G20: Kumarakom shows world how global conference can be hosted in sustainable manner

Hosting the second Sherpa meeting under India's G20 presidency, the conference was hosted at KTDC-owned Waterscapes Resort, Kumarakom.


Published Apr 01, 2023 | 9:38 PMUpdatedApr 01, 2023 | 9:38 PM

G20 in Kumarakom

By TG Biju

With welcome drinks in a specially-made coconut shell, an eco-friendly conference hall, and a jute textile roof to give shade to G20 Sherpas walking through the pathways under the scorching sun, Kerala’s iconic Kumarakom has shown the world how international conferences could be hosted in a sustainable manner.

“It is so impressive. The setting is magnificent,” a foreign delegate told PTI, commenting on the facilities arranged in an exotic backwater resort on the shores of Vembanad lake, hosting the second Sherpa meeting under India’s G20 presidency.

Showing Kumarakom off

The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC)-owned Waterscapes Resort is located inside the famous Bird Sanctuary in Kumarakom, which draws migratory birds from as far away as Siberia.

The delegate said that the interior of the conference room, with its bamboo ceiling, was beautiful. Other foreign delegates echoed his views.

“I feel truly integrated in the environment. The site is breathtaking, surrounded by water,” a delegate from a UN body said, appreciating the way the eco-friendly facilities were arranged in the resort for the Sherpa meeting.

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The woman at the helm

KTDC Managing Director V Vigneshwari IAS. (Kerala Tourism website)

KTDC Managing Director V Vigneshwari IAS. (Kerala Tourism website)

KTDC Managing Director V Vigneshwari, IAS, said that the bamboo used for fencing sides of the roads leading to the resort, the jute textiles used to cover the top of pathways linking the conference venue and the cottages, and geo textiles to make the canals inside the resort campus attractive were done to showcase Kerala’s commitment to the environment.

“It was our own initiative only,” she said. “We wanted to create a good feeling about Kerala and give a sustainable Kerala touch to every interaction. The Kerala way of life… it’s all sustainable here,” she told PTI. She added that all the materials used were sourced locally.

Resort employees said that it was under Vigneshwari’s direct leadership that the conference hall — a permanent one — was constructed in 100 days and other eco-friendly facilities were made for holding meetings.

Also Read: Houseboats, enchanting views hide impending death of Vembanad lake

Kerala’s food at its finest

The food and beverages served to the guests also had a Kerala touch. Welcome drinks — watermelon mint cooler and ilaneer vismayam — were served in specially-made coconut shells, and the drinking straws were made out of rice flour.

Delegates were served food on edible biodegradable plates made from wheat bran and, after their use, the plates were used as fertiliser and as feed for poultry and fish.

The delegates said that they enjoyed Keralite delicacies like masala grilled prawns, prawns cooked with local spices, duck mappas (a traditional duck curry from Kuttanad), appam, meen pollichathu (fish coated with masala wrapped in banana leaves and cooked), and tender coconut payasam (tender coconut kheer prepared with coconut water and milk).

Appreciation for arrangements

“I am still getting acquainted with it, but it is absolutely delicious and very amazing,” a foreign delegate said.

Another foreign official said the entire atmosphere in Kumarakom helped create a good mood for the Sherpas to discuss the issues with ease at the meeting.

“I can just say that my G20 Sherpa colleagues are humbled by the magnificence of what your country and the government put together to create a good mood and good chemistry diplomatically,” he said.

An Indian government official also commended the Kerala government for its magnificent arrangements while hosting the conference.

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Over 120 delegates from G20 member countries, nine invitee countries, and various international and regional organisations were welcomed to the meeting being held from 30 March to 2 April 2023 and chaired by Indian Sherpa Amitabh Kant.

The formal proceedings were inaugurated by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday morning.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)