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Asian cousin-ship towards a Pollution-free planet

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Wow! There were over 200 delegates from the Asia and Pacific Regions gathered at the United Nations Convention Center in Bangkok. The theme of the Asia Pacific Ministerial Summit was to establish resource-efficient and pollution-free planet.

Over 200 NGO delegates from Asia-Pacific region made the Bangkok assembly at the U.N memorable

Over 200 NGO delegates from Asia-Pacific region made the Bangkok assembly at the U.N memorable

Tarumitra was represented by Devopriya Dutta and Dr Robert Athickal, the Co-ordinator. Devopriya delivered a statement on the impacts of pesticides and toxins on children, emphasized on organic farming and Agro-ecology, and appealed for achieving sustainable development by making environmental studies a part of the curriculum.

Tarumitra Delegate Devopriya Dutta spoke on the impact of pesticides in food as part of her presentation on Agro-ecology

Tarumitra Delegate Devopriya Dutta spoke on the impact of pesticides in food as part of her presentation on Agro-ecology. The Assembly Hall readily gave her a loud clap of approval of her concerns she voiced.

The Ministerial Summit was held from 4th-8th September 2017. Not only the country delegates from the Asia Pacific subcontinent participated in this event, various communities representing the civil society made their wonderful presence felt too. The main communities who presented their views for achieving the 17 sustainable development goals were the farmers, women, NGOs, children and youth, indigenous people mainly.

This Ministerial Summit was conducted for adopting and declaring a strong ministerial declaration with commitments to achieve gender equality, basic human rights, eradicating poverty, creating opportunities for green jobs, thus ensuring a self-sustained nation.

Asian Delegates Sarojeni Rengam, Devopriya Dutta, Meena Bilgi and Devopriya's Mentor Deeppa Ravindran

Asian Delegates Sarojeni Rengam, Devopriya Dutta, Meena Bilgi and Devopriya’s Mentor Deeppa Ravindran

All the Asian countries are the member states of the UN meeting, who come together in the annual Ministeral Summit organised by the UN family, the strongest network and the strongest family in the whole wide world. Some nations may be developed, some developing and others may be on their way of becoming self-sustained nations.

This summit reflected upon the success stories as well as the struggles made by these nations to ensure sustainable development with green economy. It was very nice to hear about Singapore, Bhutan and Burma as some of the greenest nations which the rest of the world is looking onto. Not only were these three nations appreciated by the member countries, there were regarded as the role models too.

Delegate from Iran Hana Mo came with lots of field experience to match with Tarumitra's interest in Environmental Education.

Delegate from Iran Hana Mo came with lots of field experience to match with Tarumitra’s interest in Environmental Education.

One of the major prime highlights of the summit was that nobody said that they represented this or that country–Everybody was unanimous in a common echo,  ‘We are all Asians. One world one planet.’ It was very heartening to witness more of women representation and the topic of gender issue to be highlighted in a very appropriate way. Even the LGBT community shared the same desk, same dining space and the same stand in this entire summit.

The visit to Bangkok was an insight into the infrastructure of the country and the lubricant of this entire mechanism was the resource.

"Great hospitality of Thailand!" the delegates kept repeating on the final day. Devopriya and Fr Robert posing at the entrance to the UN buildng

“Great hospitality of Thailand!” the delegates kept repeating on the final day. Devopriya and Fr Robert posing at the entrance to the UN building

The main resource or the asset of Thailand is that the people are happy, and why? Because they are hard-working. They are leading a life very close to nature. Not only they talk about being eco-friendly or eco-sensitive, but also practice what they preach. The traffic is well maintained. Hygiene and sanitation are given the topmost priority over there. They are seriously working towards reducing marine pollution and promoting agro-ecology via organic farming.

Memorable to meet with the Ambassadors of the Asia-Pacific countries.

Memorable to meet with the Ambassadors of the Asia-Pacific countries. Our Bhutanese cousin in the center!

The entire five days Asia Pacific Summit made us believe that we are not the only ones worried about our green future, but serious and more constructive and innovative efforts are being taken by the rest of the world as well.

Tarumitra believes in Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam “the whole world is a family” and this Asia Pacific Summit made the motion very loud and vivid that the whole world is my family. Our earth is our mother; we all are her children. She doesn’t differentiate on the basis of nationality, state or colour. Then, who are we to draw boundaries?  Our common goal is ensuring a green and sustainable future while living the present as well, in the same manner. It was very heartening to address each other in the summit as ‘My dear cousins’

Devopriya being the youngest of delegates caught the attention of the Delegates, Ministers and Media.

Devopriya being the youngest of delegates caught the attention of the Delegates, Ministers and Media.

“For the five days, miles away from our own motherland, the other 200 country delegates became our family members. The summit is now over, but the bonds that have been made will remain forever.” said Devopriya winding up her observations. She added, “We all breathe the same life-giving oxygen, eat the same food that is produced by the soil and drink the same water to be alive and fully sustained. We are one family and the Asia Pacific Ministerial was all about celebrating this universal and irreversible fellowship.”

Devopriya and Fr. Robert visited the Jesuit house close by and spent a day with Fr. Beda Yassao S.J and students who came to participate in a leadership program.

Devopriya Dutta (in green)joined the college students on a leadership program hosted by Beda Yassao S.J at Xavier Hall close by.

Devopriya Dutta (in green)joined the college students on a leadership program hosted by Beda Yassao S.J (seated at the back) at Xavier Hall close by.                                                                                             

“We came back profoundly impressed by the way the hardworking people of Thailand are building up their country!” commented Fr. Robert when the group came back to the Tarumitra forest in Patna. ”  He added, “As an Asian country they are integrating development with ecology often successfully integrating the dual concerns so well.”

   Contributed by: Ila Raj, Tarumitra Intern, Nepal