As a person hailing from the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, I have automatically grown to be very close to nature as I knew no other way. As a kid, I remember going back to my village to visit my grandparents during summer vacations—fetching water from the nearby stream, plowing fields, fetching fodder for our cattle and firewood for cooking, and collecting wild fruits from the nearby forests—my most cherished memories. I always thought this to be the ‘normal way’ of living until I started to realize the ‘changes’ around me—going long distances to fetch water, barren fields, and no cattle! I did not understand these ‘changes’ as a child but as I grew up, I became more aware of my surroundings, about the environmental crisis we are in the middle of.
Being a huge lover of nature, the outdoors, and especially mountains, I had no choice but to opt for studying Geography in my Bachelor’s and Master’s. I still remember very clearly when the Kedarnath flash floods happened in 2013. At that time I was in my Bachelor’s third year. I was back in my village with my family in Uttarakhand and remained stuck there for almost two weeks. When we finally managed to arrange a taxi to go back home, all along the way I saw how much damage the continuous heavy rains had caused—the fields were flooded, the crops were damaged, roads were blocked by mudslides and landslides, and taxis and buses carrying corpses on the roofs all wrapped in white cloth. It was complete havoc and a fearful journey back home. The impact was this incident was huge on me that I did my Master’s thesis on the 2013 Kedarnath flash floods which involved assessment and analysis of the causes (natural and anthropogenic), impacts (economic, environmental and socio-cultural), and post-disaster rehabilitation, reconstruction, and management programs in Kedarnath town. Having experienced the implications of changing climate on the lives and livelihoods of my own community, along with the occurrence of various extreme disasters, such as the 2013 Kedarnath flash floods, the theme of climate change, women in the midst of changing climate scenarios, and sustainability are really close to me.
I am currently a Ph.D. Student and a part-time Teaching Assistant at CEN Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, University of Hamburg, Germany with a research focus on climate change adaptation through sustainable livelihoods of marginalized communities in the high-altitude regions in Indian Himalayas. Considering the fragility and inaccessibility of high altitude Himalayan regions, my research also prioritizes the importance of combining both qualitative and quantitative research methods into climate change studies to further plan efficient adaptation strategies to mitigate the impacts of future changes of climate on such communities. Furthermore, my future vision is to transform my Ph.D. research into practice—by creating a sustainable business social enterprise model, more like a climate adaptation strategy for community empowerment and ecological restoration in the Himalayas.
More recently, I have been selected as one of the 80 Youth Ambassadors selected from all across the world to participate in the International Antarctica Expedition (November 2021), a 12 days ‘Leadership of the Edge’ program by the 2041 Foundation to promote awareness about climate change, sustainability, and renewable energy use—a dream come true for me! The Expedition to the ‘last great wilderness on Earth’ is led by Polar Explorer, Sustainability Champion, Environmentalist and the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Youth, Robert Swan OBE—the first person in history to walk to both Earth’s poles, alongside Barney Swan and Jeff Bonaldi. The Expedition’s mission is to inform, engage and inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, be sustainable, and know that now is the time for action in policy development, sustainable business generation, and future technologies.
For me to take part in this Expedition, I need to raise approximately 21,400 USD (18,000 €). I hope to pay for as much of this as I can out of my pocket, however, I would need support from you to pay the final funds. Any donation given to this campaign- big or small- will help me immensely and will be appreciated!
Deepika Rawat did her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Geography from Miranda House and Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, respectively. Before starting her Ph.D. research in Germany, she worked for a short time as an Associate with Azim Premji Foundation. She has previously worked and volunteered with various national and international NGOs such as the Centre for International Projects Trust- Columbia Water Centre (India office), Pravah, GVNML, Kids Care Campus e.v). She is also an Alumni of Climate-KIC, the European Union’s largest climate innovation initiative and the world’s largest summer school supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. She is currently also leading an ongoing multi-country environmental awareness campaign ‘The Faces of Tomorrow’ (supported by Climate-KIC) project focusing on spreading awareness regarding the positive impacts of sustainable living through storytelling and educating people on various related environmental issues. Alongside, I am also working as Social Media Strategist at a storytelling creative podcast ‘No Place Green Enough’ (supported by Climate-KIC & 350.org) that blends the art of creative tales and real-life events to shed light on major global issues related to climate, human rights, health, environment, economic development, and more.