Indian student wins global youth video competition on climate change

Adarsh Prathap wins award at COP23 climate talks in Bonn for film highlighting the importance of mangroves
<p>Adarsh Prathap (left) after receiving the top award from Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture in Fiji and the country’s climate champion (centre) (Image by Joydeep Gupta)</p>

Adarsh Prathap (left) after receiving the top award from Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture in Fiji and the country’s climate champion (centre) (Image by Joydeep Gupta)

Many people know that the Sundarbans in southern Bangladesh and India are the largest mangrove forests in the world. However, fewer people know that India is also home to the world’s second largest mangrove forest – Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu.

This mangrove forest became famous – at least for a while – after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the Tamil Nadu coast. But in Pichavaram, the mangroves moderated the tsunami wave and protected 18 villages. Not a single life was lost and property damage was far less than elsewhere along the coast.

Adarsh Prathap, a 23-year-old Masters student at the college of agriculture in Vellayani, Kerala, had heard about this fortuitous outcome when growing up and decided that “we need to show mangroves to the world”.

In his short film ‘Let mangroves recover’, which won one of two prizes in the 2017 global youth video competition on climate change, Prathap underlines the importance of mangroves and shows how their conservation can save thousands of lives. Concluding with the line “sometimes nature is the only answer”, it sends a message about the significance of this ecosystem for saving the coastline and the people who live there.

The competition was launched by the UN Climate Change secretariat’s “Action for Climate Empowerment” initiative, in partnership with Television for the Environment (tve) and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said: “Our video competition is shedding a light on the many ways young people are working towards a low-emission future that is resilient in the face of climate impacts. Indeed, these films underline that young people are very much part of the action agenda across communities and countries.”

Seemingly oblivious to the weather as he walked up to the platform in his mundu (Keralan garment, like an ankle-length kilt) during the UN climate summit in Bonn, Prathap told that he wants to spend his life working with communities affected by climate change, especially documenting their struggles and successes.

He has already made a good start, having won the Ramsar youth photo contest in 2016 for his photographs of the wetlands near his college in Vellayani. Before that, he won the best on-spot film award at the National Science Film Festival in Kolkata.

His award-winning entry was shortlisted from 247 entries from 94 countries, all made by people between 18 and 30. It then won the top prize through an online poll.

“I want to keep making nature-related documentaries,” Prathap said. “Now I’m working with the Chola Nayaka people in Nilambur (northern Kerala) and I am planning a documentary on invasive species. Ultimately, I want to start a TV channel for climate change videos.”