable. We had great fun there. We returned back to ICG around 8.30 pm and had our dinner. After dinner we had our day’s reflection session where we made a chart highlighting the relation with climate change from the places we visited and supplied suggestions. That was end of the 3rd day of the camp.

By Joanne Kotalawala, International Climate Champion, Srilanka

Today was a more relaxed day and we started off at 9.30am which was late compared to our previous day’s schedule. Our first visit was to the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), which was just a short drive from the International Center, Goa (ICG).  At NIO the enthusiastic group of scientists eagerly shared with us the aspects of how the weather and monsoons are affected by ocean currents. They also shared with us how unusual phenomena have affected the weather conditions in the past (eg- El Nino) and the how these phenomena have impacted marine eco-systems. We then reported back to ICG where we were able to relax for awhile.
After lunch, we boarded the coach once again to visit Anjunam beach, where an NIO scientist was waiting to explain their research methods on benthic organisms. We were also privileged to observe gastropods which are commonly found in the area. From Anjunam beach we headed in to the Goa city to enjoy a cruise on the Mandovi river. Although the sunset cruise was missed, we were still able to enjoy the cruise on the lifeline of Goa, the Mandovi river. And thus ended Day 3 of the International Climate Champions Camp in Goa.


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Natures Treasures

16 January 2011
By Mark Bessen, International Climate Champion, USA 

Today was our first day of field trips at the Climate Camp in Goa. We started out driving to WilderNest, a nature preserve in the hills of Goa. On the drive there, we passed lush countrysides and lovely flowing rivers. Upon arrival at WilderNest, our first view was of a breathtaking waterfall. We then hiked around the preserve, observing the natural Goan flora and fauna, including a Green Vine Snake and a venomous Pit Viper.  WilderNest is fascinating in its role as a biodiversity hotspot, composed of three mail regions: West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests, West Coast Semi-Evergreen Forests, and Moist Deciduous Forests. 

From WilderNest we drove to an iron-mining site called Sesa Goa. The visit emphasized the efforts that Sesa Goa has made to reclaim devastated territory destroyed in the process of mining. The visit evoked mixed emotions in me. On one hand, it’s great that they are making some effort to minimize the impacts of mining. However, mining in and of itself is contaminating soils, polluting the air, and dramatically affecting the biodiversity of the region. Yes, Sesa Goa’s efforts are noble.  But change needs to be made with regard to international dependence on mining.  Witnessing the open pit style mine at Sesa Goa opened my eyes to one of the most concrete effects of humanity on the environment.

By A H Tehzeeb, International Climate Champion, Bangladesh 



We have passed the second day in Goa.This was really an interesting day with the morning session in the wilderness and afternoon in the mining pit. Then in the evening we went to the beach and had tons of fun over there. We also played a local versus ICC beach football match. At noon we had a session about music. I really liked that part in the wilderness. The place is really beautiful with so much artistic views and the research that is conducted there was really diverse. We have also seen a waste treatment plant. We have seen different types of species over there and how proper documentation are maintained to preserve the history of these species. Though mining reclamation in SESA Goa was interesting, most of us felt that we were shown only the positive parts of mining. How the local community is affected by mining was not shown to us. At the end, we had a discussion session about the progress of the whole day.

By Chathurangi De Silva, International Climate Champion, Srilanka

The first full day at camp started off with a bit of adventure. We boarded the buses after an early breakfast and headed off to Wildernest which was about two and a half hour drive from the International Centre. On the way we stopped at a dam close by, and were given an insight into the use of water/ rain fall etc. at Goa. After reaching Wildernest, we met Mr. Nirmal Kulkani who was a real wildlife enthusiast and we had the opportunity of having a closer look at Green Whip Snake and Malabar Pit Viper which turned out to be an interesting site for most of us. After that we made our way to the Sesa Goa Sanquelim mine and Reclamation Site. Here we saw the most amazing structure made out of pure bamboo. We had a lecture plus interaction session with Mr. Mahesh Patil followed by a scrumptious lunch as always. We were then taken to visit a herbal park and an active mining site as well.
Afterwards we headed back to ICG, where we had the most interesting session on ‘Spreading climate awareness through media and music’ by Mr. Chinmaya Dunster. After listening to some wonderful music and a truly unique experience on different ways in which we can influence people on the importance of climate change, the day ended with the much awaited buffet dinner followed by a short reflection session.

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A Great Green Start!

15 January 2011

The International Centre Goa (ICG) was abuzz with Climate Champions arriving from all over the world. Setting the scene was an orientation into the programme and the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the camp. This was followed by a fun icebreaker where the group, many of whom were meeting for the first time got to know each other and their projects a little better. On a green note, each one in the group planted a sapling symbolizing the start of the camp. The formal inauguration which began at 7.00 in the evening was graced by the presence and encouraging words of Ms Nandini Sahai, Director ICG, Mr Dileep Deobagkar, Vice Chancellor Goa University and Charlie Walker, Director Programmes, British Council. The evening came to an end with some authentic Goan cuisine accompanied by some fabulous toe tapping Portuguese music.

What a great start to the camp!

By  Joanne, Chathurangi  &  Sikander, International Climate Champions, Srilanka

Our journey to the ICC International Camp began in the wee hours of the morning, with our flight scheduled to leave Colombo just a minute past mid-night. However, after encountering a delay of about 2 hours we finally left for Mumbai at 2:30am and reached our transit hotel at 6am sharp. Then it was a quick breakfast and we were off again to the domestic airport where we had to catch a connecting flight to Goa. We were welcomed at the airport from where it was a 45 minute drive to the International Center Goa, which will be our home for the next week. Once again, after a quick round of refreshments, we were able to take part in an ice-breaker event. Following this we attended the opening ceremony and press conference of the International Camp on Coastal Eco-systems Management. Following these formalities was dinner accompanied by a Portugese music display and a series of beautiful cultural dances. And thus ends day one of the International Camp.

Sri-Lankan representations signing off.

By A H Tehzeeb, International Climate Champion, Bangladesh

We woke up at 6.30 am took a bath and packed our bag. After finishing our breakfast we met Chetan Mehta from British Council. He traveled with us all the way to Goa. We reached Goa at around 3.00 pm. International Center Goa welcomed us. About 3.30 pm we were gathered in the conference room for the introduction session.

We went around the ICG and got a brief idea of the place. All of us planted a sapling each. After that we got 30 minutes to prepare ourselves for the inaugural session. We had our inaugural session at 7.00 pm. After that the dinner was served with Portuguese music. The music was really nice and we enjoyed it a lot.

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