I didn’t think that what started as a personal quest 15 years ago would grow into an environmental movement supported by people around the country. In 2008, I cycled from Kolkata to New Delhi, which inspired and sparked the impetus for a fifteen-year journey of serving and strengthening communities through clean energy, sustainable living, and a commitment to climate action. Today, in the face of a devastating climate crisis, I am embarking on a similar ride to celebrate and inspire climate action, as a reminder of the work we’ve done so far and the work we have yet to do.
This morning, I stood by my cycle in front of Science City and thought about the people in the 80 other cities who committed to going on a cycle ride this morning, in solidarity with building a movement fueled by our collective interest in sustainable climate action. As I rode through the East Kolkata Wetlands, I could feel the difference in the air quality compared to being in the heart of the city. There wasn’t the familiar crush of cars and air stagnant with exhaust and pollution. Instead, I allowed myself to imagine a Kolkata with a vibrant public transport system that encourages its citizens to engage with safe and sustainable modes of travel, whether it’s cycling or hopping on the metro. This city relies on people commuting and transporting goods on cycles – cycling through Central Kolkata alongside members of the newspaper unions is a testament to that – and they deserve safe roadways. Beyond that, I could imagine a Kolkata where sustainable mobility also meant having clean air that allowed each of us to breathe deeply and live healthier lives, which goes to the heart of why SwitchON Foundation initiated the Move for Earth movement.
This Move for Earth movement is a pursuit to offer solutions to community-specific issues that are directly impacting the livelihood and health of citizens. The campaign aims to unite and amplify the collective voice of Climate Champions, equip communities with key tools, resources, skills, and create a networked ecosystem for them to be the ambassadors of change.
Tomorrow marks the start of a much longer ride than today. I can feel the excitement and anticipation for what this journey holds for me and our communities as we continue to explore and inspire solutions to the climate crisis. Today, it is India coming together for a bike ride, bringing attention to the urgent climate crisis we are all experiencing. In September, we’re taking this movement global.