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'Losing our mango orchard inspired me to protect our planet'

Words by Smiley Team

You're reading Patrons of the Planet, a weekly series where we hear from climate heroes of the global south and the world’s indigenous communities. 

Growing up in the suburbs of Kolkata, eastern India, I loved to visit the mango orchard growing near our house. But over time, the green parts of the city gave way to high rise building. Eventually, property developers wished to replace the trees with concrete and tarmac. 

As a teenager, I campaigned with my friends to protect those trees. We gathered signatures from local people, asking the authorities to conserve this little plot of greenery. However, because we were young, nobody listened to us and sadly, the construction went ahead.

On a positive note, the experience taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten – you are most effective when you collaborate with others across different communities. 

[Read more: The climate campaigner empowering South Africans]

Losing the mango orchard only spurred me to work harder to protect our planet. Most crucially, it led me to join XR Affinity Network of Asia (XRana), an alliance of different environmental campaign groups that work with marginalised people at the forefront of climate activism.

To do this, XRana connects communities across the Global South, bringing them together to protect their land, nature and the planet. These are the people most impacted by climate change as well as the most active in trying to beat it. We use digital technology to build relationships between these diverse groups and strengthen them through collective thinking. 

[Read more: Carnival will unite people for the climate]

Whether it be Bangladeshi mining protesters or Ghanaian climate campaigners, we often find that these communities face similar issues. Through meeting one another, by sharing experiences and cultural knowledge, they can overcome obstacles, strengthen their different campaigns and more successfully confront the discrimination that puts their communities and nature at risk. 

Another thing I find is that these oppressed communities are the ones with the best knowledge of how to defend our planet. They practice organic farming or sustainable horticulture, they don’t consume as much plastic or energy and, as a result, they have a much lower carbon footprint than urban-dwelling office workers, for example.

It’s for this reason that I hope to amplify the voices of rural people, allowing others to learn essential skills, not just to protect life on earth, but also to see it thrive.

Patrons of the Planet is a weekly series to amplify the voices of heroes on the frontline of climate campaign work, as told to Blyth Brentnall. Every Tuesday, we meet individuals from the global south and indigenous groups who have risen above increasing adversity to support their communities, conserve nature and protect the planet for future generations.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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