UN recognition for Namami Gange initiative as one among top 10 world restoration flagships
New Delhi, December 15, 2022
The United Nations (UN) has recognized the Namami Gange initiative to rejuvenate the river Ganga as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships to revive the natural world, the Ministry of Jal Shakti said today.
The award was received by G Asok Kumar, Director General, Namami Gange at a function in the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada on December 14, World Restoration Day, a press release from the Ministry said.
Namami Gange was selected from over 150 such initiatives from 70 countries across the globe. They were selected under the banner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global movement coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It is designed to prevent and reverse the degradation of natural spaces across the planet. The recognized initiatives, including Namami Gange, will now be eligible to receive UN support, funding or technical expertise.
The recognition bears testimony to the concerted efforts being made by the National Mission for Clean Ganga for the restoration of the riverine ecosystem, the release said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognizing the need to rejuvenate the Ganga, started the Namami Gange Programme in 2014 and committed over 5 billion dollars to the programme.
It is closely monitored by the National Ganga Council chaired by the Prime Minister and regularly reviewed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister for Jal Shakti, the release said.
The gifts received by the Prime Minister are annually put on public auction, all proceeds of which are given to the Clean Ganga Fund especially set up to encourage public contribution to the endeavour.
“ I hope that our endeavours provide a roadmap for other similar interventions across the globe," Asok Kumar said.
The Director General also participated in a session in Montreal, Canada, organised by the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Youth Task Force.
“This has come at a very opportune moment for us as India has taken over the Presidency of the G20 group of nations. While taking over the Presidency, our Prime Minister reinforced his commitment to the protection of the environment ‘One Earth One Family One Future’ in the true spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” he added.
“Ganga is important for India as it is home to 40% of India’s population, 2500 species of flora and fauna and the 8.61 billion sq. km. basin is home to over 520 million people. Ganga is also very important from a spiritual point of view. It is closely associated with our tradition and civilisation and symbolises the faith, sentiments and collective consciousness of the people of India,” he said.
Kumar said that NMCG adopted a holistic and multi-sectoral approach, introducing innovative models for comprehensive conservation of the riverine ecology and its health.
“Our projects are designed to ensure that no untreated water - sewage or industrial effluent - flows to the Ganga River. As many as 176 STPs that can treat over 5000 Million Litres per Day are being constructed.
“Concerted efforts have resulted in significantly enhanced capacity for treatment of sewage and industrial effluents in the Ganga basin; improvement in river water quality and biodiversity, manifested as an increased population of dolphins and its juveniles, turtles, otters, gharials and fish like the hilsa and over 30,000 hectares afforestation, among others,” he added.
With many innovative project management practices like HAM and One City One Operator successfully evolving, NMCG is preparing the road map for cleaning other rivers in the country and the world.
“India is a country with the largest young population and we have to connect with the youth and women to ensure that the problem of bad water management is addressed. The youth and women in India are aware of the water security issues and are taught to respect the water. If we can get the youth to respect the water, it will automatically stop misuse and mismanagement of our water resources,” he said.
Recycling of water is being pushed very hard as part of the circular economy and steps are being taken to conserve biodiversity and protect spring sheds etc. “The youth are engaged in diverse activities through trained volunteer cadres like Ganga Praharis, Ganga Doots, Ganga Quest etc. who through sheer passion have joined us in protecting the biodiversity of River Ganga. The rescue of Dolphins by these volunteers in the Ganga Basin is a case in point which has resulted in the increased sighting of the aquatic species in the river,” he added.
Various activities like rafting expeditions, cycling expeditions, hackathons and webinars on "Igniting Young Minds: Rejuvenating Rivers" are taken up to rope in the younger generation.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said, “The Namami Gange is an ambitious effort to rejuvenate the Ganga, a lifeline for millions of people in India. At a time when it is critical that we transform our exploitative relationship with nature, the positive impacts of this restoration cannot be underestimated.”
FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said, “FAO, together with UNEP, as co-lead of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is pleased to award the 10 most ambitious, visionary and promising ecosystem restoration initiatives as 2022 World Restoration Flagships. Inspired by these flagships, we can learn to restore our ecosystems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.”
The announcement was made as leaders from across the globe gathered in Montreal for the UN Biodiversity Conference, where governments agreed to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has previously won the “Public Water Agency of the Year” in the Global Water Awards, 2019 by Global Water Intelligence. The documentary "Ganga: River from the Skies" co-produced with National Geographic India, received awards under three categories - Best Documentary, Best Current Affairs and Best Natural History or Wildlife Programme - in the Asian Academy Creative Awards, 2022.