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Sustainable idea: Habitat -III; can it deliver what Habitat -I & II could not?


Habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism.It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds (influences and is utilized by) a species population.

Habitat III is the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to take place in 2016.

Habitat III will bring together cities, governments, civil society, the private sector, education institutions and interest groups to review urban and housing policies affecting the future of cities within an international governance architecture and to generate a ‘New Urban Agenda’ for the 21st century which recognizes the ever-changing dynamics of human civilization.  Habitat III will benefit from recent experiences of cities and their partnerships with different stakeholders, including city-to-city partnerships, private sector participation and engagement of different types of grass-roots federations that demonstrate the potential to create greener, more resilient and more liveable cities. – (more).
And that is where the problem lies. Modern Humans can not build shelters to house themselves without displacing each and every other living stake holder of this Planet. Whenever Human civilization has thrived, there has been habitat loss.This systematic loss is now manifesting itself with so much force that many more need to understand the true meaning of sustainable living.
It is therefore imperative that we interpret the meaning and form of Habitat, from the perspective of a common man. And that includes and most importantly so the Politicians, who sitting in the governments are the chief ratifiers of policy. Politicians at best are social scientists. Those who are qualified usually draw their strengths from finance and law. Thus the concept of Habitat which should be based on the ecological and the environmental gets confused with shelter for Humans in the eyes of the uninitiated.This has gone unnoticed all but by a few environmentalists until now. Therefore  there is a lot to be done.
While it’s good to follow the golden rule of – ” once you don’t succeed, try try try again !”
One must notice that we are given only three chance. There is never time for the fourth, as Armageddon is upon us by then.
Habitat -III  in its true sense must being to mean -” the only habitable planet in this Universe”. EARTH.

While the intent of United Cities and Local Governments (ULGC) in noble, as with every United Nation linked program; support for propagation of its ideas must be intensified. It must begin with advocating the ills of present form of unsustainable Urban living to what must be the ideal. And for that it must showcase the ills of the present, while bring out the solutions to fore which can be easily understood and adopted by even the most disinterested citizen of that city.

When we achieve that. The original Habitat (  Gaia read Earth ) may just give us the one last chance, we so desperately need; to continue leaving our footprints in the sand of time for a little while more.

That we are destroying the habitat, is understood by some. Heard by many and being acted upon by a very dedicated few. However to make this into a mass movement we need to conclusively and continuously prove how our present habitat  & life-style is destroying us. Each link tells us a story. What is needed is that the story be read not only by those who already know. But forced upon those who don’t care to.

Blaring sound during Ganpati forces seniors, kids to take precaution to avoid health hazards

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

Second dengue death in two weeks in city, blame game on

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

Now, top floor residents’ nod must to install mobile tower

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

Unable to conceive? Blame it on stress, say Mumbai doctors

Mumbaikars are stressed out.– these are news headlines which hit the Newspapers of the city of Mumbai with a monotonous regularity.

Mumbai or the city of Bombay as it was called by the British is indeed a “maya nagari”.  Maya in the Hindi language means illusion.

Just as the birth of this city, which seems solid but is just a land-fill between seven shallow islands surrounded by the Arabian sea. So is the lives of those who live here. For the outside world it is all pomp and show of Bollywood (Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra, India.) but those living mostly sweat it out like a Slumdog; while dreaming of becoming a millionaire.

Maya!

CityNotice any residential project advertisement in any media in Mumbai. And one would never fail to find  picturesque images surrounding the proposed project in all sides. Even if the project is situated in the heart of the city of Mumbai !

 In the quest of living around scenic countryside we keep building on top of the same ground which attracted us with its pristine untouched beauty.

There is a saying – “you can’t eat a cake and keep it too.”To live alongside nature one must respect what is natural. Be one with Nature.

NA plotsBecause a healthy Habitat can not be built of carcass of the dead. By destroying an ecosystem, the indigenous flora & fauna, to expect Gaia to cheer for our well-being is a misplaced thought.

The end result is and always will be Maya – the illusion !

ugly city

 

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Green Bussiness Idea: Sustainable Trade Practice is possible.


Driving the circular economyIn the recently concluded Accenture Sustainability 24 Webinar, closed loop recycling was given its due weight-age. The beautiful explanation  in info-graphics must be shared for one and all in this planet to understand the importance of sustainability. As one reads through this article while the graphics scrolls side by side (click to enlarge graphics) one would be amazed as to how easy it is to understand that we are at the very edge of entering a resource depleted world.

A BBC Special report on Thursday, 25 October 2007 gave State of the planet, in graphics with these comments – Globally human populations are growing, trade is increasing, and living standards are rising for many. But, according to the UN’s latest Global Environment Outlook report, long-term problems including climate change, pollution, access to clean water, and the threat of mass extinctions are being met with “a remarkable lack of urgency”. Global Environment Outlook [21.9MB]

The implications of this is evident from the various events which are unfolding is bits and pieces between then and 2013 AD. If seen from a perspective, one can easily see that as resources become scarce and traditional monopolies erode, regional and international tensions are bound to grow. And the tragedy is that sustainable practices would become the first casualty. Simply because it is perhaps the only sunshine industry in this despondent atmosphere.

China solar panel imports investigated by European Union &  China files EU solar subsidy complaint with WTO are just a few headlines on anti-dumping and protection news in the BBC webpage.

As long as the paradigm of Business and Trade remains entrapped in the archaic mode, our lifestyle will not let us stop from consuming 5 times of what is available to live sustainably. Even while we clearly understand that we are living in a shrinking world Graphicof resources.

While in Germany the primer company Solar World is anxious at the way the state of China is helping its domestic industry to produce cheaper Solar panels thus foreboding doom for stellar Solar PV company; somewhere in Britain nascent industries which make the balance of systems for the SPV’s are happy at the rise of the Dragon and would in no way want anti-dumping laws to be initiated against China.

Thus there are no easy solution out of this.That is if we still continue to follow the same patterns of Trade & Politics since Marco Polo.

However, we don’t need to and can’t afford to do any more.

While I can’t even think of suggesting Economics or Socio-Politics to the masters of the game, I do believe that at times simple ideas become the stepping stone of success. What is needed is to pick up the best created by the masters themselves and apply some innovation.

If we look at the idea of the Public Distribution System (PDS); better understood in India as ration shops and the concept of MNREGA we perhaps could create an idea which can at least be a fair attempt to slow down the depletion of resources until better model of adaptation and mitigation is developed in this rapidly warming Globe to give us the chance to live Sustainably.

The Circular economy advocates in the graph alongside show how from Minerals,Metals to Fossil fuel we are looking at an increase of consumption of 118% in just a span of 20 years (AD 2010-2030 ).

GraphHow this exponential increase would effect the planet is well documented in the 3 graphs above. The human ecological footprint is way above the straight line of the Biocapacity of this planet.And that straight line was created by Nature in a complex chain of event which we are still “researching” on.

With this piece of evidence I would reinforce my humble thought that, its time we think of a global rationing system. From Minerals to Metals to Fossil Fuel. It is time to put a stop to this mindless Business As Usual model.

Let us explore and expand the idea further.

The word Execution has very ominous meaning.

And some gentlemen have played their part in the destruction of this Planet very well in their Avatars as CEO’s. It is time when, we yank those CEO’s who should actually be the “Chief Environment Officer” as was mentioned during the Sustainability 24 – 2013 Webinar; than Chief Executive Officers. And make them responsible for the preservation and judicious use of  resources which are finite.

And let the Academicians and Scientist, instead of Trade & Political pundits of all Nations sit and decide the quantum of Quota which should be applied to de-pressurise the planets resource utilization.

Once they have achieved this, let the Corporates and MSME’s come in a common platform to innovate and scale up the process of  R’s. Reuse -Recycle-Refuse-Regenerate and thus like a Phoenix rise from a linear economic model to that of a Circular economy.

Additionally we must through the help of UN make this a true ONE WORLD than just a lyric in a song. To do that we can start by stopping to  count human population and poverty Country wise.

It is time we talk of Human population and poverty in global perspective rather than roll out the demography of a Country. Why should there be a rule of one child per couple in one country while there are no such limitations in another? Do we count insects, birds, fishes and other animal species in such a fashion?

Does it not occur to the most intelligent of animal species that the impact of Human is no more localized? If we have 9 Billion people with only, say as few as 500,000 in some Arctic country and a Billion in another, does it really mean that the one with higher demography is consuming it’s own resources more and the country with less population has limited impact on the consumption of produce within its own geographical limits and beyond? It is the Human species which has created a Political boundary into a Geographical one.

The planet and its forces do not conform to it. Read up on any Earthquake or Tsunami.

It encompasses all and everything from Minerals, Metals to Fossil Fuel and Life itself. No one Nations owns one over the other. No one Nations has aplenty while it is scarce for the other.

And  the Geographical boundary begins and finishes with the Sphere itself.

And to retain that life which till date is understood to be found only in this Sphere called Earth, we must ration its resources.

Production of each and every goods must be based on a quantum per year. Recycling and consumption of recycled products by each country in equal measure should be mandatory. No hand -outs to so called Third World Country, while the rich retain the right to plunder.

The issue of trade and economy can be addressed by the WTO quite well. Never was there a time when one country has not felt aggrieved and the other supposedly advantaged, in the polarized World we live in. And never will it be possible to think rationally until we actually become United as a Nation. Understand the power as well as the limitation of being ONE.

Sustainability can be practised and the concept of Circular Economy can truly succeed only if each Nation agrees to follow a rotary format of what it can produce and consume every five to ten years cycle. Shorter or longer cycle can be put in place depending on the type of industry and its gestation period.

And the most important aspect perhaps for success of such ideas is that of Human resources. Why should there be competition say for example, amongst IT professionals of one Nation with that of the other? Why can’t the Countries on whose share development of IT and its related products fall, pool all the best Human Resources across Nations? And here too individual professionals can be rotated based on the numbers, thus giving each a guaranteed employment such as in MNREGA, which I mentioned above at the start.

This model would insure equity in participation from all Nationals in making this World a better place to live in while in the process Wealth instead of Riches can be created.

If there would be even an iota of rational thinking in this process, I would request all those who can think and act better to reach out and make it happen.

 

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Business As Usual – a sure-fire guide to kill Sustainable Development Goals.


“Only Rupees Two ?. What about the rent of my roof ? With Mumbai realty prices starting at Rupees 6000/ feet square, I only get to save Rs.2 per KW on my electrical consumption and that too for a measly 20years ? A minimum of Rs 4 should be considered. After all it will be installed on my roof and it makes perfect business sense to bargain for more. After all the investor is doing this for profit and not for charity. It must be business as usual for him.”

With EPC for solar hovering at 8.5 Crore  shaving Rs. 4 out of 10 left us with a number which no investor who is not a buccaneer would touch and no banker would believe in. Especially when the user, does not have to pay a single Paise for the Engineering – Procurement – Construction (EPC) or pay for its Operation & Maintenance (O&M)  of the Solar power plant, but just consume the power produced for the full period of 20 years. And the Return on Investment comes via the tariff the user pays monthly, adjusted over the length of the contract.

In my effort to save the planet from global warming, I was pleasantly surprised when a few RESCO ( renewable energy service company ) approached me with the idea of applying Solar Photovoltaic as an alternate day-time energy source for large commercial establishments. It was like manna from heaven. What more could a practising LEED / GRIHA consultant want ? It would make all my buildings much more “greener” than the other green buildings. It was like a dream come true. Thus I ventured out to increase the ambition of my clients to go for Green Building certification, comforted by the fact that I would accrue more points on the certification scale with use of all that is possible with Solar Power.

Little did I know, that no one would be interested in utilizing such opportunity unless they could bargain for more. It is a typical tendency of all Human today. We always seek more. Even in death we seek more. While our ashes would hardly fill a small Urn, we like to have a few hectare of land as memorial. Everybody wants to build the Taj Mahal; the largest tomb-stone of this planet.

Capitalism and Greed ruled then. It rules now. The only difference is that the Emperor did not have to worry about Global Warming and sinking of the landmass under the sea !

It is therefore imperative that the Business As Usual model changes. Nations must act in unison to delete the present Capitalist meaning of Business as Usual. Simply because we are living in unusual times. This trend is evident even at the UNFCCC meets, which have now become more of a tour operators delight and the host country which wins the next round of meeting, prepares like one does after winning the Olympics, to rake in the moolah that would come from packed hotels; a sure-fire way to end the lean seasons of a city. And the repeated failure to come into concrete agreements since the Copenhagen Summit only lays credence to the alleged fact.

People follow the path shown by their leaders. When industry captains and world leaders apply the fundamentals of capitalism and have through that applications benefited self and the Nation in the past, it is hard for the common man not to practice it in one form or the other. In India, since Independence we have followed and still follow the L1 format. Everything has to be sasta-sunder-majboot ( cheap & best ). That we have a major scam a day and still considered 3rd world proves that we are wrong and horribly so. A few shiny glass buildings in 4 metropolis does not change the facts. All an unbeliever needs to do, is come to Mumbai and while staying in any tall-building wish not to spot slum & squalor. His/her prayers would not be answered.

It is therefore necessary for the leaders to take the responsibility of preaching the SREX Report and also the (IWR) Inclusive Wealth Report in our collective bid to forward the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG)

Millennium Development Goals Postcards

Millennium Development Goals Postcards (Photo credit: US Mission Geneva)

The Eight paths towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  2. Achieving universal primary education,
  3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women,
  4. Reducing child mortality rates,
  5. Improving maternal health,
  6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  7. Ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  8. Developing a global partnership for development

Which one can achieve by applying the SDG’s charter

  • Action-oriented
  • Concise
  • Easy to communicate
  • Limited in number
  • Aspirational
  • Global in nature
  • Universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.

Till now MDG has hardly percolated to the leaves just below the bud, forget reaching the grass-root.

The way I understand it, the Goal – Ensuring Environmental Sustainability should be the first and foremost focus. It needs to be action oriented and not conference oriented. Because conference by default don’t help in communicating easily. It is meant for the class not mass. And the class already aware of the subject are achieving almost everything as envisioned as long as it serves their narrow interest . It is the pace which is hardly comforting even if one accounts for the narrow interest oriented improvements the agenda of the rich promote.

How difficult would it be for the United Nations, to communicate directly to millions of internet users on a sustained basis and engage them on an one-to-one conversation to partake in Sustainable practice? Which directly benefit them, and thus allow them to make informed choices. How difficult is it that the World leaders come together and de-link the process of sustainable living and its practical methods from the BAU model as practised in the present flawed market system ? Why should the IRR (internal rate of return) and RoI (return on investment) be calculated based on a flawed capitalist system where profit always means self aggrandisement?

Why cant the World Bank and Economists innovate the datum through which sustainable tools and its products get measured for its RoI against the IWR ?

The logic is as follows. Should say, the Government of India decide that following MDG goal # 7 – all Buildings, Factories and Commercial  establishments opt for Renewable energy, as viable depending on the location, these are perhaps a few things that is bound to happen.

A) As the power consumption through fossil fuel would reduce, the pressure on the exchequer too would reduce. This is because we can import less oil. Now with the saved petro-dollars the government can implement all the social up-liftment programmes namely MDG goal 1; 2; 4; 5 & 6.

B) Large Hydle-powered dams would not be needed to be built any more and the lush green ecosystem which along with a few hundred villages, and with it the future of villagers would not have to sink into oblivion. This would directly save many from abject poverty and migration to cities to increase the size of slums. In fact the villagers could benefit by having some electricity themselves and improve their lot as mentioned in my earlier article Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. while the government benefits further.

C) While promoting gender equality requires the discipline and sobriety fast disappearing from our political class, as evident from the comments they have given on media in recent and not so recent incidents of crime against women. Empowering women can also be possible through use of RE, a few ideas on them can be found in my article Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.And through this too, as explained in the article the government can save on cross-subsidy and full-fill its promises for uplifting its countrymen.

It is business as usual for one political party not to allow an individual politician form a competing party to implement a good idea, which has mass appeal. Simply because in the next round of election the statesman may win against the politician.

Perhaps at the end of 1000 days in 2015, we will know whether we really achieved what was envisaged in the MDG or we still have to look beyond for the Future We Want.

 

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Sustaining Mumbai – making possible, the impossible.


English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following up on my thoughts expressed in earlier articles Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.and Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth has become important once more because of the recent developments which are taking place in the Realty Sector of Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Maharashtra. And similar development must be happening around the country can not be discounted. Governance is a political art, which requires a person while practising politics to become a Statesman. Sadly the time of Statesmen of Indian politics have long gone. Today we are burdened with most who have no foresight. And those who do are not making much difference because of the overwhelming odds. While many by now are aware of Sustainable Development Goals,very few understand it. Therein lies the problem. Sustainable development is holistic and all encompassing and approaching it must take all stake-holders into account in every step of the way. National policies must get formulated based on a singular principle of development which is the same at Union and Federal level devoid of vote bank politics. And the most important thought which all must understand is the inter-connectivity of events. Nothing can happen is isolation. Seemingly diverse subjects happening in different parts of the Globe are inexplicably related, not obvious to casual observation. The sentiment of which I had tried to capture in Sustainable Living : How to read the seemingly unrelated dots which coalesce together to create disasters.

With the general elections around the corner in 2014 and the debilitating fiscal deficit due to populist measures carried on too long, India Inc. is poised dangerously to make mistakes detrimental to Climate Change abatement. Mistakes not because it would want to do so as a deliberate act; but because short-term economic gains which make for “good development” would take precedence over common sense. While there is no escape that Economic development brings in prosperity, it also brings in the Acid Rain and Ozone Hole in its wake. Facts no Economist or Corporate Czar or Government can deny as fiction. And which is further vindicated by the article recently published by World Resource Institute: New National Climate Assessment Shows America on Course for Unprecedented Warming: A new federal report reveals alarming statistics on climate change. According to the 3rd National Climate Assessment, released in draft form today from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the world could warm by more than 12°F by the end of the century if action isn’t taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The evidence is clear and mounting,” said WRI’s president, Andrew Steer, in response to the report. “The United States sits at the center of the climate crisis. Record heat is devastating crops, rivers are drying up, and storms are bearing down on our cities. Climate change is taking its toll on people and their economies, and will only become more intense without a strong and rapid response here in the United States and around the globe. It’s not too late to take action, but given lags in policy and geophysical processes, the window is closing.” This assessment comes on the heels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) announcement earlier this week that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. According to NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, the country saw 356 all-time temperature highs (and only four all-time lows) tied or broken and experienced 11 extreme weather events each causing more than $1 billion in damages.

What India must do, is to fall back on its infinite wisdom and believe in its people to bring about Economic prosperity balanced with Ecological sensitivity which is inherent in the Indian culture. And its Corporate Czars schooled in the western model of “prosperity” & “development” take the care to adopt the best practices inherent in the western model while indigenising  the path to progress. Only then India can become the torch-bearer in  ways mentioned in the recently published  Inclusive Wealth Report 2012.

And to begin, we can adopt sensible design approach in developing the satellite cities around the megalopolis of Mumbai. And also at the same time improve the living conditions of Mumbai. We must at all cost not try make a Shanghai out of Mumbai, but a climate resilient Mumbai. It is no secret that while China can be called the next economic giant; in the markets of India flooded with cheap Chinese goods, one would never find a vendor giving a guarantee on any Chinese product. Thus India, must learn to be wary of the fast and shiny “growth” of China and try not to emulate it. And that applies to developing future cities too.

Pollution at dangerous levels in Beijing
Beijing: Dense smog shrouded Beijing on Saturday, with pollution at hazardous levels for a second day and residents advised to stay indoors, state media said. The municipal environment warning centre issued an alert advising the elderly, children, and those suffering respiratory or cardiovascular illness to avoid going out or doing strenuous exercise. Those who did venture out wore face-masks for protection, with visibility low and the sun hidden in the smog.

This could easily be happening in Mumbai or New Delhi ( which too is very highly polluted) in the immediate future if development measures are not taken in accordance to the ecological consideration. While the unfortunate news of Beijing is no cause for glee and may not completely be due to bad urban planning. The fact that Urban Planning plays a major role can not be discounted. What India needs to do, is already known to many experts. And there lies the problem. The people are not aware of it. And as long as there is no participation form the people, the governments would not make it main-stream. Thus the need to advertise and spread awareness on Sustainable Living becomes more urgent as we climb closer to the 2°Centigrade Global rise in temperature. While some basic collections of ideas from WBCSD are mentioned in Building A Low Carbon Economy with Energy Efficient Buildings We begin with a few suggestions which we can easily implement and in the shortest possible time to make the City of  Mumbai a Climate resilient city.

The Underpass Hawking zone:

FS

Example : Fashion Street Underpass Hawking Zone at Church gate Mumbai

Let us begin with de-congesting our city foot-paths from ill-legal hawkers. The very word “ill-legal” causes confusion. How can poor and needy people earn an honest lively-hood, if not sell their wares in the busy city streets ? It is hard and at-times frustrating work to just earn enough to eat. And good governance must cater to providing equal earning opportunity to all. But before the corrupt governance authorities start patting each others back, while collecting “hafta” ( protection money a la Mafia style ) they must ensure that the city which is choking in its own filth and squalor gets a new lease of life. Existing  & new municipal laws must be applied to get rid of the menace of squatters on public space while providing them with alternate means within the same area which Mumbai planners are mulling now and should be supported only if planned properly, within the existing City and rules framed to cater to such eventuality at the design stage itself for upcoming Urban centers . The concept can be repeated in many places in the suburbs too. Thus keeping the popularity and thereby the business potential of the place intact while correcting the wrongs in Urban planning. One must bear in mind that the flea market is symbiotic to all the eateries and entertainment centre within its geographical proximity as youth often take these outings to as a package deal – shopping -cum- cinema – cum – fast-food. Which has a direct bearing on the economy. Thus sustainability is a complex system which needs to be understood from all aspects.

Example: De-congesting Andheri Suburban Station and Terrace Farming

Example:De-congesting Andheri Suburban Station and Terrace Farming

The same concept can also be applied around the rail stations and if possible the rail ministry itself should promote above the tracks or above the platforms the vegetable markets & shopping areas, run by the illegal and “legal” hawkers encroaching the city foot-path and spilling over the foot over-bridges and streets. Railways would mint profit from the vertical space it owns. Not only by selling of vegetables but also growing some of it, It would provide direct employment opportunities to the land-less farmers who come to the city losing their land due to various reasons. The hands that feed the Nations must never be lifted to beg for alms; if we really want it that way, then we must act towards doing so. And in the process we shall also be de-congesting the streets, especially near the Dadar suburban station where nearly a third of the street is packed with fruit, vegetable and flower sellers; which the administration turns a blind eye to, while vehicular movement suffer and belch more noxious GHG fumes in the process. Imagine creating such facilities every 5th station along the Western, Central and Harbour suburban rail lines. The greenery itself would reduce the heat-island effect. And in the process also remove from the city roads quite a few smoke belching tempos, carrying stale vegetables, improve direct contact between consumer and farmer, thus earnings of the lot improves and sustainability wins.

Bus Depot

Example: Vertical Farming over Dindoshi Bus Depot

But we all know that just the rail stations and the space above the platforms would not suffice feeding a hungry city. We would require more space. And that space is available right at the centre of the city, waiting to be exploited by the municipal authorities.The Bus Depots. Mumbai has bus depots both large and small dotting the city. All one needs to understand is that the vertical space can be utilized for the betterment of the society while bringing in some hard currency to the B.E.S.T undertaking. Taking one of the big bus depots in the suburb, the Dindoshi bus depot at Goregoan as a pilot project, we can create vertical farms similar to the ones Singapore is building with great success. Why do we need to wait to import the technology ? When IIT- Bombay is just a few miles away?  That the Government of most Asian Nations are goofy, is understood; but we have some of the top notch Corporate Czars residing in this city and a few do dabble in the fresh food market. They must take the opportunity before Wal-Mart comes up with a proposal.

Parking

Example: Elevated foot-path with hawkers gallery and parking space underneath in Bandra suburb.

While the above will take care to some degree the pressure on fresh-food and vegetables, Mumbai being a dynamic city which keeps growing, the pressure on infrastructure is enormous. And the most telling is transport. We have to find ways to de-congest the city streets. While to some extent people do use VoIP to do their business, for Mumbai the government of the day must utilize the idea of virtual office. VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ?While it would certainly reduce traffic on the roads, it would still not solve the problem of parking. The idea mooted earlier, of providing extra FSI ( floor space index ) to developers who allow for municipal car parks, as usual got mired in corruption and controversy. With hardly any relief to the problem it was supposed to address. The principal reason being two-folds. First, it is dependent on the location of the building vis a vis a congested road and second availability of re-development along those congested area to the developer. Thus we have buildings far and few which can cater to the requirement. So, the next best thing we can do is create elevated foot-paths and then allow for parking under it.

Bandra

Example: Underground hawking space, for displaced hawkers in new city areas.

While we must find solutions to the existing city of Mumbai, we must not let the city fringe become hostage to the same mess, Mumbai is facing. All the warning signs are already available, if one looks at the up-coming development around a SEZ and proposed International Airport of Mumbai. Why we have this mess has been mentioned in the article Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth.and I quote : The common person does not think twice before littering the street or not buying from illegal vendors who occupy most of Mumbai foot-paths and foot-over-bridges. In fact it is a welcome sign, to have the first illegal grocery, tea/cigarette kiosk next to the new building  which comes up in far-off locality. Any architect, who has worked in far-off sites, would empathise with me at the relief one gets when a small tea & cigarette shop opens up opposite the construction site across the road; where one can relax the tired limbs and have a “cutting-chai”. ( chai = tea). This happens because when a developer goes to the Urban fringe and builds a township, the State does not cater to the welcoming opportunity the private developer creates for up-liftment of local business and does not match it in pace with infrastructure and innovative schemes which can create proper commercial zones especially de-marked for the urban poor who find an opportunity to do an honest business. These local semi-urban populace do not have the money to buy into the commercial areas, if built by the developer. Their shops usually come up as shanties while the township is under construction to cater to the labourers and even the engineers. But this relief turns into grief for the citizens in time as no infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems, waste-disposal or safety measures are built around them.

Residential construction is at break-neck speed, at Ulwe, whereas infrastructure development will put a snail to shame. Ditto goes to far-sightedness. While one enters the road towards Ulwe, one notices locals sitting along the road-side selling food and other wares. Presently these shanties are few, Soon all free land would be encroached upon, the well-oiled system of hafta will begin, while another portion of the city and its citizen suffer. It is here that the administration take into account all the possible urban design options and cater to the needs of all section of society. The faster we understand that sustainable practice can not be sacrificed or evaded, the better it would be for the City and the country. Else it would not be very far in the future that living in Mumbai would be next to impossible and that would affect the economy of this country directly.

 

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Green Business Idea: Finding CDM opportunity in the Dumps.


Sustainable Development Goals. Sitting in front of my computer I was thinking about how would I be able to express my inner most feeling. As to why we must live sustainably.

Why is it that the UNEP – SBCI trying so hard to popularise the concept of sustainable growth and climate responsive cities. And why is it that we as the inhabitants of this Planet not able to tune into the cause and effect our “way of life” creates for this planet. What more can we do to create the mass hysteria required before the end of UNFCCCDoha to achieve all that every environment conscious person, whether standing alone or in group want. The 4°Centigrade warning by the World Bank has not really affected many.

Looking at the screen saver, my conscious mind wavering and disturbed slowly became tranquil. Just like the tranquillity of the waterfall, which although in continuous motion is unperturbed and in peace with itself and the surrounding it nourishes with life-giving water. And I thought of – Garbage !

Tons and tons of rubbish. So much garbage that the mind becomes numb, as opposed to tranquil. But why is it so ? After all it is we, who create the garbage not nature. Then why are we not at peace with it. Why is it that we cringe at the site of this man-made collection ?

The answer if we seek is simple. It is not natural. And what is not natural, Humans who after all are part of Nature can not co-relate to it. Garbage creation is unique to Human, no other animal species in its quest for daily existence creates garbage. There is a lesson to re-learn from this piece of information. A lesson Human, as it became more “advanced” forgot. We continue to destroy vast tracts of green scape. Whatever we touch ultimately turns into an ugly unholy mess. While we claim to be made as an image of the most holy, God himself.

Why do Humans generate waste ? And other animal species don’t? To understand this we must in simple terms understand the basics of Human nature. An intelligent social  ANIMAL. Somewhere deep in our genetic code, there could be an unconscious response mechanism which gravitates us towards the Lush Green Forests. The most primeval thought would be surely be that we co-relate forest with plentiful food and shelter ( as in our earlier avatar as Chimpanzee) within the tall shady trees.

And then our “intelligence” takes over and we build Concrete shelters and Plastic bowls to aid us in living and eating in comfort. And in the process we end up surrounding us with Garbage. Especially non Bio-degradable waste. If I be the judge of it, I would hand it over to the “Developed Nations” jointly in teaching all Nations around the World how to live a waste-full life .”Presentation” is everything. From decorating a food-plate to decorating oneself, the capacity to create waste is mind-boggling. And the “ambassadors” of wasteful living the “Fashionistas” & their followers need some lesson in frugality. And perhaps if they can be converted to consider frugality as a “trend”. The World would surely survive.

Go to any Fashion Event or Product Launch and see what I mean by waste. It is pure GHG. While the likes of us can never rub shoulders with the Who- is -Who (idiot) list; we are made part of the wasteful living too –

Garbage Island

Garbage Island

Just unpack your latest Mobile phone or Laptop. When was the last time we returned the packaging of our Super costly Pen or Watch back to the Company ? Did one really need the packet of the Pen which we would ultimately put in our shirt pocket or would stay in the pen stand on the writing desk. Rarely used in the era of Tablets ? And please see if you can find the package your tablet came in for that matter. There is a difference between “functional packing” for shipment and “decorative” packing. I point at the later. Our capacity to generate waste has become so huge that not only are we successfully able to deface pristine landscape we have even managed to pollute the mighty ocean. In fact I proudly add to it while unpacking my new Cell phone. First the cellophane, then the cardboard carton, which has highly toxic printed image of the phone within. And No ! I would not want the store to give me an unpacked one and neither would the store ask for the package to be shipped back; to be sent to the manufacturer for reuse. That dirty word. How can a rich upwardly mobile south Mumbai living personality like me do anything with “reuse”. It’s so offensive. In fact we laugh at people who refuse to send us enormous boutique of flowers, wrapped in cellophane and other decorative tit-bits, on any of our celebrations. That we promptly trash it post party and don’t have any clue what happens to it is another matter. After all I am a responsible Citizen minding my business!

https://i2.wp.com/envacapstone.wiki.usfca.edu/file/view/gpgpbackground.gif/66763595/gpgpbackground.gifWe have actually created an Island of waste The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage. And if things continue as usual probably the United Nation would have to declare a new Island state with the usual suspects laying sovereignty claims on it ! If one wants to enjoy the horror of it just tap the You Tube link in this blog’s video section – Grabage Island. And another link here. We also have added more Garbage into the ocean when the Tsunami struck Japan. And with the likes of Hurricane Sandy  & Nilam visiting America and Asia alike, we will only be adding to this garbage. That it is leading to toxicity of the sea to a dangerous level and affecting marine life is obvious. But what is not so evident is that what would be the long-term effect of this to the Climate Change ? Water currents and waves, wind and rain all form a complex chain of events initiated by the Sun. What is the change in reflective or absorption pattern of the Sun over the Ocean, polluted to such a vast area by filth? Will it be changing patterns in the weather ? Will the filth be sucked up in some giant Hurricane and carried within the vortex of the mega storm and dumped over some fine city ? The chances I would say are very likely. Just as likely is the breaking down of this enormous filth through chemical reaction into harmless and some very harmful toxics which would be and perhaps is causing some air & water-borne problem, which the powers that be are already aware of but not willing to discuss. Because, it’s the job of academicians to find the truth and hand it over to the politicians who by the default of who they are, add the spin & gloss to serve their narrow interest ( all politicians have ever wanted from the days of Pharaohs is to have a memorial in public land with public money when they die, civilization be dammed). It has always been true and will perhaps be till we as a civilization find the way to make Logic a religion and Politicians extinct.

But as my wishful thinking may not happen in my life-time, I would do what is available with me, suggest another simple Green Business Idea. My request to the academicians, climate scientists, NGO’s and the Peoples who love to live in this beautiful and Only Living Planet is to shake their respective governments and municipal agencies to adopt PYROLYSIS and this must happen in the UNFCCC Doha COP18. Although a very common process in the Chemical Industry and many large fully continuous pyrolysis plant are functioning, mostly recycling tyre, the potential which catches my eye are –

1. Biochar is also being considered for carbon sequestration, with the aim of mitigation of global warming.The solid, carbon-containing char produced can be sequestered in the ground, where it will remain for several hundred to a few thousand years.

2. Anhydrous pyrolysis can also be used to produce liquid fuel similar to diesel from plastic waste.

The ongoing Climate change negotiations at COP18 Doha, has the opportunity to change the tide towards sustainable living should the stake holders want. Of the many wonderful suggestions which get presented by many, my appeal to those who CAN make the difference on how we use our WORLD RESOURCES is to convince governments all over to encourage Pyrolysis plants as Micro,Small & Medium scale Industry. With especial emphasis on the Micro of the MSME basket.

The beauty of a Micro industry is that it would hire the rag-pickers, the scavengers. The most vulnerable and the economically weaker section of the Indian society. People with the most flexible back, as opposed to my stiff one which does not allow me to bend while walking the filthy streets of Mumbai and pick-up the rubbish strewn around my posh home and imported shiny car. Perhaps the recent comment – “While it may look inappropriate for me to be saying this, Mumbai should do something about the filth and squalour around,” said mayor of London Boris Johnson. Would shake up the Municipal corporations in doing something about the filth in earnest. While bio-degradable waste, is a menace too, barring the chance of causing Bubonic plague. Perhaps a good thing, as the city of Surat in Gujarat which suffered this last, is cleaner today. However, the root of the plague is recorded to have come form Wadwani tahsil, Beed district, Maharastra .

But the real change will come when we would add “value” to the filth especially plastic waste. There is evidence of this in Navsari near the city of Surat itself. A young girl had been able to create a small system spending hardly a few thousand rupee, which could convert 3kg of plastic waste to around 2 litre of liquid fuel. As per the girls claims, she had done this as a school project. If considered true, then it is one of the most fitting example of Women Empowerment and Climate Change abatement wrapped into one. And if supported by the GEF, a true CDM which actually benefits the Planet and the People as opposed to the what has happened in the 1st crediting period of the Kyoto Protocol.

PryolisisConsider, the vast possibilities, shop-keepers of Mumbai & rest of India, who think nothing of allowing their employees or clients from throwing the plastic wrapping and packaging right into the streets; Pan masala or “gutka” (tobacco) chewer ; would no more carelessly throw away the packets & sachet leading to clogged drain but hoard them to be sold to the pyrolysis industry. And the best part, with the tonnes of already stashed plastic the municipal corporations already own, they are almost sitting on an Oil Bank. And that is not the only thing that is produced via PYROLYSIS as is shown in the table above.

The Mumbai Municipal corporations can lead by example and clean-up the stench emanating local railway lines and city streets and in the process solve the humongous problem of fast depleting garbage dumping areas.

On 12th Nov DNA Newspaper an article by Eknath Makne readsEven as the city struggles to dispose 6,500 metric tonnes of waste generated daily, the civic body seems to be in no hurry to upgrade the dumping yards. Violation of municipal solid waste rules, 2000, has added to the stink. It’s high time the BMC pulled up its socks and citizens played an active role in ensuring a litter-free city….The MSW rules (management and handling), 2000, make it mandatory to segregate waste at source. The rules stress dumping of waste in stages like collection, transportation, processing and disposal. The rules were framed based on recommendations made by a panel appointed after a Supreme Court order in connection with 1994 plague epidemic in Surat…..In its 2012-13 budget tabled in March, the corporation had proposed to install 20,000 litter bins of 6.5 litre capacity each across 10,000 locations in city. But the plan will take a few more months to materialise…The municipal corporation’s apathy is seen in the piling garbage in parts of the city. The civic body is supposed to pick up waste from collection points thrice a day. The lack of adequate number of vehicles and compactors has posed hurdles, allowing garbage to accumulate. “Garbage is being picked up after every two days in our area only because we pursue it regularly,” said Nikhil Desai, a resident of King’s Circle. “If we don’t, it rots on the street for 15 days.”….The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has 650 vehicles to collect garbage and requires 300 more compactors. It has invited tenders for dumpers/vehicles to collect garbage from administrative wards. It expects to get the vehicles by June next year. Kanjurmarg yard is not the only example of mismanagement of solid waste in a city, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Lack of processing units waste has added to the poor management of the city’s solid waste. The promised bio-methanisation unit at Mulund dumping ground and composting plant at Deonar site was put it place. But without they being operational, it has added to the city’s garbage woes…..Activist Harischandra Pandey, a resident of Borivli, asserted that participation of the citizens was needed to attain the clean-city tag. “You can’t blame the BMC if you yourself are not adhering to norms,” he said.  Rajkumar Sharma, president of a Chembur-based Advanced Locality Management (ALM), too feels social audits are necessary for a proper execution of the clean-up plan.

While it is evident that Activists and the Municipal corporation are aware of the problem, the solution can not come unless it is converted into a tangible economic benefit for the Citizens. Once we add value to the garbage, it would be rare indeed, to see it going “waste”. In fact some enterprising Indian would find a way to collect all the rubbish out there in the The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage, by building a floating rig and starting producing “off-shore” PYROLYSIS oil ! And as for the bio-degradable waste ? Well we surely can be producing enough methane gas to pipe it for good use somewhere.

It is not enough for us to think in terms of Business as Usual and scale things up. What is important is to find proven technology and scale them down so that the 6 Billion become direct users. Now to me that is large-scale.

 

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Post Rio+20 – the path towards the actual Green Economy.


English: Graph showing Human Development Index...

English: Graph showing Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint. The “sustainable” criteria of ecological footprint within global capacity, and human development index above 0.8, is shaded. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the eve and post Rio+20 UNFCCC meet a lot of things happened which needs to be understood for its far reaching implications in the near future. Highlighted below are a few paragraphs –

The world’s fixation on economic growth ignores a rapid and largely irreversible trend of natural resources depletion that will seriously harm future generations, according to a newly released report that unveils a new indicator aimed at encouraging sustainability.

On 17 June 2012, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (the Rio+20 Summit), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) and partners launched the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012.(IWR 2012)

The IWI report examined changes in the combined wealth of twenty countries, which together account for almost three quarters of global GDP, from 1990 to 2008. Despite reporting a growth in GDP Brazil, China, South Africa and the United States were shown to have significantly depleted their natural capital including fossil fuels, forests and fisheries.

Around the same time a letter was published at the Rio+20 Summit.The Clean Revolution campaign, a major initiative by The Climate Group and a range of partners from the public and private sectors that calls for a ‘green growth’ push out of global recession. The letter, says: “By the end of the decade, the low carbon market could triple in value to over US$2 trillion. At a time when government and business leaders everywhere are calling for strategies that deliver growth, we have an historic opportunity before us to lead the world out of recession and into a more stable, sustainable future. This is the time for a green industrial revolution led by real investment in clean technologies and infrastructure. The ‘Clean Revolution’ is essential if we want to ensure we save our economies from the crippling costs of runaway climate change, and create meaningful jobs and enhance energy security.” It will be a new Industrial Revolution – Tony Blair.

The attempt to have subsidies removed all together from fossil fuel was the first  step in the right direction. It was bound to fail, but that itself is a success. Because never before so many groups from such diverse back ground could raise the collective voice against the fossil fuel lobby and be heard.

English: Created in Photoshop, based on "...

English: Created in Photoshop, based on “Sustainable development” diagram at Cornell Sustainability Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What must be understood is that to have a resurgent economy, one must have the resources in place. And today, the World has an historic opportunity to remove inequality. Today we do not, other than in theory; have a developed against a developing world. Because once we change the indices which measures development and growth, it is the “least developed” and “emerging economies” which have more Natural wealth than some of the developed Nations who have over exploited their own.

However, the developed Nations like the EU & the USA, Japan, Russia, Australia and others have enormous technological advancement and knowledge base, which should be exchanged in fair-value for equitable distribution of the Earth’s Natural resources. And at the same time efforts must be made to replenish what is possible. It is indeed a fantastic time to do business which by default has to be sustainable because there are no options left. The best part is the large conglomerates and corporations survival depends on continued and constant supply of raw material for production. And they will ensure that Sustainability in all form of modern living is applied. It would be done either with partnership or coercion.

The call for going beyond material wealth to gauge our well-being and make sure that well-being is achievable and sustainable for future generations has long appeared in much of the sustainable development, environmental, and ecological economics literature, significantly less in economics and development literature. The present pre-occupation with the Green Economy, we fear, will not provide the change we seek if we do not address the fundamental problem of what precisely we are measuring and the indicators we need to develop. 

English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These words in the IWR 2012, underscores the changing mindsets of the economies which have an impact in this World. And it would be well for all Nations to adapt and adopt measures which lead to an age and era where history will define it as the Golden Age of Mankind, when generating wealth would no more mean accumulation of riches which are intrinsic in nature but have the true resonance of Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals .

 

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Rio+20 – the Green Initiative.


The statement from Paul Simpson, CDP’s Chief Executive Officer reads;

….. as we approach the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which will focus heavily on how to account for the way businesses use the planet’s natural capital. Investors and corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the extent to which their value chains are influenced by natural resource constraints which lead to increasing price volatility and risk of business interruption. CDP has pioneered a global disclosure system that helps businesses understand and value the current and future impacts from a changing climate and natural resource scarcity, as the world seeks to move towards a sustainable economy.

Forests provide essential ecosystem services that underpin our well being and economic prosperity and their destruction contributes around 15% of global carbon emissions. The issues of energy, climate change, water and forests should not be considered in isolation as all are inextricably linked. Having this information in one place will encourage and facilitate joined up thinking on the subject.

Making climate finance an effective driver of sustainable development, is now the most important subject that needs a through discussion, it was observed at the side events in the run up to Rio+20 Summit – on the 13th June that, Climate finance could become a powerful driver of sustainable development. By supporting mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, it can help build the governmental, social, economic and physical infrastructures needed to achieve poverty reduction and green economy growth. However, without concerted efforts to strengthen the governance of climate financing, these goals will remain elusive.

Presently climate money is channelled through a complex network of public and private institutions, where decision-making can be opaque and unaccountable, and independent oversight absent or under-funded. This heightens the risk of policy capture, mismanagement or corruption; all serious impediments to the Rio+20 agenda. Fiduciary standards such as those espoused by the GEF represent an important attempt to safeguard climate financing against abuse. Transparency, accountability and ethics are fundamental. But what are the challenges to implementing and enforcing these safeguards? And what are the best practice scenarios we can learn from?

The Rio+20 conference comes at a critical time in the development of climate finance governance. This year the global Green Climate Fund will enter into operation, once key decisions are taken over its governance structures. In 2012, OECD countries will also have to deliver on outstanding fast-track climate finance commitments, meaning billions of US dollars should enter circulation before December. Given the potential volumes involved and the relatively untested nature of its institutional framework, climate finance must be treated as a new and emerging challenge’, distinct from development aid. The Rio+20 outcome document currently under negotiation is missing this link.

World leaders have a chance at Rio+20 to stop subsidizing fossil fuels to the tune of nearly $1 trillion and make an important dent in reducing global warming.

English: CSR approaches CSR framework

English: CSR approaches CSR framework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The above statements which I have gathered together, shows that there is a lot of movement towards actually having a GEF which can make the desired positive change towards climate change. But what is most important is to have CSR mandatory, in India we are having a lot of buzz around the Government proposal of making CSR mandatory with both FICCI and CII opposing it. Before we understand in depth the reason for this opposition, let us put on record that nearly 16% of the top 100 listed companies in India are already having an  CSR policy in place.

Now how many from the 16% are actually into People -Planet -Profit the 3 bottom line, which should make the baseline of any CSR is not known.

Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility

Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility (Photo credit: Geoff Livingston)

Corporate will do anything in which they see value. So when we speak of  CSR, and CDP would be seen as such; we must be able to actually gauge which corporate is actually  utilizing Community resources, and giving back to the People and Planet over and above what it must. Because more often than not, the mandatory obligation such as rehabilitating the project affected people, say from a mining site or a hydro-power project is passed on as CSR.  So the danger lies in the CDP being used for market study of a corporate to understand its future business plans and passed on as CSR.

Another, danger is that we are already seeing a lot of commitment  based  on absent funds, especially in relation to solutions which have a direct bearing to climate change. There are Governments which in one hand declaring a financial crisis and on the other hand committing Millions for Climate change mitigation. How are both possible ? At Rio+20 we must keep our hearing sharp to understand fact from fiction.

Having said that, we all know that Peoples are interested in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. And this may be somewhat possible even without “money” as we understand the term. My suggestion would be that policy makers around the World can sit down and list product and process which they have in excess and find a system to barter that advantage with other Nations who have a deficit of the same. Thus some of the commitments which otherwise would have required money and man-power can be overcome. The idea is to look at “profit” from all-together different perspective and thus give a new meaning to the “triple bottom line”.

 

 

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The World Environment Day!- and the customary Lip service.


The World Environment Day; it really warms my heart to see how the World has geared up to the challenges of Global Warming and Climate Change. In our busy schedule of raping and ripping the World apart and hurtling headlong towards Armageddon, with a 3.5 °C rise in temperature, we have the grace to give one full day in a Year to it. And for those who complain it is not enough we have The Earth Day & The Earth Hour. Come on, you can’t have the same program, agenda or even the same name a full 3 times in a year! Get real, the TRP’s would fall, and the newsprint copies would not sell, because the writers can’t think of saying anything new within such short spell. It needs a full year to put the spin on the same old promises, so that they seem fresh and appealing. So if you pick up any newspaper or watch the News, chances are that a mention on World Environment day, would be on the 10th page or a 90 sec mention would feature in your prime time news. As for an advertisement in your favourite entertainment channel. No chance.

When it comes to informing the uninformed, awaking the populace from slumber, while the juggernaut of catastrophe is hurtling towards us, read the SREX report and Stern Review, for details and understand the seriousness therein. The media, sadly, is still not waking up to the challenge and its duty to spread this information.

Sometime ago the 4th annual Greenathon; a program on spreading the message on Sustainability was conducted by NDTV. It is a hugely popular program and is very successful, at least for us climate lovers. But even in my housing colony, I could not find a single person who had heard of this in the last 4 years. And my housing society has some of the most educated lot of people who watch News regularly. I did not bother to ask the children, the average age being 13. NDTV is a NEWS channel which conducts its program in English, which is not the native tongue for most Indians. However, Greenathon is a popular program and  for most of us who are one way or other been attached with all things Green watch it with dedication. And a lot does get done through this program. Some of our film actors take up villages and donate money to provide it them with Solar lamps and spread knowledge about other things Green.

Satellite image of ship tracks, clouds created...

Satellite image of ship tracks, clouds created by the exhaust of ship smokestacks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what it does for the whole year post the Greenathon ? Well, not much because as I had said earlier, I do not see any programs which are spreading awareness about climate change in a consistent manner in India. And that is unless the 4th Estate makes a determined effort to spread the message in a consistent and continued manner, spread over all the 52 weeks in a year, we shall not be able to make much headway. And NDTV by itself may not be able to spread this message to every nook and corner of this country fast enough, in my opinion. If one logs on to the  NDTV website, it can not find a link named “Green”, and this is the missing link in what should not  have been, especially when there is so much fanfare in showcasing it.

And no you can not find that the link Green in CNN nor in BBC web pages either.

But if one opens the home page of MSN the guys who run the famous “hotmail.com” you would find a link called “Green” in it with very relevant stories.

The Keeling Curve of atmospheric CO 2 concentr...

The Keeling Curve of atmospheric CO 2 concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not everyone types green, in the search area to find what both CNN’s Road to Rio or NDTV’s Greenathon is upto. What it shows is, that while there may be some very serious persons who are driving these programs, it is more of a personal agenda than a norm; else why not a direct link in the main ribbon of the home page? And if premier NEWS and information channels, whose opinions are taken very seriously around the World have such half-hearted and almost apologetic approach towards Climate change, how would we be able to make an impact? There is no denying of the Pen is always mightier than the Sword; and the reach and depth of penetration the NEWS channels have, especially the good ones, can not be explained in words. This half hearted approach, is disappointing.  It is not enough to write an article and a TV program once in a while but the World media and press should make a concerted effort in spreading this information daily.

Just as a Horoscope or a Cartoon strip, small news with links for further read should be showcased in every Newsprint in the first page itself  365 days. And most importantly have them translated into regional languages.

It is perhaps only then we may just have a fighting chance before the SREX report and Stern review becomes a frightening reality.

It is time to speak about our planet everyday and help in keeping its heart beating.

 

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Sustainable Living and Climate Initiative: Socio-Political Decisions can have a profound effect on it.


When God made Earth – He made night & day. When Man made the machine he created the Day-shift and the Night shift.

The 2009 Sustainable Living Expo in Stonnington.

The 2009 Sustainable Living Expo in Stonnington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both created – one was brilliant, the other apparently not so bright. For the human , it has taken centuries to understand that several methods it has adopted for Living is simply not Sustainable. And that is the bottom line – Sustainable Living ! Whether we remind ourselves or not, the primeval instinct to live – eat – be healthy – survive – procreate & protect;  is the only thing we humans have pursued, the methods however, have refined since our cave dwelling days but not necessarily in the right direction.

image courtesy :farm4.staticflickr.com

One good solution that is now being  advocated is  called “Biomimicry” meaning – do what nature does ! It is gaining some traction but sometime with a fundamental flaw – it is unnatural to mimic what is natural in the first place.(  some people are using the pretext of this beautiful concept to legitimise what is fundamentally flawed to begin with) So when we say we are attempting to fly;  humans are not born with the ability to fly; so the air-plane we create for that attempt, and name it biomimicry would itself be unnatural. What the original exponents of “Biomimicry” must have wanted; before it became commercial  & thus bastardized; was simple – all our attempt to live this blessed modern life should be minimalistic when it impacts Nature. To design ways and means to harness natures ingenuity and create through inspired design where possible, machines or habitats with low environmental impact.

But to begin scaling this concept, human must get back to sync with nature once again. Coming back to my opening lines – when we created the 24 x 7 x 365  work culture, we received bountiful results, because Nature had the stock in reserve. Being puny in scale, we thought the supply to be infinite, just like an ant would when entering a jar full of cookies. And in the process created trends and culture which now is becoming difficult to sustain. A glaring example is Europe where austerity measures are being met with hostility.

During the bountiful era, the socio-political environment was that of smug comfort. Standing atop lofty balconies, leaders of the past had the far-sight to see the populace applaud each populist decree made. Sometime as indulgence of a rich parent or out of genuine concern but never without a trace of self aggrandisement were the policies made. And self aggrandisement makes one chose far-sight over foresight. And in India, unfortunately we see this most of the time, the recent reference link to it would be found in my Earth Day article.

Survival of the fittest. It can be argued that, the Human species chose to differ from the rest by having the ability to take care of the weak. That is what separates us from the rest of the species. And here again I would like to point to Biomimicry and show that following the laws of Nature is the best way to do so and not the process we have adopted, for it is a short time solution.

If you just take just one example from many, say the squirrel, you would see that it is social, lives in a community and also takes care of its young and weak. But, all need to forage for their food!  That is something our leaders of the present can model their future policies into. Animals don’t have the concept of dole, free health policy, or even vacation for that matter ! Let us for the sake of argument model a concept thus –

Say, a Nation decides that everybody needs to earn their keep. Every employable person shall have to mandatory  stock up reserve, just like ants do. For, heath benefits by law one must buy health insurance. For food security by law one must make a savings policy.

For the unemployable, the word itself is a misnomer. Say we have a few 1000 doctors who have not got jobs, they line up for dole. Yet there are 1500 post vacant in the constabulary. There can only be two reasons for a doctor for not getting a job. Either s/he is not up to the mark or the post are full. So, let the employment exchange direct them to join the police while a suitable post for their qualification gets vacant. And who knows a good thing may come out of that, imagine a highway car accident where the police have reached before the paramedics, having knowledge in medicine could save a life . One must take up a job. No choice by law to remain idle.

Let them earn their keep. Stock up reserve, not become lax and lackadaisical or become a social out-cast because of not having a job. ‘An idle mind is the devils work-shop’ – a quote from time immemorial.

Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36...

Emblem of the United Nations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There may arise a situation where there are more IT-graduates than companies to hire them in a Country. Short-term exchange programs can be created among member countries to lend professional of one field and take mechanics in exchange if so they need. The World today is a village and United Nations we are! ( at least in theory and in the figment of my imagination.)

Yet there would be some, the old & the infirm, who try as they might will not get a job. That is when their beloved Mother land, governed by able leaders with foresight must engulf them in loving Care! And in the long run even during times of austerity manage to hold on to these social programs, simply because it would be smaller in number and thus sustainable.

Surely  it would take time and hard choices need to be made today, to revise and adjust and calibrate the concept into a near perfect one. One which truly merges the best of  Democracy with Socialism without the pitfalls of communism and crony capitalism. Like the populist and sometime ill conceived development programs be it infrastructure or social. Which some time create haves and have nots.

So where does Climate initiative figure in this? one might ask. Again one needs to look into Biomimicry. Everything in Nature grows in its own pace. Nothing happens overnight. Yet Humans try to achieve just that – Success, Wealth, Power et al. So they work 18hrs a day instead of 8. A tired body effects the mind in many ways. Artificial simulation to beat the fatigue and the competing companion takes the human to the very edges of danger, which every religion preaches not to practice – Ego, Greed and Anger.

These vices make human take decisions which have long term impact on the climate. They build hydro-dams in the guise of harvesting power, whereas in reality its the water they want to control and deny prosperity to its neighbouring Country. In the process, they damage their own local eco-system which other-wise would have sustained their Peoples and perhaps help in food security in the future. Or they venture into the fragile Ocean beds (which most understand very little, and those who do, would eventually get sidelined by the political and MBA masters they work for ) in search of power source, when the Waves , Wind & their maker the Sun provides it in abundance. They are the trinity of eternal energy source, which man-kind would never be able to exhaust.

Image Courtesy: http://www.examiner.com

The modern society World over must think of biomimiking a tree. Growing slowly yet surely while standing still in its own place, the tree finds sustenance for hundreds of years without encroaching on others . A jungle is nothing but a crowd, yet they thrive. Mostly by symbiosis. It is almost permanently renewable.

Perhaps it is time for the social scientist to take centre stage and steer the politics in a manner the science of sustainable living dictates.

 
 

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Sustainable Business will lead to Sustainable Earth, effortlessly.


Cover for Sustainable Business Wikibook.

The Corporate world as we all know  is a place where people are over worked and under paid with little or no place for personal life. It’s a pressure cooker for the mind & soul! The only product which every company produces, irrespective of what its Article of Association or Company charter states – is STRESS!

This trend needs to be arrested and already many are whispering solutions to this endemic  problem.  Stress brings into play various emotions, and the worst of them is Ego. The false idea that ones contribution in aggrandizement  of untold wealth for the Company  absolves him/her from the moral path of Sustainable Business practice, especially in the context of saving the Environment from Human induced Climate Change.

‘Production targets’;  ‘achievement of goal’ for promotion of self up the ladder of corporate hierarchy by making a ‘killing’; in the marketing and having a ‘fat bottom-line’ in the corporate graph can be only achieved by destruction of sustainability of self-morals in most cases and harm to the Environment always.

But do the people who are doing such “nasty things” (as the radicals would say  who  you find gathered outside every UNFCCC summit, shouting slogans and waving flags – without actually writing down anything meaningful  in terms of solution in those placards)  really doing this because they have some vengeful reason against Mother Earth?  Are  they really at fault ? My opinion is a resounding NO !

Cover for the Sustainable Business Booklet.

Let’s understand why I say this;  For example – Who decides the production target ? Could it be the managers who are mostly if not all, are  MBA graduates and Chartered  Accountants  along with a few Lawyers? People who have been conditioned through their student years to represent everything as numbers and take the help of lawyers to bulldoze any form of resistance which may assume a life-form? Can they really understand what it means to stand still for a minute among pristine and lush green forest, atop a hill – without thinking how much money they could make by selling the wood of the trees, ripping the heart out of the hill to extract its ore, etcetera ?

And if not why ? It’s because, the very things which is being condemned today, were laudable achievements worthy of high-status and prestige in the immediate past before Climate Change started to threaten the very existence of Homo Sapiens.   Somewhere from Generation Jones of the 50’s  as we crossed  by  the Flower Power Generation of the 1960 to  zip into the Generation X then Y and now Z or M ( for multi-tasking ) Peoples lost the Art of Living…. To stop by the side of the road and smell the flowers swaying in the meadows or just dropping by for tea unannounced in a friends house. Getting up on Monday mornings and diving back into the bed …to reach office 15 min late…yet being greeted by a smile. In the post Y2K era, the more aggressive you were, the more cunning;  better were the chance to climb up the corporate ladder. And this trend was stoked into a roaring flame for generations to come…until it consumed itself in form of the Lehmann Brothers saga. And then Fukushima happened.

Ego is harmful to the Ecosystem .  It is the system which needs a serious revamp. And one of the immediate solutions could be that all stream of education must have mandatory the subject of Environment, Health & Safety;  which one needs to pass with distinction, to qualify for any job. Especially managerial, which has the potential of putting a person as the key decision maker in the future. But what is even far more important than this, is to create a sustainable work environment. While its true that the rhythm of life in the 1960’s and now is vastly different, what is important is to recognize the rhythm – of LIFE  and not that of the V-8 engine of the new fast car bought with a fistful of Dollars.

The disconnect  between  Crony Capitalism  and  Sustainable Capitalism must be surgically clean cut, if we want to see Earth survive into the next century without  injury.  For the wounds of the Earth would heal in a millennia or two but for the Human, it would mean Extinction. And to save ourselves we must  sit back and reflect on what we do. And to reflect on thoughts, one needs time.  Time means,  a break from the daily skullduggery of high-pressure work. It is only then sensible decisions in all sphere can be taken.  It’s time the Human which is a resource understand that  it gets all its life giving resource from Mother Earth which needs to be nurtured.

And for that radical thoughts need to be applied –  I’m ever amazed by the fact that every country has a graph which shows unemployment yet strangely we have also many vacancies in both corporate and public sector which can not find employees ? This is where I find the solution or perhaps a way forward to an Idea which with collective help from all those who can influence  Governance in Nations must pause to reflect upon. In India, for example if we just take the Police force, one would find that every state is woe-fully short of manpower. Starting from the Top job to the Beat Constable position. And those who are in the job are mostly over worked and disillusioned. This leads to corruption in various forms of which, one can point to the shortage of man-power to police the reserve forests leading to poaching and illegal logging.  Turning focus to the corporate sector one again finds over-worked professionals who although have fat pay packets but  no personal time to enjoy. Partying hard in the night -club does not count as having a sustainable life-style.

In both the cases, should one ask the top most management the reason – various half truths come out. But the answer is very simple. If they employ and fill up every vacant position within the Government sector, where would they be able to find the money to pay salaries? Same goes for the corporate sector.  Thus the grind of life continues as is.

Now when this grind enters the infrastructure and service sectors in a big way, pseudo development takes precedence. Wrong decisions which would  harm the Ecosystem either in the short-term or in the long-term  gets decided. As is the case of new Indian Nuclear power plants or Large Hydro dams in case of China.

Cover for Sustainable Business Booklet.

May be its time the member Nations of the UN come together and draft a resolution that for every task there should be 3 shifts and in each shift a new person. With the age of Computers with Artificial intelligence already there, the argument of how to have 3 CEO’s take a singular decision can be easily solved. Program the main-frame server with an Environment safety regulation program and let the collective decisions of the CEO’s best approach considered as the company agenda.

Imagine having one’s Father/Mother come back from work every day on time to share a bed-time story with the children or taking the family out for dinner. What a Sustainable family that would be. And on growing up the children, responsible and sustainability practising  professionals.

As a result we would have a Sustainable Earth!

 

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Going Green: Walking the Talk – ITC Grand Central Mumbai


As far as Hotels go, the ITC – Grand Central looks as any 5 -star Hotel – Exclusive, elegant, ultra efficient and charming. Nothing new there, except that it is amongst the first chain of Hotels which are LEED Platinum certified.

Yes, as far as walking the talk of being sustainable, ITC  Hotels was already doing what few had even thought possible. So much so that when Bonn decided to study the methodologies for creating a program for Carbon credit, ITC-Sonar, Kolkata was a case study. It was already green and gone the carbon -credit way even before others knew what Carbon -credit meant.

This Earth Hour, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited by the Hotel to share the experience and responsibility of balancing Economy with Ecology. And I was amazed at the dedication of the management and staff towards the path to Green. They indeed are walking the talk.

I am not at all deluded on the fact that the modern construction and the high-carbon life-style we live has but a very narrow band-width vis – a -vis Sustainable practice; but what is telling –  is recognizing the fact that there is a path and following that path to its full potential. ITC – with its chain of Hotels, has done that. That must be commended and its method adopted by others both in and outside the trade.

It is one thing to follow and document guidelines while applying for a LEED rating, its entirely another ball-game to be consistent and not falter when no one is looking over the shoulder. This I put to test and evidence was produced both verbal and documented by the superbly efficient ITC Grand Central team. And where there was room for improvement, almost instantly my suggestions were accepted. This for the fact that ingenuity is in-built into the ethos which was evident in how they have tackled a seemingly unrecognised issue but a grave energy guzzler and given it the detailed attention it requires. The closet light and bathroom lights. In the former, the pressure switch provided under the door-panels fail to activate,if the shutters are not closed proper, leading to the light  remaining in a switched-on state. As for the Bathrooms, very few have the habit of shutting the lights out. A motion sensor eliminated the problem. Simple and effective.To those who would be comparing cost, kindly pause and recalculate it under a LCA (life cycle analysis) . The idea’s worth the money.

And then there was the winner;  we all understand the adage – ‘we win some and then we lose some’. It is not about the wining but having recognised that one can not win within a certain area, what one chooses to do about it, so as to bring out a positive result . In this, I again found to my delight that ITC- Grand Central  had found a way. And that was to educate and inform. So to the extent they are unable to walk the path of sustainability, due to factors beyond their immediate reach, the community around them balances it by doing their bit under the able guidance of the Hotel management and staff combine. And this CSR has a good cascading effect, for the staff who are involved first -hand everyday in the sustainable practice, slowly but surely take it back into their sphere of influence. Thus the grass-roots of India gets its awareness on Climate Change. Such noble thoughts must be multiplied.

And it just does not end here. Unknowing to most patrons, ITC – Grand Central has been helping them contribute to the betterment of the environment. In one of my previous articles long back, I had spoken about the problem of food-waste from 5 Star hotels. At Grand Central all food-waste is composted and fertilizer is created, which is then given to plant nurseries. The organic waste converter machine, is state of art which takes care of Landscape waste, food waste and uses non-toxic methods to arrive at the solution.

At the energy front, all ITC Hotel properties have an efficiency target of  700KCal/SqMt/day for HPL and Grand Central through its efforts work with 684 KCal/SqMt/day. A no mean effort considering many Hotels have the numbers hovering 750 -800.  Efficiency in energy conservation is the buzzword, from  water heating through steam condensate; automatic power factor controller unit; high-efficiency Forenta laundry system and capping it with Harmonic analysis on electrical distribution system, which very few practice to reduce their overall energy consumption. It is indeed a Grand effort towards the path of sustainability. And hope that even 3-4 star hotels start adopting these. For, sustainability in energy-efficiency has direct positive co-relation to monetary savings.

Many around the World gesture in a positive way by reducing or shutting down their power consumption during Earth Hour every year. But it is those who make the symbolic gesture as part and parcel of their corporate responsibility are the true Messiah for the well being of mother Earth. In ITC – Grand Central Mumbai, I experienced it. And my quest for more corporates following this path just increased.

 

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Subsidy on GHG producing products and procedure must stop


Locator map of the state of Maharashtra, India...

Locator map of the state of Maharashtra, India with district boundaries and Admin. divisions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The State of Maharashtra tabled its annual budget this week. Although on the face of it there is cause for worry, as some measures would bring in more inflationary pressure for the common man; the environmentalist in me was happy. Diesel, Petrol, Plaster of – Paris ( with which large Hindu Deity Idols are cast every year, and immersed into lakes & rivers, polluting them further; thus the idols will be cast with eco-friendly materials now ) have become costly. Electric vehicles have become cheap with no tax applicable. Wow ! Reva electric, I will visit your show-room soon. Yet there are areas which strangely the Government both at the Centre & State, choose to ignore. And that is related directly to our forest cover.

During my recent visit to a food processing factory, for data gathering and understanding the process, (so that I can design a  IGBC  “Green Factory” rated second unit ) I was aghast at seeing tonnes of chopped wood being used to fire up the boiler, which produces hot-water required in drying up the pasta in the moulding machine. Inspecting further I saw them using archaic, bakery kilns which need a lot of wood to produce the heat required, to dry another food product.

I offered to give them a 250KW Solar Photo voltaic pilot under OPEX format, to produce the electricity which would at least reduce the use of wood; it was politely declined. Reason – They presume wood to be cheaper as 1kg is sold to them at a paltry sum of Indian Rupees 2.50 /- , because even if I don’t charge them a dime for the solar panels; instead take a tariff for the electricity generated,  it would work out to be INR 8.50 /- per KW. Which is higher  than the e-DISCOM charging the industries at INR 6.80 /- per KW.

The boiler requires 55 kg per hour x 24 hour x 365 days !

I stood silently looking at the chopped corpses of trees, which were once alive and swaying gently in the breeze while birds and bees sang the welcome song to the newly arriving butterfly, bursting out from the shell of the pupa – hanging under a shady green leaf; and advised, how instead of throwing away the charcoal produced in the process of burning the tree – to use it again; its heat is more intense per Kg/Cal  then the wood.  While silently bowing my head to the trees which even post being killed and burned can help humanity in form of charcoal.

And I was angry. Angry at the system which only gives lip service to the cause of sustainability. Where no real measures are in place to curb the menace of chopping down trees for fire wood ; not for cooking meal of the improvised indigenous people living in the forest { they are persecuted by forest officials, who most ( if not all ) are in cahoots with wood smugglers } but for making pasta for the élite, who live in cities and take out candle light march to make the World aware of “Global Warming” ! Candles by the way is a GHG producing hydro-carbon.  Sad that no real and meaningful progress is being done to educate about  the actual cost of  electricity being provided cheaply by the state through coal-fired Thermal power plants.

While it is true that our modern economy has trapped itself within a vicious circle where we can not find easy answers for achieving a balanced and sustainable growth while maintaining the life-style we have adopted, it is equally true that unless hard measures are taken now,  our life would be styled to that of early cave-men in the near future. And the answer is No, if one is thinking it would be the fate of everyone. It would be only for those who would be unfortunate enough to survive the floods, droughts, famine and War that would be fought between countries for the best water hole !

I grieve,  when our leaders express that they have the mandate of the people towards development  which are inherently high -carbon; and my frustration is directed towards UNEP. Can they not devise a system wherein  they can get the mandate of the grass-root people around the World, which can stand as legitimate in the International court of Law ?  How can we create a sustainable economy when coal fired thermal stations and raw wood is being burnt by million tonnes per day, is considered to be cheaper than renewable or alternate energy ? How difficult is it to get a missed call, a sms and an e-mail endorsement which has some legal standing ? How difficult is it for powerful environmental groups, who have the ears of UNEP, to create an advertisement which all type of media can then carry as their CSR. Can they make more people aware of the thoughts of Buckminster Fuller and many such eminent personalities, who show the way towards transition to sustainable energy management ? thus mobilizing the people in understanding pertinent issues and then conduct a debate as whether the people are ready to burden their shoulders with hard economic choices, for a short term to be able to enjoy sustainable economy forever afterwards. And thus debunk the justification given by the elected representatives, who claim to know what people want ?

I have never for a minute believed that personal prejudice and bias do not creep into policy making. For every Politician & Bureaucrat is human first, not to be affected by the environment s/he must have grown-up in. And most often than not these people have over-riding ambition for self-promotion, before National /International cause, they endorse. And if that self is conditioned to feel comfortable in an environment, hard it is to break away from that familiar life-style which has provided all that they have today. And the familiar life-style sadly is high-carbon economy & the creature comfort it gives us till date.

When people are told that catastrophe would befall in the next 50 to 100 years, they laugh, and say – ‘enough time in hand’. The Taj is 358 years old and every day  hundreds of people travel back in time and come back, when they enter the gates of the Taj Mahal – 300 years is here and present ! So the effects of our inactions today will be felt by our own future generation, not too far in the distant future, for us not to care enough !

Therefore can’t the UNFCCC at the Rio+20, armed with concrete evidence in terms of Peoples endorsement towards a low carbon economy petition the UN to pass a binding resolution for all Nations to comply to green standards ? All  resolutions to bomb a country or pass stringent economic sanctions without a shred of evidence pass smoothly at the UNSC, but when it comes the time for UNFCCC – which has evidence of clear and present danger to the World, no resolution gets passed for economic sanctions on Countries which are doing very little in terms of climate change abatement. The UNEP would always lose out to UNSC in these matters as I had predicted in my previous article. Unless we all join hands, big and small organization, individuals and lay men to lay bare the critical situation we all would face, if lopsided environmental reforms continue deep into 2020, the red-line flagged by the SREX report as point of no return for disastrous Global Warming .

 

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CIICESD : Business of Green is taught best by those in Business.


World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Rio+20 Summit will be held this year June. And WBSCD would be there in its full force hoping for singular change towards a low carbon economy. On June 1992, the eve of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) [also known as the Earth Summit or Rio Summit] in  a new global organisation – Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) – was founded to involve business in sustainable development issues. The primary focus then was to give industry and business a voice in the Earth Summit. Today, after 20 years, with more than 170 members of important global companies, the WBCSD (morphed from BCSD) continues its business leadership catalyzing change towards sustainable development, based on eco-efficiency, innovation, and corporate social responsibility.

INDIA – named after the river Indus, which the original inhabitants along its banks called -Sindhu  and the ancient army from Greece under Alexander pronounced with a “H” thus the term “Hindu“.  And then we have “Bhagiratha” who brought the Ganges to earth, as depicted in the mythology.

And the most telling – our country is called both India & “Bharat”, at once bridging the modern with the ancient. Reminding us in each word that, one must keep its roots to the glorious  & Eco-responsive past while forging ahead into the future. India the very name itself has been derived from the life giving water, without which no life is Sustainable – anywhere in this Galaxy! And when one reads the story of Bhagiratha, one would find it so close to the story we once again are facing today; scarcity of water. Everyday articles are written about how future Wars would be fought for Water.

So, it comes as no surprise when modern India, whose soul is ancient and steeped in the culture of sustainable living, which I have mentioned more in my previous article, has its businessmen naturally adapt to what each must have learnt between the process of being a child – man – businessman ; Sustainability. Indians always knew of it, but it got buried in the sands of crony capitalism. Which is being dusted off by the efforts of CIICESD and the likes.

Diagram showing aspects of sustainable develop...

Diagram showing aspects of sustainable development as Ecology, Economy and Society bounded by Environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sustainable face of Business  India came out into the fore in 1991 – with a similar and parallel movement at the very same time as the BCSD; CII decided to establish an Environmental Management Division (EMD) that would work under the aegis of the CII National Environment Committee. EMD was established on Monday, June 1, 1992. This was the origin of Indian industry’s contribution towards meeting the goals of Agenda 21, a declaration that was passed during the Earth Summit. This with time, grew to become CII-ITC CESD of today headed by Ms. Seema Arora . The CII – ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development is an institution that creates a conducive, enabling climate for Indian businesses to pursue sustainability goals. It creates awareness, promote thought leadership and build capacity to achieve sustainability across a broad spectrum of issues.

Arm-in-arm with the NAPCC – National Action Plan on Climate Change; CIICESD is the doer of what the Government of India envisages through the various missions within NAPCC. Lush green fields are found where the grass roots are strong, else the moisture from deep within the soil can not be extracted to nourish. The various programs on sustainability CIICESD conducts throughout the year, in training, seminars etc is towards a path of creating awareness among those who already know, yet need to understand how to impart their knowledge to others. This capacity building would enable India adapt to conduct all its business sustainably in the era of grave Business Risk due to human induced Climate Change.

The most interesting part, is that CIICESD with its depth of reach among all the leading industries, imparts the knowledge to the young managerial staff who are slated to move up the ladder, thus in the process inculcate the training received in all their real time assignments. But it is easier said than done, unless the Companies itself takes a board-room decision to implement the thoughts of CIICESD on their shop-floors. There is room for scope in this.

The three pillars of sustainability. Click on ...

The three pillars of sustainability. Click on image areas for more information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As awareness on Global Warming and Climate change will grow, with its immediate impacts felt  around the World, ( as is happening ) the task of CIICESD and other forums engaged in the task of  promoting sustainable economy would become more and more critical.  As was evident with the recently concluded  Business forum on Climate Change  organised by CIICESD to devise strategies for effective long – term low carbon transformation. For without adapting to the challenges which are already critical, business in all sectors would suffer. The Stern Review concludes in its in-depth study that unless quick and effective measures are taken, beyond 2020, should the World continue in its path of high -carbon growth, the reactionary climate related devastation would cost the world nearly 20% of the World GDP.

 

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Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success


The Prime Minister of India had launched The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) on 30th June 2008.It outlines a national strategy that aims to enable the country adapt to climate change and enhances the ecological sustainability of India‘s development path. It stresses that maintaining a high growth rate is essential for increasing living standards of the majority of people of India and reducing their vulnerability of the impacts of climate change.

Eight National Action Plan were mooted -representing multipronged, long term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change. The National Missions are to be institutionalized by the respective Ministries  and will be organized through inter-sectoral groups. The first 3 are already operational.

The National Missions are –

National Solar Mission,
National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency, (1)
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat,
National Water Mission,

National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system,
National Mission for a Green India,
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and
National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

In this article we shall talk about the second action plan – National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (2)(NMEEE). And how we could look at it from a completely different perspective. However, let us first understand this beautiful instrument created to combat Climate change and offer economic opportunities.

The Eleventh Plan Outlay for Energy Conservation & NMEEE schemes was Rs 8.6 billion to promote energy conservation measures in the country. The Union Cabinet had approved the implementation plan of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) with a budgetary support of Rs.23.54 billion required for implementation of the Mission with effect from 2010-11. It also approved the creation of two new posts of Deputy Director General (Joint Secretary level) in the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. The NMEEE initiatives will avoid capacity addition of about 19,598 MW. It would result in fuel savings of around 23 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) and reduction in Green House Gasses (GHG) emissions of 98.55 million tonnes. The National Mission seeks to create and sustain markets for energy efficiency in the entire country which will benefit the country and the consumers. If one reads the detailed paper on NMEEE, it focus is more on Demand Side Management ( DSM ) of 9 Energy Intensive Industries Identified to be known as Designated Consumers (DCs) – Power (Thermal) 104.1 MTOE ; Integrated Steel 28.0 MTOE; Cement 11.87 MTOE;  Fertilizer 7.86 MTOE; Textile 1.62 MTOE; Aluminum 7.73 MTOE; Paper 2.09 MTOE; Chlor-­Alkali 1.06 MTOE; which totals to  164.15 MTOE (Million Ton of Oil Equivalent ) in energy. The implementation plan of NMEEE seeks to upscale the efforts to create the market for energy efficiency, and is estimated  about Rs 7,500 billion.

NMEEE can be divided into   PAT; MTEE; EEFP & FEED .(3)

a) A market based mechanism to enhance cost effectiveness of improvements in energy efficiency in energy-intensive large industries. The trading of energy saving certificates would facilitate this process { Perform Achieve and Trade        ( PAT) }.

b) Accelerating the shift to energy efficient appliances in designated sectors through innovative measures to make the products more affordable. {Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE) }.

c) Creation of mechanisms that would help finance demand side management programs in all sectors by capturing future energy savings. {Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP)}.

d) Developing fiscal instruments to promote energy efficiency namely Framework for Energy Efficient Economic Development (FEEED)

The overall idea of NMEEE is to achieve the following –

• Protecting the poor and vulnerable sections of society through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy sensitive to climate change.
• Achieving national growth objectives through a qualitative change in direction that enhances ecological sustainability, leading to further reduction in emissions of GHGs.
• Devising efficient and cost-effective strategies for end-use demand-side measures.
• Deploying appropriate technologies for both adaptation to and mitigation of the adverse effects of emissions of GHGs extensively as well as at an accelerated pace.
• Engineering new and innovative forms of market, regulatory, and voluntary mechanisms to promote sustainable development.

While all these are superlative and having met the core team of NMEEE at Chennai, during one of the stake-holders meet and  have immense respect for there depth of knowledge and dedication; let us look at what are the issues small consultation companies or independent Energy Auditors are facing to implement NMEEE and what can be done to popularize it.

The mainframe of NMEEE is PAT, which is focused at  Specific Energy Conservation (SEC), and this is complex to map;  because the energy usage pattern varies widely in industries of a particular sector due to various diversities like -Scale of Production (Installed Capacities); Use of Raw Material; Process Technology; Vintage of Technology; O & M Practices; Type of Product Output etc. While this is a great idea and business potential, barring the very large industries which find it feasible to adopt the PAT mechanism, the Small & Medium Scale industry of the same sector are not yet showing much enthusiasm. Primarily because even with the MTEE & EEFP, industry can not overnight stop production and upgrade technology.  So while the potential energy saving in the industrial sector is 98 billion KWh with a business potential of Rs. 2,400 billion; this target which we are thinking will be achieved by 2014 is a little difficult  to meet, more so in the current economic situation.

Further, Energy Audits of commercial and industrial facilities require a large amount of time to gather data and process them to offer the solution required.  All types of utility bills needs to be collected, for a period between one to three years, for analysis of pattern of use in different seasons, and  then certain benchmark need to be found. The performance of the any facility depends on various factors such as changes in weather, occupancy  or production levels and  this needs to be compared with design intent and similar type of facility which is used for comparison, to identify any error which is then used as clues for further analysis. Major energy loads are identified and analyzed and sometime spot data logging or sub-metering is required for specific energy loads or equipment to gather more data. For more advanced analysis, computer simulation analysis of the building and load patterns may be involved.

Trained and experienced engineers are required for much of this analysis, which further increases cost. Small consultancy companies  and independent energy auditors therefore find the going tough to convince industry owners to do an energy audit and more so where some of  the medium scale industry owner seeks a performance guarantee on the solutions which the consultants can provide, even before an audit is commenced.

Therefore to continue the course that has been set under NMEEE, the smaller independent auditing agency one must  look at the lowest hanging fruit that is Buildings & Lighting. One must focus at Lighting – 70 billion KWh translating to Rs. 400 billion (source- BEE); Buildings – 3.52 billion KWh ( source ADB )  which  Rs. 120 billion in business opportunities. Now if we add to it the administrative blocks of the 9 core DC identified, the business opportunity expands and Roof-top or captive solar and Green Building norms can get inducted. Because here is something which perhaps the policy makers have not looked into, that is, every industry big or small have an administrative block, which  falls under the Building sector. Although  this finds a mention in NMEEE but is not a core focus area yet. And all large facilities have lighting which independently mapped is a large segment.

It would make a great Green Business Idea should the authorities make mandatory 10% reduction in energy across all sectors and not limit the first 10% to come from the SEC in the large DC’s but be mapped from their building and lighting.  Especially Baseline energy consumption and emissions from commercial buildings, data centers. In fact Primary stakeholders for energy efficiency are  Commercial and residential buildings, which also form a part of large DC’s. For example if we take any of the “Navratna” ( nine gems ) industry, say Iron & Steel Plant, it has administrative blocks within the boundary walls of the plant, along-with  a whole residential township set up for its employees whose power consumption only in lighting and buildings could rival that of any Tier -II & III cities. In fact they are mini cities themselves. It would give impetus to two other missions under the NAPCC, namely the National Solar Mission and National Mission on Sustainable Habitat.

If the core idea of the National Mission is to bring in Enhanced Energy Efficiency, it must allow and support the Green Building criteria sooner than later and let it get the advantages of  EEFP & FEED enshrined in the NMEEE.

Courtesy: All images displayed are from the internet. Thanks to all who have created them

 

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Green Business Ideas : P.M.Manmohan Singh’s idea of Terminal Market Complex is a superb Green Idea which needs to be implemented


The Prime Minister of India 2012

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was released by the Prime Minister of India on 30th June 2008.It outlines a national strategy that aims to enable the country adapt to climate change and enhances the ecological sustainability of India‘s development path. It stresses that maintaining a high growth rate is essential for increasing living standards of the majority of people of India and reducing their vulnerability of the impacts of climate change.

During that time he also reinforced the idea of Terminal Market Complex – to combat food waste due to transportation & storage problems. The detailed report must have been read and perhaps being implemented too. But in this I found a Green Business Idea which perhaps can bring a sea-change in the thoughts of Climate Resilient Cities we need to build.

The idea of Terminal Market Complex conforms to Agenda 21 and the C40 cities program if we can design it right in the heart of a city. Yes, it is possible. It is very similar to a  concept which I found in a recent article, published by NDRC blog and tagged under urban farming, an old building was transformed into a public garden. The concept of Multileveled Vertical Urban Allotments, has been designed by Aspiring interior designer Lucie Sadakova, and another addition to superlative concepts many other Architects and Designers world over, are coming up with. The combination of each idea together I hope, would help rid the problems all Urban areas in the World are facing. It is a super step towards creating the Climate Resilient Cities.

Most Indian urban centers, especially cities like Mumbai, India; face severe shortage of space.This lead to shrinking of open spaces, trees and green patch in general. Making do with a few potted plants, hanging out of tiny windows or narrow flower-beds never can compare to a beautiful park in full bloom and surrounded with shady trees. The absence or shortage of open green spaces is harmful to the health of citizens; it raises the overall temperature of the city, which is known as heat island effect and both physical & psychological problems arise due to such unplanned development. What is more worrying is the rapid pace at which urban centers in the Emerging economies like India are growing. With slow or zero pace of reforms initiated by the policy makers, we are heading towards disaster which the PM and his Planning commission has been able to see, but not been able to address as it should have. The main reason behind the government not being able to have a sound Urban Development rule, is more political than administrative. And I strongly believe that should one take an issue which is important for the well-being of the citizens to the citizens directly, it would get mass support. And in a Democracy, mass support is the best driver for implementation of good governance.

Next, if the idea could have the possibility of generating income, its popularity would rise faster. Let us in this article explore a few ideas and see if sound, innovative and transparent policy and public will & participation can make them popular for all those cities which need to return to sustainable growth.

Mumbai, is the commercial hub of India. Here we have people who have wealth which could buy them a palace in many other urban centers around the world, but here they make do with a high-rise apartment due to severe lack of space. And almost all the financially well-off  citizens, have a second home. Locations at a distance of 100 KM to 150 KM from the city center are most popular. There you would find beautiful bungalows, with lawns in front and kitchen garden at the back; vast farm-houses fenced and barricaded. These houses lie vacant for most of the year and those of the super-rich, for years; because they have other similar abode near other cities .So  most are left in care of  a man-servant and his family who also double up as the gardener, housekeeping and guard. While I have absolutely no issues, if poor underprivileged villagers are provided with a decent shelter and employment, I do have strong reservations on this type of growth of ‘second homes’ which usually come up on, especially near Mumbai; ecologically sensitive western ghats. The primary reason for this type of growth is because the rich citizen of Mumbai want to ‘get away’ form all the heat and dust of everyday living.This is the pulse, which the Developers and the Urban Development Ministry failing to cash on. A bold and unusual  Green Business Idea, which if implemented and  made a success, could change the way people live in Cities.

If say, we can provide lush-green abode at the heart of the city along with the option of fresh food terminals which reduce food waste and generate employment we are able to create a super sustainable city program. And the best part would be it would reduce the heat-island effect. Limit the horizontal growth of a city, which we call an Urban sprawl, which eats up more and more green field areas, pushing the farm lands further away from the city center, this creating logistical problems for storage and transportation of  fresh food. Further a direct connect with nature would insure that the future generations would not be divorced form sustainable living practices as we are in the present.

Terrace garden are nothing new. But if with policy support from the government the free FSI / FAR  is tweaked to help the developers who are able to build high-rise, with a kitchen – garden along with lawns & flower beds, imagine the result. It would be like living in a bungalow in the clouds! The hanging gardens of Babylon coming back to life. True, the kitchen garden would not be able to supply the demand required. But that is not the point. The point is it would be an extra support to the terminal market complex we could be building, which is additional to the thought given by the ministry and similar to the hollowed out building shown alongside. And where is the space one would ask ? Just look at any of the large Bus Depots in Mumbai, and imagine having 20 stories of light-weight structure made of Thermo-Polymerized rock  , say 12 meters wide floor plate stacked one over the other at distances and design which allow for sunlight. Not only would such roof-top or terrace fields help in the agribusiness, it would save the fertile topsoil of farmlands from being destroyed by the ever growing foot-print of the concrete jungle.

What a relief it would be for a  tired office goer to alight from the bus which are parked under the shade of this bus-terminal-cum-food-terminal, go to the co-operative vegetable mart and buy vegetables before heading home. And all those vegetable sellers, blocking the foot-path along the suburban rail stations and over-bridges could be shifted and even provided with space perhaps at the first floor level, to do what they do best. Sell and grow vegetables. The marginalized farmer who having lost his land need no more live a life of indignity by begging but instead, work under a government aided program to farm and perhaps even get employment with private city center farms, as explained below.

Malls usually have huge floor plate and therefore huge roof area, which get super hot during the summer, requiring a lot of energy for air-conditioning. Mall roofs too could be designed to have vegetable gardens similar to the image shown.  It is a logical idea, as these usually also have the supermarket where people go to buy their grocery. While I concede that all the ideas are Utopian, I believe that someday somewhere I would be able to make a township with these very ideas and more. In 2009 during the Vishwa Show in Mumbai, I had got a whole three-minute to speak with my hero, the past President of India, Shri A.P.J Abdul Kalam. I spoke to him about my idea of building a CDM complaint township, adopting my idea from another Great Leader of India, Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gram Swaraj or village self-rule, was a pivotal concept in Mahatama Gandhi’s thinking. I happened to read his ideas and was so mesmerized by his thinking that today the concept I have visualized is nothing but pure inspiration. All Dr. Kalam said  post hearing me out was, as it is a Gandhian idea, it would be a success!

Note : I thank all whose images I have found and used from the internet. None of the concepts shown are my own, and I give full credit to those who have been able to think these ideas, as they are inspirational.

 

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Technical Manual for Sustainable Site Documentation.


SUSTAINABLE SITE DESIGN:

The purpose of sustainable site planning is to integrate design and construction strategies by modifying both site and building to achieve greater human comfort and operational efficiencies. It charts appropriate patterns of use for a site while incorporating construction methods that minimize site disruption and the expenditure of financial and building resources. The process is based upon the premise that any landscape setting can be analyzed and studied as a series of interconnected geological, hydrological, topographic, ecological, climatological, and cultural features and systems. Selecting a building site begins the process of calculating the degree of resource use and the degree of disturbance of existing natural systems that will be required to support a building’s development.

SITE ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT:

Site assessment is a process that examines the data gathered and identified in the site analysis, assigns specific site factors to hierarchies of importance, and identifies, where possible, interactive relationships.

Data collection:

Technical site data –

Geographical latitude (solar altitude) and microclimate factors, such as wind loads

Affect building layout, including solar orientation and location of entrances, windows.

Topography and adjacent landforms—Influence building proportions, wind loads, drainage strategies, floor elevations, and key gravity-fed sewer-line corridors.

Groundwater and surface runoff characteristics— determine building locations as well as natural channels for diverting storm runoff and locations of runoff detention ponds

Solar access—Determines position of building to take maximum advantage of natural solar resources for passive solar heating, day lighting, and photo voltaic.

Ai r-movement patterns, both annual and diurnal— particularly influence sitting of multiple structures to avoid damming cold moisture-laden air, or blocking favorable cooling breezes during periods of overheating. Properly measured wind loads and pressure differentials are essential for designing interior air-handling systems or use of passive solar cooling strategies.

Soil texture and its load-bearing capacity—Determine building location on the site and the type of footing required. Identify site-grading processes by the soil’s potential for erosion by wind, water, and machine disturbance.

Parcel shape and access—Affect a site’s capacity to accommodate a proposed development, even if its size and environmental\ factors are favorable. Potential access points should not burden lower-density or less compatible adjacent land use. Zoning setbacks and easements can also affect development potential.

 Neighboring developments and proposed future developments—Affect proposed project and may lead to requisite design changes.

Analyze specific characteristics of climate zones: Climate has specific characteristics requiring mitigation, augmentation, and exploitation; there are 5 climatic zones in India.

Analyze the site’s existing air quality: Most state require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) outlining the potential negative impacts of a proposed development and how they might be alleviated. Site planning requires two kinds of air-quality analysis regarding: (1) assessment of the existing air quality of the site to determine the presence of noxious chemicals and suspended particulates, and (2) projection of the negative consequences (if any) of the proposed development on existing air quality. In primarily commercial or industrial areas, poor air quality should be a key factor in determining site suitability and use, especially for such facilities as schools, parks, or housing for seniors. Testing should anticipate seasonal or diurnal wind patterns to make certain that the worst possible case is tested.

Perform soil and groundwater testing: Perform soil tests to identify the presence of chemical residues from past agricultural activities (arsenic, pesticides, and lead); past industrial activities (dumps, heavy metals, carcinogenic compounds and minerals, and hydrocarbons); and any other possible contamination either on or in the vicinity of the subject site.

Test soil suitability for backfills, slope structures, infiltration: The native soil should be tested to determine bearing, compactability, and infiltration rates, and, in turn, structural suitability and the best method for mechanical compaction (i.e., clay soils require non-vibrating compaction and non-erosive angles of repose for cut-and-fill slopes).

Evaluate site ecosystem for existence of wetlands and endangered species: Preservation and restoration strategies require thorough economic analysis, specialized expertise, and sound baseline data gathered through both remote and on-site sensing methods.

Examine existing vegetation to inventory significant plant populations: This will enable the developer or owner to later specify vegetation that is susceptible to damage during construction, so that protective measures can be developed and implemented.

Map all natural hazard potentials (such as winds, floods, and mudslides):Eberhard Bosslet - Since 1983 - works with rui... Historic flood data, wind-damage data, and subsidence data should be mapped along with current annual wind and precipitation data.

Diagram existing pedestrian and vehicular movement and parking to identify Patterns: Existing traffic and parking patterns in areas which are adjacent to or near the site may need consideration in relation to proposed building design and site circulation patterns.

Review the potential of utilizing existing local transportation resources: Explore the sharing of existing transportation facilities and other resources, such as parking and shuttles, with existing institutions. This can lead to greater site efficiencies.

Identify construction restraints and requirements: Special construction methods may be required because of local soil condition, geology, earth-moving constraints, and other site-specific factors and constraints.

Infrastructural data

Analyze site for existing utility and transportation infrastructure and capacity: Existing infrastructure should be analyzed for integration into the building and facilities.

Historical Data

Review architectural style of the area for incorporation into building: If desirable, the architectural style that is historically predominant in an area can be reflected in the building and landscape design, enhancing community integration.

DATA ASSESSMENT  Illustration of a level spreader installation ...

Identify topographic and hydrological impacts of proposed design and building use: Measure cut-and-fill potential and assess potential for erosion, siltation, and groundwater pollution.

Develop general area takeoff and overall building footprint compatibility with site: For example, measure total site coverage of impermeable surfaces to determine thresholds of run-off pollution potential (i.e., over 20 percent impermeable coverage of gross site requires mitigation to clean storm water before it enters drainage system off-site). Footprint should also maximize site efficiencies with regard to required road, utility, and service access.

Identify alternative site design concepts to minimize resource costs and disruption: Develop several alternatives to explore optimal pattern with regard to factors such as grading and tree-clearing consequences and resulting infrastructure costs.

Review financial implications of site development, building, and projected maintenance costs: Total cost of the project must factor in ongoing costs associated with the site design, development, and operations, as well as hidden embodied energy costs associated with specific materials.

DeveloUS Air Quality Index Map-1/23/2009p matrix of use and site compatibility index: Each site may be assessed to reveal its development compatibility index with regard to a specific type of development. This index may reveal a pattern of incompatibilities thereby specific appropriate mitigation measures are undertaken.

Courtesy: Nicholas T. Dines, author.

 

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