The Summer Winter School Program of The Premier Habitat University of India , CEPT for 2019 begins in Kochi. This year the program focuses on Smart and Sustainable Urban Development – Experiences from Kochi, India and Frankfurt, Germany with more than 26 CEPT university Masters students and Town planning officials participating in the same. The week long (Dec 1-7, 2019) program will allow students to interact with key officials, policy makers and major stakeholders of the city to understand the various sustainable initiatives and urban practices in Kochi in terms of affordable housing, urban infrastructure services, urban mobility, public spaces, participatory planning and cultural heritage management. The program is being supported by the German International Development Agency (GIZ) in association with the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development .
The Subhash Bose park which is maintained by the Center for Heritage, Environment and Development is rich in biodiversity. Under the interact bio project, jointly conducted by Kochi Municipal Corporation, c-hed and ICLEI, Mapping, Identification and Naming of trees in Subhash Bose Park were done. A total of 434 trees were identified which included 61 species of 24 families of which 157 are indigenous trees and 277 are alien trees.
The tree naming ceremony and the handbook release were held in Subhash park on the 6th of February 2019. The trees were tied with boards containing their common name, scientific name and their native and the handbook containing details of the trees in the park was released by Justice (retd.) K. Sukumaran, an enthusiast in environment conservation. Mayor Soumini Jain presided over the event which was also attended by Imani Kumar, director, ICLEI- South Asia.
INTRODUCTION: The project aims to strengthen the integration of biodiversity management at all levels of governance and facilitate cooperation between national and sub-national authorities for ecosystem management in urban regions. It is funded by Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) under their International Climate Initiative (IKI). The project is in implementation in three countries- Brazil, India and Tanzania and has a duration of four years (2016 – 2020). ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia is the implementing agency project in India. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has identified Kochi as the project model city and Panaji and Mangaluru as the satellite cities.
INCEPTION ACTIVITIES IN KOCHI: The project has been approved by the Kochi Municipal Corporation council through a special council meeting held on 21st August 2017, following which an MoU between the Kochi Municipal Corporation and ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia had been signed. The Centre for Heritage , Environment and Development has been appointed by the Council of the Kochi Municipal Corporation as the nodal office in Kochi (on behalf of the Kochi Municipal Corporation) for the project.
WORK UNDERTAKEN: The first phase of the project involved the development of baseline regarding biodiversity management within the project countries and city-regions through a scoping study. A few of the activities have been completed while some are ongoing:
- Key stakeholders (persons and institutions) in and around Kochi were identified.
- Discussions (one to one) were held with the identified stakeholders and officials of Kochi Municipal Corporation.
- Foreign experts visited the city and held discussions with city officials, college teachers and some experts in the area.
- Interviews with experts and other stakeholders (about 50 experts and 10 institutions or organisations) on different aspects of biodiversity and governance were held.
- Several relevant baseline reports, maps and data were reviewed.
- Preliminary mapping of mangroves and wetlands in the Greater Kochi region was done.
- First stakeholder consultation workshop to discuss results of information collected through primary and secondary data sources was held on 27th October 2017; The Hon’ble mayor presided over the workshop and Dr S.C. Joshi, Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board, was the Chief Guest. Over 100 stakeholders and experts participated in the workshop. Mangalavanam and back waters were identified as critical ecosystems.
- Biodiversity awareness programme named “Communicating biodiversity conservation with school students in Kochi was held. Around 10 schools in Kochi participated in this initiative. The initiative programme included :-
- Presentation in each school on significance of biodiversity
- Biodiversity quiz in each school
- Biodiversity register preparation for a school,
- Butterfly park development in a school and
- An inter school painting competition.
- The first two programmes and the fifth programme have been completed in all school; third and fourth programmes are going on in the selected school.
- An Expert stakeholder workshop on ecosystem services was held on 3rd April 2018 which had participation from international and national experts .
- Trees in Subhash Park – A GIS based tree map has been prepared wherein tree species have been identified. The details of the same will be brought in the form of a hand book which is ongoing. This will help support the initiative of the Kochi Municipal Corporation on improving open green spaces.
- Development of scoping report- The process is on going
- Natural asset map development- ongoing (GPS field survey for GIS based high resolution natural asset map for Kochi is going on).
- City Biodiversity Index
- People’s Biodiversity Register
- Biodiversity Park
- Biodiversity Park – Mangrove Park : Feasibility Study
A national workshop was held as part of the activities under the INTERACT-Bio project (German-funded urban biodiversity project) that aims at supporting selected cities in India, Brazil and Tanzania to sustainably manage biodiversity and ecosystems, and support local governments. The national workshop on ‘Guidelines for Biodiversity Conservation for Cities’ was organised by the Kochi Municipal Corporation, National Biodiversity Board, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (c-hed). The following aspects were discussed with key national, state and city government officials:
- The role of cities and subnational governments can and should play in contributing to the development and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans;
- Guidelines for an Integrated Approach in the Development and Implementation of National, Subnational and Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans;
- Developing a draft template for Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans for city governments.
The workshop was attended by Nagpur Mayor Nanda Jichkar, Gangtok Mayor Shakti Singh Choudhary, Siliguri Mayor Dr Shankar Ghosh and senior officials and representatives of various municipal corporations across the country.
The renovated sculptures in the Subash Chandra Bose Park, was dedicated to the city on 6th of February 2018 by Artist Namboodiri and literary critic Prof. M.K. Sanoo who were the Guest of Honors for the evening. The renovated work was unveiled in the presence of Hon’ble Mayor Smt. Soumini Jain, Kochi Municipal Corporation Chairpersons A.B. Sabu, Shiny Mathew and Gracy Joseph and K.J. Antony (Leader of Opposition).
The artists, who came up with the sculptures about 28 years ago, worked in the camp to revive the original glory of the sculptures. Seven artists were available to revive their own works and they also helped to restore the work of other artists who were now unable to participate. The work also included landscaping, setting access and lighting.
As part of the German funded INTERACT- Bio project a Stakeholder Workshop was organised with support of Kochi Municipal Corporation and Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, and facilitated by ICLEI- South Asia. The project aims to mainstream and integrate biodiversity conservation and management into the planning process at the national, subnational and local level. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the four year project will be conducted in three cities- Kochi, Mangaluru and Panaji in India.
The project supports several Aichi Biodiversity Targets developed in 2010 and Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 through the promotion of nature-based solutions demonstrating the effectiveness of nature-based city development and ultimately connecting city regions with one another- building capacity and raising awareness in these regions. A significant output of the project will be the development of a Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) for Kochi.
The city of Kochi is facing unique water related problems like continued increase in population due to urbanization and industrialization which is causing severe decline in the quality and quantity of water. It is against this background that the budget of the Kochi Municipal Corporation for the year 2014-2015 decided to have a local water policy for Kochi to deal with the water crisis in the city. This is a first time ever in India that a local self government is developing its own local water policy under the purview of the National and State water policies.
The c-hed was assigned to coordinate and facilitate the formulation of this policy. In this regard, a scientific study of the quality of water was conducted along with a water audit. The report was handed over to the Kochi Municipal Corporation on 03/10/2015.