On an incredibly humid Thursday afternoon at the Vellore Institute of Technology, the oikos Asia Meet 2016 kicked-off. After an official welcome and some ice breakers, Anita Negri held a session on sustainability. The interactive and well-received session encouraged participants to think of sustainability from different perspectives and encouraged the audience to understand how to integrate it in their life. Anita’s session was followed by two oikos Vellore members who talked about the role of youth in making a difference for our world. The day closed off with a design reflection session where participants released their creativity to illustrate the day in an artistic manner. A full-on Indian dinner terminated the day.
The second day started with some interesting reflection sessions. Two Vellore members did a quick challenge with post-its to understand what the participants expected from the day that was about to unfold. Anita Negri spent some time with the participants on making them understand the integral working of oikos and also on opportunities for oikos members to advance with the great projects within our community. We then moved on to the first speaker of the day, Siddarth Menon introduced the concept of sustainable architecture in rural communities to the audience. By expressing his experience as a traveling architect he exposed participants to the different styles of sustainable architecture around India. After lunch, a roundtable session on sustainable and smart cities was held by Pavan Srinath. A trip to a rooftop solar farm and a star-gazing evening rounded off the second day.
The third day was all about entrepreneurship and sustainability. With the morning featuring Janina Keller from Swissnex and the founder and Alexie Seller and Arjun Bolangdy from Pollinate Energy. All speakers provided perspectives on how to have social impact through business in developing countries and comparisons with European initiatives. After lunch Saurabh Sawant brought an ulterior conservationist view on sustainability. His session gave a direct link into the Asia Meet Ideathon which challenged participants to look at local issues from an innovative perspective. In 2 hours three participant groups came up with ambitions and realistic solutions that local NGOs could directly implement. After the presentation and discussions with the panel of experts, participants were invited for a group photo. On the same evening the group moved by bus to Auroville, to reach early enough to see the sunrise of the fourth day.
In Auroville participants were exposed to a whole new manner of living and met the founders of two start ups, amongst which was a sanitary napkin startup which makes pads out of cotton. The Asia Meet concluded with a wonderful dinner in Pondicherry, over originally French food, participants thanked the organising team and returned home full with motivation to pursue the oikos journey further!
“I’m so glad you invited me to be a part of such a wonderful event to share my experiences and also learn fresh perspectives. It was superb to interact with the fantastic speakers & of course the students and it really amazes me what they are capable of still being in college. This was also a very enriching experience for me. Happy to know my talk was loved and appreciated, and I could bring in a fresh perspectives from a not so well understood ecologist point of view to the table.” – Saurabh Sawant