Young climate activist Soumya Ranjan Biswal from Odisha needs no introduction. One of the six UN India YuWaah Advocates by the United Nations (UN) in India, Biswal has been at the forefront of a mission to protect Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. He will attend ‘Dharitri Youth Conclave 2022 on Climate Change: The Power of Youth’ to be held in Bhubaneswar, November 24 as an expert panellist.
It was in August 2022 when young climate activist Soumya Ranjan Biswal was appointed as one of the six UN India YuWaah Advocates by the United Nations (UN) in India.
A resident of Astaranga in Puri district, Biswal, who has been at the forefront of a mission to protect Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, was selected as a part of the cohort for his work towards saving the endangered sea turtles and restoration of mangroves, salt marshes and sand dune plants on Odisha’s coastline.
About half of the world’s population of Olive Ridleys comes to the Odisha coast for nesting. While Rushikulya and Gahirmatha are better known and hence are better protected, Devi river mouth does have that advantage. It is being degraded, thanks to the increasing pollution levels and steady decline in the number of mangrove plants in the coastal stretch over the years due to several reasons.
The 25-year-old green crusader has been voluntarily raising the mangroves near the stretch of Devi river mouth with the help of the local community. Locally known as Rai, Harakancha, Sundari, Bani, Guan and Keruan, these plants are integral to the coastal habitat and livelihood of local fishermen.
Biswal, who was one among the United Nation’s 17 young climate leaders from India in September 2021, said they have been doing this voluntarily as their livelihood depends on the sea and the habitat around it. Besides, these plants will grow up to provide a habitat for both avian and marine lives, he believes.
The young environmentalist has established Odisha Paryavaran Sanrakshan Abhiyan (OPSA) – a voluntary organisation that has been focusing on conservational issues of regional importance.
A few years back, Soumya and his friend Dilip undertook a 1,200 km cycle journey in Odisha, dressed as Olive Ridleys, to create awareness about protecting the endangered turtles.