Fighting for water conservation in India
My name is Sankalp Mohan Sharma and I am from India. I’m 16 years old and I am currently attending 12th grade at Frank Anthony Public School in Bangalore, Karnataka. Driven by a unique love for the environment and with inclinations towards law, I one day aspire to become an environmental lawyer.
Coming from a family of hard workers, I have always been motivated to give out as much as I could to society. My father served two decades with the Indian Army and that has not only rooted discipline in my personality, but has also given me immense exposure to the most extreme challenges an army family has to face; the toughest of them all being having to live apart from him while he was on the borders protecting the country.
However, this has made me more independent and has taught me so much, the fruits of which I still bear today. As for my mother, she has been one of the biggest inspirations of my life. She went from being a homemaker to a life skills trainer and Counsellor and then the winner of the Mrs.India Asia International World 2016 title. Soft skills and resilience are things that I learn from her everyday. Thus, with a perfect combination of the chivalry of an army officer and the finishing skills of a Mrs. India winner, I yet needed a cherry to top it all off: my elder sister! She is one of the top models of India, a Miss India finalist and a microbiologist presently looking for a cure for cancer with her own NGO called “Silver Linings”. Whenever I am asked what is the driving force that keeps me motivated to work for the environment, my only answer is: “my sister”.
I am presently India's youngest climate reality leader and the youngest state head of the Walk for Water global campaign. I give presentations and speeches across India on climate change, sustainable development, water conservation and human rights. I present to every strata of the society, from schools and colleges to corporate organizations, from orphanages to defence forces and from villages to high level international conferences. I have also led the Walk for Water campaign in my state Karnataka, which was a huge success and was globally appreciated. Human Rights are also something that I have been working on very closely. I am the International Coordinator of the Human Rights Sanrakshan Sansthaa. I'm also a huge supporter of gender equality, the opposite of which is one of the biggest problems my country has to face, right after pollution and shortage of clean drinking water.
I want to raise awareness about climate change, water conservation and sustainable development to all strata of the society. I have primarily been working In India, but I have also touched other countries such as South Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, and The United States Of America. I believe that the best way to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is to educate the people about these goals and I want to put India at the forefront of Sustainable Development by the year 2030.
A more sustainable future can only be achieved when we all work together and join hands, which is why I work on educating the masses of each strata of society about Sustainable Development. Considering that the Capital of India, Delhi is the most polluted city in the world and that India is amongst the most polluted countries as well, I started my campaign by raising awareness on climate change, at first amongst students.
I then became India's youngest climate reality leader, trained by the ex Vice President Al Gore, in August 2016 and then moved to wider age group audiences coming from different backgrounds. Therefore, the Indian Army, Corporate Organizations, the Rotary Club, societies, localities, public gatherings, orphanages and underprivileged schools became my target audience. I, in fact, believe that not only the youth, but the masses need to be touched for a wholistic approach; and I also widened my topic of presentation from just climate change to water conservation as well..
Water shortage is in fact the next big issue in my country. So, on March 22nd 2017, on World Water Day, I organized a huge Walk For Water in Bangalore, the capital state of Karnataka, where more than one thousand people came down on the streets for a single cause: water conservation. I partnered with several organizations, and the Chief Minister of Karnataka flagged off the walk in the presence of the Minister of Urban Development. It was a huge success and it was covered by several news channels and newspapers. I also asked celebrities from all fields to work with me in raising awareness about water preservation through their social media.
I also was the youngest Indian to represent the Country at the United Nations Headquarter in New York City for the 2017 Summer Youth Assembly, where I gave a speech on my work and sustainable development to young world leaders from across the globe.
Moreover, the National Society of High School Scholars, an organisation that facilitates high school students, invited me to be a member and I have been honoured by the Chairman, Mr. Clase Nobel, a senior member of the family that established the ever so popular Nobel Prize.
So, with everything that I have achieved, I can definitely say that I made the best of my abilities to prove worthy of these honourable titles. I was rewarded for my work and my continuous social efforts by winning the Aryan Young Achiever Award and the Akhil Uday Award. And for that, I am very thankful.
I have touched the lives of more than 1 million people across the world and raised awareness about climate change and water conservation through campaigns, projects, walks, rallies, presentations, speeches, print and audio interviews, seminars and meetings, in order to educate the different strata of society about the urgency of climate change and water pollution and motivated them to act today. I believe in the motto “inspire to aspire”, for a sustainable tomorrow.
Through these campaigns, individuals from across the world have managed to save over 1237,4 million liters of water and the walk for water organization, through these campaigns, was able to restore over 11,000 dried up wells, using rainwater harvesters to provide water in villages.
All this was not free. In fact, all my projects were either crowd funded or completed with the help of my parents. So, if given the prize money, I intend to fund my next project with it: a plantation initiative for youth, where we are going to plant more than 100 thousand plants all across India. All these plants will be planted by over 80 thousand young Indian students under my guidance and support; and they will get to experience the practice of plantation themselves.
The price money would therefore be used to buy the required instruments, like saplings, seeds and watering instruments, for long term plantations. After that, the thousands of instruments will then be donated to various schools and orphanages.