Catalyzing Climate Action

John Kuruvilla, Chief Mentor, Brigade Reap and a member of the Board at TIA addressed the audience on the topic of ‘Climate Action’ within the real estate and construction sector. His presentation entitled ‘Catalyzing Climate Action’ stresses the need to ‘do something’ about climate change. He talks of how we live in a ‘Corrected world’ and how a volcanic eruption in Iceland can impact the whole world, how a glacier meltdown can impact coastal areas, how a marine disaster in Mexico impacts the food chain for people who live off the sea in India. He emphasizes that electromagnetic radiation caused by increased use of electronic devices as the next big killer.

All of these changes have a financial impact because of the callous way we treat the environment. At REAP the organization seeks opportunities in the problems they find so as to make a difference. The problem they found was that the largest migration of people on the planet happens everyday towards small pockets of land, where people come for better opportunities and to lead better lives. The statistics of people living in small pockets are shocking with New York at 400 people per square mile, Tokyo at 16000 and Hong Kong at 17000 people per square mile. In India, Hyderabad stands at 23,000 people per sq. mile, Bangalore at 26,000, New Delhi at 28,000 , Chennai over 30,000 and Mumbai with over 76,000. This lack of space adds to stress on the environment and to general quality of life.

He estimates that 21 cities in the next 3 years will run out of water. Bangalore and Chennai already face water shortage. Lakes in Bangalore are burning because of toxic waste. He presents statistics that state that every 10 years India will need a landfill the size of a Bangalore city. 140 million people are impacted by air pollution and suffer breathing complications. Air conditioned offices and living make indoor quality air 5 times worse than outdoor air quality and all these lead to the root problem of buildings.
Buildings are one of the largest contaminators on planet earth. John shows us a map of Bangalore from 30 years ago with a green cover of 68%. Today that number stands at 2%. Most cities and countries in the world stand to be in the same situation. Thanks to climate degradation, more than 2.5 billion dollars is spent on wasteful expenditure in Bangalore alone and multiplied across India that leads to 40 -50 billion dollars of wasteful expenditure. This is where REAP has stepped in to do something. One man, Mr. Jayashankar and his daughter Nirupa decided that real estate needed technology to ward of the threat of rapid urbanization and therefore set up REAP..

When they started in 2016 there were only 15 start ups in and that number stands at close to 3000 start-ups with 30% of them in sustainability. This is REAPS future. Many of these startups have received global recognition and reach. He explains that a company that modeled their design on the internal digestion of a cow has treated 600 million liters of water, 1150 watts of power and 920 tonnes of coal has been saved.

He introduces a company run by a 28 year New Yorker return to India because she saw the state of farmers in her country and wanted to help them. She created a product labeled ‘AgroBioPanel’ through a company called ‘Strawcture’. REAP is mentoring her to get her model right and take her global.

The financial benefits of mitigating the disasters created for the environment is exponential and today many large real estate and other companies are using their start-ups. He quotes the co-founder of ‘Strawcture’ who says ‘Waste is only waste if you waste it”.

He leaves us with an inspiring story of his journey of 14000 km around India in temperatures ranging from -2 to 40 degrees centigrade with his partner on 2 electric motorcycles built by people in India. Their mission was singular – to inspire and encourage students in the smaller towns of India to ‘start-up’ and become job creators and not job seekers. They engaged with 6500 students, all brilliant, working in various capacities solving technological and other issues for their villages. He encouraged Don Bosco to make this event yearly and push sustainability with the youth of this country.

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The Don Bosco Network in India comprises of 11 Planning and Development Organisations (PDOs), each dedicated to the development of the Salesian provinces they serve. The Don Bosco network is spread across 29 states and 354 NGOs, reaching more than 10 lakh people.



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