The International Mountain Day has its roots in 1992, when the adoption of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development put a milestone in the history of mountain development.
This year the theme for International Mountain Day - Women Move Mountains. Women play a key role in socio-ecological development in mountain areas. They are often the primary managers of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture and experts in traditional medicine. Yet mountain women are often invisible due unequal access to decision-making spaces, power and to resources. To trigger real change towards sustainable development, it is important to engage in gender transformative change.
IMI observed the day through social media engagement highlighting women of the IMI network. State Chapters of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Darjeeling observed the day through events.
The Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative and the Sikkim Chapter of IMI hosted a panel discussion, sharing the journeys of 3 women engaged in various sectors in the SIkkim Darjeeling Himalaya. Ms. Kamlesh, an educationist, environmentalist, anti-trafficking activist, football and hockey coach: Ms Shanti, a river guide, rescuer in the turbulent River Teesta and the Koshi floods and a social activist; and Dr. Sunita, a pioneering conservation biologist whose work in red panda is seminal and continues to work on human-wildlife interactions, biodiversity and zoonosis.
The discussion enabled critical contextual discussion on gender in the Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya through the life stories of the panelists and offered inspiration for our society. Personal achievements and journeys of the speakers highlighted the enabling factors and support systems they fell back on. Systemic inequity that does not acknowledge, recognise the contributions of women in our society were the barriers that needed to be broken, so as to provide equal spaces and opportunities.
As a build up to the event a “Women Move Mountains: Conversation Series” on Kalimpong TV were also organised. The conversation series brought some important stories to the forefront by sharing stories of women who have moved mountains from various fields from the Sikkim- Darjeeling Himalaya exploring inspirations, journeys, successes, challenges and lessons learnt. The series highlighted the lives of Dr. Mona Chettri (Researcher); Ms. Tribeny Rai (Film Maker); Dr. Smriti Basnet (Glaciologist); Ms. Savitri Chettri, (Chair Kitam Biodiversity Board and ex Sarpanch); Ms. Binita Rai, (Community Leader Mineral Springs Sanjukta Vikash Sanstha); Ms. Tshering Uden Bhutia (CEO, Khangchendzonga Conservation Committee).
Sustainable Development Forum of Uttarakhand (SDFU)
The 5th RST Forum was organised on the occasion of International Mountain Day, on December 11, 2022 by the Sustainable Development Forum of Uttarakhand (SDFU). A day-long workshop on the theme “The role of women in and community-based organizations in forest management and climate change mitigation”. Government officials, community-based organizations, private sector, University representatives, and NGOs were present in the workshop to brainstorm on the issues of climate change in the mountains, role of women in climate mitigation, working of Van panchayats which were the issues central to the interest of Dr R S Tolia.
The workshop highlighted that women of Uttarakhand had played a significant role in forest conservation and climate change mitigation as exemplified by the well known Chipko Andolan. Lack of coordination between the administration and encroachment in forest areas were discussed as key issues. The workshop discussed on setting up Van Vikas Kendras, forming new cadre for Van Panchayast to monitor and implement rules, devising inclusive women-centric policies and to bring coordination between the Biodiversity Act and the rules of Van Panchayat.
A workshop in Dehradun was organised by SDFU and IMI on September 30, 2022 with the collaboration of UNEP and TERI. It focussed on debating and discussing the issues in solid and plastic waste management and specifically the significance of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the Indian Himalayan States.
Shri Saurabh Bahuguna, Minister in the government of Uttarakhand was the Chief guest of the workshop. In his address he highlighted the issue of waste management in Char Dham Yatra mentioning that public participation is key to bring about change. He further stated that companies also have to be held accountable for the plastic waste crisis not only in Uttarakhand but the entire Himalayan Region.
Other dignitaries and experts from SPCB- UK, UNEP, Elected representatives of Local Bodies, Civil Society members participated in the workshop and shared their concerns and discussed pathways for addressing plastic waste management.
The sharing of knowledge, debate, concerns and deliberations during the course of the workshop discussed the importance of people’s participation but also that it is critical for producers of plastic waste to be held accountable. Segregation at source, and involvement of a wide range of stakeholder – hotels, restaurants, educational institutions, government offices, etc. were also discussed along with the adoption of a decentralised approach for waste management.
One of the main side events of every SMDS is the Mountain Legislators’ Meet, and this year, MLM was centered around the issue of Extended Producer Responsibility. The meeting that was chaired by Shri Tashi Gyalson, Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill District Council, came up with a declaration to amend the Rules of Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) as applicable for the Mountain States. This was a corollary to the Declaration of the MLM held in Darjeeling in 2021. Endorsements from other Mountain States’ Legislators and MPs will be sought and which will be followed by a meeting with the officials of the MoEFCC for seeking an amendment to the EPR framework to bring in mountain specificities.
The Indian Himalayan Region has a rich diversity of food cultures from cultivated, foraged and pastoral agroecology which include culinary processes, preparation and preservation. This diversity has provided nutritional security and livelihoods to mountain people. However, mountain food cultures are fast eroding with the onslaught of the food industry, globalisation and homogenisation of food and taste. This impacts the socio-ecological landscape, agrobiodiversity, traditional knowledge and practices of food, loss of dietary diversity and nutritional security.
Youth conversations on the changing trends in food systems and the celebration of local food cultures are a means of building resilience in the IHR. The Youth of Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative along with the Integrated Mountain Initiative is facilitating a webinar on International Youth Day 12 August 2021 11:00 am to 1:00pm IST. The webinar will be interactive as well as have inputs and contribute to building back better using the lens of food systems....
The inaugural issue of Future Earth Report 2020 was launched on February 22nd, hosted by Eco-tourism & Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS), IMI’s Sikkim Chapter. The event was attended and proceeded by people of cross-connecting fields in sustainability, resources, waste management, academia, etc., who held speaking sessions, spoke about their presentations, and started discourses among each other about the risks to the environment that were, in fact, a series of interconnected phenomena that caused these risks as the report educated, which held countless testimonies, research work, and just heaps of data regarding the climate emergency. The major risks that showed up more frequently in the surveys of the report were, Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Biodiversity Loss, Food Crises and Water Crises. The report has spoken, in retrospect, about almost all the anthropological factors leading to environmental degradation, about the multi-level action plans from an individualistic level elevating up to the biggest demographic to the peak global levels, the holistic approach of the report makes it a highly intriguing and educational report for people of all schools of thoughts.
Dr Rakesh Ranjan, Prof. Geology, Sikkim University addressed the gathering as the proceedings began with the inaugural event. “Future Earth is an international research-cum-policy initiative supported by the International Council for Science, various United Nations agencies and organisations, Belmont Forum and so on. The main goal of Future Earth is to develop the knowledge required for societies worldwide to face challenges posed by global environmental change and to identify and implement solutions and opportunities for a transition to global sustainability.
Future Earth works to facilitate research and innovation, build and mobilize networks and shape the narrative, turning knowledge into action.
Future Earth Secretariat has a unique and innovative structure, which comprises five global hubs, which function as a single entity, and are located in Montreal, Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm and Colorado. Various regional centres complement future Earth Secretariat and offices spread across the globe.
The “Future Earth” Regional Office for South Asia was established at the Divecha Centre for Climate Change on 9th July 2016 and completed three successful years now. I am a member of the Governing Council for South Asia.
The regional office for South Asia has its domain spanning over the SAARC countries (includes Sikkim), Myanmar and Indian Ocean Island countries. The main goal of Future Earth is to develop the knowledge required for societies worldwide to face challenges posed by global environmental change and to identify and implement solutions and opportunities for a transition to global sustainability. Future Earth will develop strategic knowledge for responding effectively to the risks of global environmental change.
Future Earth builds on more than three decades of global environmental change research as part of these programmes and networks with 20 Global Research Projects and 8 Knowledge-Action Networks.
To answer the obvious question of what the report holds, Future Earth and its partners have produced a wide range of publications in research and engagement, including a monthly newsletter, strategic documents and reports including “The Anthropocene”, the “10 Climate Insight Series” which includes the latest insights in climate science synthesised for The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). One of the latest reports is “Our Future on Earth Report, 2020”, which is being launched today.
As a Global Awareness Program, this report is being launched, not only here, but in various global hubs and regional centres and Universities in various parts of the world.
This report provides a narrative on the current state of our planet and the future of our global society is building together. “Our Future on Earth” report is a global effort, with authors and an editorial board from over 20 countries. It is targeted to decision-makers, media, educators and many more– to help shape the narrative and advance global action.
And perhaps most importantly, we want to use this launch as a moment to elevate the multiple voices around us and within our research and innovation network, to collectively make a statement and call the world for action.”
The 2020 report has talked about different angles like how charting the future is in the hands of humans due to the inevitable population explosion, how dialling the collective heat that has only been in the increase can be facilitated by humans themselves, how to spur radical changes by changing the mind-set in an individualistic and atomised approach through lifestyle choices; to angles on political issues like rethinking global security, governing the water bodies that are international waters, connecting different socio-environmental practices of different places in a giant web of life of the planet.
“I am always critical of reports but I think it is an excellent report to go through,” said Roshan Rai, DLR Prerna/ member Zero Waste Himalaya, as he took the podium to address the contents of the report a to critique on various points in the report from a waste management window of perspective.
Roshan, speaking on the premises of the critique on the report further added, “Is it enough to have a change in the mind-sets, and then critically whose mindsets should change?” He talked about how from 8th standard where Global Warming was talked about to now while we are talking about the Climate Emergency, this was fascinating.
“For me, Climate Emergency is directly correlated to Waste emergency as waste reflects the human production and consumption system. Waste is the product of the linear consumption and production under the premises of unlimited growth which is equated with development, but the resources are limited so you cannot have unlimited growth.”
Waste hasn’t been a prominent feature in the report as the global risks went or generally as well if the discussion was opened. It has been the area of discussion as our state goes with multiple people trying to fight and fix the issue but globally this issue doesn’t get the stream time of thoughts that it should get.
Among the speakers who proceeded the event was Karma Bhutia the founder of iShippo who gave his presentation with the aspect of tech, speaking about how alarming global warming morphing into a climate emergency is, he educated about how supply and demand cycle affects the climate in an individual level and how technology can be a major factor. From CIA sharing images of melting glaciers from its spy satellites in cognizance of the alarm of climate emergency to ramifications of a whole beach rendered with human trash after an influencer couple took a picture in a remote beach, Karma’s presentation covered a web of topics.
“Unless every individual takes it on themselves to educate the masses through every other individual so they can also do little of their bit towards the planet, we will miss the boat and all people can do will be saving enough to buy a ticket to Elon Musk’s Mars colony spaceship and say ta-ta bye-bye to this planet”, Karma concluded.
Mr R.P. Gurung from Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS) and Ms Priyadarshinee Shreshtha, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Team Leader, Khangchendzonga Landscape Office, Sikkim, took turns in taking the mantle of summarizing the chapters in the report.
Mr PD Rai, former Member of Parliament concluded the event with a thank you note to everyone present there and stressing on the fact of how propagating the knowledge about the report letting people know about the people who are actually doing work to heal the planet is incumbent.
“In a nutshell, the report is there out in the world, share it with other five-ten people, go out and talk about it. There is a thing called Future Earth, there are people out there who are working tirelessly on issues which will get dearer and dearer to us as we go along.”, PD Rai concluded by sharing info on how only a few hard copies were printed to shed light on the things that can be done to achieve sustainability.
‘Climate Change Townhall’ was organised in Aizawl by IMI with Mizoram Sustainable Development Foundation (MSDF). It was attended by Prof F. Lalnunmawia, Hon'ble MLA and Vice Chairman, Horticulture Development Board, Govt. of Mizoram, students from various colleges and other stakeholders. This gave the students a chance to speak about their biggest concerns related to climate change in Mizoram. Mizoram has the highest vulnerability to climate change in all of IHR. Changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures are forcing them to move away from traditional farming.