Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the New Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, is widely recognised as one of India’s most influential public interest research institutions working in the field of environment and development. CSE searches for solutions that reconcile economic development with environmental conservation; solutions that people, businesses and communities can implement themselves. CSE also pushes the government to create policy and frameworks in which people can act on their own.
Over the last 30 years, CSE has used its skills in information collection, collation, research, analysis and communication to drive change in both policy as well as practice. From publishing the Citizens’ Reports on the State of India’s Environment way back in the 1980s that helped initiate a nation-wide environmental movement and making rainwater harvesting a catchword in the 1990s, to pushing for stringent vehicular emission standards, introducing clean fuels to reduce urban air pollution, rating industries on environment performance and articulating the position (based on justice and equity) of the developing countries on climate change, CSE has challenged India to confront its problems and inspired it to take action. Change must be complemented by values and principles – the knowledge CSE generates is embedded within a set of principles which advocate social justice, respect for people’s knowledge and democracy.
Currently, CSE has focused its research and advocacy programmes to influence policy change on the following areas:
• Managing natural resources to address rural poverty
• Sustainable urban transport and air quality management
• Sustainable urban water and waste management
• Sustainable industrialisation
• Sustainable energy and climate change
• Food safety and environmental health • Green buildings
Since 2003, CSE has been involved in a training and education initiative; an investment made to build the capacities of young professionals, decision-makers and future leaders from different sections of the society to enable enhanced sustainable development practices. The aim is to use the multi-disciplinary perspective, knowledge and skills of CSE to build the capacities of powerful multipliers in society to bring about change.
CSE’s water and waste programme
CSE since its inception in 1980s has researched and advocated for policies that promotes sustainable and community-driven water/wastewater management practices.
CSE’s 4th Citizens’ Report on the State of India’s Environment– Dying Wisdom: Rise, fall and potential of India’s traditional water harvesting systems – gave this generation the catchword ‘Rainwater Harvesting’. This report, published in 1997, analysed and advocated community-led decentralised and traditional water management systems. The publication detailed the technological sophistication and marvel of water systems in the diverse ecosystems of India. It understood and explained how every region of the country had learnt to live with, indeed to celebrate, its water endowment by learning to value raindrop. In 2001, CSE published Making Water Everybody’s Business, outlining the practices and policies for sustainable water management.
After the publication of Dying Wisdom, CSE launched a campaign to popularise the idea of harvesting rainwater and began by undertaking model rainwater harvesting projects. Two of the most important model projects that CSE undertook were at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (undertaken at the invitation of the President of India) and at the Parliament of India (undertaken at the request of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha).
CSE also catalysed public and policy interest on rainwater harvesting by setting up a network of experts, publishing newsletters, setting up a technical advisory cell to help those interested to harvest rainwater. It also started training workshops for housing societies, engineers, consultants and trainers and published manuals in several regional languages to help catalyse further capacity building. Today, rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory in many cities across India and there are numerous state and central government schemes to motivate and facilitate citizens to undertake rainwater harvesting.
In 2012, CSE brought out the 7th Citizens’ Report on the State of India’s Environment titled Excreta Matters: How urban India is soaking up water, polluting rivers and drowning in its own excreta. This two-volume report provides details about the water and sewage situation in urban India, with statistics from 71 cities across the country. For the first time, it puts together information gathered from many sources to tell the story of how urban India is exploding in its water demand, and drowning in its own sewage. Excreta Matters makes the case for wise water and sewage management.
CSE’s research establishes that the urban growth must emphasise water supply to all, and the collection of all sewage, and its suitable treatment and reuse. It advocates for augmenting, protecting and renovating local water resources to reduce the cost of water supply and improve equity. This is CSE’s agenda for sustainable and equitable urban growth.
Water efficiency in buildings: CSE has initiated green building programme to reduce the resource impacts of growing construction sector. The programme is designed to reduce energy and water consumption, waste generation and emissions from buildings. The activities include policy research, awareness creation activities and capacity building activities to create a pool of skilled manpower to design, build, and maintain sustainable building. CSE has carried out an extensive evaluation of the water efficient fixtures for buildings and has assessed ways to develop water efficiency and code compliance. The water audits are an important instrument in this regard.
CSE work on water and wastewater management
Training on water and waste: Over the past ten years years, CSE has conducted more than 150 training programmes on decentralised water and waste management, and has trained more than 4000 participants from India and around the world.
As an acknowledgement of its state-of-the-art training and capacity-building capabilities, CSE has now been recognised by the Government of India as a:
• Centre of Excellence in the area of sustainable urban water/ wastewater management by the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
• National Key Resource Centre (KRC) in the area of rural water sustainability by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS).
• Nodal Institute for conducting short- and long-term training programmes for environment regulators by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)
MoUD & MoDWS has designated CSE as centre for training of municipal functionaries and rural engineers, respectively. The MoEF, CSE and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have recently signed a tripartite agreement to conduct formal compliance and enforcement training for the state pollution control boards for the next four years. According to this agreement, all new recruits who join the state and central pollution control boards will now be trained by CSE in a one-month national induction training programme.
CSE and Deutsche Gesell schaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ GmbH are collaborating on ‘Capacity enhancement on preparation of City Sanitation Plan (CSP) and Septage Management for city officials. The two year partnership (2014-16) is part of the GIZ Sustainable Habitat Programme – Support to National Urban Sanitation Policy (SNUSP) II and CSE initiative aimed at improving the sanitation situation in small and medium towns in select states of India namely – Andhra Pradesh/ Telengana, Kerala and Maharastra.
Ensuring citywide sanitation is challenging and needs involvement of various actors /agencies, ULB functionaries and experts in areas such as urban planning, sanitation, technical infrastructure and financing. One of the main issues in enabling city wide sanitation is lack of awareness, detailed guidelines on CSP preparation with details on capital investments, adjustments of by-laws, adequate administrative structures and local expertise.
The partnership builds on the experience and strengths of both institutions and help in developing more targeted interventions.
Under the proposed scope of cooperation CSE Water programme with GIZ will roll out orientation workshops and training programmes for stakeholders to understand the added value of a CSP and Septage Management for sustainable urban development and enable city officials/ managers prepare and integrate the CSP as an important tool in their day to day work.
To take its training and capacity building programme to the higher level, CSE is settingup a state-of-the-art facility and campus, which would be known as the Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI).
2. About AAETI click here