Jyotsna Sara George

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I am an activist, campaigner and independent facilitator based out of Dharamshala, India. I have over 10 years experience in advocacy (grassroots and digital), community organising, facilitation, training and mentorship, strategic thinking/ planning and movement building.

I hold a Masters in International Development from Sciences Po, Paris and a Bachelors in Philosophy from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.

While I was Campaigns Director for Students for a Free Tibet’s India Office

(2013 - 2016), I conceived, strategised, designed a website for and launched the Tibet’s Rivers, Asia’s Lifeline campaign in 2015. I collaborated with environment activists from Tibet, Bangladesh, Thailand and India to organise the first international seminar on the damming crisis in Tibet.

As a Senior Campaigner for Climate Change and Air Pollution (2016 – 2020) with an issue-based digital campaigning organisation Jhatkaa.org, I lead the Save Aarey Forest campaign in collaboration with a citizen coalition Conserve Aarey Group. I coordinated the mobilisation of over 200,000 email signatures and phone calls to government officials, in conjunction with grassroots actions to protect the forest.

At present, I am part of a team developing digital tools to aid, decentralise and make accessible progressive campaigning for grassroots and online organisers.

Reclaiming Citizen Power to Reimagine Urban Spaces: Case Studies from Mumbai and Goa

There is an observable urgency with which grassroots groups are now organising to create impact as opposed to solely generating awareness around climate change. From occupying public spaces, to mobilising support on social media, by adapting strategies from global youth-led climate change organising, urban citizen-led agitations in India are articulating the systemic ways in which myopic urban development has exacerbated their lived experience of climate change.

Focusing on case studies from large-scale citizen-led campaigns in Mumbai and Goa, this presentation highlights the ways in which urban residents have countered specific aspects of climate change in coastal cities. A large part of Mumbai, built on reclaimed coastal land, is under severe threat of submergence. Haphazard infrastructure projects, drying up of traditional water ways and mangroves, and continued reliance on fossil fuel industries have led to drastic weather fluctuations and hazardous levels of air pollution. Propelled by experiences of respiratory illnesses and lifestyle changes, parents, young people and elders have mobilised to protect Mumbai's Green Lungs: Aarey forest. In Goa, in November 2020, over 5,000 citizens protested a massive road, railway and waterway coal transport proposal.

Immediate threats to their surrounding wildlife, livelihood, health and children's future activated residents to mobilise, grab media attention, pressure government officials and shame fossil fuel giants.

Tackling the climate crisis in Indian coastal cities is emerging as a personal struggle to reclaim agency in reimagining urban spaces as living, green, and sustainable spaces.

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