Akhilesh AnilKumar - Primary Short-listed Nominee - Social Volunteer Awards 2021
An Avid environmental activist from India working in the field for the past 3 years who have engaged with and developed multiple social campaigns with varying degrees of impact. Co-Founded Bring Back Green Foundation, an NGO that works in different environmental conversation activities across Kerala and India. Youth Ambassador for Break Free From Plastic and a UN India Young Climate Leader who is also working towards a Sustainable and Gender Neutral Fashion Startup.
VOLUNTEERING FOR ME
Volunteering is how I got started into building my own organisation and how I build my personality and perspectives towards society. The journey of volunteering helped me learn and grow immensely. The opportunities it has provided and the spaces to network and expand was a key reason to fall in love with volunteering.
I have been a volunteer in multiple organisation for the past 3+ years. For each organisation and each role, it came with a different reason to pursue volunteering. For floods, it was a humanitarian concern required on an urgent basis, for my campaigns and works for plastics, it was the environmental concern. In all variations, the passion to volunteer came from the deep rooted cause to create a change in the immediate society and impact people.
Started volunteering with Helping Hands Organisation in 2018. I became their Campaign Manager and Social Media Manager. I managed their #Methechange State-Level campaign for my period of volunteering in the organisation. The campaign and its experience gave me the necessary skills for all the ventures I did going forward. Through the campaign, I had to manage events, hold meetings, take classes, etc. I started with my venture into climate advocacy and environmental protection activities around 3 years back. My first strong sense on need to protect nature came from a forest cleanup held in 2018 after the disastrous Kerala Floods. Of plastic straws I alone picked from the forest over a period of few hours gave me reason to bring about some change regarding this issue. I started a statewide campaign to curb plastic straws. I started a petition which reached 15,000 physical signatures and was submitted to the Chief Minister of Kerala to implement a plastic straw ban and encourage eco friendly businesses. This was welcomed well and shortly implemented, however it didn’t last long. During this period, I provided awareness classes to around 12,000 students, trade unions representatives and shopkeepers/ shop owners. The campaign also encouraged the biggest IT park in India, Techno Park to go plastic straw free for a day and provided alternative products. Seeing this campaign being a success, I encouraged business I worked part time at my university stint in Australia to use alternative products and tried to carry around the work. I dropped out from my University in Australia to work on ground in India regarding Environmental Conservation and started my own Non-Profit Organisation, Bring Back Green Foundation in late 2019. With the organisation, I have conceived and held multiple physical and digital conferences on various environment and sustainability associated issues. Through these conferences, have reached thousands and worked with speakers such as Kumi Naidoo (Former General Secretary, Amnesty International), Xiye Bastida, Isabel Weijsen, Vandana Shiva, Medha Patkar, Ashish Kothari, Rajendra Singh, etc. Have led and worked on research studies such as ‘Post-Covid Sustainability in various industries of Kerala’, ‘Coastal Erosion: Causes and Impacts on indigenous Communities’, etc. These have been submitted to the respective ministers and most have been considered or developed into government projects. Co-developed the Climate Curriculum and Climate Education program which is currently being considered by the Kerala Government. I have also headed the development of Climate Education Mobile Application for Bring Back Green and been part of various policy making projects submitted to the government. My organisation through its various channels have engaged with thousands of young people physically and virtually and have around 200+ registered volunteers working under it. During my time, I have personally engaged in many other activities pro-bono for other organisations. I currently also act as Youth Ambassador for Break Free From Plastic organisation. I am currently selected as one of the 17 UN INDIA YOUNG CLIMATE LEADER.
PROJECT Climate Education Project by Bring Back Green