Farmers’ and Youth Citizens’ Jury Unite to Tackle Climate Change: Collaborative Solutions for a Sustainable Future


 Kolkata : In a groundbreaking effort to give citizens a voice in decision-making, a Citizens Jury organised by SwitchON Foundation in collaboration with Socratus and MacArthur Foundation was held recently at National Library, Kolkata. To mark its 15th year, SwitchON Foundation had launched Move for Earth - a movement to celebrate and inspire climate action, to help build a smarter and brighter future for ourselves, our children, farmers and life on earth. In West Bengal, the Move for Earth cycle yatra culminated in a Citizens’ Jury wherein small groups of farmers and urban youth will interact with experts to deliberate and decide on the future course of climate action.

The jury comprised eminent speakers namely Shri P V S Suryakumar, Deputy MD of NABARD, Mr. Manfred Auster, German Consulate General Kolkata, Shri Debashis Sen, Chairman NKDA, Mr.Rajanvir Singh Kapur IAS, Smt. Usha Ramesh, CGM, NABARD, the youth representing schools and colleges like Presidency University, MAKAUT, B.C.Roy Engineering College, Haldia Institute of Technology, Asutosh College, Lady Brabourne, NGOs including CINI, Farmer Producer Organizations’ representatives  and Rural development Association were tasked with hearing evidence and deliberating on the future course of climate action.


Deputy MD of NABARD, Mr. PVS Suryakumar, quipped, “Citizens Jury brings unique perspective of experience to the policy makers as farmers are heard directly. Citizens Jury is further important as climate change is real and is silently effecting us all. I congratulate the organisers for this unique initiative.


The Citizens Jury was organised with the goal of empowering people to actively participate in shaping their community. Inaugural sessions graced by eminent speakers, followed by parallel sessions on green entrepreneurship, waste management, organic farming and distributed renewable energy scheduled throughout the day-long event. Over the course of this event, the jury heard from a range of expert witnesses, community leaders, and stakeholders, and engaged in deliberations to arrive at a decision for an inclusive and effective response to climate change.


Manfred Auster, Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kolkata opined, “This Citizens’ Jury is a unique experience, where the youth and farmers were invited to voice their opinions and convey their vision for a climate-friendly planet. The climate crisis is one of the most pressing challenges facing our world today, and it is essential decision-makers are taking the concerns of the upcoming next generations, as well as traditional farmers seriously. I compliment SwitchON Foundation for its Move For Earth initiative.


Debashis Sen, Chairman NKDA, said, “The youth are often overlooked and ignored as inconsequential, especially in such decision making matters of Climate Action. It was heartening to see that youth have been given a seat at the table with strong representation from across West Bengal on this Citizens' Jury for the Climate.”


The focus throughout this endeavour was on including the collective voice and vision of communities who are already facing the brunt of climate challenges in their daily lives, and offer them a seat at the policy table.


VinayJaju, MD of SwitchON Foundation, began the Move for Earth campaign with a cycle Yatra and covered 800 kms in Bengal. He connected with more than ten thousand farmers, women and youth, addressing issues related to clean air, sustainable mobility, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.

The verdict of the Citizens Jury will be made public in a report that will be released to the community in the coming weeks. The report will provide a comprehensive overview of the jury's findings and recommendations, and will be made available to local government officials, policymakers, and community members.


Speaking on the occasion VinayJaju, Managing Director, SwitchON Foundation said, “The Citizens Jury was an incredible opportunity for citizens to come together and make a difference in their community. We were thrilled to see the level of engagement and participation from the farmers, youth and other stakeholders, and we believe their verdict will shape our activities and it will be communicated to the policy makers to accept and implement the jury’s recommendations." 

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