Event ReportsPublished on Jun 12, 2019
Exploring marine pollution and the need for cleaner resources, this event looked at the measures to counter environmental degradation.
World Environment Day: Film screening and talk

“Why do our children have to clean dirty beaches, when ideally, they should be playing on those beaches?” wondered Ms. Juhi Chawla, well-known film star, entrepreneur, activist and environmentalist at an event to commemorate the World Environment Day jointly organised in Mumbai by ORF and the Canadian Consulate on June 5, 2019. In a passionate speech, she urged the audience to introspect where we had gone wrong and what kind of a planet were we leaving behind for our children. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” she questioned, appealing to all Mumbaikars to pledge to work for a better city with clean natural resources.

The event began with the screening of the film ‘Earth: Seen from the Heart’, in which scientists, writers and artists join Canadian astrophysicist and science communicator Hubert Reeves and philosopher, sociologist and author Frédéric Lenoir to sound a warning: biodiversity is under threat. While some humans are responsible for this crisis, others, in growing numbers, are tackling it head on and forging solutions. Dedicated to the future generations, the film reminds us that life in all its forms is a fascinating and touching mystery ... and that it is up to us to preserve it.

The film screening was followed by a talk on ‘My Beach, My Responsibility’ by Malhar Kalambe, a young environmentalist and a member of Beach Please, a youth-led community initiative based in Mumbai working towards tackling marine pollution.

The screening of the film was followed by a presentation by Malhar Kalambe, Mumbai’s latest teenage icon, who, has single-handedly created a mass campaign to save Mumbai’s beaches and the Mithi River. Malhar, who has been awarded by the United Nations for his accomplishments, spoke of his experiences as a member of Beach Please, his community initiative which conducts weekly clean-up drives at Dadar Beach and at Mithi River in Mahim. He brought to light the fact that, within a of 90 weeks, Beach Please has removed more than 1,500 tonnes of garbage and engaged close to 20,000 citizens through their clean-up drives. While speaking of cleaning the Mithi River – which has been reduced to one of the world’s largest open sewers owing to decades of public apathy and government indifference – he highlighted the difficulties faced by the volunteers in changing mindsets of local communities staying in the vicinity. He emphasised the need for segregating waste at the source and reducing open defecation along the beaches as inevitable first steps if Mumbai has to clean up the Mithi. “If there is a problem, we must not be a part of the problem, but a part of the solution.'' he said.

Earlier, while delivering her opening remarks, Ms. Annie Dubé, Consul General of Canada in Mumbai, assured that Canada has and will continue to put forward the necessary efforts on countering environmental degradation and climate change issues back home as well as on the international stage by advancing on its priorities. “The Canadian government is fully committed to meet its climate obligations under the Paris Agreement,” she pointed out.

She also mentioned that the Canadian government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; has worked with provinces and territories to design climate plans that include putting a price on carbon pollution since October 2018. “This is because we understand that pollution comes with a price that the world is paying in terms of frequent storms, wildfires, floods and heat waves and drought; all of which carry real economic costs,” she remarked. She added that Canada is committed to continue its leadership role on plastics and ocean resilience through G7, including the advancement of an ocean plastic charter. “Our coasts support the traditional coastal community livelihoods, enable the export and import of goods overseas, are home to abundant Canadian fisheries, attract tourism and play a key role in strengthening the economy and growing our middle class. This is why Canada has a National Oceans Protection Plan in place since November 2016. On ocean protection, we understand that we share this concern with the world, especially here in Mumbai”, she mentioned.

Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Mr Ameya Pimpalkhare, Associate Fellow, ORF, highlighted the efforts that India and Canada have been taking in strengthening bilateral and international cooperation to address climate change and secure a clean energy future. He also mentioned that Canadian pension funds have made considerable investments in India’s renewable industry and helped this sector to grow.

CNED, which is ORF’s latest initiative in the space of public policy research, is an institution committed to discovering solutions, helping build transnational partnerships to the important challenges and opportunities that confront the global community.

Mr Dhaval Desai, Vice President and Senior Fellow, ORF gave the concluding remarks wherein he highlighted ORF’s research work in the fields of sanitation, cleaning of the Mithi River and a roadmap to revamp the Maharashtra Nature Park.

This report has been prepared by Sanika Dixit, Research Intern at ORF Mumbai.

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