Friday, July 19, 2019

Upcoming Events Update!!!

Dear All, 

Kindly note we are conducting two events in the last week of July.

One is our monthly Climate Friendly Lifestyle Workshop in collaboration with Jeevidha scheduled on the 25th July 2019. Here we talk about the basics of Climate Change, help people calculate their contribution to Climate Change using our simple web based Carbon Footprint calculator, and discuss what individuals and communities can do to tackle the climate crisis. 

See the poster and email me for confirming your participation. 

Poster - Climate Friendly Lifestyle Workshop
Another event is an interactive session where we would like to talk to people who are clueless about Climate Change and Sustainability but are concerned about day to day issues. Let's all sit down and learn to connect the dots! We are happy to collaborate with Yolkshire, Aundh for hosting this first session in our own Avengers Series where we will Challenge Thanos with ideas to save the world without killing off half the population! 

So if you know anyone who needs to know about Climate Change and Sustainability but is currently clueless, please send them to our event.  

See the poster for other information.

Poster on interactive session on Water Crisis
Pournima Agarkar.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Environment Day Initiatives Part 2

Dear All, 

Selfies in the Bus

I know its been quite sometime for the World Environment Day, but I believe we cannot spend even a single day without depending on our environment.

In my last blog I appealed to all of you to use the public transport for a week in June and post a selfie of yourself as an action promoting the use of public transport for mitigating emissions caused due to the use of private vehicles. 

I am glad that the idea was appreciated, but only a few people sent me their selfies, many did tell me they tried using the bus but couldn't take the selfie, some people use a bus for daily commute but are not very comfortable with taking selfies. Few people filled in the feedback form and highlighted some issues with the bus. Seriously a BIG thanks to all I feel that everyone would like to use the public transport if we are able to fine tune the basic issues. It would be a win -win for all. We will have less traffic, less polluted air and less stressful life as driving your own vehicle is really stressful. 

And hats off to all the people who HAVE to or USE buses for daily commute accepting all the issues. I am a public transport user too but I use varied options depending on the time like six-seaters, carpool, autorickshaw or the bus. I should mention that the new Tejaswini buses are quite clean, spacious, in good condition and seem safe for travelling, however the number of buses are few, and they ply on selected routes only. I have also seen the new CNG buses ply on roads but haven't used yet it. However, our old regular PMPML buses, have a hell lot of issues. Every bus is in a sub standard form, windows are broken, seats are sometime broken, shabbily maintained emitting heat and smoke especially when you are about to get down  and you have to wait near the drivers seat, you can feel the heat waves...Apart from this the buses are overloaded beyond its capacity making it vulnerable to accidents on one hand while some buses are running empty at times. If this is not enough, the bus drivers are rash making the whole bus travel super adventurous. As per our online feedback form, for any given route the bus condition has been the major issue highlighted by the commuters. And yes, how can I forget, timing. Timing is another issue which I feel is the most critical component because of which one feels the need to use his/her private vehicle. I think we all can just go on listing the issues endlessly with our public transport.

Its important to note that we are talking only about the buses here, however the problem is bigger, the entire transportation network needs to be revamped. The roads and their condition, walking ways, cycling routes, metros, accessibility for all, affordability, safety, convenience, last mile connectivity etc. The GOOD news is a lot of work has been done and is in process in this direction, we have the Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) for PMC and PMRDA now, which is a good guide for assessing and tracking the status and success of each mode of transport. But the BAD news is its implementation is a mammoth task. A lot of organisations, institutions are working closely with the local bodies in order to get it on ground. But this will take some time, hopefully we will have better transport system in future. 

What we can do for now is to get ourselves equipped with such plans, documents, information and ask our local corporators or politicians about them. We need to check if they are aware of such plans and demand for its implementation. After all people's pressure is required for getting things done and we as conscious citizens can make this happen. So lets advocate for such plans, support organizations that promote these plans and use the public transport while we reduce usage of private vehicles (of course where ever possible). 

In case if you need more information on CMP or organisations working in this field. Please write to me pournima@samuchit.com

Pournima Agarkar. 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Way to go Carbon Neutral for Educational campuses in Pune

Dear All, 
CNC Handbook Released!

On 16 June 2019 INECC, Laya and Samuchit conducted an event on Showcasing Carbon Neutrality Approach by Educational Campuses at the Dr Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture (BNCA) Auditorium. My hearty congratulations to all the three colleges namely Pune Vidyarthi Griha's (PVG) College of Engineering and Technology, Pune, Waghire College of Arts, Commerce and Science, Saswad and our cohost of the event BNCA, Karvenagar for completing carbon accounting of their colleges and helping us showcase the pathway towards carbon neutrality. 

The three colleges were guided under Laya's Yuvadrishti initiative. We conducted two workshops for the colleges with inputs coming from Dr Priyadarshini Karve, Prof Amitav Mallik, and Mr Myron Mendes. Experiential learning was very well implemented through this initiative. The colleges got a good hands on practice on how to calculate an institute's carbon footprint and this entire process also helped us frame a 'Do it Yourself' handbook that can be used as a guideline by any educational institute for calculating their carbon emissions. I realized that a win-win situation is crucial for Sustainability.

In this event we also released the handbook and it is available for free with us. In order to avail a copy, please write to me at pournima@samuchit.com.

Prof. Amitav Mallik
Mr. Mangesh Dighe
All three colleges presented their campus carbon emissions data and how they plan to go forward. Electricity consumption (scope 2 emissions) was found to be the major contributor of carbon emissions in all the three campuses. Their studies also highlighted that apart from this indirect emissions (scope 3) through hired vehicles and waste generation (especially for architectural colleges that use a lot of stationary material) also plays a crucial role in generating considerable carbon emissions. However, calculating the same is quite tedious. In spite of the challenges, the colleges managed to report the same which is really commendable. The colleges mentioned that there has to be an incentive for the colleges as well for conducting such activities. Kirloskar Vasundhara festival is one such activity that helped PVG College to form an EcoClub through which they could undertake more of such activities for the college. While Waghire College stressed that having motivated teachers is crucial as well in order to sensitize students for undertaking action oriented solutions to such issues. For BNCA, the architectural course structure allowed them to make the carbon accounting as a part of a student's curricular requirement.

There are two outcomes that emerged from this event and will motivate the educational institutes in Pune to undertake Carbon accounting and go towards Carbon Neutrality.

Firstly, an announcement made by Prof Amitav Mallik, a trustee of Pune International Centre (PIC) and convener of the Climate Collective Pune (CCP), that on the World Environment Day 2020, three Pune colleges that make the maximum strides in reducing carbon emissions and going towards Carbon Neutrality over the past year will be rewarded. Secondly, our chief guest PMC Environment Officer Mr Mangesh Dighe announced that Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will put all colleges that take up Carbon accounting on a map on PMC's website.

Glimpses of our event

I would like to thank Mr. Dighe for his support and encouragement, and also thank Prof Mallik and  CCP for joining hands with us and supporting us. The event was well supported by our volunteers who were full of energy and enthusiasm and educated the attendees on personal carbon footprinting using our web based calculator. If you are interested in knowing your own footprint check out this link: https://www.climatecollectivepune.org/CPC/

We are looking up to colleges, educational institutes and organizations who would like to take up the carbon accounting exercise for their colleges in order to make Pune's Educational campuses Carbon Neutral. 


Pournima Agarkar.
www.samuchit.com


P.S Now you can make online donations so that we can continue to contribute towards sustainable urbanization. For details email me. :)

Friday, June 14, 2019

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: Education & Climate Change


Education always needs to be forward thinking. A person studying in an undergraduate degree course today needs to acquire the skills that he/she will require to function 8-10-15 years from now. Educational system therefore has to anticipate and mold itself to the future. 

Is the education system of today doing enough to equip the youth to face the biggest challenge that they will encounter when they step out into the real world? 

This is the challenge of climate change. Climate change has now become a Climate Crisis. What we do with our energy and material resources in the next decade will decide the fate of humanity post-2050. But even if we manage to avoid the crisis, there are certain climate change impacts that are now unavoidable. We need to train young people not only to MITIGATE greenhouse gas emissions which will address the emerging crisis, but also to ADAPT to the changes that past greenhouse gas emissions are already causing. 

We believe that a Carbon Neutral Campus (CNC) initiative is a good way for educational campuses to equip today's youth to deal with tomorrow's climate crisis, while the campus itself becomes a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. 

If an educational campus decides to go carbon neutral, and track its own net carbon emissions, it is creating a culture of 'living with climate change'. Young people who will experience the culture over the 3-5 years that they will be spending on the campus, will take the habits and learnings with them in their personal and professional lives. 

In 2018 Samuchit Enviro Tech tested out the CNC idea in Pune under the umbrella of a youth-focused climate change themed programme 'Yuva Drishti', in collaboration with our partner organisation Laya. Our focus was on undergraduate education campuses in Pune. Today three colleges have completed the first critical step of measuring their carbon emissions and planning for a low carbon campus. We have learned from the experience, and also came up with a step-by-step 'do it yourself' guide that will allow any educational campus to complete its carbon accounting and plan to go low or zero carbon over a specific time period. 

The start of this blog clearly explains why we are focusing on youth and specifically educational campuses. There is another reason which made us focus on educational campuses in Pune. Samuchit Enviro Tech is part of the Climate Collective Pune, and we are committed to doing our bit towards the goal of CCP - Making Pune city Carbon Neutral by 2030. Pune is 'Oxford of the East'! The city is teeming with a wide variety of educational and institutional campuses. Therefore, we feel that if all the educational campuses in Pune move towards carbon neutrality over the next 5-7 years, Pune as a city can achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030! We can do it! 

Please join us on Saturday 15 June evening (please see poster above) to celebrate the visionary educational organisations that worked with us and have set out on the journey towards carbon neutrality. We will also be releasing our 'do it yourself' Handbook for Carbon Neutral Campus on this occasion. The event will be co-hosted by Samuchit Enviro Tech, Laya, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change, Climate Collective Pune, and Department of Environmental Architecture, Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture, Pune. 

I am looking forward to seeing all of you there! 


Priyadarshini Karve
Director
Samuchit Enviro Tech



#BeModernBeResponsibleBeRespectful

   
Samuchit Enviro Tech.     samuchit@samuchit.com     www.samuchit.com 

Friday, May 31, 2019

My City My Responsibility - World Environment Day initiatives!

Dear All, 

The World Environment Day is approaching soon and this years theme is Air Pollution. China is the host country this year. China has been investing heavily in renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric cars. China also suffers the impacts of air pollution to the extent of Beijing city coming to a halt several days during winter due to bad air quality. So it seems China may be the best host for this year's theme on fighting air pollution.

Last year India was the host country and the theme was to Beat Plastic Pollution, as a country we pledged to Ban Single Use Plastic completely by 2020. In Pune, there was a plastic ban movement which worked quite well for sometime, however lack of better and effective alternatives resulted in this initiative taking a back seat for now. However I feel that this initiative did create a consciousness among the Puneites about the ill effects of plastic to an extent and people have reduced using plastic items that are just Use and Throw...I really hope that we will continue this momentum.

Coming back to this year's theme, we all know a lot about air pollution and how it is affecting our health, increasing the number of deaths each year. We are also aware of the sources of air pollution in India. In case of Pune one of the major sources of air pollution has been vehicular emissions. Pune was a cycle city in past (though we are reviving it again through the Pune Cycle Plan) its the two wheeler city still to an extent and it looks like we are heading towards a four wheeler city. This means more dependence on fossil fuels, increase in traffic congestion, increase in travel time per trip and thus increase in vehicular emissions which is closely related to increase in carbon emissions and ultimately causing unsustainability. 

Considering this year's theme lets explore our public transport system. Can we as citizens use the existing bus service for a week in Pune while we commute to our work and back, whenever possible. Lets take any one week in this month and try to explore the Public mode of transport i.e the PMPML buses. Lets use the Bus Week as an action to curb air pollution as an individual. Lets document the experience with our buses and also brainstorm on its improvement and workability for all of us sometime in the next month. Also lets take a selfie with the bus. I am attaching a google form with this blog. Please fill in the form in order to help us document your experience. Click Here.

Some quick observations while using a public transport would be to see if the buses are on time, well maintained or clean, there is place to sit or stand comfortably, safe from theft, stalkers etc, travel time taken, frequency of the buses, condition of the bus, ease of last mile connectivity like whats the distance of the bus stop from your work or office space etc. 

As we are exploring this facility, I would suggest following pointers that will enable us to use the service effectively. 

  • We all use smart phones enabled with GPS, there's a feature known as OK Google in all phones. Just type in ' buses near me' in this tab and you will be able to see the nearest bus stop. 
  • We all use Google maps, just put your location and destination and select the bus option. You will see the bus number, all buses for those routes, scheduled time of arrival and approx time taken to reach the destination, they also give bus fare sometimes. 
  • You can also use the PMPML app for all information related to the buses. 
  • Lets be prepared to leave our homes an hour or an half early (i know its a bit too much) to reach anywhere since there is a lot of traffic congestion during peak hours.   
  • Lets be ready to walk or take a rickshaw from the bus stop to our destination since many a times we may not have bus stops right next to our destination. 
  • Lets see how much that will help in savings on transport for a week. 
  • Lets not compromise as well, if its not convenient to use the public transport, however still give your feedback as to why its not feasible to use the buses.
Selfie in the bus

We at Samuchit, LAYA and INECC are part of a study project to make Pune a Sustainably SMART city by 2030 and part of ClimateCollectivePune (CCP) a network working towards making Pune a Carbon Neutral city by 2030. Going low carbon is the first step towards Sustainability and hence we are promoting this idea as part of this year's Environment Day. 

Looking forward to more selfies with the bus. In case of any queries please write to me at pournima@samuchit.com

You can also like/follow/comment on our FB and instagram page: Citizens of Sustainable Pune

Pournima Agarkar.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Access to Open Spaces to all

Dear All, 

Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Previous blogs focused on HousingTransportParticipatory planning and ManagementCultural & Natural Heritage and Disaster Prepardness for all, Environmental management for all under SDG 11. The last target under SDG 11 is about access to open spaces that are green, safe and inclusive. 

Lets see how can we achieve this one.  


Firstly, there is a need to define the open spaces appropriately, since there are some open spaces which should promote people’s interaction and recreation while there are some open spaces that should have minimal to low human interference so that they are retained as the lungs of the city. Identifying such spaces is essential. Based on the mapping, spaces that are suitable for people’s recreation should be designed in an inclusive manner considering all the stakeholders in the society. Open spaces that are green need to be kept with minimal human intervention and can be used for educational purposes or simply for restoration of the local ecosystem. From our survey we found that Pune has enough of public open spaces but the safety, inclusiveness and affordability is a matter of concern in such places. While we are encroaching upon a lot of green open spaces that need to be restored or simply kept untouched.    

  Individual Level

  • Let’s use our public spaces in a responsible manner by not littering or spitting in such space.
  • Let’s preserve and conserve our green open spaces like rivers, gardens and parks as well in a responsible manner.

Community Level

  • Let’s advocate for safe public spaces for all.
  • Let’s work with the governing authorities in maintaining these spaces since community ownership comes with community participation.
  • Let’s advocate for an inclusively designed open space.
  • Let’s keep a watch that no illegal or criminal activities are happening in these spaces that harm the peace in the city, check the feasibility of working with the governing authorities for volunteering for such purposes.
  • Let’s advocate for better sanitation facilities in public spaces.
  • Let’s check the feasibility of using these spaces in a creative manner which enhances the social and cultural gathering that reduce the gap between different sections of the society.

Governance Level

  • Ensure that public spaces are designed in an inclusive manner considering a holistic approach.
  • Explore the feasibility of maintaining cleanliness, through signages and instructions for people in order to maintain the spaces.
  • In case of any garden or green area that needs to be created into a public space care should be taken to keep them as natural as possible instead of adding a lot of paving or concrete in these areas.
  • Strict enforcement and penalties should be levied on illegal or criminal activities noticed in any public space.
  • The fees if any for accessing the public spaces should be affordable to all sections of the society.
  • Riverbed areas, hill slopes or hill tops accessed by people should be demarcated as green areas and no construction zones in the Development Plan.
  • Ensure that any green public space should promote biodiversity conservation and should be maintained accordingly.

This is last blog in the series of blogs on targets under SDG11. Please send in your inputs and suggestions to us on our Facebook page: Citizens of Sustainable PuneAlso please like, comment and share our page, through which we are promoting Sustainable cities. You can also email me at pournima@samuchit.com.

Pournima Agarkar.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Environmental Management for all

Dear All, 


Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Previous blogs focused on HousingTransportParticipatory planning and ManagementCultural & Natural Heritage and Disaster Prepardness for all under SDG 11. In this blog I will be writing about Environmental Management from wastes and air pollution perspective. 

This target under SDG 11 focuses specifically on reducing per capita environmental impacts due to waste generation and air pollution happening in the cities. By now, we all know about the impacts of waste and air pollution. Yet, waste management continues to be a challenge in Pune, and the scenario with air pollution seems to be degrading day by day. In fact waste and air pollution go hand in hand. For instance, burning wastes in open air is a strategy for waste management but it causes air pollution to a great extent.

The UN indicator for this target is all about share of recycling and reusing the waste to at least 50% or more in the overall scenario of waste management. However, in India getting such data at the city level is challenging since the major problem is collection itself. From the Pune's service level benchmark data it has been observed that only 53% of wastes are collected through the door to door collection system, though all of this is properly disposed off as recycled and reused or incinerated. What happens to the 47% waste that is not being collected? How much of this is not coming into the Pune municipal corporation's waste management system because it is being recycled, reused, or otherwise scientifically disposed off at source, and how much of it is ending up littering roadsides, hillslopes, river beds, nallahs, etc.? In spite of having all the standards and policies in place, what is holding us back from effectively managing our waste is the question in front of us. When asked the citizens these were the responses.

Individual Level:
  • Lets be conscious of our habits related to waste generation that creates pollution on land or water. 
  • Lets monitor our consumption patterns and have a lifestyle that mimics nature where there is no waste, everything is reused and recycled in an efficient manner. 
  • Lets show empathy towards our fellow waste managers who toil for managing our waste.
  • Lets cooperate with our governing systems and follow the rules on waste segregation strictly by understanding the health risks due to wastes and pollution.
  • In order to mitigate air pollution due to vehicular emissions, lets ensure timely maintenance of our vehicles. 
  • Lets use public transport wherever possible or walk to distances less than 1 km. 

Community Level:
  • Lets try and keep the areas in our locality also clean and free from wastes. 
  • Lets raise our voice against illegal dumping of wastes and avoid open burning of garden wastes. 
  • Lets advocate for better management of wastes at the society level, for instance for wet waste, we can explore the possibilities of installing a household Biogas system while dry waste can be further segregated and stored at a place and then sold to vendors who recycle. The idea is to ensure that our wastes should not go to the landfill. 
  • Lets explore the possibility of using garden waste in an efficient way by simply putting it back to the plants as mulch or can use the dry leaves for making biochar. For more information checkout my blog on Biochar
  • Lets advocate for strict enforcement of all policies regarding waste management and advocate for better air quality. 
  • Lets advocate for effective decentralized waste management systems. 
  • Lets keep a watch on solid wastes that keep accumulated in our locality and cause a health menace. 

Governance Level: 
  • Ensure strict enforcement of waste management policies. Management of wastes should adhere to the MPCB norms for segregation and disposal.
  • Regarding air pollution, though we have effective monitoring system, there are no effective management systems. There are no strict actions against the polluters. 
  • There is a need for enforcement of penalties for the polluters, local body should involve citizens based monitoring mechanisms. Today our rivers are polluted not only due to the draining of untreated sewage but also because of people dumping wastes into them. There is a need to appoint a security checkpost at all entries to the river to ensure that no one dumps wastes into the rivers and assign penalties on the ones who dont adhere to the norms. 
  • Capacity building among citizens, members of the local body and local organizations working towards waste management should be undertaken through experts in the field. Its important to develop a scientific attitude towards waste management that helps understand the issue holistically. 
  • Emphasis should be given to success stories on waste management and air pollution mitigation measures. 

The list may continue...however, these are a few key inputs given by about 200 people, you can send in your inputs and suggestions to us on our Facebook page: Citizens of Sustainable Pune. Also please like and share our page, we are promoting Sustainable cities. 

OR you can email me at pournima@samuchit.com 


Pournima Agarkar.
                                                                        www.samuchit.com 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Thane Calling for Sustainable City!

Dear All, 
Poster - Workshop details 

It gives me immense pleasure to announce that we will be presenting our work on Sustainably SMART Pune, Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune, Climate Friendly Lifestyle and Sustainable Lifestyle initiatives to a group of Sustainability enthusiasts in Thane on the 11th of May, 2019 from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.

I am glad that this one day workshop has been arranged by Prasad Dandekar and Amruta Kulkarni who are citizens of Thane just like you and me. They had the desire and enthusiasm to gather a group of like-minded individuals willing to do something for themselves and in turn for their city. 

From 2010 onward, more people reside in cities than in rural areas across the world. By 2030, more than 50% of the population will be residing in cities even in India. Many of the cities that will exist by the end of this century are yet to be built, and most of this development is likely to happen in Asia. We thus have a great opportunity to create livable and sustainable cities. It is however challenging for fast expanding cities like Pune and Thane to adopt a better pathway towards development. We have however come up with a model for urban sustainability for Indian cities, through the case study of Pune. I am glad that I am part of this vision!

I do hope that Pune will be Sustainable one day because of the vibrancy of the citizens. Understanding the impacts of climate crisis, ecological concerns and increasing socio-economic inequity and taking conscious actions to reduce these impacts based on principles of efficiency, inclusiveness, resilience, safety etc., will be required for building a Sustainable future for the cities, and the transition will start with the individual citizens adopting climate friendly lifestyles. Our workshop will also start with this aspect, and move on to discuss possible sustainability pathways for Thane. 

Kindly spread the word about our workshop in Thane, see the poster attached for details of the venue and registrations. You can contact Prasad Dandekar or Amruta Kulkarni for further information.

Follow us on and Instagram and Facebook page: Citizens of Sustainable Pune.
OR email me at pournima@samuchit.com.

Pournima Agarkar.
  

Thursday, May 2, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Glimpses of the National Conference on Urban Sustainability

Dear All, 


I am super excited to share some of the highlights of the National Conference on Urban Sustainability, held at YASHADA, Pune on 27 April 2019. I am grateful to everyone for the great response, I am sure it was an enriching experience for you all too who attended the day long event. 

Group Photo at the conference
A special thanks to our Guest of honor Sulakshana Mahajan, I had heard about her and her amazing work in Sustainability but actually got to listen to her for the first time and indeed it was enlightening. We are trying to introduce a new concept of inviting the guest to be a keynote listener and Dr Mahajan graciously obliged us through an apt conclusion of the conference.

I extend my thanks to all the experts and speakers coming all the way for the conference from different cities and states. Mr. Prasad Kokil (Aurangabad) Dr Anil Avhad (Mumbai) and Ms Neha Singh (who pitched in at the last moment) and all the INECC members (coming from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bhubaneshwar, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai) or actively participating in the conference. All the discussions were very thought provoking. Especially the sharing on SMART cities exposed and acknowledged that Pune is not the only SMART city that is facing the issue with prioritizing basic services. I appreciate the patience and acknowledge as well as the time and efforts taken by each and every presenter at the conference - both oral and poster. It was great that most of the papers that we received were on action oriented studies. This was very much in line with our philosophy of wanting to be part of the solutions keeping in mind the problems. We all know the problems, so rather than rehashing them, now its time to act in the right direction and move towards urban sustainability.

Thanks to all the exhibitors for displaying their products and creating a lively atmosphere in the conference. The idea was to start a dialogue among visitors and participants about sustainable lifestyle changes, and I think the exhibition provided the perfect setting for the same. 

The core purpose of this conference was to inform participants about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, focusing on SDG 11 (making cities and communities Sustainable) and its connections with other SDGs, using Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a platform. This event was a part of a research project that I am working on where sensitizing the urban citizens about sustainability in various ways is the main objective.

With our Sustainably SMART Pune study project over the last three years we realized that conscious lifestyle change starts with me, as an individual. In order to achieve Sustainability we have to first change our attitude in order to change the society. ESD empowers us to take the responsibility for ourselves and make the change by taking the appropriate action. Using ESD we could spread awareness and sensitize urban citizens about responsible and conscious behavior. We used SDG 11 as our starting point since it directly targets cities and communities i.e urban citizens and tried to motivate them to emulate model behaviour of a responsible citizen. Through our interactions with citizens of Pune, over the last year or so, we charted down some actionable guidelines at three different levels, i.e individuals, community and governance, for each target under SDG 11. There are limited hard copies of the report, however we will circulate the softcopy in both English and Marathi soon through our Facebook page Citizens of Sustainable Pune. Please check out and comment. We will share all the photos of the conference through a google link and will also upload the videos of the conference on our YouTube link soon.  

Last but not the least I deeply thank the supporters Engagement Global and funders German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development for enabling us to create an ecosystem of sustainable livelihoods and showing us the pathway to Urban Sustainability through ESD.
Conference Participants @ Urban Sustainability Selfie Corner!

Pournima Agarkar.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Final call for National Conference on Urban Sustainability

Dear All, 

This is a reminder for attending our National Conference on Urban Sustainability on the 27th of April at Yashada, Baner from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

In order to enroll in our conference, kindly click on this link: https://forms.gle/BnP6w1V86fBtLjbq9

You can also email me at pournima@samuchit.com for further inquires. Please see the agenda attached.



Pournima Agarkar.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Disaster Preparedness for all

Dear All, 




Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Previous blogs focused on HousingTransportParticipatory planning and Management and Cultural & Natural Heritage under SDG 11. In this blog I will be writing about Disaster Preparedness. 

Though at the country level we are party to a lot of international agreements like the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Disaster prepardness seems to be less percolated at a city level

India is moving from the post disaster reactive approach to pre disaster pro active approach as per a latest report on Disaster Management. This means that we should be rapidly shifting towards the pro active mode at the city level as well. After all, India is also one of the most vulnerable countries due to population density and the coastline surrounding our country. In spite of this, there is a lack of coordination among other development agencies and disaster management agencies. On one hand there are upcoming development schemes that demand huge deforestation, high resource consumption that lead to increase in inequity. While on the other hand we are signing international treaties on disaster management globally. However implementation on ground is something really crucial. 

Pune has a Disaster management cell that has worked out a Ward level disaster management framework, however this document has not been revised since 2005. Furthermore, no one knows about its existence due to lack of poor dissemination of this knowledge. In case of any disaster its only the Fire brigade or the Police that we look upto, as individuals we have no idea what has to be done, who is the concerned authority and what are the immediate actions to be taken. Considering all such factors, actions at different levels in a society have been charted using citizen inputs.    

Individual Level: 
  • Lets be aware of the probable disasters that can occur in our area and which are the vulnerable entities. 
  • Lets keep a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher in our house for quick rescue. 
  • Lets be updated about all the emergency contact numbers and operations in our society. 
  • If possible we should understand the functioning of HAM (amateur radio) that works on radio frequency, since in case of any disasters its the electricity that is first affected and everything just shuts down. HAM operators will help us be in contact to the concerned. At least one family member should be a HAM operator or know how to use this simple technology. 
  • Lets keep ourselves fit in order to not only save our lives but also our loved ones life. 
  • While buying homes, check if they are earthquake resistant. 

Community Level: 
  • At the community level, lets be aware if we have any disaster prepardness plan in our society, if not advocate for framing one by coordinating with local body and NGOs or organizations working in this area.
  • Lets undertake or participate in emergency mock drills and be part of local area rescue task force.
  • Lets advocate for an inclusive Disaster Risk Management plan for better on ground implementation. 
  • Lets advocate for better disaster mitigation equipment and regular maintenance of these equipment like fire extinguishers, first aid kits etc. 
  • Lets advocate against illegal encroachments or unnecessary deforestation in and around our area. 

Governance Level: 
  • Ensure that local disaster management plans be framed keeping a pre-disaster pro-active approach and are inline with the international agreements. 
  • Ensure mapping and timely maintenance of any leakages or clogged drains and electrical systems etc in the city. 
  • Disaster Management Plans should be inclusive and should be prepared considering active public participation, local organizations and local bodies. 
  • Undertake effective communication strategies for disseminating information about local area disaster management plans, local mitigation measures and contacts of local concerned authorities. 
  • Undertake workshops/drives on first aid, disaster prepardness, uses of refuge areas and fire extinguishers and safety measures, importance of assembly areas in the city and signages.  
  • Each ward should have a Disaster management officer who coordinates with the local NGOs and active citizens for cooperation during any disasters. Undertakes regular or timely rescue practices and emergency mock drills etc for housing societies, schools and institutes etc in the area. 
  • Further development of the city, should be mapped considering the vulnerabilities in the city from climate change and environmental degradation perspective. 
  • Scope of creating a citizens center for resilience under the Disaster management cell needs to be explored instead of creating a new department. 
  • Explore the possibility of providing toll free lines, free training on HAM operation, portable shelters and smart use of smart phones.

The list may continue...however, these are a few key inputs given by about 200 people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter a better Action Agenda. 

You can email me at pournima@samuchit.com AND like, share / comment on our Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/SustainableCityPune/ for more inputs. 

Your inputs will be featured in our Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune booklet.

Pournima Agarkar.
                                                                        www.samuchit.com 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Protecting Cultural and Natural Heritage

Dear All

Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.


Previous blogs focused on HousingTransport and Participatory planning and Management  under SDG 11. In this blog I will be writing about Heritage and how its importance for all of us.

I am glad that SDG 11 considers both Cultural and Natural Heritage in a city. We often talk about Cultural Heritage but never realize that all the natural resources that are available to us in the form of water bodies, hills and forest patches are all part of our Natural Heritage. This Natural Heritage is now getting encroached upon, destructed and depleted at increasing rates and if not conserved now, we might render the future generations without any Heritage values. The way we have started conserving and restoring our Cultural Heritage, there is a need to conserve our Natural Heritage as well. Let us see how we can contribute to conserve our Heritage (both Cultural and Natural) at different levels.


Individual Level:
  • Let’s understand and acknowledge the importance of Heritage structures both Cultural and Natural for the quality of our lives and the city as well apart from their inherent value.
  • Identify if there are any old open spaces with good green cover or ancient structures that have heritage value and can be conserved in our neighbourhood, and bring those to the attention of appropriate authorities/experts. 

Community Level:
  • Let’s advocate for an inclusive accessibility at all cultural and natural heritage places.
  • Let’s protect the heritage structures irrespective of socio-economic barriers.
  • Knowing the importance of the heritage structures, ensure that these places are protected from any infrastructure development activity in the neighbourhood. 
  • Let’s advocate for better sanitation facilities, safety by local surveillance and monitoring from illegal or unwanted activities in such places.

Governance Level:
  • Cultural heritage structures have budget allocations, however there is a need to allocate appropriate budget for Natural Heritage as well that is concerned with our rivers, hills and hill tops. Heritage Cell should undertake this responsibility. 
  • Public private partnerships (PPPs) and CSR initiatives can be explored in order to avail funds for maintaining the heritage structures.
  • The way we have interpretation centers in National Parks, we need to check the feasibility of providing such interpretation centers may be at a small scale at our Cultural as well as Natural Heritage sites that promote traditional, local indigenous knowledge apart from the inherent values. This will also help in creating an inventory of the local knowledge.
  • Though there are buffer areas surrounding the heritage structures, strict enforcement of the same needs to be undertaken and violating the same should be strictly penalized.
  • Ensure timely maintenance and restoration works that preserve the inherent values of the structures should be undertaken by using innovative technologies.
  • Individual housholds, Communities and PPPs contributing in conservation of the Heritage structures should be awarded or recognized by local bodies or state level authorities in order to sensitize citizens about the importance of heritage structures. 

These are a few key inputs given by 200 odd people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter a better Action Agenda. You can email me at pournima@samuchit.com AND like, share / comment on our Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/SustainableCityPune/ for more inputs. 

Your inputs will be featured in our Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune booklet.

Pournima Agarkar.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Participatory Planning and Management

Dear All, 

Participation and Integrated planning & Management
Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

So far we have seen targets related to Housing and Transport under SDG 11. The next target is all about having participatory, integrated and sustainable planning and management of human settlements. 

In the city planning and management, participatory approach is easier SAID than DONE. I feel there is a need to define 'inclusive participation' so as to ensure participation from all the strata of the society. However only a few people get the privilege to participate in any decision making, planning process and management. During our survey we found that there is something called as participatory budget, however very few people are aware of such an initiative. This is also due to lack of empathy among citizens towards their city's overall growth. However, its time we start getting aware of our surroundings and make ourselves sustainable.

Lets us see what the citizens have to say about their participation in the overall planning and management of the city.

Individual Level: 

  • Be aware of your rights and duties as a citizen of the city.
  • Use RTI as a tool for enabling the rights of a citizen.
  • Participate in the city's planning and management systems.
  • Check if we have any ward level meetings in our ward. 
  • Need for empathy towards our society. 

Community Level: 

  • Mohalla committee's are good examples of community participation, more and more people should involve themselves in this system for ensuring their area development. 
  • Lets understand the functioning of similar systems like area sabhas and advocate for the same. 
  • Lets keep track of upcoming policies and schemes and how they affect our area 
  • Lets raise voice in case of poor provision of basic service in your area and work cohesively with the local bodies in order to ensure services are in place.

Governance Level: 
  • Ensure use of scientific sampling techniques for collecting feedback proactively from a well chosen sample cross section of the city's society on various schemes and policies (rather than expecting people from all strata of society to respond to generic requests for comments). 
  • Involve local citizen groups, civil society organizations, Mohalla committee groups, Resident welfare associations, differently abled individuals etc. in governance-focused public discussions to make governance inclusive. 
  • Need to have an active feedback mechanism in order to track success and failure of any policy. 
  • Need to have a mechanism to reward or highlight community best practices that ensure success of any scheme or policy. 
  • Enforce wardwise community meetings ensuring involvement of all irrespective of caste, creed, gender or income level. 
  • Ensure transparency and accessibility of information to all in existing/current schemes/policies on urban development.

These are a few key inputs given by 200 odd people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter a better Action Agenda. 
Email me at pournima@samuchit.com OR like, share and comment on our FB page  @ https://www.facebook.com/SustainableCityPune/

Pournima Agarkar.