Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. Today I’m thrilled to be talking to Prerana Langa, the CEO of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat India, an organization working towards SDG #13: Climate Action. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: It’s wonderful to meet you, Prerana. I’m curious about the challenges the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat is addressing. What can you tell me?
Prerana: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. The climate crisis is affecting the quality of lives across the world, including India. Problems include unsafe and unaffordable housing, loss of green spaces, decreased groundwater, poor air quality, disasters (heat waves and flooding), and reducing economic opportunities. We are promoting climate resilient housing, solarization, cool roof technology, and the creation of green spaces. We are working to revitalize water bodies, raise groundwater levels especially in drought prone areas and to restore coastlines. Most importantly, we are preparing communities to tackle these issues. We are fortunate to have made an impact and to receive amazing support from communities and donors.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Prerana: Both by design and good fortune, my professional, personal, social, and spiritual activities, as well as roles played by me, have centered on finding meaning and happiness within myself, and being an instrument to create a positive impact on the lives of all beings and the planet. I am aware that my time on the planet is limited and that I have a bigger purpose. My focus is on being the best version of myself, using my talents and skills to serve and contribute to impact at scale. The joy and fulfillment I get seeing people living better lives due to my work keeps me going.
Spiffy: Can you further elaborate on the impact of your work?
Prerana: We provide over 1.5 million women and vulnerable communities with access to safe and green housing, improved basic services, and clean water and toilet facilities in their homes, reducing inequalities and building resilience. We enable them to face disasters and climate change by building their coping mechanisms and improving multi-hazard resilient infrastructure. We have created green spaces which promote natural flora and fauna (trees and birds) and reduce pollution.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational initiative. Can you detail its effect on your community?
Prerana: Our water governance app developed in-house was awarded by the United Nations Development Program and The Energy and Resource Institute. It has been exciting to develop the app for communities to enable them to self-monitor, manage water, and make the right decisions for efficient restoration and usage. People cannot conserve and manage what they cannot estimate, measure, or understand themselves. This aids in minimizing suffering from water scarcity.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Prerana: I believe personal transformation is essential for collective change. One example from my earlier work is YES!i am the CHANGE, a youth filmmaking challenge on social issues. For youth engagement, it must go beyond lectures and be an experiential challenge. From 2200 participants in year one, we had an army of 13,00,000 youth across 2,500 cities and towns in year four. This led to mindset transformation with responsible youth citizenship amplified, youth connecting to social causes, volunteering, crowdfunding using their films, and becoming social entrepreneurs. I believe in the beauty of each human heart, and I know deep down we want to protect and nourish this one home we call mother earth, for which we need to collectively act.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Prerana—it’s been an honor!
Prerana Langa is passionate about co-creating social and environmental impact at scale. She set up and nurtured two corporate foundations for large private sector banks, led holistic wellbeing for 1000 plus villages, and orchestrated the world’s largest responsible youth citizenship movement with 1.3 million participants in a single year. (First published on the Ladderworks website on November 30, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.