New Delhi: Robert Swan, the only person to walk to the North and South Poles, today warned "economically- rising" India that it will end up "swimming in waste" if it forgets the lessons of sustainability.
The 56-year-old activist, however, has good words for Indian youth whom he said had the best attitude in the world towards environment.
"If India goes on the way it is going with only economic growth concerns, it is going to end up with a lot of wealth, no water and swimming in its own waste.
"I saw heaps of garbage in IT city Bangalore, in Delhi and other cities. The government stakeholders must put sustainability on their agenda," Swan told PTI on the sidelines of launch of fifth phase of `Project SEARCH`.
The explorer is known worldwide for his `2041 Foundation` work which takes select candidates to Antarctica every year to create what he calls "environment champions" for the larger goal of saving the `ice planet`.
"We travel to Antarctica every year and last year 80 people from 28 nations were with us.
And what they realised when they reached there was that nature could slap us back in fury if we violated it. But, it also gave them hope and do what could be possible...," he added.
Hailing the enthusiasm of Indian youth towards environment as the "best in the world", he said said it is the country`s youth that "still keeps him going in India".
"I have travelled to so many countries and met so many people but I found the Indian youth`s enthusiasm on the issue of environment the best in the world, and that is what still keeps me going in India," Swan said.
The event saw schools from across India being felicitated for their projects.
"The reason I have continued with SEARCH is because most sustainable projects tend to go too slow, or too soon or too short. But this is for the long-run and it is going steady and despite so much of environmental issues in India, it provides hope and positivity to go on," Swan said.
Swan applauded the efforts of young minds in schools to "recycle 800 kilogrammes of cartons" through the project. "I mean I have met those kids and they are pretty smart. And this 800 kgs of recycling cartons is just amazing," he said.
Schoolteacher Seema Sharma, who was selected by 2041 for the International Antarctica Expedition (IAE) earlier this year, after her jingle campaign at Vidya Valley Public School, Pune won a competition conducted by the Project SEARCH, said, "Antarctica taught her valuable lessons to share".
"Antarctica taught me lessons in sustainability and when I came back I shared the wisdom gained there with my family and students. Recycling is the future," Sharma, who was felicitated at the function, said.