Save our Planet Earth (SOPE) is an NGO that was founded in 2011 by Rajiv Agnihotri, Non Resident Indian living in Mauritius since last two decades. After realizing that the government while building its highways was felling and uprooting thousands of trees, with no intention to replant them, Rajiv founded SOPE to tackle the problem himself, and start replanting trees. Trees are vital plants in any ecosystem, for the cycling of nutrients, retention of water and fertility of soils. Trees, more importantly, absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen that we, as many other organisms rely on for survival. He understood the detrimental effect such careless activities could have on the island as a whole if no one were to put their foot down and raise their voice. As a citizen of the island himself he wants to motivate Mauritians and people of all nations to assume their responsibility and actively work on sustainable development to preserve our planet. As Rajiv Agnihotri states “I am doing it for the next generation”. According to him, the total available natural resources in the planet are enough to sustain 2.2 billion people but the incriminate population growth of human beings to over 7 billion has completely changed the dynamics of living. And if the corrective measures are not immediately taken, then the mother earth will be destroyed beyond repair.
Mauritius is a volcanic island located in the Indian Ocean. Its isolation from any land mass enabled it to develop an important and unique biodiversity of flora and fauna. Mauritius is a developing country that has experienced substantial transformation in the past two decades. It’s fast development and attractiveness to big businesses from various industries has led to the development of transport around the island. As the majority of the population travels by public transport, in buses, many new roads and highways were built in order to enable faster travel. This development in infrastructurecaused numerous endemic plants to beuprooted. While development and an improved infrastructure are valuable assets for Mauritius, preserving the nature is a priority as well.
The development of countries has to happen responsibly in order to make it sustainable over time. After enquiring about finding a solution, the Road Development authority (RDA) assigned sites on the roadsides of motorways to SOPE in order to replant trees. Therefore, SOPE replants and manages many sites across Mauritius. The NGO has been able to design slogans with shrubs on these sites such as: “Protegeonsl’Environment” (let’s protect the environment), as commissioned by a major company in Mauritius. The main companies that sponsor this sort of activity are: Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of Baroda (BOB), New India Assurance co Ltd and Indian Oil. The high exposure SOPE gets due to the location of their sites, in high-traffic areas, allows for the NGO to gain a lot of attention.This exposurehas enabled SOPE to diversify its activity; caring for all things environment related. SOPE has taken on other causes alongside its main activity of embellishing the city. By running campaigns in schools and public places, participating in seminars,and surveying tree biodiversity, SOPE prides itself in raising awareness to all Mauritians about the threat of climate change, the drastic effects it could have on the island and more specifically what solutions and behavioral changes the people can adopt to try and slow it down.Instead of watching the Earth turn to flames, SOPE inviteseveryone to be part of the movement;to take action and make a contribution in conserving the environment through their lifestyle and individual behavior.
In reaction to certain citizens’ concerns and within their responsibility towards the environment, the Mauritian government promised to plant five new trees for every individual uprooted tree.
Currently, some big projects to improve infrastructure (such as transport) are in the work and several sites are beginning or under construction. To ensure that this new policy will be applied, SOPE, has begun surveying the abundance and specifying the exact amount of trees that will have to be replanted.
As plastic pollution, anen vogue topic, increasingly poses a huge threat to our environment, SOPE tries to do its part. The challenge with a relatively small island, surrounded by the sea, is that any disregarded litter and plastic is bound to find its way on to the beaches and into our oceans. SOPE orchestrates beach cleanups to try and interrupt this process by collecting all plastic before it ends up in the ocean.
As a Non- Profit organization, SOPE relies on volunteers to help with the planting and upkeep of various sites as well as running its awareness campaigns. Not only national but also international volunteers are welcome to join SOPE. For the past 3 years, SOPE has collaborated with AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiantsen Sciences Economiques et Commerciales). AIESEC is an international corporation founded at the end of the Second World War, with its main aim being: “Peace and the fulfilment of humankind’s potential”.It is the largest youth-non-profit-organization in the world and aspires to enable students to develop their abilities and strengths through leadership.
This collaboration allows SOPE to welcome volunteers from all around the world to come to help themfor a few weekswith their mission here in Mauritius. The volunteers, that are most often students, learn about Mauritius, its biodiversity and witness how global warming threatens it. Furthermore, the NGO intends to enhance the student’s awareness and understanding of the problems arising, so theydon’t only leave an impact on the island but the island itself and the NGO equally impacts the volunteers.SOPE helps to develop each volunteer’s potential, by trusting them with responsibilities and allows them to widen their perspectives by comparing and contrasting the attitude to the environment with their hometowns.
By Léa and Joséphine ( SOPE Volunteers )
SOPE MAURITIUS +23057880379