Image Courtesy: Ministry of Jal Shakti

The United Nations (UN) has recognized Namami Gange initiative to rejuvenate India’s sacred River Ganga as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships to revive the natural world. The Award was received by Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General, Namami Gange at a function in the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada on 14th December 2022, the World Restoration Day.

Namami Gange was selected from over 150 such initiatives from 70 countries across the globe. They were selected under the banner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global movement coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It is designed to prevent and reverse the degradation of natural spaces across the planet. The recognized initiatives, including Namami Gange, will now be eligible to receive UN support, funding or technical expertise.

Shri Kumar also participated in a session in Montreal, Canada, organized by the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Youth Task Force during the occasion. Expressing his gratitude on behalf of the 1.35 billion people of India and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Kumar thanked the World Restoration Forum, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Food and Agriculture Organization for giving the honor to India by selecting Namami Gange in the top 10 restoration programs. He further conveyed,

This has come at a very opportune moment for us as India has taken over the Presidency of the G20 group of nations. While taking over the Presidency, our Prime Minister reinforced his commitment for the protection of environment ‘One Earth One Family One Future’ in the true spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

The announcement was made as leaders from across the globe gathered in Montreal, Canada for the UN Biodiversity Conference, where governments agreed to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has previously won the “Public Water Agency of the Year” in the Global Water Awards, 2019 by Global Water Intelligence 3. The documentary ‘Ganga: River from the Skies’ co-produced with National Geographic India, received awards under 3 categories- Best Documentary, Best Current Affairs, and Best Natural History or Wildlife Programme- in the Asian Academy Creative Awards, 2022.

About Namami Gange Programme

Namami Gange Programme was started in 2014 after Shri Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister after recognizing the need to rejuvenate River Ganga and committed over 5 billion dollars to ensure that the river gets clean. Ganga is important for India as it is home to 40% of India’s population, 2500 species of flora and fauna, and 8.61 billion sq. km. basin, which is home to over 520 million people. Ganga is also very important from a spiritual point of view.

NMCG adopted a holistic and multi-sectoral approach, which introduced innovative models for the comprehensive conservation of the riverine ecology and its health. The projects are designed to ensure that no untreated water- sewage or industrial effluent flows to the Ganga River. 176 STPs with the capacity to treat over 5000 million Litres per Day are being constructed. The concerted efforts of the Mission have resulted in significantly enhanced capacity for the treatment of sewage and industrial effluents in the Ganga basin; improvement in river water quality and biodiversity manifested as the increased population of Dolphins and their juveniles, Turtles, Otters, Gharials, and fishes like Hilsa; and over 30000 hectares afforested among others.

Praise for Namami Gange Programme

UNEP Executive Director Mr. Inger Andersen said: “The Namami Gange is an ambitious effort to rejuvenate the Ganga, a lifeline for millions of people in India. At a time when it is critical that we transform our exploitative relationship with nature, the positive impacts of this restoration cannot be underestimated.”

Mr. Qu Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, said: “FAO, together with UNEP, as co-lead of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is pleased to award the 10 most ambitious, visionary and promising ecosystem restoration initiatives as 2022 World Restoration Flagships. Inspired by these flagships, we can learn to restore our ecosystems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.”