“1.2 billion people worldwide live in areas that face water scarcity. 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity. Where on the one hand, food is wasted daily, 925 million people globally are also affected by hunger,” stated Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water.
Dr. Ghosh was speaking at the International Conference on Sustainable Development and Governance: Building Commerce and Communities jointly organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and Deakin University of Australia at Amrita’s Coimbatore campus recently.
The conference sought to explore hurdles preventing sustainable development, zeroing in on problems especially arising from the mismanagement of water, waste and energy resources.
Speakers and delegates focused on global realities as well as the scenario in India.
“India is already among the world’s largest importers of coal. Coal is burned to generate electricity, but it also results in greenhouse gas emissions. Over half of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. A majority of our people are vulnerable to climate change,” Dr. Ghosh further elaborated.
Other speakers explored the relationship between watershed management and solid waste management, delineating how the former is rendered difficult in the absence of the latter.
They also highlighted advanced tools such as GIS and remote sensing that can aid in proper watershed management.
TERI University instructors discussed waste-to-energy projects. The growing menace of e-waste was also noted. Many speakers emphasized the dictum of repair, reduce, recycle and reuse.
A case study on a social enterprise focusing on effective waste management in Dhaka was presented. “A large percentage of waste in a developing nation is biodegradable, organic waste, which can be composted and used as fertilizer,” the presenters noted.
Proper waste management receives a lot of attention on the Amrita campuses. While delegates marveled at the clean and green campus surroundings, they also took note of the Amala Bharatam Campaign, wherein students and professors, in collaboration with others, have cleaned public places in India to help raise awareness.
Other success stories were also presented. Amrita Prabha, wherein school students could pedal for half an hour to charge the batteries of their non-polluting LED lamps to study at home, and the TERI University rural initiative to provide solar lighting in 2000 Indian villages drew critical acclaim.
“Economic growth alone does not provide the true measure of a country’s development. Access to water and energy are needed for human development. Waste is a misplaced resource, and should not pollute, rather should help reduce the demand for virgin natural resources. We should exercise caution in exploiting our natural resources, only then is sustainable development possible,” a speaker eloquently summed up.
December 17, 2012
International Conference on Sustainable Development and Governance
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