World Environment Day: Democratization of environmentally friendly technologies essential to save the world
By Dr Subi Chaturvedi,
The call for enhanced global cooperation for a decade of ecosystem restoration on this year’s World Environment Day is a major step in leading countries towards their sustainability goals. With around 50% of global GDP dependent on nature, the ecosystem restoration movement can help countries reap the economic dividends 30 times for every dollar invested. Therefore, the initiative keeps ecological, social and development priorities intact and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of various countries.
However, the world will only be able to achieve great restoration and conservation goals by initiating concrete actions towards the optimization of resources, the reduction of waste and the implementation of efficient systems. To make global action focused on climate change a reality, developing countries around the world must be equipped with environmentally friendly technologies.
For example, despite significant advances in science and technology, India, with its large population, generates 147,613 metric tons of solid waste per day. A significant percentage of waste paper comes from two main sources, newsprint and academic use. A 2015 study estimated that around 1.2 to 2.4 million tonnes of waste paper is generated in India from newsprint and 2.4 to 4.3 million tonnes from cardboard and blended paper , every year.
In addition, according to industry body ASSOCHAM, India became the fastest growing paper consumer in 2017-2018, recording production of over 20 million tonnes at an annual growth rate of 10%. It is clear that the high rate of paper consumption and generation of solid waste has its share of ecological impact. In recent times, the government has taken significant steps through Digital India, JAM trinity, and states have embraced digital holistically as well.
Fortunately, the 21st century has presented us with technological solutions that can dramatically reduce reliance on paper. Digitization can help reduce paper consumption and it is imperative for all relevant sectors to go digital in order to minimize the ecological impact. In the education sector in particular, digital gamification and play-based learning can revolutionize learning methods. Gamification and game-based learning have been shown to be more effective for learning than traditional books and lectures. It’s a win-win situation.
However, the digitization of the academic and media industries will only happen when we have a strong digital infrastructure nationwide, regardless of the terrain, and are able to make essential telecommunications gadgets such as phones, tablets and other equipment affordable and accessible to the last student and person. in the countryside. With the rapid adoption of emerging technologies in India, we can expect to see rapid and certain results. It also calls for a cultural and behavioral integration of a paperless lifestyle.
Digitization has a multi-layered and multi-dimensional impact. Technological innovations are helping countries begin the journey to cleaner forms of energy and a more electric and connected world. 21st century digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, IoT, big data, cloud computing, blockchain, geographic information systems and many more, have a wide range of applications across all sectors.
These technologies can also lead to the creation of greener and smarter homes, workplaces and cities with better waste management technologies, stronger health care infrastructure and other eco-friendly solutions. ‘environment. They will also boost global sustainability efforts by reducing carbon emissions on the one hand and strengthening ecosystem restoration and conservation efforts on the other.
On this World Environment Day, startups are leading the charge for sustainable products and practices. Responding to the call for sustainable technology and technological solutions, thousands of startups have emerged in recent years to tackle climate change and create solutions that replace existing products and practices that are harmful to the environment. Startups are challenging existing work structures, having implemented practices such as ‘work from home’ (WFH) and felxi hours long before the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to do so. A good majority of studies on the energy efficiency of the WFH have determined that it is better for the environment because less energy and resources are spent. With startups now looking for solutions that harness solar and wind energy in addition to electrical, hydroelectric and geothermal potential, we are looking for cleaner and more sustainable solutions. The younger generation is also more committed to the social causes they believe in, and businesses with a purpose tend to be more attractive. Dutch start-up The Ocean Clean Up has a simple mission, to rid the oceans of plastic by designing technologies that work for good, founded by Boyen Slat, a 26-year-old former aerospace engineering student who is now an entrepreneur and inventor. Dutch.
It should be emphasized here that thanks to the visionary leadership of the Indian government, we have embarked on the digital India journey for a few years now and are making rapid progress in this direction. However, this case is not just about India. The world needs as much effort for the democratization of environmentally friendly technologies as it does for climate change. As we watch an emerging crisis, countries, their populations, governments and private companies should come together to share best practices, learnings and support technology with the sole purpose of helping every nation achieve its SDGs. The world is slowly learning to do this after the COVID 19 crisis, as we are discovering more and more so that by helping others, you are helping yourself in an increasingly interconnected and co-dependent world.
The global democratization of technology and the implementation of technological solutions in high impact sectors are essential to reduce our impact on the environment. Sustainability efforts need modern technologies to be successful, which will open new avenues for achieving higher economic growth and social development while maximizing the use and efficiency of resources and reducing the carbon footprint and ecological impact. Technology is expected to play a pivotal role in the execution of large-scale ecosystem restoration programs and would be crucial in instilling value in nature by educating and raising awareness, triggering behavior change and inspiring action. among individuals and societies. This puts the factory and its employees first and it makes good business sense as well, with ESG, environment and social governance also being the new touchstone for investor ratings.
The pandemic has certainly put the priorities in order, for most of us: health above all else. And health is intrinsically linked to the environment. Innovation is the benchmark for progress, but when it comes to the detriment of our environment, is it really progress? After all, aren’t innovations supposed to improve our lives? These are the key questions we face today. We need all large businesses and small businesses, policy makers and application managers, policy makers and users, to join hands in the mission of a better and healthier future. We owe it to future generations to leave them a planet worthy of where we came from as a civilization. We have to leave this place better than we found it. Only then can we claim to have lived a meaningful life, and we can only do so if we do so together, as a global community. And take an environment and people-centric approach to all the best-laid plans to make our goals more scalable and sustainable. It’s time we not only do the right thing at the right time, but get on track and stay on track to the finish line, putting purpose and social good at the heart of it all. that we do.
(The author is a distinguished public policy professional, a committed environmentalist, former member of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum, the multi-stakeholder advisory group, and chair of the FICCI subcommittee on Women in Technology, policy and leadership. Tweets @subichaturvedi. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)