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Green Hub: Empowering Rural Youth To Tell The Story

Description: 

In the North-East Region (NER) of India, Green Hub trains local youth - rural and urban, to use digital media to tell stories about wildlife, the environment and indigenous knowledge. The project is an innovative, collaborative initiative of the North East Network (NEN) http://www.northeastnetwork.org/,and Dusty Foot Productions (DFP) http://www.dustyfootindia.com/. Green Hub is the first youth and community-based fellowship and video documentation center (digital archive) working to conserve wildlife, environment and indigenous knowledge in the NER.The project aims to (1) create alternate livelihood opportunities for the youth; (2) engage and empower the youth and community in biodiversity conservation; (3) trigger ideas and actions to ensure a more socially equitable and ecologically sustainable future; (4) build a video resource knowledge centre on biodiversity and conservation for sharing learning.

Green Hub offers one year of training and internship in video documentation and storytelling to local youth, especially from marginalized communities. Participants document local flora, fauna and indigenous knowledge and prepare videos about these resources. Through the fellowship they also get a first hand exposure to the conservation work happening on the ground. Through the video stories and community screenings, the idea is for local communities to begin a dialogue, to conserve biodiversity and ensure a more socially equitable and ecologically sustainable future for the region. The project creates alternative income generating opportunities for youth, which often result in long-term employment. Green Hub is successfully building a network of empowered individuals from different states and communities, replacing conflict with convergence, and transcending borders and barriers, language and identity.

Problem, challenge or context: 

This best practice addresses Aichi Biodiversity Target One, which states,‘By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.’We showcase how Green Hub is using innovative communication strategies to engage youth and local communities in biodiversity conservation and natural resource management, while training them for alternative livelihood opportunities.

Specific elements of components: 

The NER, which spans eight states, is one of the most biologically diverse regions in India. It has a large number of flora and fauna, and is recognized as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. New species are regularly discovered. The region is also home to hundreds of indigenous communities that have a rich cultural heritage. Due to the lack of industry and infrastructure, the region’s youth have few opportunities. The NER’s 12% unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country, against the national average of 7.7%. Community life in the NER is closely linked to nature, and capital in the form of natural resources is widely available. However, lack of opportunities to earn income from other sources reinforces the idea of earning cash by selling forests, land, wild meat and other natural resources.

The action taken: 
The purpose of Green Hub is to engage, and empower local youth and the community to innovatively conserve biodiversity in the NER. The Green Hub project started in December 2014 and is managed by theNorth-East Network (NEN) and Dusty Foot Productions (DFP). NEN addresses women’s rights in the north-east region.It has extended its work in natural resource management, as NEN sees women and youth as critical to the conservation of biodiversity and the preservation of traditional practices. DFP is a film and communication resource agency working across India, with a special focus on video documentation and educational projects related to wildlife, environment and human-biodiversity issues. DFP has worked on NER video documentation projects since 2002.


Green Hub uses visual mediums to renew and deepen the local communities respect and understanding of natural resources. Video documentation is a very important tool that is used to record the state of biodiversity in the region. The Green Hub project also aims to deepen the engagement of communities in the preservation of natural resources. It enables young Green Hub Fellows to become keepers of traditional knowledge systems, articulate spokespersons for biodiversity conservation, and connectors. They are encouraged to reach out to the community and to connect with other conservation organizations. Annually, through a three-stage application process, 20 fellows are selected from across the NER, with preference given to youth from remote and marginalized communities. Fellows must make a 12-month commitment for training and internship. The selection criteria include: male or female between 18-40 years of age; NER resident; strong communication skills in atleast one local language; high school graduate; and a strong desire to work with communities to conserve biodiversity. There is space for special applicants with strong conservation background who may not have formal educational qualification. Training begins with a two-and-a-half months residential program with sessions undertaken by well-known resource persons specializing in conservation filmmaking, as well as lectures by conservationists, biologists and experts in the field. The training is interactive, practical and field-based. The training curriculum has been developed with the help of wildlife & environment specialists in filmmaking, and subject-matter experts and field guides in wildlife biology, anthropology, social and development work, and government. A training manual is being developed, with chapters that combine field-based knowledge and filmmaking. Post-training, the Green Hub fellows intern for 10-months and receive a monthly stipend of INR 4000 (USD 60). They video-document the projects and activities of the NGOs, community groups and government organizations that they are placed with, and focus on work in the environmental and indigenous knowledge management fields. The fellows organize the footage into short capsules. The video capsules are showcased at community screenings and the Green Hub Festival. Green Hub is also engaging with academic institutions to take the stories from grass-roots into the classrooms. Green Hub also provides an opportunity to its interns to seek employment using their new skill set and facilitate their ideas on conservation projects.


 


Green Hub’s future goals are to:


  1. strengthen the connect among individuals, groups and organizations working in conservation across the NER;
  2. become a key archive of video material on the region’s biodiversity;
  3. become self-sufficient through innovative social enterprises, such as selling the videos, branding educational products, hosting eco-journeys, selling memberships, renting its work station.
Key lessons learned: 

Green Hub is successfully connecting youth with income generating opportunities while changing their perspective issues related to conservation and sustainable natural resource management. To be effective, a communication platform should be designed around and cater to the needs of the community the project is working within. In the next phase of the project, Green Hub will support communities and individuals to develop sustainable businesses or conservation plans.

Impacts and outcomes: 

In its first year of operation, Green Hub received 136 applications from seven Indian states. In 2015, nineteen fellows were selected for academic training and internships, comprising two girls and 17 boys. The 2015 interns completed 50 stories.The subject-matter ranged from human elephant conflict, to community conservation areas, to traditional weaving and medicinal plants. The project has developed a digital archive of 500 species of birds, mammals and amphibians. The archive also stores records of indigenous music, dance, rituals and handicrafts. The digital archive supports research and learning and will be connected with at the national and global repositories. Green Hub acts as a business and conservation idea incubator. Green Hub also builds the employability of its fellows in the fields of video documentation and conservation. At the end of the internship, eight fellows went back to their respective organizations with a new skill-set, four fellows formed their own company with the aim to work on conservation projects, one began work as a research and video assistant, and three are at Green Hub as training assistants. In 2016, a three-day “Green Hub Festival” was held to connect the 2015 and 2016 Green Hub fellows with conservationists, community members, media professional, and civil society organizations, working in the field of biodiversity conservation. The festival featured presentations on topics that were taught to the fellows during their training, community dialogues, and premieres of videos developed by Green Hub fellows. Green Hub Festival connected aid organizations working in the region with remote tribal, marginalized communities and urban cities. The Fellows felt a sense of ownership in the process and the stakeholders recognized their work. For the new batch, the Festival was a good initiation into the training and a great place to connect with the earlier batch.

Contact details: 
.Rita Banerji, Project Director, Green Hub (NEN - DFP) Email: ritabanerji@gmail.com Ph: 9810250260 2. Imrana Khan, Project Manager, Green Hub (NEN - DFP) Email: imranarkhan@gmail.com Ph: 9871014089
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Language: 
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