Nonprofits in Kolkata and Bangalore named finalists in Global Environmental Contest

Environment Conservation Society (SwitchON Foundation) in Kolkata has been chosen as a finalist in the Solution Search: Water Pollution & Behavior Change contest. Photo: courtesy Soslution Search

Solution Search, an effort by international environmental organization Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment recently announced the ten finalists in its ‘Water Pollution & Behavior Change’ contest that highlights local solutions to the world’s most challenging environmental problems.

Environment Conservation Society (SwitchON Foundation) in Kolkata and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment in Bangalore are the two finalists from India, according to a press release from the organization.

They were chosen from a pool of 100 submissions across 33 countries and will be eligible for two $25,000 grand prizes – the Judges’ Prize, which is determined by a panel of experts and the People’s Choice award, which relies on public voting.

SwitchON Foundation promotes conservation of water quality in smallholding farms through 100% elimination of synthetic chemical inputs (fertilizers and pesticides).

Their program identifies a cluster of marginal farmers facing water quality issues in a particular location, mobilizes them and gives them training on organic farming.

After continuous practice of organic agriculture, they have not only experienced improved groundwater and surface water purity, but also good soil health, local biodiversity and a two-fold rise in income, according to SwitchOn’s profile.

According to its profile, Ashoka Trust’s major ​objective was to address the ground and lake water pollution and women’s health issues caused by single-use synthetic sanitary napkins.

To achieve this, sustainable alternatives like reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups were promoted through conscientization and sensitization campaigns among the community.

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment in Bangalore has been chosen as a finalist in the Solution Search: Water Pollution & Behavior Change contest. Photo:
Courtesy Solution Search

The program was implemented in a local self-government unit, Muhamma village Panchayath (Kerala, India), collaborating with its governing bodies, departments, and women self-help groups. This intervention led to a shift in women’s conventional perceptions, that over two years of ensuing many offshoots to the idea of sustainable menstruation.​ The program transcended Muhamma ​to the first-ever synthetic sanitary napkin free village in ​India.

The winners of the contest will be announced in September 2021 during BE.Hive, a virtual summit and awards presentation event hosted by Rare.

Voting to determine the People’s Choice prize is now open to all, and individuals can vote once per day for as many days as they want during the voting period. The public can vote between May 3 – June 11 by accessing the voting portal here.

The Judges’ Choice is determined by a panel of 15 experts deriving from a range of professions including environmentalism, academia, TV/media and activism.

In addition to the grand prizes, Solution Search: Water Pollution & Behavior Change will award a $10,000 Environmental Justice Prize to the best entry addressing the disproportionate impact of water pollution on communities of color, indigenous groups, and marginalized communities.

It will also award a $10,000 Youth prize to the best entry led by youth (25 years or younger) and highlights the role of young people in powering solutions to water pollution.




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