Mumbai: To strengthen the commitment of corporate India towards preserving vital coastal ecosystems and to mark the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, Godrej & Boyce, the flagship company of the Godrej Group, announced the launch of the India Mangroves Coalition, in association with CII’s Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CII-CESD) and WWF India. This new initiative will drive collaboration across CII member companies and help identify new solutions for mangrove management and conservation through research and innovation.
Coastal forests like Mangroves are emerging as a key solution to alleviate the problem of accelerating global warming and other adverse climate events like an increased storm and cyclonic activity across the globe that are impacting lives and livelihoods. Dubbed “Blue Carbon” systems for their greater ability to absorb carbon, mangrove forests have been proven to not only store up to five times as much carbon as terrestrial forests but also sequester or trap the carbon for much longer periods of time of up to thousands of years. Blue carbon systems like Mangroves will have to play a bigger role in carbon absorption if the world must meet its goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050.
The India Mangroves Coalition is the first of its kind industry-led platform under CII’s India Business & Biodiversity Initiative (IBBI) that will support and propagate greater mangrove conservation and plantation across India’s vast coastline through a multi-stakeholder approach, based on its importance as a Blue Carbon system.
Speaking on the launch of the Indian Mangroves Coalition, Jamshyd N Godrej, Chairman and Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce, said, “Godrej & Boyce along with CII and WWF India have been working together for many years to promote conservation and biodiversity. With climate change posing a bigger threat every day, we strongly believe that this is the time to engage in insightful dialogue with all stakeholders to put greater focus on conserving and nurturing key Blue Carbon systems like mangrove forests. The India Mangroves Coalition will help build rapid awareness and sensitize people about the increasing importance of mangroves not only to realise our Paris Climate goals but also to continue to protect vulnerable coastal cities like Mumbai from bigger climatic threats.”
Seema Arora, Deputy Director-General, CII, said, “A competitive and sustainable industry must take a lead role in India’s future development as well as play a key role in the emerging shape of the global economy. This will require the inclusion of nature in decision-making at all levels of business, society, and government. CII has partnered with organisations such as Godrej & Boyce and WWF India that are deeply entrenched in the conservation of such ecosystems. Together, they will play a key role in bringing together all the players through a synergetic and strong connect to drive Competitiveness, Growth, Sustainability and Technology for ‘Building India for a New World’. As part of this moment, we are working in close consultation with businesses, experts, and key stakeholders to accelerate action towards creating a nature and climate positive footprint through the integration of Mangrove Conservation. This also provides an opportunity for India to lead and contribute to the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.”
Dr Ravi Singh, Director, WWF India, further stated, “With a country of such large coastal line, with the ability of quicker regeneration & proliferation capacity, we have not made enough efforts towards mangrove restoration. We need to take up targets like the Restoration of Mangroves by 2030 and jointly work towards this. WWF being into conservation works of Sundarbans, has worked in past with Godrej and being a member of IBBI, believes this consortium will be an effective way to achieve the objective.”
The India Mangroves Coalition aims to bring the latest scientific and technological developments to the fore by engaging with experts from government, academia and other organisations focused on climate change to provide insights and help members adopt leading-edge techniques to further mangrove conservation.
The India Mangroves Coalition was launched with an insight-gathering conclave chaired by Dr Ravindra Singh Director from Indo-German Biodiversity Programme, GIZ, and included key stakeholders across the spectrum including Dr Virendra Tiwari, APPCF, Mangrove Cell Maharashtra, Ravi Agrawal, Additional Secretary, MoEF & CC, Dr Ravi Singh, Director, WWF India as well as Nyrika Holkar, Executive Director, Godrej & Boyce, Seema Arora, Deputy Director-General, CII CESD.
Among the key topics at the launch of the India Mangroves Coalition discussed included research and other insights on the importance of mangroves to meet climate goals as well as a holistic framework needed to seamlessly bring together a unique set of key stakeholders from across the business fraternity, central, state and local government experts, NGOs, researchers and citizens. This will help implement practical solutions by setting defined objectives, action plans, initiatives, and targets for mangrove research, on-site conservation, awareness, policy measures to build coastal resilience and integrate United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration theme and to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) commitment of India. Under the Indian Mangroves Coalition, G&B along with CII and WWF India will conduct a series of awareness-building sessions for members, as well as begin a process of engagement to gather new ideas for an integrated approach to support long-term mangrove conservation in India.
Godrej & Boyce (‘G&B’)’s pioneering efforts to balance industrial growth alongside conservation of nature started in 1940 under the leadership of the late Sohrabji Godrej and Naoroji Godrej. The Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation was founded in 1985 to formalise these efforts towards the conservation of a stretch of Mumbai’s mangroves ecosystem from Vikhroli along the west bank of the Thane creek. The Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Marine Ecology Centre was also founded in 1985 with eminent founder members like the late Dr Salim Ali, the renowned ornithologist, A.K. Ganguly, the renowned botanist, and Dr Homi Bhabha, the renowned scientist to focus further efforts on conservation of the surrounding marine ecosystem under the mangrove cover.
The Mangroves protected by G&B and the Godrej foundations are India’s first ISO 14001 certified forest in 1997. This certification has ensured time-bound, measurable performance indicators and targets for conservation initiatives. To ensure dedicated focus to the issues, Godrej & Boyce has established a dedicated Wetlands Management Services (WMS) organisation with skilled professionals and has been undertaking significant conservation and renewal initiatives with a three-pronged strategy of promoting academic research, driving conservation and building awareness about the importance of these Blue Carbon systems. Working with multiple stakeholders the WMS team has engaged with almost 60,000 individuals living in coastal areas in the last six years through on-site and off-site programmes using a dedicated mangrove mobile app, online webinars, storybooks, poster exhibitions and has released a mangrove quiz in Marathi on www.mangroves.godrej.com in its efforts to increase awareness through outreach in regional languages. The Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation has also planned and implemented additional mangrove plantations of approximately 80 acres at its southern border for the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. This was the first of its kind successful public-private partnership for large-scale mangrove plantations in India.