Dr Mukesh Kwatra, Founder, Smiling Tree

Mukesh Kwatra is an environmentalist. He is an alumnus of Sri Ram College of Commerce and a PhD in Environmental Entrepreneurship from Ecole Superieure Robert de Sorbon, France. He is the founder of the green initiative ‘SmilingTree’. He is also the author of a book titled ‘Awakening- Sailing through the Pandemic, 2020’. His writings and work, like his thoughts, are spontaneous and honest.

 

The majority of environmental degradation arises from a lack of education. We have to make sure our young generation is aware of the various environmental problems like climate change etc. around them so that they can find solutions and create a better world.

Environmental education helps us in connecting to the world around us and gives us knowledge and awareness about the situation and explores new methods to improve it. People can explore all the environment-related problems and can work out for ways of solving them. The Philippines have introduced a new law under which all students in their life from elementary school to college have to plant 10 trees in order to graduate. This type of initiative helps students as well as parents to understand the importance of increasing forestation and other green solutions.

In India, the HRD ministry should incorporate changes so that students in every grade should have a separate session to study climate change and sustainability, a step that would put India at the forefront of environmental education worldwide.

Besides why only at the primary level, this change has to be also in the senior secondary and college curriculum too. Mr Zanchini, the National Vice President of Legambiente, the most widespread environmental organization in Italy, has rightly quoted, “Science tells us the next 10 years are crucial, we cannot wait for the next generation.”

In every grade there should be lessons in climate change and environmental sustainability primarily serving as a pilot program to ultimately fold the climate agenda of the United Nations into the entire curriculum.

So merely studying place names and locations in geography class, the course should study the impact of human actions on different parts of the planet.

Interesting outdoor nature and garden activities should be held to involve students and evolve them. In fact, at junior levels, a monthly activity should be planned with parents as accomplices. The idea is to make it a family endeavor. If the child carries forward what he does at school, at home too, then that would surely make a strong foundation towards sustainable development.

Middle schoolers should learn more technical information about the various issues, and students at senior secondary level and in colleges should explore the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in depth.

PM Modi called upon every country to think of the greater good in the fight against climate change while speaking at the inauguration of the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021.

The Paris Agreement, a ground-breaking document in the world of climate diplomacy, aims to limit temperature rises in the 21st Century to below 2°C, and if possible, even lower than 1.5°C. Furthermore, it was meant to empower countries to mitigate the impact of climate change with more public awareness on environmental issues.

The entire world stands up to notice if youth take charge and lead from the front. Take the example of Greta Thunberg, who has drawn the attention of the whole world towards climate change, pollution and the consequent problems created. She forced the earthlings to question themselves and think about their methods and attitude towards handling these environmental problems. If one youth can do this then imagine if the majority of them get awareness about the environment then how effective and huge change they can bring about.

Environmental Education has many benefits; some of them are listed below.

1. Diversity of India requires a diverse solution:

India is a diverse country in terms of geography, climate, fauna and flora. Every location in India needs a different kind of solution, so it is very important to have an environmental education location-specific. Whether we bring nature to the classroom or take classroom to nature, it will connect students more with mother earth. Education in school can help children to understand their area/ location better and find a solution for it. Such as Ladakh and Rajasthan both have water problems during summer but both need a different approach for solving that problem.

2. It can save our planet:

We have only one earth, and only earth has all the resources, climate, and geography which can sustain and develop life. Environmental education will help students to find sustainable solutions, as well as promote green culture.

3. Improve health:

Pollution is affecting both mental and physical health. It can improve if we live more in contact with nature. This type of education needs to go outside the four concrete walls and to be amidst nature. Students, especially today’s students, who are so much carried away by gadgets around them, will have at least some time to be outdoors, experience serenity and experience the healing powers of nature.

4. Increase the use of renewable sources of Energy:

Environmental education creates awareness about renewable sources of energy and makes people understand the need and importance of renewable energy. The use of renewable sources such as solar energy, wind energy etc which is a good and non-pollutant source of energy is encouraged by educating the young kids and this knowledge is imperative in our fight against global warming.

Young people are not going to be just victims of climate change, they are agents of change, entrepreneurs and innovators. Whether through education, science or technology, young people would surely scale up their efforts and use their skills to accelerate climate action and sustainable development. India should lead by example by educating the youth and the children.

We need to have ‘Sustainable Indians!!!

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