Ankit PandeyFounder, weincluded.org
- 30 Under 30
Engineer turned development professional, Ankit works across rural villages in India to build the world’s leading co-lab and platform for innovative, implementable, and scalable solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities?
Having been selected for the Nalanda University Scholarship in 2017, I worked on improving the livelihood options of 350 households by focusing on decentralized solar energy for remotely populated villages for irrigation and domestic needs.
Inspired to solve community problems, I was chosen for the Gandhi Fellowship to work along similar lines. I intensively worked on transforming the government education system to incorporate the Climate Literacy curriculum in schools. I conceptualized the self-learning Climate Change & Entrepreneurship modules for senior secondary public schools.
I founded weincluded.org to develop community leadership towards environmental conservation and awareness. Through this program, I facilitated quarterly workshops with government educators and instructors on Energy Poverty & Climate Change. I also designed and led a digital environmental literacy campaign targeting 500+ district schools in India.
The major focus of my work has been to develop environmental consciousness and entrepreneurial skills in rural youth so that they can start ventures in various domains of national significance such as education, women & tribal empowerment, and waste management.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
The ultimate cost of inaccessible energy is far greater than what it takes to provide continuous power to all through an efficient and transparent ecosystem, which I experienced in my childhood. Lack of access to energy forced many like my family to leave the area and migrate to cities with few economic opportunities. It was this experience that pushed me to solve this problem of inaccessible energy in rural India, and I decided to pursue a career in engineering. I completed B.Tech from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in India, with a strong desire to work towards two critical indicators: access to electricity and cleaner cooking options for all. At NIT, I came to know how energy is complex and integrated. To deepen my knowledge, I received a Master’s degree in Ecology and Environment Study at Nalanda University. And in 2019, I joined as a Gandhi Fellow in the Piramal Foundation to work at the ground level for environmental sustainability. My project, Spot On!, is internationally recognized and was the global winner at the Festival for Change by Promoting Economic Pluralism, London, for its social innovation and impact. Passionate working at the intersection of SDGs, I founded weincluded.org in 2019 as an SDGs Co-Lab.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
Just start! If you have an idea, good intentions, and zeal to make this world a little better place, then begin. No matter how small or silly it may seem to you, do your bit and contribute.
What keeps you hopeful for the future?
Kids make me hopeful. They're so full of positivity, ideas, and energy to solve community problems. I feel we can take inspiration from them and be responsible for their future and our planet's health.
What book, film, or art piece has had the greatest impact on you?
The book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart have the greatest impact on me.