Mumbai-based youth and experts join hands for the promising 'Biodiversity by the bay' campaign

The campaign 'Biodiversity by the Bay' aims to spark a movement among the young, progressive Mumbaikars with regards to saving our biodiversity and green cover in the city.

Mumbai-based youth and experts join hands for the promising 'Biodiversity by the bay' campaign

On Thursday, August 3, 2020, Mumbai-based citizen’s collective known as Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic announced Biodiversity by the Bay campaign with an aim to spark a movement among the young, progressive Mumbaikars with regards to saving our biodiversity and green cover in the city. 

One of the other motives of the initiative is to lead an inclusive and active climate debate and to make this possible, some youth and subject matter experts have come together to invoke government action towards preserving the city’s rich biodiversity.

Over the last few decades, Mumbai has witnessed shrinking of city parks and natural forests, due to which the well-being and livelihood of indigenous communities has been affected or rather ignored on the account of development. Meanwhile, the numbers of Flamingos have multiplied on the few remaining wetlands which calls to attention the need to protect these spaces. Observing this, young Mumbaikars have joined hands to demand the protection of biodiversity and green spaces for the city, striving to keep both sustainability and modernity hand-in-hand. 'Biodiversity by the bay' will focus on engaging with key stakeholders like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), addressing State's Minister of Environment and Tourism, Aditya Thackeray, to initiate a conversation on the future of Mumbai’s biodiversity.

One of the partners of the movement and founder of Waatavaran Foundation, Bhagwan Kesbhat, spoke to Mumbai Live with regards to the same and shared insights about the campaign.

Talking about the first thought of the campaign, he said, "2020 is the year of biodiversity and this is the opportunity we wanted to talk about the environmental concerns. There are many species which are close to extinction. Many animals are dying in nature. However, we realised that something needs to be done in the state, and Mumbai is the focal point for a lot of activities that are planned in the state. It is a beautiful coastal city, and it gets the attention of everybody in the country. But it is facing many ecological concerns and we thought of talking about some of it through the campaign."

Sharing information on the topics which will be addressed through the campaign, Keshbhat added, "In previous campaigns, we had spoken about air pollution and quality-related issues. However, this campaign will be related to five important agendas - flamingoes, the ecological hotspot in the city by demanding it to be declared a biological hotspot, Aarey - to be declared as a no-development zone, sustainable policies and livelihood of Koli communities, and marine ecosystems and protection. We have seen a lot of changes this year due to COVID-19, and it has helped the city and environment in several ways. However, over the years, the immersion of Ganesh idols has seen affecting marine life due to the release of sulphate, which affects the biodiversity and the community which depends on it for a living."

Other environmentalists or activists in the campaign, "We have spoken to law and architecture students, experts and people from the fraternity. On the other hand, we also spoke to environmental experts and activists who could share insights. But, during the discussion, we wanted to keep people and affinity groups in the core who understand the nuances and aspects of the city. They are able to build context and help the city, by becoming more conscious about the biodiversity-related problems. We also have city planners who will guide and mentor us through the campaign journey. This gives a chance for young Mumbaikars to learn and help improve the biodiversity of the city. Students will also be able to present their thought of Mumbai and ways to protect the city from environmental problems. Besides this, communities, corporators etc. are actively involved in developing sustainable policies. The aim is to make conscious decisions on climate-related issues."

Concluding the conversation about the support expected and sought from the government, he said, "I believe when a conscious citizen of Mumbai raise voice regarding the concerns, the government notices and supports the cause. We will meet Minister Aaditya Thackeray and share their thoughts. However, it is a people's movement, and it cannot be a protest or related movement. It is a collective effort where progressive Mumbaikars need to come together and work hard in making the city better, on several fronts. We will look at petitions, surveys, discussions, etc. where our aim is to share knowledge, data and the right message, which enlightens people. The focus is longterm, and we will have to work hard for a better Mumbai, for many generations ahead. Having said this, Mumbai should look at Urban-sustainable development and take several steps, to help people make conscious decisions for their city."