Trade Forum Features

Sustainable awareness through the creative arts

3 July 2013
ITC News
Using creative expression to promote understanding among India’s youth of consumption and management of water, energy, transport and e-waste

Young people are the true change agents of tomorrow, and their active participation is essential to bringing about a bold social change in our societies. Oxfam India, as part of its youth and active citizenship programme, works to protect, promote and advance young people’s human rights in order to build a sustainable world for them and for their societies.

In a first-of-its-kind effort to create a nationwide network of informed and outstanding youths in India who understand the urgency of ‘consumer rights’ and are keen to promote awareness on sustainable consumption issues, Oxfam India teamed up with Nokia to develop a fellowship programme named Create to Inspire. It is an out-of-the-box challenge for the youth to generate awareness and ownership around effective and judicious consumption and management of water, energy, transport and e-waste through creative mediums.

Launched on 12 August 2012 to coincide with International Youth Day, the Create to Inspire fellowship enrolled young people between the ages of 18 and 23 from Delhi and Hyderabad to work on sustainable consumption issues in their cities. The programme provides a platform for young people to use the creative arts to build innovative social action projects that initiate fun and surprising conversations on sustainable consumption.

In line with Oxfam India’s mandate of building the capacities and skills of young people and Nokia's expertise on sustainable technologies, the fellowship targets young artists in the fields of arts and handicraft, music, dance,

film, photography, design, technology and social media to design projects using their creative skills on issues related to water, energy, transport and e-waste. These projects intend to initiate conversations that redefine how cities view sustainable consumption and how inhabitants of the city can lead sustainable lifestyles.

After having gone through a rigorous interview process, some 200 fellows with experience in the creative arts have so far been selected across the two cities. Along with considering their creative portfolios, the selected participants were also required to demonstrate intent and understanding of issues related to sustainable consumption and development.

The selected fellows were then inducted, briefed on their mission and the cohort was broken down into 27 different project teams. Each of these teams is being mentored by experts from a mix of creative industries, environment and sustainability.

The mentorship process is the most unique feature of this fellowship programme. The participants are trained in their area of interest and guided by mentors from their creative field. Apart from being professionals in, for example, photography, music, filmmaking and arts, all the mentors are innovative entrepreneurs or young social change-makers – and passionate individuals – who have been at the heart of various initiatives and have already made a difference within their communities.

Another significant feature of the fellowship is the focus on creating awareness and knowledge, as well as engaging the fellows in discussions with experts on sustainable consumption. Several training programmes are being conducted in collaboration with renowned organizations and institutes, such as WWF India, The Energy and Resources Institute and Development Alternative. In these training programmes fellows get an opportunity to learn and develop a deeper understanding about consumption patterns and challenges in their local environment. In the gamification workshop, for example, fellows are challenged to focus on elements and strategies on how to create greater public engagement and awareness about a product, and on how to promote social behaviour changes in their local communities.

At the end of fellowship, each team will showcase its creative products with messages on sustainability in a final event. They will then reach out to the wider public, liaising with schools, colleges, residential welfare associations and cultural institutes. By doing so, they use the creative arts to show the potential of redefining consumption of scarce resources.

To learn more about the project, visit: