Highlights of 2023-24
For an organisation that is working to bring change in the areas of environment, development and climate change we clearly cannot claim that we have had a good year in 2023-24. The world is going backwards on its commitments to combat the existential crisis of climate change. And this is when we know that the impacts of extreme weather events are hurting, in fact are crippling the lives of the poor across our world. So, the urgency of action is clear. It is also clear that we must scale up the responses so that the development practices that work for livelihood and economic growth but also for the environment can be scaled up.

It is a time when an organization like CSE must recommit itself to its mission to the objectives of research and advocacy for environmental security. This is particularly important given the sheer crisis that we are looking at. From that perspective, I believe my colleagues through their work have made a difference. While we cannot and must not claim that we are responsible for the change that we see in our world, we can definitely say that we have contributed through our ideas, our persistence, and our ability to be able to communicate the game-changing ideas to the change we see in the world.

For CSE, our theory of change is simple. We believe today that it is more than ever important for us to focus on the need for solutions so that we do not only look at the problem but analyse it so that we can find the way ahead. It is the solution that we then stand behind through our technical work, further research and to communicate the need for change and difference in paradigm, in the approach that is needed to be taken. We believe very strongly that if growth is not inclusive, not affordable, it cannot be sustainable. That is the mission that drives us.

But as part of this theory of change, we believe we must also communicate this knowledge so that it unleashes the power of millions to see the change and to practice it. Amplification of our message is absolutely critical and it is for this that we can tell you that in this last year, we have reached over close to 30 million visitors on our “Down to Earth” English and Hindi websites. Across social media platforms from Instagram, FaceBook and LinkedIn we got 226 million impressions. Over the years we did 127 seminars as well webinars. All this has an effort to outreach the knowledge that we put together in 101 publications, which were downloaded over 86,000 people or 86,000 times.

But this is not all. Our work is to build capacity, to build multipliers in society who have the skills to be able to implement the change. It is for this reason that we do training both in our campus at the Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI) and also online. In this last year, we did over 150 trainings, of which, 101 were on-site training and we reached roughly 15,000 people with our trainings, as many as 3,000 people visited our campus for the on-site trainings which were for all subjects from waste management, rainwater harvesting, faecal sludge management and, of course, the communities that we are working with from school teachers to university professors and pollution control regulators. These are all multipliers in society, who, armed with knowledge and perspective, will drive the practice of change on ground.

If you look at the outcomes that we had, I believe that each team at CSE has contributed to new knowledge that has been created in society from electric buses to thermal cooling insulation material to how to improve desludging operations of faecal sludge plants. In each case we have worked on what is the way ahead; through our deliberate process of outcome-based activity planning each team then has taken forward the work a step ahead. These objectives then drive the work off the institution.

As I said, our road ahead is difficult. It is getting more difficult as the world recognises the need for change. That change has become more contested because the implementation is even more difficult. Through our research we have shown that we cannot follow the pathway that was set for environmental management in the past. We must reengineer and reinvent what we do for a clean sustainable and equitable future.

Sunita Narain