Climate and Sustainability Centre, Sri Sri University Organises National Symposium on Sustainability

The Centre Establishes Annual Award on Sustainability Promotion

1. First Odisha Sustainability Promotion Award Conferred on Dr. Sita Kantha Dash
2. The symposium calls for the integration of science and humanities for climate resilience
3. Experts call for involving students, faculty, and staff to start green campus campaigns
4. Expert apologizes to students and GenNext for environmental degradation.
5. Sustainability stressed as a way of life and Centre to prepare training modules for youth leaders.
Cuttack: Sri Sri University’s Resource Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education and Practices (RCSEP) organized a National Symposium on Sustainability in Practice to create awareness on climate change and sustainability practices, develop national and global partnerships to undertake research in this area and train future glocal leaders in sustainability. The center has also established an annual award to felicitate a leading figure in the area of climate change and sustainability.

The inaugural Odisha Sustainability Promotion Award 2019 was conferred on Dr. Sita Kantha Dash of the United States of America, a renowned scientist who pioneered a probiotic movement in the world, and a leading philanthropist who has established several institutions in Odisha and the United States to carry forward research and advocacy in the areas of sustainability. He received the award for his unique intervention to transform Odisha as a disaster and climate-resilient state through his path-breaking initiatives like plantations and solar energy.

The inaugural session of the symposium had Prof. Ashok Kumar Das, Vice-Chairperson, Odisha State Higher Education Council, Government of Odisha as the Chief Guest. Other guests of honour who addressed during the inauguration were Mr. Aditya Pundir, the India Country Manager of Climate Reality (USA), Prof Saroj K. Nayak of IIT Bhubaneswar, Dr. Binaya Bhushan Jena of NIFT Bhubaneswar, Prof. Prafulla Dhal of JK Paper Mills, Dr. Sita Kantha Dash, Chairman and Founder, UAS Laboratories, USA, Ms. Rajita Kulkarni, President, Sri Sri University, Prof. Ajay Kumar Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Sri University.

Prof. P. Srinivas Subbarao, Dean, Faculty of Management Studies and the Director of the Resource Centre welcomed the guests and introduced Ms. Rajita Kulkarni, the President of Sri Sri University. He stressed on the need for such collaborative symposiums and workshops in order to strengthen knowledge and practice in climate resilience and sustainability. Ms. Kulkarni who is a dynamic global leader addressed the participants through skype and encouraged the students and faculty members to work towards a common goal of sustainability. She shared the history of Sri Sri University and how this ‘once a barren land’ inspired by the philosophy and global initiatives of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has been transformed into a green campus.

Prof Prafulla Dhal introduced the theme and highlighted the reason behind the symposium. He shared the past work of the resource center in areas of training students in climate change, one million fruit tree plantations and suggested a future plan of action in the areas of climate resilience and sustainability in practice. Mr. Aditya Pundir stressed on forming a loop of the 4 Ps of sustainability viz., People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace. He inspired the youth present to work towards bringing innovation in the vast field of sustainability and to focus on getting efficient, win-win sustainable solutions to the existing environmental problems. He even talked about the importance of the Green Campus Program where activities like Water Management, Waste Management, Energy Conservation, Biodiversity, should be taken up by all campuses to contribute to making a sustainable environment.

Dr. Saroj Kumar Nayak emphasized on the convergence of sustainable practices with financing and welcomed the students to come up with innovative financial, architectural models for an effective sustainable solution both for university campuses and for the larger society. Dr. Binaya Bhushan Jena shared how NIFT Bhubaneswar has created a global buzz around sustainable fashion and has given a call to make fashion inclusive. He shared how NIFT has taken several initiatives including farm to fashion, creating a plastic-free campus and adopting other sustainable practices like bamboo-based dustbins and natural dye plantations.

Prof Ajay Kumar Singh, VC Sri Sri University shared the success story of Sri Sri University in the areas of green campus, sustainability and climate resilience. He highlighted the contribution of students and faculty members who worked together to apply for UI Green Metrics World University Ranking and secured 12th rank in India and 416th rank at the global level. He shared his happiness to host climate leaders on campus and urged everyone to strengthen the center’s work in research, training, and advocacy.

Chief Guest Prof Ashok Das argued in favor of the integration of science, humanities, and social sciences to fight climate change and to develop resilience. He stressed on the behavioral change aspect of climate change advocacy where he highlighted the need of in-depth knowledge of society, culture, people’s mindset, and the requisite language and communication skills to engage with communities. Award winner Dr. Sita Kantha Dash shared his journey as an Odia scientist in the United States and how he struggled in his initial days. He offered students and faculty members at Sri Sri University to continue to focus on research and innovation and extended offer of support for higher studies and research projects.

Dr. Geeta Vaidyanath, Faculty of Architecture, Sri Sri University, first apologized to the students on behalf of her generation who have nearly destroyed the environment, for whom she took moral responsibility. She narrated the model of bio-circulatory and discussed various sustainability practices adopted by Sri Sri University and beyond. Mr. Manavendra Pratap Singh, Faculty of Management Studies, Sri Sri University, said that sustainability is a value that needs to be cultivated from the grass-root level. During the Q&A sustainability experts, academicians and students participated to discuss various sustainability practices in Odisha and on the university campuses that can be followed, replicated and customized to achieve a better environment for the future generation to live in.

Mr. Surjya Narayan Patro, the Hon’ble Speaker of Odisha Legislative and Mr. Sujeet Kumar, Hon’ble Advisor of the Special Development Councils (SDCs) Assembly sent messages of support and best wishes for the national symposium. Prof Kamala Kanta Dash was the anchor of the symposium and thanked the knowledge partners like IIT Bhubaneswar and NIFT Bhubaneswar for their support; thanked Vice-Chancellor Prof Ajaya Kumar Singh and President Ms. Rajita Kulkarni for encouragement and support; and thanked the team at the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) for effective coordination and smooth organization of the national symposium.