After working as an English teacher for over a decade, Gyan Maharjan, in 2013, decided to do something that would benefit everyone. Motivated by the deteriorating environment and the impacts of global warming both locally and globally, he made the choice to become a climate change activist.
He was frustrated at what humans had done to the environment and felt suffocated. He wanted to initiate change and raise awareness that it was time to do something to save the world. It was then that he decided to embark on a journey on his bicycle and raise awareness and educate the world about the impacts of global warming. This journey, over the course of the last decade, has changed his life.
“I don’t know to what extent my initiation has benefitted or will benefit the world but I believe that a change starts from a single person,” says Maharjan.
Driven by his desire to make a difference, Gyan Maharjan embarked on a remarkable journey, cycling through 20 countries. Over the past decade, he has been to 10 European nations such as Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark, as well as 10 Asian countries including South Korea, China, and Hong Kong.
Now, Maharjan is determined to carry on and explore more parts of the world, aiming to spread a crucial message about the importance of working towards negating climate change. His ultimate goal is to inspire individuals worldwide to take action and contribute towards a sustainable future.
Lessons learnt on foreign lands
During his journey, upon reaching different countries, Maharjan actively seeks out fellow Nepali community members, climate activists, and organisations with similar goals. Together, they join forces to organise events such as rallies, walkathons, and public discussions aimed at raising awareness about the pressing issue of global warming.
“The earth is at risk and everyone should be aware of it. That is my main mission,” he says.
So far he has been able to do so, he says. While spreading awareness about global warming, Maharjan’s journey has provided him with valuable opportunities to learn, particularly from developed nations. Immersed in their progressive environmental practices, he has gained insights into effective strategies for mitigating climate change.
“They are doing a lot. The use of solar power is quite common and many have started to promote bicycling,” he says.
He remembers a policy in South Korea that encourages the public to use bicycles.
“There is a provision for bicycle passbooks in South Korea. The more you travel on your bicycle, you will earn stamps and the government will provide rewards based on your achievements,” he says who adds Nepal needs to learn a lot from other countries to combat the issue of climate change.
Time for change
Kathmandu has time and again been listed as one of the most polluted cities in the world but the government has remained indifferent about it. “This is seriously disappointing,” he says.
According to Maharjan, there is a strong need for parks, green spaces, and cycling culture in urban areas of the country. The excessive use of private vehicles should be regulated, but there hasn’t been any significant policy-level initiative in that regard.
“Instead, deforestation is being promoted under the guise of urbanisation,” he says.
He believes things can change if concerned authorities become serious about the matter. The potential for hosting rafting in the Bagmati River remains untapped, as those in positions of power have yet to recognise this opportunity.
“The amount of effort that has been carried out in Nepal to address the issues of global warming is insufficient. They would not make any change,” he says.
To address the issue of climate change and global warming, Maharjan believes the government can take some immediate steps such as promoting bicycle culture and replacing the old vehicles that pollute the air.
Finance as a challenge
So far, Maharjan has relied on his personal savings to support his campaign, and managing finances has been one of the most challenging aspects for him.
He says he has knocked on the door of many government and private organisations for finance but all of them have ignored him. As he did not have funds, he had to skip many countries.
“It’s not easy doing this. But I’ll start once I have enough funds,” he says.
In 2019, Lalitpur Metropolitan City provided some funds for Maharjan’s campaign, but it proved to be insufficient, leading to his disappointment. Maharjan continues to approach various organisations in search of funds, as he requires support to expand his campaign worldwide.
“I am not running this campaign for myself, this is for everyone. So I am hopeful about getting the necessary funds in the future,” says Maharjan.
He says the more money he has, the more countries he can visit and the more people he will be able to make aware.