February 22nd 2020 Gangtok: The world has reached a state of mass panic and is on the tipping point falling into anarchy filled dystopian world, coloured in neon hues of green, electric lime, orange, magenta, bright red destruction. Everybody who knows and heeds the gravity of the situation has shouting the same thing, only a handful years at our hands before the damage becomes irreversible, heeding on the gravitas of the word irreversible. In the meantime, people have been trying to fight the virulence that has been plaguing humankind with malignance and vitriolic ignorance, which in turn has been killing the planet, slowly and surely.
Some of these people fighting the good fight from the small state of Sikkim which has glowed in the map with her being 100 per cent organic, held an event for the inaugural of the first Future Earth Report 2020.
“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.
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.”
Dr Rakesh Ranjan, Prof. Geology, Sikkim University addressed as the proceedings began with the inaugural event.
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 content of the report itself is the introduction followed by, global risks, climate, politics, ocean, forced migration, media, biodiversity, finance, food, transformation, and digital innovation.
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.
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.”
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.
QR code paper prints were tagged on the information board with a projector projecting the banner on the wall and a whiteboard on which the header was written, preserving the sanctity of zero waste mentality and lifestyle.