She is the first Bhutanese who will be joining one of the 80 international teams for the Climate Force Antarctic Expedition 2021-a trip to Antarctica that will commence in November next year. Manisha Chettri, a youth with a Masters degree in English literature from India and working as a freelance writer for a German company, is a climate enthusiast and she believes that if she raises enough money to join the expedition, it will alter her journey and perspective toward climate change issues. “It is not possible to reach the Polar regions on our own and not come back with a deeper understanding of the world we live in,” said Manisha Chhetri, “I want to return with firsthand knowledge about Antarctica.” According to Manisha, the Himalayan regions known to the world as the ‘Third Pole’ are relatable to the Polar regions, therefore, it is important to gain knowledge and create stories of climate change in a language that the general public can understand and relate to. However, such an expedition is not easy. It comes with challenges and Manisha needs to raise Nu 0.9mn to fulfill her dream. “The biggest challenge for me has been raising capital to be able to pay for the expedition, especially as an individual,” she said adding that the total expenditure would come around 1.64mn. As of last week, Manisha had raised Nu 179,189 from donors-four from abroad and five from Bhutan through a crowdfunding campaign. The donation openings will last for 44 more days now. “Education makes for a level playing field in a society that is plagued by inequalities. It is something I have learned at a very early age. I want to explore this unique educational experience about an issue close to my heart-climate change,” said Manisha. She believes that blending powerful communication skills and storytelling can instill hope and drive change. She wants to use her skillset to reduce apathy surrounding climate change and make the conversation more relevant and inclusive. “Climate change is not just your or my problem alone, it is not supposed to be one country’s problem, it is a global problem and needs global focus,” she said adding that unless people change their behavioral patterns and choose to lead a conscious lifestyle, climate change would be very difficult to tackle. Manisha feels that the opportunity will be perfect to meet young leaders and exchange ideas besides building a platform to encourage sustainable communities that focus on reducing carbon footprint and adopting sustainable measures at an individual and organizational level. Moreover, she aspires to share how Bhutan as a small nation contributes its best in the conservation of nature and sustainability on a global platform. Manisha also wants to accelerate her journey in policymaking and promoting conservation action and sustainability in the country, and internationally. She wants to encourage youth to take responsibility by using smart skills to bring positive development individually and at the social and economic levels. “The biggest problem in the world today is one’s incapability of understanding what is happening in the world,” said Manisha, “I would like to encourage young minds to be informed, active and an engaged citizenry.” “The least we can do is to follow His Majesty’s vision for a better and brighter future which is possible with our participation and initiative,” said Manisha acknowledging that she is lucky to be born as a Bhutanese. The expedition “leadership on the edge” program by a global foundation would be led by explorer Sir Robert Swan, Order of the British Empire, the first man in history who has walked both the north and south poles. The expedition will be certified carbon neutral voyage.
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu