As environmentalists across the world celebrated the World Environment Day last week, they had some exciting updates. With humans detached from the outside world during the lockdowns imposed to control the coronavirus outbreak in different parts of the world, scores of research data and their analyses have shown that the ecosystem balance, otherwise distorted by human activities, is being restored gradually.
Coinciding with the global celebration, a few environmentalists and nature lovers in Nepal held a weeklong online campaign titled campaign ‘7 Steps to Sustainability’. The organisers claim the campaign helped them generate different ideas about promoting human-nature reconnection.
What was the campaign?
During the campaign, the activists and volunteers posted photographs and videos related to various environmental issues on their social media pages. The seven-day campaign had seven themes, namely: Air, Water, Mobility, Local Food, Ecosystem, Energy, and Governance.
From June 1 to June 7, the campaign boosted different ideas and activities to reconnect the people to nature. Hashtags like #freshair, #jalpari, #mymobilitytool, #localfoodlife, #itstimefornature, #myenergyuse, #newnormalnepal, etc. were used to promote their cause throughout the campaign. Each day was also complemented by a live discussion via Zoom and the event’s Facebook page to further initiate conversations and initiations.
The campaign was collectively organised and managed by the Society of Environmental Engineers of Nepal, GD Labs and Research, Kathmandu Cycle City 2020, Story Cycle, Nepal Ecocity Network, and Green Growth.
Why was the campaign?
One of the organisers, Society of Environmental Engineers of Nepal’s Vice-president Prasuna Maskey explains the campaign was the way to inspire and promote small behavioural changes in people that hold a bigger impact on oneself and nature.
“We have been so disconnected from nature for so long. Now (in the lockdown), we have got the chance; it is the right time to reconnect with nature. Many studies have found that even the mere exposure of seconds to natural surroundings can have positive impacts on people. So, if we take steps to actively reconnect and make nature a part of our lives, we can garner many more benefits.”
Another purpose of their campaign was to increase the community’s role in development and sustainability, say the organisers.”Rights to a healthy life and clean water are the fundamental rights of humans, yet many are not aware or ignorant about them and have been lost in everyday life. But, we want to make them aware and motivate them to question the government about their rights, or any anomaly in a constructive manner,” adds Maskey.
What did they achieve?
After careful consideration during the campaign, the organisers developed some easy, doable sustainability tools and tips for all. The tips were targeted for people to notice their surroundings, and make essential behavioural changes in their lives.
They believe the ideology ‘it is our planet and our responsibility’ has been realised among people as well as the need for environment-friendly sustainable development post-Covid-19 situations that preserves biological diversity.
The organisers have felt the campaign had a positive impact on people. “We had asked them to share their photos and videos, in relation to our respective themes of the day. And the responses have been very impressive. People were sharing photos where they involved their children in the activities, which we believe will have a positive impact on them in the future,” shares Maskey.
Meanwhile, the campaign participants have also started questioning the old ways of living a life and this hints their success. A live experience of it could be witnessed in the last live session with Head of Anthropology Department at Tribhuvan University, Dambar Chemjong, and National Planning Commission Member Secretary Kewal Prasad Bhandari, in which people inquired about how to maximise the use of induction stoves in the country, the budget distribution, and taxation regarding energy as well as the possible sustainable measures to undertake in collaboration with government.
The campaign also found out that people have now realised the importance of rooftop farming during the lockdown. According to the organisers, during this period, people’s eating habits have changed and their health has improved. This, they believe, has increased people’s belief that a self-dependent food cycle is more reliable and useful.
So what happens next?
The organisers state the event was organised to spark a feeling of connection with nature in people; it was necessary as it could eventually translate to people actively participating in preserving nature. For this, they provided daily tips on sustainability that people can initiate and continue even within the boundaries of their homes.
Now, they want to go beyond the week-long initiative and promote people to reconnect with nature. A few of their suggestions for the people beyond the Covid-19 situation included gifting plants on occasions, establishing solar energy panels, establishing rainwater harvesting systems, reusing and recycling, etc. among others.