Sustainability is the need of the hour, and UNSW has a solution

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With the rate at which consumption of resources and creation of goods and services is constantly increasing, there has developed a need for sustainability. India is the second most populous country in the world and understandably, it has an extremely high rate of consumption. Currently, collaborative efforts by the government, and several industry bodies in the private sector, along with multiple local communities, are attempting to address this critical need.

India’s sustainability projects display an effort made by public and private bodies alike to reverse the damage done to the environment. It can largely be divided into five categories – Forest/Biodiversity, Energy, Environment, Waste and Water Management. The projects being carried out include programs such as rainwater harvesting, installation of solar panels, tree plantation and waste recycling, to name a few. Working towards a sustainable life is an important effort. Unfortunately, this is a long road and India’s just at the starting line.

Despite the efforts being put in, India could stand from gaining inspiration from other nations that are making strides in the sustainability space. Australia is one such nation with some commendable projects under its belt. Their efforts towards safe and sustainable mining, like the De Grussa Mine solar power project and the Rio Tinto solar photovoltaic plant are wonderful examples that India can learn from. Projects concerning cleaning of stagnant water and combining solar thermal energy with ground heat exchangers for reduction of gas emissions too can be adapted for the use and benefit of many in India.

It is important to start at the grassroots level and this can be done by ensuringthat new projects being built are well equipped to be sustainable from the start. Thus, people need be well informed about the process and of new developments in this field. Students studying architecture need to be educated on planning and construction from a sustainability point-of-view, so that they can contribute towards a better future for the country. Many foreign universities such as the University of South Wales (UNSW) offer courses on understanding and implementing sustainable alternatives.

The Healthy Built Environment Program (HBEP) is one of the prestigious courses being offered at UNSW for which, funding worth $1.5 million is being provided by the NSW Department of Health. This program’s aim is to develop global leaders in architecture, planning and construction by offering learning from top researchers, academics and leaders in built environment professions. UNSW Built Environment research is about cities, people, places, property, buildings, design, infrastructure, environment, landscapes, institutions, and the complex interactions between them. Many of the graduates from this course are now innovative thinkers, change catalysts and leaders in all facets of the built environment, worldwide.

This program is based on UNSW’s vision of creating futuristic cities that are well connected and inclusive. They aim to accomplish this by inspiring and challenging the city-makers of tomorrow and offering comprehensive undergraduate, post-graduate and post-professional degree programs to create these cities of the future. These programs are built to be challenging and help, not just nurture the student’s skill set, but also test it; make them come up without-of-the-box solutions.

UNSW also conducts regular knowledge exchange workshops with Indian partners with an aim of building new partnerships between India and Australia and fostering a culture of sharing best practices, in a move towards a holistic vision of Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The recently conducted workshop at UNSW saw the release of the ‘Making Indian Cities Energy Smart’ policy brief by Indian research body – The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and UNSW for the Indian government and practitioners. According to the UNSW Chair of the Knowledge Exchange series, Dr Komali Yennati, this document will help policy makers and practitioners with information on relevant strategies, actions and initiatives on smart energy management. 

Students opting for the HBE program have the chance to help build a better future for their nation, with the help of expert learning that offers insight on creating more through ethical and sustainable practices. Because, sustainability is the need of the hour, and it is our responsibility to shoulder it, the best we can.