Mumbai conference addresses India’s emerging waste crisis

The project team in Mumbai, including Ohio State and the U.S. Consulate General

Through the efforts of Ohio State and the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai, more than 400 professionals from the private and public sectors met to consider innovative possibilities to manage waste in India – a problem that poses profound environmental and economic ramifications for the country.

“India faces daunting challenges due to escalating municipal and industrial waste driven by urbanization, population increase, and economic growth,” said Joseph Fiksel, executive director of the Sustainable and Resilient Economy program, a branch of Ohio State’s Discovery Themes initiative. “This conference represents an opportunity to stimulate innovation in the field of waste management so that India can continue to grow in a sustainable manner. At the same time, it provides a strong platform for further engagements in India on sustainability-related activities and could be a model for similar events in other countries.”

A key goal of the conference, held April 17-18 in Mumbai, was to initiate collaborative networks among individuals and organizations in the United States, India and South Asia to explore ways to build on conventional and new waste management concepts. The consulate has established a seed capital fund to invest in promising initiatives, such as innovative waste reduction or avoidance technologies and practices. Ohio State will award and monitor the grants over the next year.

“In India and the United States, it’s a critically important challenge for cities and governments to manage waste in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner,” U.S. Consul General Tom Vajda said. “The conference will provide a platform to explore American and global best practices and find inventive solutions to address local needs.”

The U.S. keynote speaker was Prof. Rattan Lal of Ohio State, who stressed the urgent need for solutions. Subsequent breakout sessions focused on topics such as best practices in municipal operations, innovations in waste avoidance and elimination, and perspectives of waste management entrepreneurs and government policymakers.

The conference was coordinated with the help of Ohio State’s Mumbai Gateway Office in conjunction with the India Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Tags: Sustainable and Resilient Economy, waste, India, Energy and Environment