India’s anti-corruption crusader and 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee SANJIV CHATURVEDI is an environment and wildlife lover. Through Asian Leaders Talk, we asked CHATURVEDI’s quick take on the environment and transformative leadership.
RMAF: What is the most important environmental issue we are facing right now?
CHATURVEDI: Loss of biodiversity, particularly of primary forests, grasslands and wetlands; unsustainable agricultural and developmental practices; rapid loss of ground water aquifers; climate change resulting in melting ice caps & sea level rice; plastic, air and water pollution, are some of most pressing as well as threatening environmental issues. It is extremely difficult to prioritize any particular one as more or less important because each of these issues have very serious implications, not only for the future of mankind but also for the very existence of life on this planet.
RMAF: How do we overcome this challenge?
CHATURVEDI: The only way to overcome these challenges is more and more global efforts for increasing research in environment friendly technologies and practices, and equitable sharing of such technologies with developing countries, without any ulterior considerations as impact of environmental problems, are mostly on a global basis and not limited to some particular regions only. In this regard, developed and resourceful countries which have more robust facilities of research, should be more lenient and open hearted, to share such technologies with poorer countries, and at the same time, more and more efforts are needed to inculcate environmental responsible behavior among citizens.
RMAF: What values should a good environmental leader or advocate have?
CHATURVEDI: A good environmental leader should always try to ingrain values of respect for mother nature, and spirit of coexistence. He would make people understand the very basic fact that we are just a part of a chain of millions of species, and not on top of these species, as most of us wrongfully construe. Even if one small link of this chain is damaged or broken, all other species, including homo sapiens, would feel heat in one way or another and secondly to emphasize what Mahatma Gandhi had said long back that nature has enough for fulfilling our need but not for fulfilling our greed. At the same time he would inspire people to bring out more creative, innovative, people friendly and cost effective solutions to resolve perpetual conflict between environments versus development.
RMAF: What advice can you give young people who are advocating for the environment?
CHATURVEDI: I think that most important aspect is to educate, encourage and motivate people to bring about fundamental changes in their living habitats including preventing the loss of our precious natural resources—water, energy and woods; recognizing and preserving precious biodiversity in our backyards; minimizing use of resource guzzling agricultural practices, eliminating use of plastic from our lives and to undertake scientific afforestation practices of suitable species as well as protecting and developing other ecosystem like grasslands, wetlands, mangroves, peat lands and alpine meadows, which are ecologically equally important.
Sanjiv Chaturvedi delivered his response during the 57th Ramon Magsaysay Awards
Presentation Ceremonies held August 31, 2015.