On Saturday, a duo of teenage brothers from India won global children’s award for fighting against pollution from household waste in New Delhi. This has given inspiration to world leaders to act against climate change and pollution.
The duo Vihaan, aged 17 years, and Nav Agarwal, aged 14 years, have developed such an initiative that segregates recyclables, and from thousands of houses, they have organized pickups for trash.
Vihaan and Nav Agarwal have received the 2021 KidsRights international Children’s Peace Prize for developing and organizing this kind of initiative.
Delhi, being recently ranked worst in the world for its air quality which keeps degrading due to stubble burning and other substances, the award cited the duo’s courage and commitment towards this initiative against pollution.
In order to protect citizens from the toxic smog, a one-week closure of schools was announced in Delhi on Saturday, and considered it a “pollution lockdown”.
Both Vihan and Nav Agarwal are influenced and follow the steps of previous winners, including Pakistani education campaigner & Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist.
On Saturday, at a ceremony in The Hague, Kailash Satyarthi, Indian Nobel Peace laureate, a children’s rights activist who jointly won the Nobel prize with Malala in 2014, presented the siblings with the prize that is run by Dutch-based KidsRights foundation.
Delhi’s poor air quality while growing up had affected asthmatic Vihaan’s health and had also compromised his ability to play outdoor games, the siblings said.
The incident of collapse of Ghazipur landfill site in 2017, which caused two human lives and pollution increase, was the spark of inspiration behind their ” one step greener” initiative,
Vihaan said their thought process regarding this is that the waste shouldn’t pile up somewhere and should not become a reason for pollution increase.
When asked about what they would say to the World Leaders at the COP26 summit reaching its climax in Glasgow, Vihaan said their message would be that they need to act while so many teenagers act around the world.
Vihaan also said that another message for them would be that they shouldn’t come in the way of these young minds.
After this, while adding further, Nav said that all the young people should not fear climate change, they just need to take that one step, and they will realize how amazing it is that a single person, no matter what their age is, could change the world.
They started the project at home by separating recyclables from garbage, and it became a pile of trash; however, the recyclers said they wouldn’t collect such a small quantity of the trash. Thus, the duo started a WhatsApp group in their neighborhood, which made it made it worthwhile.
In 2018, they started the scheme with 15 homes, and now they have around 1,500 houses involved comprising of offices and schools.
The duo is also educating an estimated 50,000 young people around the country about recycling with the help of social media with a curriculum in Hindi and English.