Voice of Environment (VoE), a youth-based organization based at Guwahati, Assam, celebrated World Environment Day (WED) this year with much pomp and grandeur. The central theme for WED 2021 is “Ecosystem Restoration” with a major focus on reimagine, recreate, and restore. Ecosystem restoration can take many forms, such as large-scale afforestation, greening of urban spaces such as cities and towns, rewinding gardens, changing diet patterns, pollution remediation, and mass cleaning rivers and coasts. Dr. Anu Sharma (Lecturer and Rsearcher) and Mr. Moharana Choudhury in collaboration with team VoE aligned with this theme and undertook an online panel discussion following the country’s COVID19 protocols and imposed restrictions. The topic of the discussion was ‘Let’s Redesign our Approach: Reimagine, Recreate and Restore’. The discussion session has illuminated with the illustrious presence of Dr. Dipankar Saha, Expert member, EAC, MOEFCC, and Former Addl. Director (Scientist E) Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi, Mr. Deepak Kumar, Environmental Officer, UNDP, India, Dr. M. Manoj, Senior Consultant, Physical therapist, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, AIIMS, New Delhi, Advocate Jyoti Sharma (Master Trainer, NALSA) from High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Joystu Dutta, Assistant Professor, and Head, Department of Environmental Science, Sant Gahira Guru University, Sarguja, Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh, Dr. Rockotpal Konwarh, Scientist C with Division of Nanomaterials and Nanomedicine, Uniglobe Scientific Pvt. Ltd., Er. Hemant Kumar Nagar, team member of Voice of Environment, Dr. Bhagwati Devi, Lecturer, Department of Hindi, University of Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Monika Sharma, Lecturer at School Education Department, Jammu and Kashmir and Mr. Moharana Choudhury, an eminent environmentalist and researcher based at Guwahati, Assam.
The significant recommendations from the scholarly discussion of the panel included understanding the concepts and processes associated with physicochemical and biological functions of eco-restoration. The youth is being mobilized to recreate green spaces within their surroundings irrespective of the rural or urban environment, reduce land-use changes, work in tandem with natural processes, give back to nature, recycle and create resources from waste, and minimize garbage. Pollution remediation, bioremediation of heavy metals and the use of alternative energy sources such as solar energy, wind and wave energy, geothermal energy etc. Reduction in use of plastic, community awareness regarding ecosystem restoration etc. are major concerns. The panelists highlighted the environmental challenges from multidimensional perspectives as they represented various domains of expertise and knowledge pool. However, the experts unanimously supported the theme for this year’s celebration as both holistic and timely. COVID19 pandemic has been an emerging and rapidly evolving healthcare emergency. India is currently undergoing an active second wave that led to the loss of millions of lives, devastating families, and the country’s foothold. The safety restrictions imposed across the country have damaged life, livelihoods, and businesses never like before in the last 100 years. As the experts from the panel have suggested, the only prescription is going back to nature and working in close association with it. Optimal utilization of natural resources is the need of the hour. The success of the panel discussion lies in the fact that it has been attended by scores of young school students and children who are the citizens of tomorrow. The discussion session was ably anchored by Dr. Anu Sharma, Lecturer in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Government Degree College Bhaderwah, University of Jammu, Jammu, and Kashmir.