Indian, Australian students have common vision for sustainable future

July 22nd, 2008 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, July 22 (IANS) Students from premier Indian and Australian universities have called for localised protocols based on the principle of “think globally, plan regionally and act locally” to ensure a sustainable future for the world. The ‘Australia India Sustainability Protocol’ issued by the 59 students who participated in the first Australia India Universities Youth Forum (AIUYF) on sustainability states: “Local protocols must adhere to the four Ss - Sacrifice, Save, Sustain and Survive. Solutions should be scientifically justifiable, economically viable and culturally acceptable.”

Around 30 Indian students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, Manipal University and the University of Pune were in Australia from June 28 to July 12, participating with counterparts from Australian universities in workshops and events held in Sydney, Canberra, outback Australia and Darwin.

“The AIUYF aims to develop links and foster understanding and dialogue between Australian and Indian students. Participants were selected based on a demonstrated interest in sustainability, leadership ability and an outstanding academic background,” said AIUYF steering committee chair John Ingleson.

An initiative of IDP Education Australia Ltd, an organisation owned by 38 Australian universities undertaking activities to support international education, the AIUYF discussed problems including management and allocation of resources - energy, transport, water, waste, town planning, lack of awareness and motivation to make a positive change, and individual sustainability initiatives.

Rishu Shekhar Shandilya, who is pursuing a bachelors programme at JNU, wants to protect the environment and spread the message of sustainable consumption and production in India.

Speaking to ABC Radio, Shandilya quoted Gandhi as saying: “There is enough for everybody’s need in this world, but not enough for anybody’s greed.”

He went on to say: “Yes, Indians of my generation all want cars of their own, but we like the idea of hybrid cars and are happy to invest in research and development in that area”. He cited the example of Delhi’s metro, one of the cleanest and greenest in the world.

Living in South Delhi’s leafy locales, Shandilya has become an avid supporter of afforestation, but he feels change cannot be forced.

Some of the solutions in the Australia India Sustainability Protocol focus on education, media, governance and individual commitment towards sustainable living.

“Creativity should be fostered and encouraged in order to create innovative solutions. Our motto should be ‘catch them young’ and education programs should be accessible to industry, government, business and local communities and contain local content and local environment ethic,” says Nikki Holdsworth, who is doing a Bachelor of Environmental Design course at University of Tasmania, and was one of the two students who drafted the protocol with input from the group.

Holdsworth, who had visited slum upgrading and low cost housing projects in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Indore during a trip last year with five other students and a lecturer, said: “It provided a powerful insight into the impact of community engagement, empowerment and grassroots projects.”

The protocol states that legislation and planning that obligates sustainable development and change is needed at all levels of government including the very top levels.

“While it is important for the media to provide facts and figures concerning the harsh realities, it is also critical to avoid “doom and gloom” by encouraging positive solutions that provide hope for achieving our goal of a sustainable future”, says Pradnya Ravindra Bivalkar, who is doing his Masters in German at the University of Pune, and has drafted the protocol with Holdsworth.

Realising that a sustainable future goal is unreachable without individuals contributing to the cause, each member of the AIUYF has made a personal commitment to how they are going to do their bit to create a sustainable future - may be starting with something small like riding a bicycle to university or work or having a shorter shower.

For Australian students, used to long hot showers, it was difficult to contemplate that water consumption can be reduced by using a bucket and mug, a common practice in most of the developing world.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Environment |