Name: Suryakanta Acharya
Age: 36 – 44 years old
Courses completed: An Introduction to Climate Change and Human Rights
Story ID: 189
Empowering indigenous communities for self-defense! I am Dr. Suryakanta Acharya, an oncologist from India with interest in ‘Health and Climate Change”. I am the founder of the NGO, PAY-W Clinic which is working to protect health, human rights, and traditional knowledge of Indigenous people. Human rights related to climate change was new for me and after doing the course ‘An introduction to climate change and human rights’ from UN CC: e-Learn platform I got to know about the issue.
We have incorporated it in our awareness meetings and ensured that indigenous people’s rights be protected in the areas where we operate. In 2021 fall we helped an indigenous community in Assam, India to get rid of the garbage dumping menace. The municipality was dumping garbage at the outskirts of the city where indigenous people were staying. Health of the community was affected and most of the members have breathing and skin related issues. Nearby agriculture fields were affected by the chemicals in garbage, making the soil infertile.
Our activism along with other NGOs and judiciary intervention were enough to compel the municipality to shift garbage dumping place elsewhere. Indigenous community members are now back to good health and free from frequent ailments. However, the soil will take years to recover.
Article 51 A of Constitution of India described the fundamental duties of citizens, and I am quoting the point related to environment “To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” I am sure that every country has such fundamental duties assigned to the citizens. I am quite positive about UN CC: e-Learn platform offering the required knowledge free of cost to enable me and many others to be able to perform our fundamental duties as well as safeguard our environment.
To take the initiative further we have identified literate members of indigenous community who will be taking the course from UN CC: e-Learn platform and spread the message to other community members. This will be a revolutionary step to make indigenous community aware of climate change, how they are affected and to take steps for mitigation.
Does your story also contribute to gender equality?
We had encouraged women to participate in the peaceful protest and many women came forward to ensure their rights and that’s paramount. This also made things easy for us as the local government could not use force against protesters.