World Environment Day – Stories From India

India for the first time hosted World Environment Day this year and in keeping with the International Year of Forests, all the planned events have a focus on forest conservation. There is a week-long series of events across the country – walkathons, treeplanting and a green marketplace, films and art, and a seminar honoring the role of women in environmental protection.

Jairam Ramesh, the Minister for Environment said, “Conservation of forests is crucial for sustainable development and green economy of the country and women are crucial for forest conservation.” About 100 women from civil society organizations across the country shared their attempts to protect forests during interactive sessions with eminent environmentalists and grassroots leaders.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and UN Resident Co-ordinator for India Patrice Couer Bizot were present for the launch of the event in New Delhi. They talked about environmental concerns in the global perspective and praised the initiatives of women leaders at grassroots level in India in environmental awareness and forest conservation. Steiner released the UNEP report, “Forests in a Green Economy: A Synthesis,” at a news conference with Ramesh in New Delhi.

According the report investing $40 billion in the forestry sector each year could halve deforestation as well as create millions of new jobs and help tackle the devastating effects of climate change. If the number of trees planted could rise by 140% by 2050, as many as 30 million new jobs could be created by that same year. Steiner stated that forestry is one of the key sectors “capable of helping the world transition to a ‘green economy’ model that is resource-efficient and low in its use of carbon.”

“There are already many encouraging signals,” he said. “The annual net forest loss since 1990 has fallen from around eight million to around five million hectares and in some regions such as Asia, the Caribbean and Europe forest area has actually increased over those 20 years.”

Dilli Haat, New Delhi’s most famous open air market was transformed to Green Haat for the event. It attracted more than 50 exhibitors,  showcasing the initiatives of forest dwellers, minority forest produce federations, women’s self-help groups, and NGO partners. It also featured organic food stalls, herbal medicines, crafts and cosmetics.

Similar events were held in Bangalore and Mumbai as well to celebrate the day and kick of rallies to create awareness. Many celebrities were also involved in spreading the message and increasing the profile of various environmental initiatives.

India like many developing countries has many issues and problems to deal with regards to protecting its environment. Focusing on a balanced growth portfolio will be challenge for many years and events such as these not only highlight these difficulties but they also aim to create awareness and discussion about relevant topics.

Photo: WED2011 Logo

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net