Interview with Dr. Arvind Kumar
Dr. Arvind Kumar
President & Founder at India Water Foundation (IWF)
South Delhi, Delhi, India
Q1. Please share your inspirational journey with us?
The love for nature was nurtured in me at a very young age while playing with childhood friends in the open natural environments. My education guided me towards a positive path for promoting change and sustainability. My early experiences influenced and stimulated my later motives towards environmentalism and the aesthetics of my school learning’s still lies at my heart. As a young man, I always had a sense of responsibility towards environment conservation. I started my career in media and propagated various environmental issues through write-ups and articles. However, Journalism was a mission and not a profession to carry service to society. I decided dedicate my lifetime to the case for water and environment and paving a way for comprehensive climate action.
I always felt that people alone have sufficient potential to prevent man-made water scarcity from devastating water-dependent sectors like agriculture and energy; and in turn the entire economy. Imbued with missionary zeal and humanitarian passion to contribute to the society and the nation, I embarked on this mission and established India Water Foundation (IWF) in March 2008 focusing on Knowledge exchange, Capacity Building measures, Sustainable Funding & Branding, Technology Interventions, policy & governance.
Beginning with envisaging water as a Valuable Resource and conservation of environment and its judicious utilization through an integrated approach, we fostered a new paradigm of Cooperation, Convergence and Collaboration which became the cornerstone of our mission thereafter. In recognition of our yeoman activities in water, energy, environment and related fields over the years, IWF has been accredited with various UN accreditation, memberships and partnerships and works closely with many government agencies across the country.
Q2. Recently you released your book “United Nations: 75 and beyond”. Please share a brief about it with us?
The United Nations celebrated its 75th anniversary last year in October. The anniversary came at a time of great disruption in the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had severe economic and social impacts. But it is also a reminder that times of struggle can become an opportunity for positive change and transformation
To mark this milestone occasion and sail through the tough time caused by Covid-19 by gauging the opportunity and translate a crisis to well managed favourable moment, IWF’s Focus Global Reporter released a ‘Special publication’ called “United Nations: 75 and beyond”. We had endured to bring significant issues to the forefront and hence concentrated on experts, influencers and intellectuals who generate a strong voice in their respective domains.
The coverage contains interviews packed with information of more than 20 experts who are authorities representing host of domains with a special focus on the plethora of agendas such as climate action, SDGs 2030, Atma-Nirbhar Bharat and so on. This edition presents the readers who walk the walk through a lens of intellectual expertise, experience, and unique outlook. Henceforth, it gives a nuanced overview of stakeholder- driven approach.
Between the pages, this publication seeks to focus on the emerging scientific, technological and policy issues at the interface of development and environment. The objective was also to review and assess critical issues related to environment and as well as the governance.
Q3. Water is essential for humans and animals but global warming has given a great threat to change the nature. How do you see this transformation?
Climate change is one of the main driving forces of change for water resources management, together with demographic, economic, environmental, social and technological forces. Warmer temperatures are creating patterns of deeper droughts, land degradation and desertification, creating a stress on food security. They are often conceived in isolation, but solutions to the major challenges must be seen through an integrated approach.
Water demand is expected to step up 55% between 2000 and 2050. The recent released IPCC AR6 report shows that human activities are undoubtedly responsible for the observed warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans. The Earth has warmed with an average of 1.1 °C compared to over pre-industrial levels and that there is a decrease in mean rainfall over most parts of the eastern and central north regions of India.
Broadly speaking, water is climate change. Climate change manifests itself primarily through changes in the water cycle. Effective country-driven climate change adaptation should reflect the importance of water management in reducing vulnerability and building climate resilience.
Prioritizing water saving and toughen management of water resources is the foremost thing which must be acknowledged. There is a need for devising national water conservation strategy emphasizing on frequent water conservation actions, implementing this strategy requires the most stringent water resources management system, and that should adhere to the principle of determining water demand, urban development, and production output in line with water resources availability. Majority of water-related problems are solvable through sustainable water management and the technologies and policy tools that are required to make progress are well known. What is needed now is Action.
Q.4 You have worked with many organizations to protect environment. What message would like you like to give to the new generation to save precious Water and environment?
The year 2020 and 2021 has not been easy for today’s young people. Their education has been disrupted; they may have lost jobs, or lost hope of finding work in uncertain economic times. But big changes are coming, and the youth needs to be part of them. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot simply hope that things will go back to normal.
We now have a chance to do things differently, to use our knowledge to steer our shared future toward meeting global goals on climate change and sustainable development. We have the chance to build back a world and the youth needs to be involved in it.
According to UN estimates, there are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world. In terms of the sustainability effort, that’s 1.8 billion people to be harnessed in the fight against climate change; 1.8 billion who are the biggest stakeholders in a future of rising global temperatures, resource scarcity, and extreme weather.
Young people at the end of the day can be agents of change in efforts of sustainability, prevention and adapt to the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. Today’s younger generation can be the driving force for achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Q5. You are a founder at India Water Foundation (IWF). Please share a brief about your endeavor?
I founded India Water Foundation (IWF) with a vision to strengthen community led development initiatives and achieve positive social, economic, and environmental change across Asia Pacific Region by designing and promoting development interventions that create livelihood opportunities, build resilience and provide solutions to some of the most pressing challenges for the region’s poorest communities and also a vision to change the mind-set of the stakeholders by sensitizing, incentivizing and galvanizing the people about water-energy-environment related issues through cooperation, coordination and convergence.
At the adolescent stages of the foundation, we faced odds of various sorts. It was also difficult to convince the government as well as corporate sector about the worth of making people, the genuine and ultimate stakeholders aware about the programmes and policies in water and environment sectors with a view to ensure their involvement.
There existed a big hiatus between policy-making and its implementation process. Here lied the role of a civil society which has a pool of trained personnel to generate awareness and build up the capacity of the people. Major activities undertaken by IWF, under veered around major themes of water and climate change, exchange with the assimilation and dissemination of knowledge, innovative technologies and good governance practices, etc.
In recognition of our yeoman activities in water, energy, environment and related fields over the years, IWF has been accredited with more than 5 UN organisations and works closely with many government agencies across the country.
Q6. Which one thing do you want to change in a person to save water?
India, home to 16 percent of the world’s population, has only four percent of the world’s water resources at its disposal. Burgeoning demand for water due to growing population is projected to very soon overtake the availability of water. As individuals, people often report feeling hopeless that they can effect change on a scale that matters for something as big as water crisis. But individual behaviour change when taken up by billions of people makes a decisive difference. IWF promoted behavioural change by conducting awareness campaigns in urban and rural areas in various parts of the country.
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Personal Page: http://drarvindkumar.org/