A resilient future for Goa’s youth

GOA'S GREEN MANIFESTO

Goa is made up of interconnected ecosystems both natural and human-made. These include forests, villages, cities, rivers, plateaus and coastlines. Our environment defines who we are and we wholly rely on it to survive and thrive.

As we look to the future, we demand that the health of the entire state with all its geographies and inhabitants be at the forefront of decision-making by policymakers

Why a manifesto?

The latest IPCC report prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries has stated clearly that the internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 °C of global heating is “perilously close.” The report shows that greenhouse gases released by human activity have caused the world to warm by 1.1°C. The inhabitants of Goa are already suffering the consequences of this change with an increase in cyclones, untimely rainfall and sea-level rise. These weather events are taking a major toll on our homes, livelihoods and our mental and physical health.

These impacts have been exacerbated by the rampant urban development processes and extractive industries that have directly impacted our landscapes and wellbeing, all for the benefit of private profit and governmental corruption. Continuing with business as usual means the planet will heat up by 2°C within this century resulting in dire consequences for human civilization and the natural world. In the face of these threats it is vital that there is a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, restore nature and create a climate resilient economy. As the youth of Goa, we stand to be most impacted by the long-term compounding effect of these events. Young Goans understand that sustainable development is not only possible, it is necessary for our survival.

Goa’s Green Manifesto is a collaborative effort involving citizens associated with the Amche Mollem campaign, youth groups and experts in various fields. The document is a step towards a vision of development that we citizens do want to see in Goa, grounded in local cultural, scientific and legal values. It details the changes and commitments we demand from elected representatives that are consistent with this vision.


An interconnected Goa

Since the health of any one of Goa’s ecosystems directly or indirectly impacts the health of the others, we have taken an ecosystems-based approach in creating
'Goa's Green Manifesto'.

Here, we make demands for each of the broad ecosystems that make up the state. We believe that this is an important first step in realising a more sustainable future for the state. Learn more about our ecosystem approaches below -

Ecosystems


Forests

Goa’s forests are some of the most biodiverse on the planet. Though parts of these are protected, large areas of forest land outside Protected Areas have faced intense degradation. Privately owned forests are of particular concern when considering proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act. The large infrastructure projects in Mollem National Park are simply the tip of the iceberg; Goa's forests are seeing rapid conversion which must be halted. In light of these issues we demand:

  • Scrap the three infrastructure projects in Mollem as in their current form .

  • Ensure that there is no diversion of forest land both within and outside protected areas for non-forest use, including for large infrastructure projects. Deforestation around human settlements is increasing flood risk and water security and increasing vulnerability to climate change.

  • Estimate forest cover accurately, only including natural forests, and monitor this data regularly.

  • Prioritise the planting of native, habitat-specific species for afforestation. Goa has a huge backlog of compensatory afforestation of some 1600 ha and is outsourcing afforestation to other states. Priority should be given to highly degraded areas such as abandoned mines and quarries within the state for afforestation.

  • Set out an action plan to manage invasive species.

  • Strengthen the rights of local and tribal peoples within and around forest ecosystems and include them in the governance of these areas through the creation of community reserves, community action projects, management committees and eco-tourism collectives.

  • Ensure the creation of Biodiversity Management Committees in every panchayat and encourage the demarcation of ecologically important areas and completion of the People’s Biodiversity Register.


The Coast

Goa’s coastline is extremely important given the state's reliance on the fisheries sector and coastal tourism. The protection of coastal habitats is of particular concern given projections of global heating and the consequent sea level rise that risks threatening hundreds of millions of people living in coastal and low lying areas. In fact, large parts of Goa are predicted to be threatened with devastating coastal flooding by the end of the century. These issues are exacerbated by coastal infrastructure and the destruction of coastal ecosystems. We demand:

  • Develop an efficient storm warning system and carry out a comprehensive all Goa mapping of sea level rise and it's impacts on Goa's coast (an example of this is Odisha’s Disaster Management System which has been lauded by the UN)

  • Identify and conduct a risk-assessment of human settlements, fisher communities and built heritage sites along Goa's coast / tidal rivers. Prepare specific comprehensive disaster management plans for the protection of these settlements and structures.

  • Update the CZMP to include missing and inadequately mapped ecosystems - for eg. sand dunes, fishing ponds, seagrass beds, bird foraging areas, seaweed forests and coral reefs.

  • Improve public participation of coastal communities prior to proposing developmental projects along the coast.

  • Map traditional fishing grounds and fisheries practises and incorporate traditional fisher knowledge for building climate resilience.

  • Create incentives for coastal and fisher communities to start native integrated aquaculture systems such as oyster, mussel and seaweed farming.

  • Sand dunes have the potential to protect shores from rising sea levels making them vital for climate resilience. Create a more robust plan for the mapping and safeguarding of sand dunes in Goa.

  • Strengthen the coastal stranding network to assist in safeguarding Goa’s marine mammals and turtles.

  • Begin the phase out of bottom trawling, LED fishing and other extractive fishing practises from Goan waters. Trawling particularly is hugely destructive for marine ecology and results in huge bycatch of non-commercial species including turtles.

  • Ensure that tourist activity is regulated and some beaches are allowed to retain natural vegetation and ecosystems. Stricter action should be taken against those violating CRZ rules.

  • Institute, monitor and enforce effective sewage management along the coast to avoid contamination which is detrimental to health, biodiversity and tourism.

  • Expand Goa’s protected area network to include marine ecosystems such as the reefs around Grande Island and turtle nesting sites like Galgibaga.


Freshwater Ecosystems

Goa's rivers are her lifeblood and are a vital part of the economy of the state. However, recent plans to nationalise rivers risk taking away local access to these water bodies and destroying sensitive riverine ecology. Pollution and runoff are also leading to the deterioration of water quality, We demand:

  • Stop river nationalisation of all Goan rivers and allow continued access to local communities.

  • Freshwater wetlands are being rapidly lost and must be identified, protected and restored. Many more freshwater bodies across the state should be notified as official wetlands under the 2017 wetland management rules such as Batim lake and the Salvador do Mundo wetlands.

  • Better implementation of the Goa Groundwater Regulation Act 2002. For example, the Act calls for the regulation of groundwater extracted by tankers.

  • Ensure the proper dismantling and disposal of barges and non-functional shipyards. Regenerate these areas with mangroves and other natural vegetation.

  • Under the Convention of Migratory Species, to which India is a signatory, important habitats for migratory species must be identified and protected. Goa sees hundreds of thousands of migratory birds pass through the state and the mudflats, wetlands and sandbars used by them for feeding and roosting must be identified and protected.

  • Ensure that there is no further damming of any of Goa’s rivers.

  • Conservation of estuarine ecosystems including khazan lands and mangrove forests, as they are extremely productive and vulnerable areas (particularly to climate change). Besides the dependency on these systems for food production, climate regulation etc., Goa's big cities and many nature-based tourism activities and associated livelihoods are situated on or around them, necessitating better planning and management of these systems.

  • Create an effective rainwater harvesting plan for the state and ensure that freshwater reserves are properly monitored and managed.

Open Natural Ecosystems

There are a number of ignored ecosystems that are considered ‘wastelands’ for management purposes. The Wasteland Atlas of India maps these ecosystems as ‘unproductive’ land to be converted for agricultural or industrial use. However these ecosystems, such as the laterite plateaus and sand dunes of Goa are unique areas with rich flora and fauna and often crucial carbon sinks. We demand:

  • Exclude Goa’s rocky outcrop habitats, grasslands, pasturelands and marshes from the Wasteland Atlas of India.

  • Recognize the ecological, socio-cultural, geological values of all naturally treeless ecosystems such as lateritic plateaus and grasslands in Goa through various portals including the village-level People’s Biodiversity Register. Provide legal protection to these habitats to prevent further degradation.

  • Recognize and protect traditional uses of these ecosystems for grazing and foraging by local communities such as the Dhangar community.

  • Minimize ecologically destructive activities like unscientific tree planting and land diversion for infrastructure projects, real estate, mining, solar and wind farms on plateaus and grasslands and ensure that any such projects are designed such as to allow for natural processes to continue.

Air

A study published in the Lancet estimated 1,396 deaths due to air pollution across Goa in 2019. In India, major economic losses and health risks stem from lung diseases, including COPD, lower respiratory infections and lung cancer. Long-term exposure to air pollution can also result in ischaemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neonatal disorders and cataract.

The Goa State Pollution Control Board receives frequent complaints from citizens across the state regarding air pollution, but there is no visible, coherent strategy in place to systematically monitor ambient air quality, identify polluting sources and mitigate air pollution.
We demand:

  • Introduce a real-time air quality monitoring network and make this data publicly accessible. Goa has an extremely weak air quality monitoring system with only 16 manual monitors for the whole state. Data reporting is insufficient, the information un-actionable and is not easily accessible in the public domain.

  • Conduct a grid assessment to locate sources of pollution across the state.

  • Prepare a state and regional action plan to improve air quality in urban, industrial and forested areas.

  • Rethink Goa’s transportation system to provide safe, accessible and comfortable alternatives to private car ownership using a mix of motorised and non-motorised transportation solutions for the public.

  • Introduce an Electric Vehicle policy for Goa to incentivise the adoption of EVs under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme.

  • Create avenues to dismantle, retrofit or dispose of aged commercial and passenger vehicles in accordance with the Vehicle Scrappage Policy (2021). This includes improving the authenticity of Pollution Under Control testing and creating a market for scrapping and retrofitting centres.

  • Prepare a crop residue management plan in consultation with local farming communities to devise alternatives to burning crop residues following the harvests.

  • Set up facilities to process and recycle construction and demolition waste. Introduce guidelines for mitigating dust from small-scale construction activities that do not require environmental clearances.

Agrarian Ecosystems

Agricultural practises such as the use of pesticides, chemical fertilisers and monoculture plantations are damaging to the health of surrounding ecosystems and of people. Goa’s rich cultural history has revolved around traditional forms of agriculture including khazan agro-fisheries and the cultivation of traditional varieties of grains. We demand:

  • Documenting and preserving indigenous agricultural practises and creating a genetic database/seed bank for indigenous agricultural products

  • Promoting agricultural practises that are less environmentally damaging such as organic farming, crop rotation and irrigation systems that conserve water.

  • Promoting traditional agricultural products to boost demand amongst local consumers and tourists, and increase in sale and dignity of labour within farming communities.

  • Training and equipping the farmers with technological innovations that help them monitor weather events, precipitation, soil moisture, acidity etc.

  • Conduct awareness work around traditional fisheries and farming, particularly among the youth, to encourage future input into sustainable food production systems while providing income and dignity to the youth.

  • Ensure appropriate funding for the repair and maintenance of khazans and ensure they are protected from encroachment and infrastructure development.

  • Create an action plan to restore soil and its microbial diversity. Soil in agrarian ecosystems has been heavily degraded and eroded and it has been shown that soil degradation causes major losses in agriculture.

  • Ensure that local production of fresh food meets at least 20% of the state's consumption. The covid lockdown laid bare Goa’s reliance on imports for almost all of its food and highlighted the need for a more self sufficient system.

  • Develop and implement a strategic plan in consultation with farming and all relevant stakeholders for adapting to identified and future threats to these systems, particularly from climate change and development. The above should include compensatory schemes and plans for agricultural losses due to climate disasters, changing weather patterns, soil/water degradation etc.

  • Set up village level co-operatives / farmer collectives that will allow farmers and small producers to sell local produce daily.


Human Settlements

Goa’s urban spaces are rapidly expanding and engulfing thriving biodiverse ecosystems that offer immense potential for a healthy quality of life and resilient ecologies that can help combat climate change. Unplanned expansions have burdened waste management systems and created rising water issues across the state. We demand:

  • Create climate resilience plans specific to each town/city that prioritise the protection of urban natural habitats and include flood and storm mitigation strategies.

  • Restore and revive natural ecosystems in urban areas such as forests, wetlands, mangroves and ponds to help combat climate change effects in the coming years while also providing recreation spaces for citizens to engage, learn and interact with their local ecology.

  • Goa’s proposed 100% Renewable Energy Plan should have a legal timeline, implementing agency, and specific goals and budgets for community solar projects, solarising public buildings and creation of subsidies for homes and offices to transition to solar.

  • Affordable public transport such as electric buses should be prioritised so as to allow youth and working people to commute easily.

  • Goa’s focus should be on decentralised waste management and recycling with the objective of 96% landfill diversion and maximum resource recovery. Every village and municipal ward should be self-sufficient in terms of having local, well operated integrated waste management units. This will feed into a larger MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) and aggregation centre or hub for dry waste.

  • Create an efficient biomedical waste management system for Goa

  • Panchayats and municipal councils must meet their targets for immunising and sterilising stray dogs and cats and ensure the welfare of these community animals. This will minimise disease risks to both human and wildlife populations.

  • Create an affordable housing system that opens the housing market to young people.

  • Identify heritage homes, areas and villages. Create a government fund to support the restoration and maintenance of heritage homes and local architecture.

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Society

Nature and society are tightly linked and recent research suggests that inequality can have large impacts on the environment. Hence, ensuring that society is equitable will not just improve the quality of life of citizens but also of our environment. In India and Goa, developmental trajectories over the last 20 years have increased inequality and created a system where a few people hold much of the wealth and power in society.

Using the One Health concept is a useful way of reimagining development. The concept focuses on the integration of human, animal and environmental health and acknowledges that each of these parts is dependent on the other. For example, the COVID pandemic is directly linked to environmental exploitation and degradation. Hence, for the health of society we must protect and revive nature and for the protection of the environment we must tackle societal issues such as unemployment, inequality and healthcare issues. We demand:

  • End all mining and extractive industries in the state and create a fund to account for illegal mining activities to be used to compensate and provide welfare to those individuals most adversely affected by the impacts of mining, particularly through negative health impacts and loss of employment.

  • Creating vocational and technical courses relating to the environment and sustainability and encouraging young Goans to enter this growing sector. Employment generation through the renewable energy sector should be prioritised. This could include transitioning jobs from the coal sector to the solar sector.

  • Working with local and indigenous experts, commit the updating, development and implementation of curriculum content relating to environment and climate change in schools, colleges and universities.

  • Develop a robust, high-quality public healthcare and education system which can nurture the state to its full potential. This safety net must adequately provide for local, and marginalised communities like SC/ST/OBC/Transgender peoples who are most vulnerable to environmental degradation and the climate crisis.

  • Introduce a living wage for all workers which allows for the person to afford a dignified life including adequate access to shelter, safe drinking water, good healthcare and education. A living wage is separate from a minimum wage in that it accounts for the true cost of living and takes into account the quality of life of the recipient. The living wage would have a significant impact on reducing inequality in the state.

Governance

Our demands can only be met from a system of governance that is transparent, collaborative and accountable. Environmental awareness and climate justice are now essential components for future policies that must be science-based and informed by experts post which there are avenues of active accessible spaces for citizens to participate as stakeholders. Infrastructure projects, in particular, should be informed by effective environmental assessments with representation from local experts and citizens' participation locally as an added check over and above national intervention.

  • People will be consulted on all issues pertaining to governance. Government authorities shall be fully transparent and accountable to the people. All applications, permissions, decisions and meeting minutes shall be uploaded on government websites without delay [Source: People’s Manifesto for Goa 2022].

  • There must be a multi-level system that safeguards natural ecosystems which starts with strengthening panchayat level biodiversity and youth committees and also includes effective oversight mechanisms in the form of citizen-expert led committees that include civil society and other relevant stakeholders.

  • Strongly oppose changes to the Forest Conservation Act, the recently proposed CRZ 2021 rules and draft EIA 2020. These changes risk severely diluting protection of many sensitive ecosystems across the state.

  • Implement the State Climate action plan and the Circular economy framework that should be overseen by citizen-expert committees in consultation with all relevant governmental departments.

  • The Regional Plan 2021 has mapped all the eco-sensitive zones in Goa of forests, steep slopes, fields, orchards, mangroves, waterbodies, etc. Changes in clause 16B of the Town Planning Act and the new Outline Development Plans (ODPs) are attempting to allow for land use changes, most of which are in eco-sensitive zones. These shortsighted attempts must be halted with immediate effect rather than a post facto clearance methodology. In addition, the RP and the ODP's must be updated through detailed Local Area Plans at the ward level.

What can you do?

Goa’s Green Manifesto is a call to action and a collective demand from the young people of Goa for an active response to the climate crisis and towards the future well-being of the population. We strive to safeguard and create a Goa that future generations can thrive in. Our expectation is that political leaders use this document as a blueprint to create and deliver on plans that focus on mitigation of the impacts of climate change, ensuring resilience, equity and social justice. These steps must include further consultation with citizens, civil society and experts.

The people of our state have the will, the knowledge and skills to create a model that is rooted in local indigenous ways of caring for the environment while innovating to address the challenges we face. We believe that Goa can set an example for the rest of the country and the world.

Now that you have read through this document, what is it that you can do?

Endorse Goa's Green Manifesto

If you are a member of the public who supports this vision:

If you represent a youth group, environmental group, NGO or civil society organisation, or if you are a professional or activist endorse the manifesto here:

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