Each year the Harmony Foundation identifies a theme that highlights the need of the hour.Over the years we have worked on themes like Combating Modern Forms of Slavery (2019), Empowering the Girl Child (2018), Compassion Beyond Borders (2017), Combating Terrorism through Education (2016), Accessible and Affordable Medical Care (2015),Combating the Evil of Human Trafficking (2014) and so on. This year Harmony Foundation wishes to support movements across the globe addressing climate change and striving to reverse the effects of global warming.
The Harmony Foundation’s theme for 2020 is ‘Fighting Climate Injustice’, which focuses on mitigating the innumerable challenges causing damage to the environment and putting communities at risk.
Climate Injustice is the major cause for concern of our time driven by unjustified and unsustainable exploitation of nature due to the insatiable global demand for products and services. We are at a defining moment that necessitates immediate action. From extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels to excess emission of greenhouse gases, all of which are affecting the socio-economic-political well-being of communities globally and straining the environment. Without radical action for mitigation and changes in consumption and production patterns, our window to address the challenge is rapidly closing.
Environmental degradation affects people of all strata of life however, research has proven that the marginalized who depend on the natural environment for survival are the most afflicted. Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian organization and an MTMA Laureate 2017, highlights that the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts threaten the world’s food supply, drive people from their homes, separate families and jeopardize livelihoods. Three out of four people living in poverty rely on agriculture and natural resources to survive. For these people, the effects of climate change — shifting weather, limited water sources and increased competition for resources — are a real matter of life and death. Climate change and the resulting disasters have caused a global exodus of people fleeing their homes giving rise to the term, climate refugees.
Besides the socio-economic effects of climate change, there are significant impacts on biodiversity. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature records that the significant changes in the climate system are already being observed, and the most recent projections of future climates suggest combinations of increased average temperatures; changes in the global water cycle; increasing ocean acidity and rising sea levels; continued loss of polar ice and montane glaciers; and altered weather patterns, including changes in the frequency and severity of extreme events. Species affected by the changing of environmental thresholds will either need to move to new, more suitable locations or to somehow adapt to change at their current locations. Species that are unable to do this are likely to perish, and in some cases may become globally extinct.
In India alone we see hundreds wither away every year as climate reaches new extremes. Delhi, of course, gets all the publicity as the world’s most polluted capital. The dirty haze has spread over a string of north Indian cities and even drifted southwards as Punjab farmers burn stubble. Furthermore, the enormity of devastating floods that have hit the country in states like Uttarakhand in 2013 and more recently in Kerala in 2018 and have claimed many lives, and at the same time, we notice states like Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh suffer from severe drought annually perpetuated by extreme human actions.
Global warming’s made India’s economy 31 percent smaller than it would otherwise have been according to a new Stanford study highlighting how temperature changes have widened inequalities between cool countries like Norway while dragging down growth in hot places like India. The World Bank calculates climate change will shave nearly 3 percent off India’s GDP and depress living standards of nearly half its population by 2050. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction estimates India’s suffered $79.5 billion in economic losses in 19 years due to climate-change disasters.
Thus in 2020, the Harmony Foundation is lending its support and leveraging its platform to help spread awareness and to build a world that collectively fights back climate injustice. We aspire to recognize the incredible work done by activists, organizations, and movements in the climate and environment space and create avenues for meaningful dialogue and collaboration among different partners and stakeholders.