As part of the activities under the ongoing INTERACT- Bio project, a two experts from the ICLEI Africa Secretariat- Dr. Ingrid Coetzee and Dr. Ernita Van Wyk made a week-long visit to India in the first week of July. Detailed discussions on the project work plan, activities and deliverables were carried out with the ICLEI South Asia team. During the joint discussion, the experts were also appraised about the issues pertaining to biodiversity conservation in India as well as the existing governance mechanism, legal framework and regulations existing in the country. A discussion was carried out with Dr. Amita Prasad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Dr. Sujata Arora, Scientist, MoEFCC during this visit. They were updated by the ICLEI South Asia project team on the project and discussed their vision for the project.
The expert team also visited Kochi, the project model city. Meetings were carried out with a wide range of stakeholders (scientists, college teachers, councillors, administrators and corporates) to understand the present situation in Kochi, identify gaps and look into possible ideas of projects and collaborations. Mrs. Soumini Jain, Mayor of Kochi extended her full support to the project stressing on the importance of the project in the city. The team was also informed that the Town Planning Committee of Kochi Municipal Corporation has given their approval to the project. The City Council will also be discussing the project so that the MoU with the city can then be signed. A site visit to Mangalavanam, a mangrove forest in the heart of Kochi city was also carried out along with visit to the city to have a look at the canals, which are blocked now but were once the lifeline of Kochi. The visit to the model city thus led to developing a better understanding of the scenario in Kochi through interactions with stakeholders along with site visits to some areas of high biodiversity and ecosystem service significance.