Providing an open platform for people to learn and talk about climate change from/with the industry experts, The Think Tank, Manipal organised TEDxMAHE, one of its flagship events of the year, yesterday noon via Airmeet. The event’s goal is to build a better future by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world – a safer, cleaner, and fairer for everyone.
As the world continues to struggle with a pandemic, a much more resilient and pressing issue stares humanity right in the face – climate change. In association with Future Stewards, TED introduced the COUNTDOWN initiative, which aims to instil a sense of urgency and responsibility towards the deteriorating condition of the environment and climate amongst the masses. One of the 300 events across 70 countries, Countdown 2020 is the first edition of a global initiative by TED to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.
The event, which saw a footfall of over 200 attendees, was inaugurated by Lt. Gen. (Dr.) M. D. Venkatesh, Vice-Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Here is a peek into the event:
Alexander Verbeek is a Dutch environmentalist, public speaker, diplomat, and former strategic policy advisor at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Having gained expertise in international security, humanitarian and geopolitical risk issues, and the linkage to the earth’s accelerating environmental crisis, Alexander is presently the policy director at the Environment and Development Resource Centre in Brussels.
Verbeek emphasised climate change and how it can result in security threats and tension amongst different nations. According to him, adapting after a disaster strikes is one way of dealing with our changing planet. It would, however, be better to Predict, Prevent, or Prepare. We first need to Perceive the bigger picture of our changing planet and imagine how rapidly our world is changing.
“We have to imagine a future where climate change is a new enemy. Not in the classic sense as one that you can fight in military operations. It has no flag, no leader, no combatants, nor a revolutionary manifesto. But it is a killer of people, it is operating worldwide to destabilize societies, and it is a risk that is gaining strength”, he added.
Climate/water wars might turn out to be the inevitable dark future because of human actions. The price for these will be paid by the future generations that will have to suffer if we do not act upon it now.
Derrick Ian Joshua
Derrick Ian Joshua is the Assistant Director of Environment Sustainability in the Department of General Services at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE).
Derrick believes that the best way to bring about change is by leading others through an example. Following his goal to “know more, learn more, research more, consult the leaders in the field and apply them”, he has played an instrumental role in making Manipal one of India’s greenest campuses and brought international recognition and rankings to the university.
He talked about the campus initiatives to contribute to sustainable development in areas of waste management, water management, energy management, and green space maintenance with transportation. Other measures implemented by the institution are banning single-use plastic carry bags, non-procurement, substituting mineral water bottles with filtered water in meetings, conferences, and provision of exam pads for the student examination, thus reducing paper consumption to a large extent.
Keshav Gupta is the Founder of The Dais, an organisation working for youth empowerment through educational institutions. To localise the Sustainable Development Goals focusing on Climate action, quality education, and gender equality, Keshav has worked with grassroots organisations in India and Nepal for rural development and livelihood generation.
Keshav talked about Climate action and what we can do as individuals to help fight the climate crisis. According to him, with passing time, natural disasters, and climate change have stopped affecting people. Using the current pandemic as an example, he shared his ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ theory with the audience where one must develop the right knowledge and trust science, use sustainability and kindness to solve problems and global change through local change.
Georgios Kostakos is the co-founder of FOGGS and has almost thirty years of work experience in international affairs, both as a practitioner and researcher. This includes fourteen years with the United Nations, with assignments such as organizing the first-ever high-level event on climate change in New York (2007), Acting Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Global Sustainability Panel (GSP, 2010-2012), supporting the negotiations that resulted in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21, 2015). Until recently, Georgios was the Climate Action Thematic Coordinator at NEEMO EEIG. He coordinated the monitoring of climate change adaptation and mitigation projects co-financed by the European Union’s LIFE Programme.
Georgios Kostakos, comparing humans to software, said, “Beyond its propensity to conflict and inequality, the old software routines are geared towards maximising profit, personal and corporate, and exploiting natural resources, animals and plants, and other human beings. That is what is rewarded by our current system of incentives embedded in HS1.0.”
According to him, it is time for a “human software upgrade”, Homo Sapiens 2.0. We are responsible for the conservation and protection of this planet and need to realise that. Taking the initiative and looking at the bigger picture is the need of the hour.
Chau Duncan is the COO of Earthbanc, an investment platform that leads, coordinates, and incentivizes climate-positive projects at scale through innovation in deep tech and climate finance. As a former refugee from Vietnam, growing up in Australia, she calls the ‘global stage’ home. Her personal experiences and commitment are towards international cooperation and a sustainable, regenerative future.
While her career began as a banker, Chau noted the rapidly growing interconnectedness of economic growth and sustainability issues. A former Trade Commissioner and Director for International Trade and Foreign Direct Investment, representing both the Governments of Australia and the United Kingdom, Chau also supported several NGOs working on environmental & social diplomacy, economic resilience, and multicultural inclusion.
Chau believes that we live in a moment in history where Digital Finance and Fintech can bring systemic ways to fund climate change to the masses quickly and securely, to help regenerate ecosystems in a transformational way. She talked about finance’s role in regenerating landscapes and supporting zero budget natural farming (regenerative agriculture) to reduce the impact of disastrous floods in Karnataka and the lowlands on the west coast.
The Ghats have shrunk by 25% over the past two decades, despite the environmental protection Laws. This loss affects rainfall patterns, river flow, water supply, and climate
across 18 large swathes of the country. According to Chau, zero budget natural farmers undertaking sustainable food production help regenerate the water catchments and improve groundwater storage. Farmers can be incentivised towards zero budget farming practices through financing tied to these outcomes and have better access to markets through crop aggregators.
Chau encouraged students to support businesses that practice Zero Budget Natural Farming, help develops the next technology intervention in farming & water management, or even start their social enterprise like the amazing young social entrepreneur, Ruchi Jain. After all, “It’s a person’s thought which makes the world”.
Rakshit Naidu is a final year undergraduate at MIT Manipal, pursuing his Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering. He also works part-time as a Research Engineer at OpenMined. His research interests hover around Cryptography and Machine Learning in particular.
Rakshit talked about a correlation between Federated Learning and Climate Change. He gave due emphasis to Climate change Adaptation, which includes individual efforts and collective efforts, and Climate Change Mitigation, which includes Grid Optimizations, Shared Mobility, Tracking Carbon Footprints, and Data Retrieval.
Concluding his speech, he left the audience with an open-ended question- “Will people from developing countries care enough about data privacy to require Federated Analytics? If you have only just got reliable access to the internet, would you need data privacy?”
Apart from the main event, a music performance by Abhay Rajeev and a dance performance by The ShowStoppers Dance Crew to keep the audience hooked to their screens. Social Spaces, a special room to allow the audience to play games and interact with the speakers, provided an offline event feel to the attendees.
The event concluded on a high note with announcements about four projects of Steps Towards Sustainable MAHE, Smart Planting, Growing Memories, and Hydro-fuel Bio Machine being taken up by The Consulting Club at Manipal, Robotics and Circuits, Whatup’ Life Foundation, and Manipal bio machines respectively, being branded and supported by TEDxMAHE to bring about a significant change in the world.
Feature Image Source: TEDx MAHE