Dr. Kapoor shared his thoughts at a session on Navigating the way forward post Covid-19 at the Big Conclave 6.0 organised by BIRAC on November 27-28,2020. The other panellists are as follows:

  • Dr. Ganesh Das, COO, Clean Energy International Incubation Centre
  • Dr. AK Panda, Director, National Institute of Immunology
  • Prof. Amit Kapoor, Honorary Chairman, Institute for Competitiveness
  • Dr. Shaon Ray Chaudhuri, Founder, Waste to Wealth Innovative Technologies LLP
  • Dr. Sanjiv Sambandan, Founder, Openwater.in
    Moderated by Dr. Mrutyunjay Suar, CEO, KIIT-TBI-BioNEST

Session Synopsis:

Whilst the Covid pandemic lockdowns at a meso level might have temporarily reduced

GHG emissions etc. causing aanthropause in global warming. The less reported flip side is that the outbreak has also provided cover for illegal activities such as deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, poaching in Africa, hindered environmental diplomacy efforts and created economic fallout that some predict will slow investment in green energy technologies at a macro level.

We in India need to rapidly develop and deploy technologies to resolve one of the country’s critical issues of balancing the economy with the environment. We explore the spectrum of breakthrough innovations in environmental engineering, clean energy space using biotechnology to mitigate environmental pollution like that is contributed by medical waste which needs better disposal management.

Key points of discussion:

PLASTIC POLLUTION: As a consequence of the unprecedented use of disposable face masks, a significant number of masks were discarded in the natural environment, adding to the worldwide burden of plastic waste.During COVID-19 pandemic, plastics demand for medical usage has increased considerably in some countries. Besides personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, rapid diagnostic testing kits (RDT), a considerable increase in plastic usage has been related to requirements packaging, and single-use items. Collectively, these shifts in hospitals and regular life exacerbate environmental issues with plastics through haphazard disposal, which already existed even before the pandemic occurred.

Which recycling technologies / strategies can be developed to manage municipal solid waste and biomedical waste in a significantly more environmentally sustainable manner ?

How can materials engineering driven technologies work to develop products and services which are environmentally sustainable?

DIMINISHING GREEN DEALS: Despite a temporary decline in global carbon emissions, the International Energy Agency warned that the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may prevent or delay companies and others from investing in green energy. Others cautioned that large corporations and the wealthy could exploit the crisis for economic gain in line with the Shock Doctrine, as has occurred after past pandemics.

What are the emerging cleantech innovation platforms that can disrupt the market and given the above mentioned scenario in the global business world.

How can startups in this space seize this opportunity [of the COVID-19 recovery] to develop and deploy technologies in a way that best benefits people and the planet ?

What are your recommendations on related measures to startups and investment community for sustainability-oriented socioeconomic recovery from the pandemic on global and national levels using technological intervention ?

© 2021 Institute for Competitiveness, India

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