SRINAGAR: As part of India’s G20 Presidency, the Youth 20 (Y20) group held its Y20 Consultation at the University of Kashmir from May 10-11, 2023, to consult the nation’s youth on ideas for a better tomorrow and draft an action agenda on ‘Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Making Sustainability a Way of Life’, one of the five Y20 themes. The Y20 Consultation was inaugurated by Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor, JKUT, and Chancellor, University of Kashmir. Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, J&K; Pankaj Kumar Singh, Director, Department of Youth Affairs, GOI; Nilofer Khan, Vice-Chancellor, University of Kashmir; Manzoor A. Shah, Y20 Chair, University of Kashmir and Guru Prakash Paswan, Sr. Faculty, Patna University, were also present.
The event was attended by 17 youth delegates from G20 countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, Japan, Republic of Korea, the United States, Brazil, and Nigeria, as well as 108 students from the University of Kashmir, 34 students from schools around J&K, 57 students from colleges around Srinagar, 11 students from colleges and universities in Jammu, 33 DoYA delegates, 25 Y20 Secretariat delegates, and 25 student activists.
On May 10th, the University organized a heritage tour of the Mughal Garden Nishat and Pari Mahal, followed by a group dinner. The Y20 Consultation on May 11th, 2023, was marked by a healthy and interactive dialogue with all delegates present at the University’s Convocation Complex. As part of the inaugural session, Manzoor A. Shah delivered the welcome address, where he outlined the broad objectives of the Y20 Consultation. This was followed by an address by Pankaj Kumar, who provided a brief context of Y20, setting the tone for the consultation.
In his remarks, Guru Prakash Paswan highlighted the importance of the Y20 Consultation. “The new capital is not going to be the economic capital alone; it is going to be the social capital and the capital of ideas. And Youth20 is one such platform for youth to share their ideas and contribute to policymaking on the important themes chosen for Y20 Consultation.”
Prof Nilofer Khan, Vice-Chancellor, in her address, said the University of Kashmir chose the theme of climate change for Y20 Consultation “because if anyone has more at stake in this fight against climate crisis, it is the youth. And if anyone can strongly help address this crisis, it is the youth who are the future of the nation.” She thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Thakur, and Chancellor Manoj Sinha for giving the University a chance to be part of the country’s G20 Presidency through the Y20 platform
Four panel discussions were held on the theme “Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Making Sustainability a Way of Life.” The first plenary session was held on the theme “Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity and Human Well-Being,” which was moderated by Prof Shakil A Romshoo, Vice Chancellor, Islamic University of Science and Technology, J&K.
Speakers in this panel included Dr. Robert Pal (Montana Technological University, USA) who highlighted that climate change is impacting biodiversity in multiple ways. He stressed the importance of devising ecological restoration strategies based on multiple species, rather than monoculture plantations. Dr Ruchhit RD (National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India) talked about the increasing incidence of extreme rainfall events seen in the Indian Monsoon. He called for awareness among farmers, particularly reorienting the sowing season as per changing climatic patterns. Dr Wazida Rahman (Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab, India) talked about the concept of environmental justice, which is akin to climate justice pitched by India vociferously during recent negotiations at multilateral forums.
Dr Remya, from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kerala, India, spoke on the issue of glacier melting in the Himalayas. She informed that the fast pace of snow melting has resulted in a drastic decline in agricultural production in the hilly and downstream plain areas. Ghulam Mustafa Ali, a student activist, cautioned about the likely impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on the tourism section in the region. He called for efforts to be made towards sustainable and responsible tourism by taking into consideration the carrying capacity of the tourism destinations.
The second plenary session was held on the theme of “Disaster Risk Reduction for Safe Tomorrow,” which was moderated by Prof M Sultan Bhat, University of Kashmir, J&K. Speakers in the panel included Dr Akhilesh Surjan (Charles Darwin University, Australia); Dr Ajanta Goswami (Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India); Dr Ashim Sattar (Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India); Dr Sandip Singh (Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India), and Ms Farhana Bhat, an alumna from the University of Kashmir. It was a very engaging session on diverse aspects of the theme.
The third plenary session was on the theme “Green Energy- Innovations and Opportunities,” which was moderated by Prof. Seemin Rubab, National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, India. The panelists were Dr Akhilesh Surjan (Charles Darwin University, Australia); Dr Siddhartha Khare (IIT, Roorkee, India); Dr Sharmistha Banerjee (IIT Guwahati, India), Prasiddhi Singh, a social entrepreneur and environmental activist, and Vikas Pandey, an entrepreneur with expertise in clean energy, who discussed very important aspects related to the theme and gave their valuable inputs.
The fourth plenary session was held on the theme ‘Water Resources: Challenges and Prospects’, which was moderated by Dr G Balachander, Krishi Bounty Biotech, Nandi Hills, Bangalore. The panellist were: Dr Julia Osterman (University of Gothenburg, Sweden); Dr Vamsi Krishna Vema (NIT, Warangal, Telangana, India); Dr. Sunil Gurrapu (National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Uttarakhand); Dr Shruti Singh (Sharda University, U.P, India) and Khalid Jehangir (Chairman, ICPS, Srinagar). The session saw insightful discussions on the theme with critical interventions by the panellists.
Y20 Consultation at University of Kashmir was a successful event. It showcased policy measures ideated by the youth.The concluding ceremony ended with distribution of awards and certificates to the winners of poster and painting competition. It also included concluding remarks by Hon’ble VC Prof. Nilofer Khan, which was followed by an evening of enthralling performances that represented the local culture of Jammu and Kashmir.
A Sustainability Exhibition, live paining and poster competitions were organised by the University as part of the Y20 event. The Y20 Chronicle of the University and Youth20 and Urban 20 Integration were launched during the inaugural session.
Prof Parvez Ahmad from University of Kashmir delivered a formal vote of thanks.