India’s spotlight may be on Pakistan this week but in the furore across news channels, some major leaps in the environmental sector have been getting sidelined. Primarily, the ratification of the Paris agreement on Sunday which marked India’s entry into the international fold; and this milestone was only further compounded when an Indian NGO bagged the UN Climate Award.
The NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog is a fantastic example of community efforts. It trains women to become ambassadors of clean energy as they operate across Maharashtra and Bihar with 13 projects being recognised at the UN Climate Summit in Marrakesh this November. In their official statement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) praised the fact that this NGO has managed to create a network of 1,100 women in rural areas all vying actively for clean energy, water and sanitation options in their areas.
The co-founder of Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Prerna Gopalan has worked for a decade in the clean energy sector and asserts that most of the women included in the operation hail from drought ridden areas of the state so they understand first-hand what benefits can be reaped from sustainable energy and are rising spectacularly to the challenge. ‘They have learnt to be better community leaders. The initiatives they have undertaken are both sustainable and scalable,’ she told The Hindu.
The highlight of environmental work is currently on micro-level, sustainable work; projects that are accessible to the common man and will build a more eco-friendly system from the ground up. This is precisely what Swayam Shikshan Prayog has created, the opportunity for ordinary women to make the change without unhinging their regular lifestyles. “The project is based on a market-based approach and can be can adapted anywhere. Large companies can take their clean energy products into rural markets,” Gopalan told India Climate Dialouge. “The need for clean energy products is widespread and women can be engaged as entrepreneurs, making it a sustainable solution in India and elsewhere.”
Their initiative is one of many sweeping the nation and they hope in the future to scale up the project and promote clean energy in a larger forum. With their aid, perhaps India is headed towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.
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