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‘Not Zero Net Zero’: 12 Educational Institutes Pledge For Carbon Neutrality

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On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, a unique initiative of Carbon Neutrality was taken by 12 Universities from across India in accordance with the theme of ‘Not Zero Net Zero’. Vice-Chancellors of these 12 leading institutions took a single-focused voluntary pledge in unison to develop the roadmap towards making their university carbon neutral.

12 Vice Chancellors Pledge For Carbon Neutrality

From snow-covered Kashmir to warm undulated terrain of Kanyakumari and from Clouded Ghats along the Indian peninsula to sunny Guwahati in Northeast, from foothills of Himalaya in Sikkim to the Plains in Delhi and then to raining Chennai in the south, the diversity of the weather patterns was on display on 12th December 2020.

But on that day, the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, the 12 Vice-Chancellors from these very regions demonstrated a rare unity in diversity. They took a single-focused voluntary pledge in unison to develop the roadmap towards making their university carbon neutral.

They also laid their strategy to reach the destination through disciplinary behaviour, resource optimization, energy efficiency, renewable energy, tree plantation leveraging digital technology, and open access to data.

Universities Spearhead Climate Conservation Movement

The ambitious virtual event called ‘Not Zero-Net Zero’ was organized by TERRE Policy Centre under its global network of universities and Colleges-Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN). The event signaled the end of the endless talk on climate change and triggered the chain of action to move forward to begin an era of decarbonization of the economy.

Educational institutes are skilling the students to be future-ready to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of this century.

Nationally determined contributions pledged under the Paris Climate Agreement are grossly inadequate to meet the target of limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. “What is needed is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the maximum extent and then offset the rest of it by tree plantation to make it net-zero.”, delineated Dr. RajendraShende, while revealing the concept behind the ‘Not Zero Net Zero’ pledge.

Investing In Energy Efficiency Will Profit In The Long Run

Inaugurating the event Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman of All India Council of Higher Technical Institutes (AICTE) lauded the catalytic efforts of TERRE in getting key and strategically positioned universities and institutes for united actions. “Movement of Net Zero carbon emission will spread faster when its seeds sown in university campuses”, said Dr. Sahasrabudhe.

Saurabh Kumar, executive vice-chairman of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) fully owned Government of India’s energy service company said, ‘This event is path-breaking. To realize the dream of a carbon-neutral educational institute, EESL can deploy the practical business models quite suitable for the educational institutes. They can invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy with zero capital of their own and then pay the investors from saving they make’.

UNESCO’s Regional Director, Erik Falt through video conveyed the key message, ‘UNESCO believes that educational institutes are key to enable societies in their transition to a lower emission pathway and to maximize potential benefits’.

Vice-Chancellor (VC) of SRM University of Sikkim, Dr. Satish Kumar declared that they are already on the way to transform their university, not only carbon neutral but carbon negative. He signed the pledge and agreed to openly share their model with other universities.

Dr. Anil Kumar, Senior Director of Dr. MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) who also signed the pledge informed that a village is being transformed into Carbon Neutral community in Wayanad, in Kerala by his research institute.

Sign The Pledge And Make Your University Carbon Neutral

Dr. Amit Bhalla vice president of ManavRachana University informed that his university is already at a higher take-off point towards carbon neutrality. Dr. Sunil Rai, VC of the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies struck a chord with all VCs when he described simple, frugal, and smart stories on how the climate challenge can be addressed effectively.

VCs of SRM Institute of Science and Technology in Tamil Nadu, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Jammu and Kashmir, Noorul Islam Centre for Higher Education in Kanyakumari, Royal Global University in Assam, MIT-ADT university in urban Maharashtra, ManavRachana University in Haryana, NanasahebMahadik College of Engineering in rural Maharashtra expressed their resolve to make their universities carbon neutral.

The Waseda University of Japan in the Far East could not join the event but the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in the Far West joined to demonstrate its solidarity with this global movement. Dr. Nicole Bernex, Director of the university pledged not only for her university in Peru but also informed that she would collaborate with other universities in Latin America forget them into the network of carbon Neutrality. M.V Ashok, senior advisor of SCCN concluded the event on the note of solidarity of the Universities.

The pledge is now open for signature by the educational institute. To join, the head of the institutions can also go directly to pledge via

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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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