By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 14 Dec: Dr R Dobhal, Chairman, Sustainable Development Forum, has reported that the 4th and concluding day of the 9th edition of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS-IX), held here, included the valedictory session, during which the RS Tolia Memorial Award was presented, recognising efforts of individuals and organisations that have made an impact in integrating and addressing the issues of mountain communities.
SMDS is an annual event of the Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI), which brings together legislators, bureaucrats, academicians, NGOs and members of civil society. This year, the programme was held virtually, hosted by the Sustainable Development Forum of Uttarakhand (SDFU). The programme was also beamed on various online media platforms and Facebook pages.
The Valedictory Session saw the presentation of outcomes and recommendations of SMDS-IX, along with a presentation by State Chapter Actions. All the panelists, namely PD Rai, President, IMI; Dr R Dobhal, Chairman, SDFU; Sushil Ramola, former President, IMI; Binita Shah, CEO, SARG; P Shrestha, Secretary, IMI; Krishna Rautela and Dr. Lalbiakmawia Ngente, actively participated in the deliberations. The session was chaired by the Dr RS Rawal, Director GBPNIHE.
A written speech by the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister was also read. He congratulated the IMI for SMDS and assured full cooperation and engagement. The outcomes together with the way forward were deliberated in much detail. The State Chapters felt the need to improve the reach of IMI in their respective states.
The panel discussed the concerns of the IHR – land and habitat degradation, climate change, decrease in crop genetic research, illegal trade, human-wildlife concerns and lack of investment in the biodiversity sector. They highlighted the need to ecological restoration, boost regional and interstate cooperation, curb illegal trade, revive traditional farming practices, strengthen capital and awareness of the BMCs, impart quality environmental education and encourage rural unemployed youth to participate in environmental conservation and protection activities.
The RS Tolia Memorial Award 2020 was presented to Dr Ajay Rawat, an eminent scholar and environmental activist, whose legal actions prevented ecological destruction lakes and forests in the IHR. He is also a pioneer in forest history and conservation. The award carries a citation, a shawl and a cash award of Rs 1 lakh. It has been instituted in the name of Dr Raghunandan Singh Tolia, who was IMI’s visionary leader, elder and guiding light. Known as ‘The Mountain Man’, he conceptualised the idea of IMI, to carry the mountain agenda and improve the lives of people living in the IHR. His deep understanding of the links among people, cultures, livelihoods and mountain environment undoubtedly influenced a generation of researchers, organizations and policymakers.
From data sharing via knowledge sharing through the Indian Himalayan Youth Network/Alliance SDGs and Indian Himalayan University to provide compensation for ecosystem services, the IMI Council decided to engage with each state chapter to work out a state action plan, encourage their participation for a common national agenda and work together for research mobilisation and implementation of said plans.
The Summit concluded with the baton being passed on to Darjeeling Hill Initiative (DHI) to host the SMDS-X in the Darjeeling-Kalimpong Hills of West Bengal in 2021. Also present during this event were STS Lepcha, Anoop Nautiyal, Dr Piyush Joshi, Pradeep Chaudhary, Himanshu Goel, Golan, Prerana and Amrita.
By Our Staff Reporter