Earth Week Webinar

April 30, 2020

“COVID-19: A boon for mother Earth or a bane for Mankind – What should stay and what should go?”

This Earth Day, April 22, has been like no other. Live streamed discussions flooded the digital landscape, a global digital surge was evidenced and spokespersons from across the globe deliberated on the state of affairs being witnessed by the world at large. As the world battles the treacherous COVID-19 pandemic with solutions still nowhere in sight the situation is worrisome and grave. As world citizens, a blueprint for the way forward needs to be mapped by the youth – the generation that will face the aftermath of the pandemic created by coronavirus (COVID-19) most acutely. While Earth Day may have gone digital, the common goal remains the same: to mobilize the world to take the most meaningful actions to make a difference.

In an effort to give every voice a platform and demand bold action for people and the planet, student representatives of the Strawberry Fields High School and its alumni (SFOSA) joined forces to put forth a bold and unified demand for a new way forward via a Webinar dedicated to this cause which was aired online on Tuesday 28 April 2020 as a part of the Earth Week initiative.

Titled “COVID-19: A boon for mother Earth or a bane for Mankind – What should stay and what should go?” the webinar kicked off at 5:30 PM on 28th April, 2020 and overshot the stipulated time lasting till 7:00 PM. The event had over 70 attendees, comprising teachers, students and the alumni. The discussion was moderated by Vishesh Arora (Batch of 2017) and hosted by Mehakdeep Kaur (Bath of 2016). The panelists included Chaharika Uppal (Batch of 2022), Chaitanya Gupta (Batch of 2019), Mayank Jain (Batch of 2020), Paavna Pannu (Batch of 2022) and Zorawar Singh (Batch of 2017).

The key takeaways from the session were as follows:

Chaharika Uppal spoke about how the world will drastically change in terms of international relations and partnerships post the pandemic, and felt that the effects of the same may be unpredictable, and that it’s still premature to say what the dynamics will be. She also talked about how misinformation can impact practices and ideas adversely, and explained how one can avoid being prey to such misinformation or fake news. She answered a question wherein she articulated how the global “power balance” will change in the post pandemic world.

Mayank Jain spoke about the effects of the pandemic on the global economy, informing listeners about how this may lead to a global economic crisis, which will require huge efforts from both the public and private sector to solve completely. On the national front, he explained how migrant workers and daily wagers are the worst hit, and made a call to action for people to assist these groups in any manner possible.

Paavna Pannu voiced her views on the imperative need to acknowledge the positive impact of this global crisis on nature and the environment, and also follow best possible practices to sustain this impact, post the pandemic. She also stated that dietary habits of people across the globe might be affected, talking about sanitary requirements needed in wet markets, which sell meat. She opined on the effects of paranoia and public fear regarding consumption of meat in the future. She answered questions in which she explained the need for an extended lockdown in the interest of public well-being, while also acknowledging the need for suitable investment in line with environmental benefits.

Chaitanya Gupta talked about the impact of this crisis on interpersonal relationships, observing how there are adverse effects of decreased social interaction, ranging from mental health issues to increased abuse of alcohol and drugs. Chaitanya acknowledged the self healing phase of nature in the present day, and told the audience about how sustainable businesses and personal practices may help in reducing environmental damage in the future. He displayed a few infographics to provide a simplified and data supported view of the adverse effects of the virus on interpersonal relationships. He answered questions explaining the future opportunities in online business and education, emphasizing the importance of human interaction in both spheres.

Zorawar Singh shared personal experiences in politics and told the audience not only about how forthcoming elections will be battled out over social media, but also explained why this trend will not be a benchmark to continue campaigns. He stated that politicians, being elected to serve society, need to be physically and mentally present in their constituencies in order to lead correctly and efficiently. He also mentioned how this crisis has demanded more actionable accountability from politicians worldwide. He stated that policies should be more sustainable and environmentally conducive to better governance. He asked for people to be apolitical during these trying times and think of the greater good, rather than vested political benefit. He answered questions in which he emphasized the need for regulation in China’s wet markets. In an answer to a question, he expressed his view on the emergent need for better public health policies to be framed for the welfare of the populace.

The event witnessed an invigorating and engaging discussion from all panelists with concrete and pertinent viewpoints being shared. The audience participants too posed thought-provoking questions that added increased depth to the deliberation. Overall, the webinar received a positive response and we expect to host more such events in the near future.

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