There is no Planet B: Only People’s Power Can Create Urban Climate Justice! – ActionAid India
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There is no Planet B: Only People’s Power Can Create Urban Climate Justice!

Date : 26-Mar-2024

G. Sundararajan, Coordinator of Poovulagin Nanbargal, a Chennai-based environmental organistaion, issued an urgent call to take urgent action to protect the planet. Speaking at the three-day “Chennai Climate Summit” held recently in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Sundararajan reiterated the important role played by the civil society and to build on it further to help address the existential threat to humanity. Sundararajan warned against waiting until it’s too late to address the issue, as by then, there may be nothing left to save.

The meeting was organized by Thozhamai, Loyola College, Chennai, Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research and ActionAid Association (India) to explore ways in which people’s empowerment can be done to create urban climate justice. More than ninety participants representing Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Pondicherry, attended, and on the third day, where the focus was on creating research agendas, worked out action research proposals involving deprived urban communities. The “Chennai Climate Summit” is the fourth in series of capacity-building workshops being organised across the country. Previous summits have been held in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

Esther Mariaselvam, Associate Director at ActionAid Association, while extending a warm welcome to the participants, emphasised the opportunity to explore and discuss the climate justice dimension of climate action in urban settings. Dipali Sharma, Director of Operational Effectiveness and Partnerships at ActionAid Association, addressed the diverse national and international endeavours aimed at alleviating the consequences of climate change. She stressed the necessity of shifting these efforts towards a more people-centric approach, especially focusing on communities disproportionately affected by climate change. Dipali emphasized the importance of collaboration among various stakeholders to promote localised and community-driven solutions to tackle the crisis.

A. Devaneyan, the Founder and Director of Thozhamai, drew attention to the dire circumstances faced by individuals who have been forcefully displaced and resettled due to disasters, enduring ongoing challenges from natural calamities in the outskirts of Chennai, which are increasingly affected by climate change.

The Chief Guest, Rev. Dr. L. Jebamalai Irudayaraj, S.J., Provincial Jesuit Chennai Province Chairman, Governing Boards Jesuit Educational Institutions, stressed the contemporary era of information, communication and electronics amidst environmental change, highlighting how our interconnected world operates akin to a global village, with climate impacts resonating globally. He remarked that it is thus crucial to universally tackle the underlying causes of climate change. Mr. Tikender Singh, former Deputy Mayor of Shimla, stated the need for cities and urban centres to be built based on a master plan that takes into account risk factors. He emphasised the need for such a plan to be people centric, and prioritise the inclusion of more cycle tracks and efficient public transportation systems.

In the first day, academicians like Dr. Gladston Xavier, Department of Social Work, Loyola College and Prof. Vinolia Nicholas, architect, Dr. MGR University; environmentalists like Mr. JV Ratnam from Vizag, Andhra Pradesh and Mr. Ananth Mariganti, Telangana; civil society actors like Ms. Sheelu Francis,  Head, Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, Mr. Thomas Franco, former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation and Mr. CK Vishnudas, Director, Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology; urban planners like Mr. Sudhir, architect, and Ms. Vanessa Peter, Policy Researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities  and Mr. C. Nicholas, Convenor, Dalit Land Rights Federation; and Ms. Geetha R., Advisor, Unorganised Workers Federation addressed the participants. They delved into the foundational science behind the ongoing global discourse on climate change, as well as the international policies and agreements governing climate governance. Furthermore, they explored the various approaches available to local communities and civil society organisations in addressing issues related to climate justice.

Community representatives from across 17 districts of the southern states shared their experience of climate change and efforts to create climate justice. A field visit gave participants and opportunity to engage in discussions to consider the effects of climate change on marginalized communities.

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For more information, contact: Esther Mariaselvam| Esther.Mariaselvam@actionaid.org | 9444951927

About ActionAid Association

ActionAid Association is an organisation working for social and ecological justice. ActionAid has been engaged with the most marginalised communities in India since 1972. In 2006, ActionAid Association was registered as an Indian organisation, governed by an independent General Assembly and a Governing Board. Together with supporters, communities, institutions and governments, we strive for equality, fraternity and liberty for all. ActionAid Association works in 24 states and two union territories, with several partners and allied organisations. ActionAid Association is part of a global federation and a full affiliate of ActionAid International, that has presence in over 40 countries worldwide.