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World Environment Day celebrations kick off in New Delhi

Jun 02, 2018

India is the global host of 2018 World Environment Day, 2018 with “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the theme for this year’s edition. The issue signals the centrality of plastics and plastic waste to addressing environment challenges.

The global celebrations of World Environment Day 2018, being hosted by India, kicked off with a total of three thematic sessions being held at Vigyan Bhawan here today. Reflecting the “Beat Plastic Pollution” theme of this year’s World Environment Day, the inaugural session focussed on the management of plastic pollution.

In his special address on the occasion, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma pointed out that the need of the hour is to create a social awareness, particularly among the youth, on reducing the single use of plastic and its reuse. He said that the menace of plastic cannot be tackled till a win-win situation is created for all the stakeholders with regard to the use of plastic.

Emphasising the importance of Extended Producer Responsibility in reducing the use of plastic, the Minister gave a call to rope in the organised sector to retrieve, recycle and reuse plastic because they are non-biodegradable. “Total plastic produced in the last decade is more than that generated in the whole century”, he added.

Alongside, a thematic session on 'Sustainable lifestyle towards Enhancing Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy' was hosted at the ongoing World Environment Day celebrations in New Delhi. The session was organised jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The session brought together policy-makers, regulators, international organisations, businesses, civil society and academia for a discussion on the pathways and key elements for shifting consumption patterns and lifestyles towards sustainable alternatives.

Different policy options for achieving a resource efficient society with low ecological footprint and better governance mechanisms were discussed. The sessions attempted to identify policy options for a resource efficient society, good governance, low ecological footprint and highlight pathways for shifting consumption patterns and lifestyles towards more sustainable alternatives and helped in identifying key elements essential for developing approaches and policies on sustainable lifestyles considering people’s perceptions of sustainability, their values and expectations for the future. It also enhanced awareness of sustainable lifestyles, and identified mechanisms for a concerted action which are needed to be taken by relevant stakeholders.

Delivering the special remarks, Central Pollution Control Board Chairman SPS Parihar pointed out that material consumption in India is growing since 2010 and behavioural change is the toughest part. He also gave examples of Swacch Bharat mission of Madhya Pradesh where students are visiting households to train the adults.

Another parallel session on the Himalayan Ecosystem saw case studies presented on waste management in the core zone of Kailash landscape, along with the waste warriors taming waste and more through forest dwellers Van Rajis of Kailash landscape were shared. The challenges of solid waste, including plastic in the Himalayan landscape and some of the innovative practices from the region, which could provide a way forward in Himalayas were also highlighted.

The learning from the Himalayas, as well as the experiences ranging from ecosystem-based adaptations in mountain ecosystems and tools for assessing restoration from both Indian and Nepal Himalayas were discussed, along with landscape level conservation in the Himalayas from the 1990’s till the present day and raising awareness on the evolution of thinking and action towards landscape-based high altitude conservation in India.

The overview of the National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) to support the sustenance and enhancement of the ecological, natural, cultural and socio-economic capital assets and values of the Indian Himalaya Region were discussed along with the major areas of ongoing projects such as spring revivals, water conservation and management, river bed filtration, climate change, livelihood support, rejuvenation of orchid, utilisation of pine needles, addressing human wildlife conflict, alternative sources of energy, conserving medicinal plants and solid waste management. In addition, microbial bio-composting was discussed as sustainable solutions of biodegradable waste, if segregated at its source of generation. Further, the management of plastic waste and its innovative method was shared during the session on synthesis of graphene and graphene oxide from plastics.

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