Unesco Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) launched #VirtualGandhiMarch, a social media campaign to mobilise youth to share their kindness stories, on August 12. The virtual march is part of a wider mission, #KindnessMatters, for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a first-of-its-kind international youth campaign on kindness with the goal of mobilising the world’s youth to achieve the 17 SDGs through transformative acts of kindness, compassion, care towards self, others and the environment. The social media campaign has so far generated more than 3,000 stories from over 50 countries. The second phase of the programme, which will start in 2020, will mobilise UN Member States to declare an International Decade of Kindness. READ ALSO: #VirtualGandhiMarch starts on August 12: How to take part in the drive
People who change the world aren’t always who you expect. Sometimes, they’re just ordinary people who believe in a better world and have the drive and undying spirit to achieve their goals. These are the stories of a handful of such people from across the country whose innovative ideas and determination are making a difference in their respective communities.
In the run-up to the event, CNBC-TV18 is publishing a series of inspiring stories of people who are the trailblazers of social change. Below is the fourth story in the series:
Project Afforestt – creating self-sustainable forest Name – Shubhendu Sharma Gender- Male Place – Bengaluru, India
Shubhendu Sharma left his high-paying job as an engineer to plant trees for the rest of his life. Using the unique Miyawaki methodology to grow forests, Afforestt converts any land into a self-sustainable forest in a couple of years. It all started when Sharma volunteered to assist a naturalist, Dr. Akira Miyawaki to plant a forest at the Toyota plant where he worked. Sharma started to experiment with the model and came up with an Indian version after slight modifications using soil amenders. His first attempt with making forests was in his own backyard in Uttarakhand, where he grew a lush green forest within a year’s time. This gave him confidence and he decided to launch it as a full-time initiative. He quit his job and spent almost a year to do research on the methodology.
Afforestt, a company dedicated to creating natural, wild, maintenance-free, native forests in 2011. Afforestt promotes a standardised method for seeding dense, fast-growing, native forests in barren lands, using his car-manufacturing experience to create a system allowing a multilayer forest of 300 trees to grow on an area as small as the parking spaces of six cars -- for less than the price of an iPhone. Convincing the family that this was the next step was very tough. They could not understand why he was bent on quitting a high-paying engineering job to plant trees all his life. Sharma, now has a team of 15 that works from Bangalore and Delhi and have created many such forests. Initial troubles with finding the market and sustaining the business were solved to some extent when they received their first order from a German furniture maker to plant about 10,000 trees. His budding business has built 118 forests in 40 cities in 9 countries. Not only is he creating forests on land that was barren or used for lawns, his forests have the added benefit of absorbing ground-level pollution and sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere. His forest has 30 times more green surface area as compared to conventional plantations. Afforestt trains people from around the world to use and modify their methodologies so others can make their own forests by themselves. This methodology has been shown to work globally. Follow the #KindnessMatters series