Been a part of the ICLEI family since 2012, Meesha is an Architect Planner by Profession with specialization in Catchment Management. Here at ICLEI South Asia she has been working closely with cities in the water sector and has previously worked extensively in the urban sector for preparation of City Development Plans.
What has your contribution to city governments been through ICLEI?
I have been working with cities in Rajasthan and Maharashtra towards Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM). It came to light that in some of these cities, stakeholder workshops under the European Commission funded IUWM Project were the first time that stakeholders from the various water sector departments and organizations were interacting with each other. Involving citizen groups and NGOs in the decision making process is also rare in some of these cities and this, I believe, is the starting point for integration in Indian cities. The State and Central government are also involved in this process and are given timely updates on the project activities, issues and findings from the cities. My experience of working with cities has highlighted that cities are definitely interested in onsite implementation and demonstration projects to show how alternative approaches can be implemented on ground. ICLEI provides to all these cities, a platform to undertake such demonstration projects.
How has your experience of working with ICLEI been so far?
In the planning sector, the association with cities is confined to the individual projects that one is doing and hence there is a strong probability that one might not be able to pursue further work in the project city after the project is over. ICLEI, however, provides a platform for a long term continued association with cities which provides the opportunity to develop a closer relationship and actually handhold them towards sustainable development.
What, according to you, makes ICLEI a great place to work at?
I have always wanted to work towards sustainable management of water resources and catchment areas, commonly known in India as watersheds. Indian cities are sourcing water from increasing distances without realizing the long term repercussions in terms of competing uses, pollution and negligence of rural stakeholders who are the real owners of these water resources. Through ICLEI, I now have a platform where I can work towards Integrated Urban Water Management and Catchment Management by involving the city level stakeholders. It is a challenging task, especially to change the mindset of the stakeholders, but as they say ‘If not now, then when?’