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”!!!!!