In her recent article in the Indian Express, Pavitra Sriprakash, the Chief Designer and Director of Shilpa Architects encourages citizens of the city to work towards a better environment over the course of the new year.
As we look back, the sustainability stories in 2017 covered a wide range of topics — ranging from the Paris Agreement and the US, declining numbers of Polar Bears, the quality of the air in Indian cities, the oil spill at the Madras Port and the health of Chennai’s waterways. As we prepare to move on, let’s take a quick look at the world, our country and of course namma Chennai to see what stories of sustainability stood out in 2017. Of course, we had a lot to discuss in this column the past year!
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order reversing his predecessor Barack Obama’s climate policies, while claiming that climate change is a ‘hoax’. This move sparked praise from the US energy industry and criticism from environmentalists’ world over. While energy companies and coal workers in the US rejoiced at what Trump hailed as ‘the start of a new era’ in American energy production, environmentalists described as ‘dangerous’, ‘embarrassing’, and the single biggest attack on climate action in US history.
This, prompted the world to come together even more to show their resolve and commitment to the Paris Agreement and environmental sustainability.
Meanwhile across the country the issue of air quality was in the news again. Just this morning on my drive to the office a radio announcement was made declaring that the city had recorded an Air Quality Index of 103. That is higher than acceptable standards and we need to make deep changes to ensure that our cities have improved numbers for air quality. But what is refreshing is the awareness today about this issue. That is the first sure step to solving the problem in future.
When it comes to developing plans for water resilience, the progress has been slow. While the deluge of 2015 is slowly fading from memories, there is little visible improvement towards preventing or mitigating a recurrence. The lack of access to reliable data and absence of agencies to make coordinated efforts at forecasting, planning and managing torrential rain, cyclone and flooding, or ensuring water security during droughts for our city is challenging.
City planners, government officials, academics, engineers, architects and urban designers continue to address the issues concerning our lakes, rivers, waterways, rain water harvesting and ground water quality to provide for a “water-risk” free Chennai!
As we march towards a greener, happier planet and city in 2018, let us do so pledging to make changes in our everyday lives; believing that we all contribute towards collective eco-health. Whether it is a drive to plant trees for our cities, detoxing our homes from toxic elements, eating well, choosing organic and chemical free options for our families or ridding our lives of and plastics — every little bit counts.
So move into the New Year with firm resolve — to remain ever conscious and grateful for everything this planet, country, city, community and home have to offer, and work towards preserving it for years to come! Sustainable Living begins with you — Happy New Year and all the best for 2018!
About the Author
Pavitra Sriprakash (@pavisriprakash), the Director and Chief Designer of Shilpa Architects, is an Architectt, Urban Designer, Dancer and Artist. She writes a weekly sustainability column for The New Indian Express titled ECOLOGIC.