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Raul Aaron David, Writer
Being the change the world needs.
The National Conference on Climate Change 2016
NCCCKol16 was two days where delegates from all over India explored, learned and exchanged ideas towards practical and achievable alternative energy frameworks. ClimateChangeConferences (CCC) are organised at national or state level by Caritas India and a local partner, here Seva Kendra Calcutta. The Conference included a special Session with Student Delegates, chaired by Environmentalist Sunita Narain.

Kolkata – On the 14 and 15 of March 2016, Kolkata played host to the National Conference on Climate Change (NCCCKol16). The word was out for a couple of weeks before the Conference began, with #bringbackthegreen and #ccckol flooding social networking sites. The one-of-a-kind conference, hosted at Kolkata for the first time, exposed and debated the challenges and solutions toward the mitigation of Climate change, within the theme, “Strengthening Climate Action Through Alternate Energy Options.”

The opening day of the conference was inaugurated by the Hon. Mr. Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner to East and North East India. He highlighted that now is the time to take action, else we would have to suffer all the effects of Climate Change. He also mentioned how the British Government is collaborating to strengthen adaptation and mitigation in Bengal through agencies like the Kolkata Municipal Corporation among others. The other dignitaries present on the day included Rev Dr Frederick D'Souza, Director, Caritas India, Shri Suresh Kumar, Principal Sec., Dept. of Disaster Management, Govt. WB, Mr. Asadur Rahman, Chief, UNICEF office for WB, Most Rev Lumen Monterio CSC, Bishop of Agartala, Chairman, Caritas India.

The Keynote Address was given by Ms Karuna A Singh, the Country Director, of EarthDay Network. The Conference sessions on Day One saw a mix of industry, Government and NGO speakers from different parts of the nation on the Topics like “Alternate Energy Options for Development,” “Policy Options and Government Initiatives,” and “Financial Mechanisms in Renewable Energy.”

On the 15 March, a walking rally from St. Teresa’s Church, Moulali, to The Oberoi Grand with school children from 20 city schools joining the delegates, opened the day. “Laudato si’ – The Encyclical and its Impact” started the sessions, held at the Oberoi Ballroom, with Fr Allwyn D’Silva, Head, Archdiocesan Office for Environment, Secretary, Climate Change Desk; Fed of Asian Bishop’s Conferences. The most interesting session of the Conference began after the tea-break. “ChangeMakers: Community Best Practices in Local Energy Initiatives,” which featured innovators, who were the torchbearers in their communities, using alternate energy sources for solving problems in appropriate, sustainable and low cost ways. This was followed by a Special Address by the energetic and passionate Dr Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment. .

Dr Vincent Moller of
Germany shows how the
country switched on

As her words reverberated across the ballroom, they fueled the fire latent deep within each delegate to spark a change in their respective communities. An Open House, chaired her followed, and the distinguished panel featuring “Solar Man of India” Dr SP Gon Chaudhuri, interacted with the Student Delegates, who had been invited specially for this session. The young people served up some food for thought - very radical and relevant questions - for the panel, who at times were noticeably hesitant to answer.

Rev Dr Franklin Menezes, Director, Seva Kendra Calcutta, presented the final Declaration to bring the event to a close. The proposals in the Declaration would see at least three new “Solar Villages” being set up over the next 3 years, and other initiatives for which Seva Kendra Calcutta and Caritas India would be accountable. The event organisers were presented a “Planet-friendly Event Certification” from EarthSmiles.net’s PlanetPoints programme for their conscious effort to keep the carbon emissions of the conference to the minimum, through a variety of efforts like appointing a Green Leader, having an environmental management plan, while also using mass transport for the delegates, one-side used pads and recycled pens and not allowing bottled water, etc. Finally, the Vote of Thanks was proposed by Dr. Pallab De of Caritas India to bring the curtains down on the Conference.

Student Delegates from handpicked city schools we allowed to field questions on Climate change during the Open House.

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