Essay Title

A Journey of Awakening and Responsibility

The summer of 2023 found me on icy shores in Svalbard, with my face graced by the soft touch of a biting Arctic wind. Leading a scientific survey, the initial excitement gradually got replaced with a sense of revelation. The Arctic was not as I had imagined – there was only a little ice, but the weather was so warm that we could even wear short-sleeved shirts.


As I studied lichens, plants, and rock distribution along the coastlines, a clear symbiosis between humans and the environment developed. Nature’s largesse has much to do with the environment we find ourselves in. It provides us with food, shelter, and even mental peace. However, our actions are leading to ecological imbalance, disrupting ecosystems worldwide. The Arctic, once a beacon of pristine wilderness, now stands as a reminder of our unsustainable practices. This happened to be my first intimate encounter with the global climate conundrum. The Svalbard experience wasn’t just about exploring the Arctic wilderness; it actually let me into the very heart of the human-nature relationship.


My experience in the Arctic also brought out to me how powerful collaboration can be. Our team had to work in unison to surmount the varied challenges, just as humanity has to collaborate with nature to ensure our survival. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations embodies this spirit of collaboration, as it is an urgent call to action to change our ways and forge a symbiotic relationship with the environment.


The best part is that each one of us can make a difference in this mission. Small steps like reducing waste, saving water, and opting for local produce can create a huge impact at large. These are unexpectedly simple steps that require a major change in our mindset towards promoting sustainability. To me, the vision of such a world would be one where we have respected the balance in nature, and one integral part of that vision was taking part in the iGEM 2022 project. Our project aimed at creating a sustainable hydroponic system that could thrive in any weather conditions and sustain the life of plants. This was a small but meaningful step towards creating a sustainable world. However, it’s not just individuals or small groups that play a part in this more sustainable future. The role of authorities and organizations is equally important. Governments can impose stricter environmental laws, invest in renewable sources of energy, and encourage projects for sustainable development. Meanwhile, organizations can adopt greener practices and contribute to environmental conservation efforts.


Calling for challenging established ways and making tough choices, the journey to a sustainable world is no bed of roses. But as I stood on the shores of Svalbard, beholding the tangible impact of climate change before my very eyes, the truth grew upon me that inaction was simply not an option. The path may be arduous, but we must tread it. It’s not just about saving nature; it’s about ensuring our survival and leaving a habitable world for future generations.


Our relationship with nature is never one-sided. It is a delicate balance, a dance of give-and-take. We depend on nature for our survival and well-being, therefore the responsibility of protection lies with us. The Svalbard expedition was a true awakening to the consequences that can be brought about by our laxity in safeguarding a protective aspect that humanity requires for its existence. However, it also taught me that within us, we have the power to step up and take responsibility for our actions. As we stride towards a sustainable future, let’s all remember that every step counts. Let’s embrace the role of being custodians of nature and work tirelessly towards building a future where human beings can coexist with nature.


Photo Reference

Photo by Matheus Bertelli:

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