17-Year-Old Ratna: “There’s No Earth B. Pay Attention to Climate Change”

By Udaye Kumar for Save the Children

Ratna Singh,17, is an author, environment activist, and student who has extensively worked in the areas of climate justice, climate change, and the preservation of our planet. She is also the founder of an organization named the Earth Safety Valve, she strives to create awareness around which seeks to inform and educate people about the conservation of the environment and sustainable development through the use of blogs, podcasts, interviews, and webinars.

Ratna also volunteers for Fridays for Future which is a youth-led international climate strike movement that strives to attain climate justice, besides being a dedicated climate warrior, Ratna holds the National record for being the youngest person to author a research paper, on the topic of harassment of women in the digital space. She also was the recipient of the IIA Award in 2021. Ratna has been a persistent advocate for the environment and has used her platform as a public speaker to educate the community about the dangers of global warming and how we as humans can protect the earth from any further destruction.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A productive day. As a student & activist, I have to work 10-12 hours a day. and various other things. So, completing 90% of my to-do list makes me happy. Before going to bed every day I calculate with whom, where & how I invested my 24 hours.

What is your greatest fear?
I am scared to die because somewhere I feel there is a lot that I need to do for the planet. I like to live each day like it is my last That’s why I keep reminding myself that maybe this is the last day & should live it for good. So, I just try to do everything that matters.

Which living person do you admire the most?
My parents. They are the backbone of my success & always stand by me through failures. They always encourage me to move forward. I’ll be very thankful for the lessons I got from them

Who is your favorite writer? Who is your favorite fictional hero?
I love reading & listening to Gulzar Sahab & Neelesh Mishra.

What do you value most in your friends?
Their support. Yes, by god’s grace I have got friends who meet the definition of good friendship. My friends are always ready to stand by me no matter what. Even when no one supports me in life, I have their support.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would want to be more patient and a better listener to others.

What inspired you to start your change-making journey?
My Mother inspires me the most. She completed her education after she got married despite resistance from people around her. Her determination inspires me. Since childhood, she has been motivating me to be a change-maker. Another person who inspires me is our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi.

Tell us more about the work you have done to transform change within your community

I was patriotic from a very young age. When I was in 10th grade, I made service to the nation through youth motivation my aim. Till 2019 and my 10th grade, I have to keep the youth motivated about the real problems of India. In 2021 during the pandemic, I wrote a research paper on Women’s Harassment. I had conversations with girls who have faced digital sexual harassment.

I then founded the Earth Safety Valve with youth networks in more than 10+ countries and facilitated conversations and discussions focusing on environmental education and sustainable development by writing blogs, podcasting, interviews, and webinar

Currently, I am working on a project with the Kids Right Foundation which aims to educate children in school about the impact of climate change. I have reached 175 students till now.

What is your most memorable change-making experience?
Once on a cloth bag distribution campaign with the Fridays for Future community where I met a street vendor, who told me that he prefers plastic bags to cloth bags because of the steep price difference and how government needs to step in to encourage people to stop using plastic. This made me understand that our responsibility is not just to create awareness but also to bring together multiple stakeholders and decision-makers to make a collective difference.

Why do you think climate change is an important crisis that everyone should care about?
Simply because there is no Earth “B”! The world is facing social, natural, economical, and mental problems and most of them link back to climate change.

If you were to write a UN agreement or standard operating procedure to combat climate change, what pointers would that agreement contain?
To achieve SDG 13, all Nations need to come together and work collectively. Nations to invest in environmental research and innovations. This will help to create more sustainable products and make them more affordable for those that can’t afford them. Nations must start producing new technology with negative or low green premiums. Replace current energy sources with clean and affordable technology alternatives. Reduce consumption of meat and encourage vegetarianism. Nations to take immediate action towards e-waste management & sustainability.

If you are appointed the Environment Minister of India, what changes would you bring to India’s policies to curb global warming?

Firstly, we are behind the time when it comes to climate action, Climate change is now real! the government must take immediate action on implementing the existing policies. As the minister, I would work hard to accomplish all seven Environmental policies. Apart from that, I would want to work on. Artificial intelligence for sustainability. Implementation of AI to tackle environmental matters. National clean air program. Building pollution control zones throughout the country. Ban the building of new coal-fired plants near the most polluted cities and put limits on driving non-electric cars in bigger cities. Proper construction of road & right traffic rules will cure noise & air pollution. Safeguard policy for sustainable sea Mining. Policy for reusing wasteland for construction and saving enough space to build alternative energy sources like – Solar plants, hydropower plants, wind energy, etc. Interlinking the water conservation policy & sustainable agriculture policy. To save water while farming.
Could you mention any specific points and ways by which could drastically stop the melting of glaciers, especially in the Arctic? What steps can we as citizens take to slow down the impact of climate change?

There are some extremely simple steps that we all can take. Conserve electricity & water, shift to public transport, use electric vehicles, and stop higher deforestation

The impact of climate change and global warming is immense and will affect the youth who are most vulnerable to this catastrophe, it also puts the flora and fauna around us in a precarious state. But, with young leaders and climate activists who are fighting the good fighting, we can be reassured that they will be the guardians of this planet. One such leader and activist are Ratna Singh, who is working towards a sustainable planet while also spreading awareness in the community in India. Her journey and her belief that we belong to the earth and that it is our responsibility to keep it safe motivates and generates hope in anyone she meets!

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