South Asia Youth Environment Conclave

The world is getting younger! And that’s not a vague assumption, but a statement backed by various facts, reports and assessments by reputed and trustworthy institutions like the UN. The world is, in fact, getting younger and if there’s one region in the world that’s the biggest contributor to this phenomenon, it’s South Asia!

India especially, has an unrivalled youth demographic: 65% of its population is 35 or under, and half the country's population of 1.25 billion people is under 25 years of age and that is a huge number, a number big enough to justify the fact that for any positive step that the region takes, in any field, it has to have youth playing a big role in it, be it the economy, health or the environment!

While the number of youth in the region is on an upswing, the environment, which has a direct impact on not just the current generation, but even more on the generations to come, is on a decline and it is a huge challenge for us to not just ensure a healthy environment for ourselves but also for generations to come.

It is with this belief that the South Asia Youth Environment Conclave, sponsored by the American Center, in partnership with the Earth Day Network, South Asia youth Environment Network (SAYEN) and the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) has been envisaged. The conclave is aimed at developing leadership skills among youth in the region, since they are ready to take on leadership roles and guide the region into the future, it is also very important that they understand the value of sustainability and why we must move forward in a sustainable manner, so that the youth of tomorrow have a future, just as bright as them, if not brighter!

The Contest

As a lead up to the Conclave a contest for college youth was organized where youth were asked to share their proposals of the positive steps they intend to take in order to spread awareness about and to mitigate Climate Change, which is one of the major threats to the environment today. These entries were then judged and winners were announced. These winners then implemented their plans and regularly reported on their activities. Based on these reports the best implementers were selected in August, 2015 to represent their country and state at the Conclave.

The Conclave

The South Asia Youth Environment Conclave was sponsored by the American Center, in partnership with the Earth Day Network, – India, Centre for Environment Education (CEE) and South Asia Youth Environment Network (SAYEN) at the American center, New Delhi on 29 – 30 September, 2015, with an aim to engage, empower and encourage youth with an interest in and working on spreading awareness through action about sustainability issues like climate change in their college and community.

The Conclave saw participation from over 70 motivated youth from 5 countries, namely – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The Conclave was preceded by a contest to help determine the finalists. Over 200 youth applied with proposals of action projects they pledged to undertake in over a month preceding the conference. An international jury consisting of representatives from all organizing partners shortlisted the finalists based on their reports on the implementations of proposals. The selected participants, representing 5 countries, 22 Indian states and the host city, New Delhi participated in the Conclave, sharing their work with each other, networking and strategizing on how to take their work forward.

Day 1

The first day of the Conclave saw the participants putting up exhibits of their work, followed by them being divided into working groups based on the themes depicting the field of environment conservation they worked in during the contest stage.


The participants were divided into 10 working groups, according to themes, namely, Awareness in Campus Awareness in Communities, Communication, Cleaning Up, Energy Management, Natural Resource Management, Planting, Protecting Biodiversity, Recycling, Waste Management. The participants then discussed the work done by each one of them in their group and later presented it in front of experts in a panel discussion.

Day 2

The second day focused more on sustainability and was started by an informative session by Mr. Kartikeya. V. Sarabhai, Director, Centre for Environment Education (CEE) on ways youth can work for a Sustainable Environment, his session was followed by a question and answer round with the participants, who asked questions ranging from the global scenario to local actions.

The students then got back into working groups again, this time focusing on finding synergies between their work and focusing on networking and making their action projects sustainable. The Conclave concluded with presentations by the groups and an open mike session, where all participants shared their experience and feedback and pledged to take their work forward and stay connected.


Conclave Schedule


Participant Profile


The South Asia Youth Environment Conclave is sponsored by the US Department of State’s American Center in Delhi, India. The Conclave is presented by Earth Day Network, India, in collaboration with the Centre for Environment Education and the South Asia Youth Environment Network, India. The aim of the Conclave is to showcase best examples of environmental campaigns and programs conducted by the youth of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In addition, the Conclave aims at helping build bridges of friendship between youth from different parts of India, and of countries bordering India, so that a momentum for them to do their bit for the environment continues to grow. Approximately 70 college/university students, each recognized as Stewards for the Environment, are participating in the Conclave. Each of them has been selected from among the hundreds of applications received. While all of them have done considerable work, the following notes highlight just a few of the key efforts of each. We hope that the students will use the platform of the Conclave for more detailed interactions.



Innovative Initiatives undertaken by Youth


Following are the themes:

Biological diversity - or biodiversity - is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend.

It is individual choices, made billions of times a day that count the most. Our small choices add up to a large impact because it is the personal consumption that drives development, which uses and pollutes nature.

Youth Initiatives
Green Gifts, Quizzes, Music Concert on Biodiversity, Tree census, Awareness on Coastal Degradation, Photography and poster making competitions, Greening Spaces, Awareness Campaigns


Waste Management
Nature doesn’t have the concept of ‘Waste’. Can humans do better?

Reducing, reusing, recycling and minimizing waste can reduce adverse impacts on the environment and us. Rational and consistent waste management practices are an opportunity to reap a range of benefits.

Youth Initiatives
Banning Polythene use, Filth Free India – Clean up movement and Spot fixing. Shifting to Cloth bags, Recycle & Reuse, Segregation, Building Illustrative and Innovative models on Waste Management .


Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is the act of farming based on an understanding of ecosystem services, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. Organic gardening is one of the many ways in which we can get our share from the earth as well as preserve it for future generations. Not only is it safe, but it also does not harm the soil, the habitat or the environment.

Youth Initiatives
Promoting vermicomposting against chemical fertilizers, Social awareness campaign against wheat (crops) residue burning, Organic Vegetable farming.


While the earth may be mostly water, only about 2-1/2 percent of it is fresh water. Of that 2.5%, even less is considered to be potable. Potable water is water that is considered to be safe to drink and cook with. While many countries are working to build water treatment plants, the fact is that due to changes in the climate the amount of rain and ice melts from winter have dropped off and lowered the reserve supplies of freshwater to be treated.

Youth Initiatives
Drip Irrigation, Water Quality Testing, Preserving Wetlands and lakes and Exploring innovative water conservation techniques.


Energy saved is energy produced.

This is not just a physics fact, but a crucial detail to remember while speaking of conservation. Most of the power generated in the world today comes from fossil fuels.

Youth Initiatives
Spreading awareness about Energy Star rated appliances, Building 100 percent Energy Efficient Campus, Conducting Green Audit using Solar panels and pumps in campuses.


Buses, ferries, trains and cycles are the forgotten gems of mobility in many parts of the World. Transportation sector accounts for 14% of the Global Green House Gas emissions according to the Synthesis Report, Fifth Assesment Report, Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), 2010.

Youth Initiatives
Switch to Carpooling, Promoting Cycling and use of Public Transport.



Projects and Action


Rumit Walia has been working for environmental conservation since his childhood and he believes that environmental conservation is only possible if everyone plays their part in it, even if that means they contribute only 0.01%. It is with this belief that Rumit formed ‘Tears of the Earth’, a community of like-minded people that works on Environmental conservation. Some of the highlights of their work in campus and community are:

  • Gave free tuition to students on basics of Environmental Conservation for 100 days.
  • Organized Quiz and other Environmental competitions like poster making and model making competitions.
  • Introduced and Installed LED’s in many Houses in the community.
  • Encouraged the use of Metal Mechanical Pencils and metal pens as much as possible instead of plastic or wood.

Prasenjit Paul from IIT - Kanpur believes that Environmentalism advocates the lawful preservation, restoration and/or improvement of the natural environment, and may be referred to as a movement to control pollution or protect plant and animal diversity with the help of Technology, innovation, science, logic and research. With this approach in mind, Prasenjit has formed the Group for Environment and Energy Engineering (G3E), the group works on engaging, IIT – K students in innovative ways to tackle problems like wastage of electicity, water and food on campus.
The group has reached out to more than 800 students on campus through presentations and various competitions like, environmental quiz, case studies and also the ‘Enviro Cham’, where, interested students are taken on a campus visit and made witness to wastage on campus, at times, the group is also taken to nearby villages to see their issues and try and come up with innovative solutions.
The group is now working on a plan to make the IIT – K campus completely energy efficient  by 2020!


Thinley Wangmo from Bhutan feels that innovative technological solutions are the order of the day in terms of solving some of our environmental woes originating from habit. She has worked with some of her friends to come up with automatic lighting and AC controllers based on Passive infrared (PIR) sensors. They have successfully installed these in their college campus and helped save a lot of energy wastage on campus. The group has also been instrumental in promoting cleanliness on campus by conducting regular campus cleanliness drives.


Ms. Bindu Bhandari from Nepal, who organized the COP In My City Campaign at the Agriculture and Forestry University, where students participated in a simulation phase where students were assigned to different parties of UNFCCC and negotiated to reach a global agreement for maintaining the temperature rise below 2 degree celsius by 2050 with advancement in technology for green economy and effective monitoring of green climate fund.

Satyansh Singh Tomar from Lovely Professional University, who focused, mainly on the social aspect of sustainability, organized donation camps for students to donate old clothes, bedding, etc. which were then distributed to the needy. Satyansh also took the initiative to organize plantation drives on campus and involved many students in it.
Jainil Shah and his fellow students of the Eco Club of H L College of Commerce, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, are vigorously working towards creating awareness regarding the dangers of burning waste. Waste must be properly disposed in residential colonies and societies. Burning waste can lead to many dangerous health conditions caused by inhaling or ingesting even small amounts of toxic pollutants.

Avinash Pratap Singh, during one of his frequent travels, noticed people selling packed water bottles in trains and on railway platforms. He realized the empty plastic water bottles were thrown in the trains, on the tracks and railway platforms. When trying to fill his bottle on the platform, he was warned by a local that the water was impure, which lead to him wanting to find out the truth behind what he had heard and what many people think. After having sent samples of different kinds of water to a lab to be analyzed, the results were surprising! The tap water was full of minerals and therefore very healthy to drink, whilst many brands of bottled water contained pollutants. In order to get the public aware of this misleading situation, they organized road shows, rallies, workshop for students, workshops for teacher’s and professors, flash mobs and also held an open press conference.


Gaurav Madan, a PhD Research Scholar at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, IIT Delhi volunteers as a Communications Coordinator for the Indian Youth Climate Network, Gaurav is a volunteer trainer.  Gaurav says, ‘I've done eco-restoration work in villages around Alwar in Rajasthan and Pune in Maharashtra to help support sustainable farming.  In Udaipur, Gaurav and his friends have conducted ‘Invisible Theatre’ programs to build awareness about cleanliness in markets, bus stops and other public places.  These theatrical performances were enacted at malls and street corners – not at venues where people normally expect to see theater.  The team has also helped work out solid waste management techniques.


Ravi Kiran, along with batch mates in his college in Dhanbad, Jharkhand  took up many initiatives, which included organizing a 2 day workshop to raise awareness about solar light bulbs, cleanliness drives, painting competitions and also organizing a clean up event, involving 500 volunteers to clean up a public wall and reusing unwanted posters.


In Kathmandu, Nepal, Ang Dawa Sherpa has been working to promote a drip-irrigation watering system in the traffic islands of New-Baneshwor, Madan Bandari Road. However, Kathmandu already is an over populated city, has seen water supply as a challenge. Shifting from traditional watering techniques to innovative, water efficient dripping system is a significant way of mainstreaming climate change adaptation into Agriculture policies, especially focusing on the erratic rainfall pattern of Kathmandu along with its increasing Urban Heat Islands (UHI) since last decade. The project also demonstrates the possibility of integrating the rainwater harvesting system and drip irrigation system in order to tackle the water scarcity problem of the city.

Ang has started implementing his project on the traffic islands that are spread at a stretch of 10km along the city, covered with more than 3000 plants. Part of his future plans hold promoting the drip irrigation system among business entrepreneurs with special consideration in levying taxes while importing parts for market from another country.

Aaditya Raj from Rohtas, Bihar is working extensively with youth and farming experts on spreading awareness among farmers on using compost fertilizers. His efforts have driven around 300 farmers to shift to compost fertilizers in his district. The farmers were a bit reluctant on this shift as compost fertilizers cause less productivity in the beginning. Aaditya and his team managed to get some experts and trained farmers to prepare high quality compost which was then tried by 30 farmers and gave an amazing result. The productivity was almost the same, only a few kilograms lesser than the chemical fertilizer production. His efforts continue and they aim to reach out to more than 700 farmers this year. He has organized various awareness campaigns in schools and colleges, reaching out to the younger generation to address this environmental issue.

He adds that this outreach has not only helped him understand the environmental issues, but also taught him, the importance of unity, being patient and building a team at large.


Divya Sharma from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh has reached out to the younger ones with illustrative posters, firmly believing they hold the future of our nation. She organized tree plantation campaigns in schools and neighborhood, which is strongly supported by the school management. Teaming up with local NGO’s has strengthened her organizational skills.
She received tremendous support from schools and the participating students and teachers have ensured the activity remains continuous. She has been engaged in organizing various activities along with local NGO’s making it better every time.


Aadil Bhat, from Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, has been working extensively in his state organizing more that 30 awareness camps and planting more than 5000 saplings, focusing on building awareness about the importance of preserving the flora and fauna in nature. He is a member of Wildlife Conservation Fund (WCF), a non profitable organization that is working to save the endangered Hangu (Kashimiri stag).

He organizes Cleanliness Drives and Tree Talks in the schools around his, reaching to students and spreading awareness about the importance of protecting the environment.


Akash Lalwani from Uttar Pradesh works to protect avian species. On World Sparrow Day, he has begun a movement to switch off mobile phones for at least an hour in a bid to reduce the radiation from mobile towers that often have a harmful effect on birds that perch themselves on these. He distributed pamphlets carrying messages to spread awareness about the harmful effects of mobile radiations. He has also organized various campaigns on World Environment Day and actively worked for an eco-friendly Ganesh festival. Along with a few volunteers, Akash worked with the State Forest Department in organizing campaigns against snake catchers. He has also conducted programs to commemorate the Global Tiger Day.


Zuhair Ahmed, from Bangladesh started the ‘TEEN FOR GREEN’ an environmental project implemented through school workshop and awareness raising at educational institutions. He focuses on the following in his programs:
1.    Tree plantation & Vegetation.
2.    Recycling & Craft making from trashes.
3.    Video presentation & Brainstorming Session.
4.    Group work & Presentation for finding out the environmental issues and solutions.
5.    Youth Affidavits for Environmental Conservation.
He has successfully begun a new culture of good environment practices in his community and created self-consciousness among the students. The project has also been successful in helping students recycle waste items into beautifully-crafted decorative pieces.


Himanshu Kumar, from Cochin University of Science and Technology, Co-founded “In-Waste, investing in waste management”, a social enterprise which provided door to door service in the field of waste management and aimed at creating job opportunities for “In-Wasters”.

He is serving as the Mission Director, Core committee member and Technical Head at U-Genius International and selected as the Paris Summit Officer for the International Paris Climate Change Summit Program [COP 21] to be held this year and the Campus Ambassador for Rio +22 Power India Program, 2015 conducted by IARC- UN. He was one of the finalists of the Young Reporters for the Environment, India, 2015.


Niraj Sapkota is an active member of the ‘Zero Waste Himalaya Group of Sikkim.’ Many of the programs he has volunteered for, help build awareness on ways to tackle solid waste, a problem that he says is a major issue in Sikkim. Along with others, he helped design a mobile exhibition that focuses on zero waste. This aims to make people aware of the need to take individual responsibility to reduce waste and manage what is generated. He has also worked on campaigns to reduce the use of plastic bags and has been part of the group that approached the state government to ensure that the ban on plastic bags is enforced. Niraj has also undertaken shop-to-shop surveys to understand the use of disposable plates and cups being used by shops in Gangtok.

Most of the cities in India are facing a huge solid waste management problem. For instance, Bangalore, a city with around 95 lakh people, generates roughly half a kilo of waste per person and day. The disposal of this waste is a huge, environmental problem. Along with three other university students, Niraj Kumar created a team to topic this problem under the name 'Team Sanjeevni'. From the start, they thought, it would be best to change our homes, including the campus in the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. There, they came to the conclusion that the segregation of trash and a composting facility the campus would be the most efficient way to deal with the problem in an eco-friendly matter. They have proposed color codes for dustbins on the campus, which by now has become welcomed and accepted by the other students. The promotion of bicycles and a cleaner and greener campus is also a part of their campaign.

Priya Chawla from Delhi. She aims to integrate all residents to come together for composting  which will efficiently manage 60% of household waste and reduce 50% of waste going to landfill.

She is conducting informal sessions with different families in her locality to understand their direct and indirect needs with respect to waste and spread awareness about the problem of waste. Using interesting activities she makes people relate to this problem and help them come up with a common solution. She uses video clippings of success stories of  composting initiatives and helps residents prepare their own compost pits. On her guidance people have started segregating their green waste and differentiate these by tying them with a green ribbon provided by Priya herself. She then worked with the sweepers asking them to collect this waste separately and drop them near the compost pit. Her efforts have pushed 17 families to segregate their waste and procure compost, she has managed to build two compost pits in her locality till now.

140 students from various disciplines, including Bhawani Shankar Nirola, participated in the exhibition in Bhutan to help promote eco-friendly measures in the community via illustrative and innovative models on the theme of the four 'R's viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recover and Recycle waste. The models included ideas on use of plastic waste in road paving, self-sustaining communities, recycle of paper waste, segregation of waste and composting. Bhawani will also be attending the South Asia Youth Environment Conclave in Delhi on 29-30 September with other students from the SAARC countries.
Ananya is a strong believer in the efficacy of plants and that is why all her gifts to teachers and friends are green gifts – pots of plants. To benefit the general public as well, Ananya plants Soursop (Annona muricata) in parks as well as in her institute’s campus. Impressed by the medicinal properties of many plants, she has created posters that describe the plants and their benefits.


Earth Day Network

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 50,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.




American Center




South Asia Youth Environment Network was set up in July 2002. Supported by the UNEP Regional Office, Asia and the Pacific; SAYEN is linked to TUNZA, UNEP’s strategy for engaging young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP. CEE hosts the Secretariat for SAYEN, which has membership from all the SAARC countries. A organization in each of the SAARC country has been identified as the National Focal Point (NFP) for the network. The number of SAYEN members in each country ranges from 20 to 100 with over 1500 youth organizations, individual, national and international agencies including Government in the region associated with SAYEN. NFPs facilitate SAYEN activities in their respective countries.






Centre for Environment Education

South Asia Youth Environment Network was set up in July 2002. Supported by the UNEP Regional Office, Asia and the Pacific; SAYEN is linked to TUNZA, UNEP’s strategy for engaging young people in environmental activities and in the work of UNEP. CEE hosts the Secretariat for SAYEN, which has membership from all the SAARC countries. A organization in each of the SAARC country has been identified as the National Focal Point (NFP) for the network. The number of SAYEN members in each country ranges from 20 to 100 with over 1500 youth organizations, individual, national and international agencies including Government in the region associated with SAYEN. NFPs facilitate SAYEN activities in their respective countries.






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