The Nepal Festival and Forum on Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Action 2023, held from December 15th to 17th at the Nepal Tourism Board Auditorium (NTB) and National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in Kathmandu, marked a significant milestone in environmental discourse and awareness in the region.
This ground breaking event was a collaborative effort spearheaded by CMS VATAVARAN in partnership with the 15 different stakeholders working for the conservation at local and global levels including the Ministry of Forests and Environment of the Government of Nepal,International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), Canadian High Commission in Nepal, IUCN Nepal National Committee (NNC), WWF Nepal, ZSL Nepal, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ), Environmental Rights Network-Nepal, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) India, Human Rights Film Centre Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board, Kathmandu University, Nepal Youth Network for Sustainable Development (NYN) and the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN).
The festival's primary objective was to foster a deeper understanding and dialogue on the pressing issues of climate change and biodiversity conservation. It aimed to engage and educate a diverse audience, including policymakers, environmentalists, students, and the general public, through a series of film screenings, workshops, panel discussions, and training programs.
The program began with an inaugural ceremony presided over by His Excellency Mr Birendra Prasad Mahato, Hon. Minister of the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal and followed by a series of panel discussions, film screenings, seminars, Impact Film making workshops.
The inaugural Ceremony featured notable guests such as His Excellency Mr Cameron MacKay, Canadian Ambassador to Nepal; Dr Deepak Kumar Kharal, Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal; Dr. Dindo Campilan, IUCN Asia Regional Office Regional Director; Mr. Sean Southey, Commission Chair, IUCN CEC; and Dr. P N Vasanti, DG, CMS and IUCN CEC Regional Vice Chair for South and Southeast Asia.
In a significant moment of the festival, the 'Nepal CMS VATAVARAN Green Ambassadors Award' was bestowed upon Ms Prabha Kumari Chaudhary and Mr Surya Bhattrai. This award served to acknowledge and honour their remarkable grassroots contributions to environmental conservation. Both Ms. Chaudhary and Mr. Bhattrai have exemplified exceptional dedication and efforts in their respective fields, playing pivotal roles in advancing grassroots environmental initiatives.
The festival successfully screened 12 international award-winning films, focusing on diverse environmental issues. Alongside the screenings, a drawing competition for the school children, the "Social Impact Filmmaking" workshop, the training program on "Accelerating Circular Economy and Sustainable Business” two short conversations on “Screening Sustainability: Using Film to Highlight Climate Change and Drive Change” and ‘’Climate Crossroads: Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Wildlife’’ and a panel discussion on ‘’Planetary Health: Balancing Nepal’s Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability” of were key components of the festival, drawing significant participation and engagement.
Several eminent speakers i.e. Mr Sean Southey (Chair for the Commission on Education and Communication (IUCN-CEC), Dr Ghana Shyam Gurung, Country Representative, WWF Nepal, Ms Roshani Adhikari, Chair of the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ), Dr Prahlad Kumar Thapa, prominent Agricultural Economist, Dr Chiranjibi Prasad Pokharel, Conservation Director, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Mr Amrit Devkota, Chairperson, Environmental Rights Network Nepal, Mr Surya Thapaliya, Manager, Nepal Tourism Board Dr P N Vasanti Rao (DG, CMS), Mr Sabyesachi Bharti (Deputy Director, CMS VATAVARAN), Mr Shyam Karki, Sr. Nepali Documentary Filmmaker and Mr Rakesh Rao, Sr. Environmental, Science and Conservation Filmmaker from India participated in it.
The festival succeeded in creating a platform for meaningful dialogue, knowledge exchange, and networking among various stakeholders. It highlighted the importance of collective action and the role of diverse sectors in addressing environmental challenges.