Published: 13th May 2020
Why AnantU's Climate Action Fellowship could bring out the planeteer in you
Rashmi Patil chats with Dr Miniya Chatterji, a sustainability expert, about Fellowship for Climate Action and how they plan on nurturing the next generation of climate leaders
While people remain under lockdown, either government-imposed or as a precaution, we have all probably noticed the various environmental changes around the world. Pollution levels have drastically reduced and animals and birds are owning this time by reclaiming the streets. But what will the status be post-lockdown? With an aim to nurture the next generation of pioneers to address the climate change crisis, Anant National University, in Ahmedabad, is hosting a first-of-its-kind programme called the Fellowship for Climate Action — led by award-winning sustainability expert, Dr Miniya Chatterji. We speak to her to find out what exactly this fellowship, which begins on August 10, 2020 entails. Excerpts from an interesting interview:
1. How is the Fellowship for Climate Action going to help the fellows in bringing about changes?
We felt that there is a lot of anxiety about climate change among people and in a democratic and developing economy like India, there is a lack of awareness about the solution, it is all about the environmental problems. People don't even know how to be part of the solution, which itself is another problem. We started the fellowship focusing only on solutions, so that we can scale them up and bring about the biggest changes to address climate change.
2. Who are some of the mentors in this fellowship programme?
We have pioneers who are trying to find solutions to the climate change crisis on our board as mentors. This includes Chetan Maini, Founder, Reva Electric Vehicles; Arunabha Ghosh, Founder and CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water and Anoop Ratnaker Rao, CEO, ReLife. The programme will contain a mix of pioneers as well as fellows from around the world.
3. What does the curriculum include?
As it is a one-year fellowship, there will be classes and visits to different places where solutions have been implemented. This one-year fellowship is divided into six terms of two months each, wherein fellows will learn different concepts. During the first term — Context — we teach them what to watch, learn or study about climate change. During the second term — Carbon — we teach them about carbon accounting, carbon market, AI and robotics. Industry concepts are taught in the third term where we inform them about how food and agriculture, fashion, construction and so on contribute to pollution and the methods we can implement to reduce it. Policy-making is taught in the fourth term. And mentorship and personalised pre-recruitment process are part of the fifth and sixth term respectively.
4. You selected 20 applicants out of thousands to be fellows. What was your process?
We looked for two factors in those who applied to be part of this programme. One was their journey or their contributions to bring about changes in the environment. The other factor that we looked for was genuine passion coupled with skill. For example, an engineer who can build an efficient electric vehicle or a policy specialist who can suggest policies in favour of the environment.
5. What kind of policies should the government form to reverse this crisis?
Solutions for climate change in developing countries must be thought of while taking into account that many people don't get enough food to eat. The solutions in Europe when compared to India are very different. In Europe, there are multiple reasons for climate change whereas in India, it is mostly plastic. Around 22 per cent of India's population is below the poverty line, people don't have shelter and more than 50 per cent don't get potable water. There are 11 million kids on the street who are homeless. In such a situation, we cannot be banning plastic as there are livelihoods depending on it. Alternatives to plastic must be made available in India. So, the solution has to be mindful of factors like poverty and shelter.