We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and we are the last generation that can do something about it. We only get one home, one planet, there is no plan B. The climate has changed, we have changed, our tolerance and habits have changed. Biodiversity is our most valuable asset but least appreciated resource. Despite our many advances, our environment is still threatened by a range of problems including global climate change, energy dependency on unsustainable fossil fuels and loss of biodiversity. Therefore, there is a need to create an awareness about maintaining ecology among the masses and address the graving concerns that pose a threat to the natural habit of human beings.
On the lines of creating awareness about biodiversity and climate change, the 3rd International Workshop on Biodiversity and Climate Change (BDCC-2023) was organized by the Centre for Ocean, River, Atmosphere, and Land Sciences (CORAL) at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur on the rising diminishment over ecological disruptions. The four-day programme including field trips to Sundarbans and Similipal Biosphere Reserve was attended by over 230 participants who arrived at the IIT Kharagpur campus on 15th February. The Inaugural session was organized at Kalidas Auditorium on 17th February 2023 in the august presence by eminent Professors and Scientists comprising of Dr. M Mohapatra, Director General of Meteorology, IMD; Prof. V K Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur; Prof. V P Singh, Texas A&M University, USA; Dr. S Behera, Director of Application Laboratory, JAMSTEC, Japan; Prof. B Pani, Dean of Colleges, University of Delhi; Dr. T Meloth, Director, NCPOR, MoES; Prof. S K Dube, Former Director, IIT Kharagpur; Prof. K Kumar, Chairman CORAL and Prof. M D Behera, Organizing Secretary BDCC – 2023.
Prof. K Kumar, Chairman of BDCC-2023 welcomed the delegates on the dias, followed by lighting of the auspicious lamp by Dr. M Mohapatra and Prof V K Tewari in the presence of other dignitaries followed by a recitation of national anthem by a few students from Kendriya Vidyalaya, IIT Kharagpur. Dr. M D Behera, the Organizing Secretary provided an overview of the event with connection to the past two BDCC workshops and highlighted on the GOI Net Zero targets and nature-based climate solutions.
Prof. V K Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur remarked, “If we look at the nature closely, every species is a masterpiece, exquisitely adapted to the particular environment in which it has has survived. I feel honored and proud to witness the 3rd International Workshop on Biodiversity and Climate Change (BDCC-2023) organized by CORAL at IIT Kharagpur. Biodiversity forms the backbone of any Nation’s prosperity and development. India is bestowed with immense biological wealth in its different habitats and they provide various ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, food provision etc. However, with climate change crisis exacerbating biodiversity losses and shifts in ecosystems dynamics, it is the need of the hour to adopt multifaceted mitigation and adaptation measures for ecosystem restoration and sustainable development.”
Prof. S K Dube deliberated on the genesis of CORAL and its journey in the frontier era of climate change education and research. Prof. B Pani explained the compliance of the National Education Policy with climate studies, while Dr. T Meloth appraised on climate change footprints on the 3rd pole. Dr. S Behera emphasized on the prediction of monsoon and its impact on the economy in terms of crop yield and diseases like malaria. Prof. V P Singh highlighted the importance of water resources and its conservation in the era of changing climate. A pheno-meteorological observation tower installed in Similipal Biosphere Reserve was e-inaugurated by Dr. M Mohapatra in presence of Prof. V K Tewari; Dr. B K Bhattacharya and Dr. C P Singh, Scientists from Space Application Centre (SAC-ISRO), Ahmedabad.
The workshop started with four tutorials including (i) Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) using Machine Learning (ML), (ii) Soft Techniques in Environmental Geochemistry and Sediment Analysis, (iii) Geomatics and Data Analytics using Open Source – Google Earth Engine (GEE), and (iv) A Hierarchy of Glacier Models on 16th February with hands-on training by the Research Scholars of CORAL. Participants including students and young scientists from various international, national, and state institutes also attended the tutorials.
India is a very committed towards tackling the effects of climate change and has promoted and enacted various initiatives. India has tapped the potential of nature-based solutions to achieve net zero targets and uphold its commitment to the Paris Agreement. India’s commitment towards achieving Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents through additional forest and tree cover, Mission LiFE, Honourable Prime Minister’s ‘Panchamrit’ or five-fold declarations project our stance for circular and sustainable economic development,” remarked Prof. V K Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur.
The workshop accommodated seven technical sessions such as Biodiversity and Land Cover Dynamics; Geomatics and Data Analytics; Forest and Agricultural Resource & Biotechnology; Extreme Weather Events and Natural Hazards; Global Cryosphere and The Himalayas; Biogeochemistry- Terrestrial and Marine; Nature-based Solution and Net-Zero Targets. The technical sessions were conducted in parallel in three halls with three keynote talks in each technical session by eminent scientists, who also co-chaired the sessions.
The first plenary session was chaired by Prof V P Singh, wherein Dr. M Mohapatra, Mr. D Ray, PCCF and CWLW, WB state and Dr. S Behera talked on ‘Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events’, ‘Climate threats to Sunderbans Mangroves’ and ‘Monsoon Climate and Food Security’ respectively. The plenary session-II was chaired by Prof B Pani, wherein Dr. E Sharma, Ex-DDG, ICIMOD and Dr. T Meloth and Dr. C Biradar, Country Director, CIFOR-ICRAF, Delhi talked on ‘Himalayan responses to changing climate’, ‘Climatic responses of polar regions’, and ‘Agroforestry interventions towards food security in the warming world’. The plenary session-III was chaired by Prof. S K Dube, wherein Dr. S Nayak, Former Secretary MOES, GOI); Dr. A Orr, British Antarctic Survey, UK; Dr. D H Bromwich, Ohio State University, USA and Dr. Kyle Clem, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, deliberated on a wide range of topics with respect to climate actions in different spheres.
“All these key policy decisions and initiatives clearly demonstrate that our efforts for climate change mitigation should begin at the grassroot level starting from an individual and become unified as a massive wave for the common goal of preserving our planet. Being blessed with lush green campus, our staff and students of IIT Kharagpur have a plethora of opportunities to create a better world. We are proud to have undertaken different projects to enhance and maintain IIT-KGP campus a green campus. With our vision being – Dedicated to the service of the Nation, we seek to impart value based knowledge in addition to academic curriculum to our students in order to transform them into future leaders of tomorrow. This International workshop is a critical step in that direction which combines both traditional as well as modern fields of science. I congratulate Dr. Mukunda Dev Behera and the entire team for organizing this great event. I strongly encourage the researchers and participants to take full advantage of this workshop,”
stated Prof. V K Tewari.
The keynote talks of each technical session were oriented towards sustainable development perspectives. The participants presented their works in terms of rapid-oral and standard-oral as per specific format and allotted time. A few awards were adjudged from each session by the session co-chairs and the awardees were given a certificate and momento in the Valedictory session on 18th Feb 2023. Field trips to Sunderbans and Siilipal Biosphere Reserve on 19th and 20th February. Several deliberations in the event have led to better understanding of how can we better understand feedbacks between climate change and biodiversity, how do we maintain a balance between bioresource management and socio-economic development, how do cryospheric changes in polar regions and high mountains affect biodiversity, water cycle and global climate etc. Forecasting and preparing for natural hazards and extreme weather events, understanding the intricacies between terrestrial and marine bio-geochemical cycles, geomatics perspective on spatial biodiversity and ways to achieve the net-zero targets through nature-based solutions were among the other topics of discussion.
Healthy ecosystems constitute healthy planet. In this connection, ecosystem restoration is a win-win strategy that is crucial to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate targets of the Paris Agreement. The on-going climate change is unequivocally anthropogenic and together with other stressors like deforestation, land degradation, biological invasion, etc. has resulted in species losses and shifts in landscape dynamics. The carbon cycle and the water cycle, arguably the two most important large-scale processes for life on Earth, depend on biodiversity at genetic, species, and ecosystem levels and can yield feedbacks to climate change.
Inputs by: Prof. M D Behera, CORAL, IIT Kharagpur
Edited by : Poulami Mondal, Digital & Creative Media Executive (Creative Writer)
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