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4 Things South Asia Can Learn From Europe’s Biggest Climate Innovation Network

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Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community or Climate KIC is Europe’s biggest climate innovation network. It exclusively focuses on education, entrepreneurship, and innovation to make economically viable products or services that will work to mitigate climate change. European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) which is the research and development organization for the European Union, created Climate KIC  along with two other Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) in 2010.

Around the same time in 2010, the 16th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held in Bhutan with an overarching theme of “Towards a Green and Happy South Asia”. The summit leaders signed a SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment to address the prevailing issue of climate change. India even proposed to set up regional climate innovation centres in South Asia to stimulate research and development in sustainable energy technologies.

Seven years have passed since that eventful year. While Climate KIC continued to flourish with empowering the youth by motivating their innovative ideas to tackle climate change, the proposed idea of India to set up regional climate innovation centres remained only an idea. They say an idea can change your life but they forget to tell you that change comes to those who take a sincere initiative. In those seven years, the efforts exerted by the SAARC Nations could hardly bear any fruits in any meaningful way. It’s worth it to take a look what Climate KIC has achieved while our leaders took the indolent way:

Climate KIC worked in four predominant areas of climate innovation. These areas were deemed crucial in achieving a holistic sustainable development both in Europe and the rest of the world.

  • Urban Transitions: As more and more people are moving towards cities, cities have to have the ability to cope with climate risks and impacts. Cities have to identify smart & zero-carbon solutions to flooding, temperature rise, and urban heat islands. Climate KIC works on integrated and systemic innovation, smart and sustainable development along with education, facilitation and capacity building on urban transitions.
  • Sustainable Production Systems: 21% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions come from various industries. In this context, realistic eco-friendly innovation on the sustainable production system is the call of the time. To address this, climate KIC works in the future feedstock, closed-loop approach and linking up and downstream of manufacturing industries.
  •  Decision Metrics and Finance: A lack of bankable green assets is the single biggest problem responsible investors face. Regarding this issue, Climate KIC works with 200+ partners to provide seed funding, lead innovation programmes to inform and educate decision makers.
  • Sustainable Land Use: The demands of growing world population place an extraordinary burden on natural resources, especially when the unplanned land use is a prevalent trend. Climate KIC combines forest management in the bio-economy, climate-smart agriculture, and sustainable food chains along with integrated landscape management to address this problem.

To work in these areas, Climate KIC has set up a wide array of events that boost positive climate action, all of them involving the youth. With the overwhelming participation of the youth every year, Climate KIC seems to have found the much sought after “Youth Ki Awaaz” on climate innovation in Europe.

Various Programmes of Climate-KIC

The various flagship projects of Climate-KIC also enjoyed tremendous success. From sustainable city districts to the agricultural booster, the concepts of those projects share a striking similarity with today’s innovative youth’s out-of-the-box mindset. The reason behind this is simple, the youth were involved in these projects.

Flagship Projects of Climate-KIC

The success of Climate-KIC brings into mind the promise of India in 2010 and what would have happened if there were such implementations of innovation centres all over South Asia. Today in Asia, there are more than 1.1 billion youth aged 10 to 24, representing 26 percent of the total Asian population. Among them, India has the world’s highest number of 10-to-24 year-olds at 356 million, China follows with 269 million, Indonesia with 67 million, Pakistan with 59 million, and Bangladesh with 48 million. Interestingly, 3 countries out of the top five are from South Asia.

One can only wonder what would have happened if South Asia could harness the power of its youth to drive eco-friendly innovations in the mitigation of climate change.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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