Indiaspora’s Climate Action Forum urges sustainable solutions to climate crisis

Ritu Jha–

With a theme titled, ‘Empower, Educate, Inspire, Act’, Indiaspora, a California-based non-profit, hosted a climate action forum on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference of Parties Summit (COP28) in Dubai last month. The daylong event featured speakers ranging from youth leaders to CEOs and policymakers. Together with Bollywood star Vivek Oberoi, they shared their vision, and emphasized the increasing involvement of the Indian diaspora in critical climate sectors.

Indiaspora founder and chairman MR Rangaswami

“The diaspora is represented in key positions across government, corporate and the NGO community in various countries. They are committed to helping solve the biggest crisis we face today,” MR Rangaswami, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Indiaspora, told indica.

“It was amazing to see a lineup of speakers representing the corporate and NGO communities along with youth, faith leaders and Bollywood! Also to have diaspora leaders from a dozen countries in attendance.”

Rangaswami said Indiaspora does an annual climate summit virtually. “We will continue that. We will also do more in-person climate events, such as around UN Climate Week. But we don’t necessarily be present at every COP summit.”

“The objective is to be a platform and a catalyst, and it should be convened for positive action in the climate space, which is one of the defining issues of our time. We want to inspire and position the Indian diaspora and leaders residing in India to be a force for good in this realm. Dialogues like ours and others help exchange knowledge and information and raise awareness about potential solutions to this highly complex problem that humanity desperately needs to solve,” Sanjeev Joshipura, executive director of Indiaspora, told indica.

Indiaspora is dedicated to uniting the Indian diaspora for a stronger, more interconnected global community, and so the event saw over 30 speakers from 12 countries participating in discussions that covered a variety of topics including youth engagement in climate action, and sustainable beekeeping practices.

Dominic Waughray, EVP of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, delivered the opening keynote. He highlighted the increasing Indian diaspora involvement in climate-critical sectors and emphasized the multinational commitment to tackle climate change, underlining the historical climate context, the carbon budget constraints and the need to balance development with environmental impact.

Pointing at the proceedings of the COP28, Maja Groff, Convenor of the Climate Governance Commission, spoke about financial commitments, decarbonization pledges, international consensus, and warnings from the UNEP Emissions Gap report.

“Gaps in planetary governance underscored the need for a swift global response, innovative leadership, and strategic climate solutions,” she said. In her keynote address, Groff highlighted the importance of smart coalitions for transformative action, including norm-setting, education, and the Climate Governance Commission’s strategic initiatives.

A 12th-grader and founder of the Climate Resilience Project, Alekha Choksey, presented an overview of her project that is focused on the impact of climate change on Mumbai – particularly disruptions in agriculture leading to migration and various social issues. The primary goals of the project include engaging with the community in Beed, Maharashtra, to enhance climate resilience through awareness, new vocations, and income streams.

The event also included a panel discussion titled “The Climate Youthquake – A Call to Action by Future Leaders”.
Moderated by Sweta Chakraborty, CEO of We Don’t Have Time – North America, the speakers at the panel discussion asserted that Gen-Z’s activism is purpose-driven, focusing on climate change to shape their future, making them pivotal in leading change as the most affected group.

The panel highlighted the importance of youth transitioning from observers to decision-makers in climate discussions, emphasizing the need for education systems to incorporate climate literacy and support for youth-led initiatives.

Another panel discussion on “Investing in a Greener Future — Aligning Corporate Strategies with Climate-Focused Finance” was moderated by Srinivasan Viswanathan, CEO of Vibrant Energy Holdings, Singapore. The discussion emphasized decarbonization strategies, including regulatory and financial reforms, technological integration, and strategic business alignment.

The transformative role of AI, ML, and Data Science in climate action was discussed by a panel of experts moderated by Soumitra Das, Chairman and Executive Director of the Healthy Climate Initiative. Speakers on the panel deliberated the use of technology for sustainability, challenges and insights from the Open Data Loss Platform, data’s role in ecology and biodiversity, the importance of data governance, the involvement of local communities in disaster management apps, and the support of data and technology in studying human-animal ecosystem interactions for climate change.

Monika Shukla, co-founder and CEO of Humble BEE in India, advocated for sustainable beekeeping practices with the “Golden Revolution” aiming to protect honey and bee product supply chains, promote economic development, and counter the decline of bees crucial for global food security. The initiative addresses challenges through scientific models, resources, and market access while integrating technology, including the BeeKind App, to modernize and scale up the beekeeping industry and position India as a global honey production leader.

Vice Chairman of SUN Group, Shiv Khemka, emphasized the threats to Antarctic ecosystems from ice sheet loss and wildlife distress and highlighted the accelerated global climate crisis, including consequences like coral reef decay and increased climate refugees. He urged business, political, and social leaders to unite and take decisive action against climate change.

In a Fireside Chat moderated by Trina Mallik, VP of Global Programs at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, panelists Vishal Kumar, CEO of Waste Warriors, and Ranjit Barthakur, Founding Trustee of Balipara Foundation, discussed community perspectives on climate impacts and emphasized building resilience through community-driven initiatives such as reforestation, waste management education, and addressing health and social issues tied to improper waste disposal practices.

George Jacob, president and CEO of Bay Ecotarium, highlighted the organization’s 42-year legacy, the work done towards environmental conservation and education.

The closing keynote address was delivered by actor Vivek Oberoi. He emphasized the Indiaspora’s active role in connecting intellectual leaders for social change. Oberoi stressed the imperative of climate action for the well-being of future generations and encouraged Bollywood stars to leverage their fame to promote environmental awareness.

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