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Artists performing at the show 'Koli Fishermen of Bombay: Guardians of Cultural Sustainability' at Green Stage at COP28 at Expo City Dubai Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A marginalised community of fishermen from India who contribute greatly to the mangrove protection of their country made their presence felt at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai.

The lives of these fishermen from Mumbai (previously called Bombay) was staged at the Green Zone stage on Friday.

Backed by Avid Learning, the philanthropic arm of Indian company the Essar Group, the performance showcased the hardships faced of this marginalised community from India.

“COP28 is all about climate change and action and we brought a representation from India which we thought befitting,” said Madhu Ruia, Founder Avid Learning.

“The fishermen community contribute greatly to our environment. They use sustainable process for their catch but they are a marginalised community of India. So we thought the Kohlis [an Indian term for fishermen] of Bombay [Mumbai] rightly deserved a representation at COP28.”

She added: “As India completes its G20 Presidency, it has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to sustainable energy solutions and climate action. As the host nation, India stood as an exemplar, showcasing that the fight against climate change transcending borders. It is a collective endeavour that demands action and dialogue. And that is why we are delighted to be here at COP28 to bring our message.”

She said the stage performance was a testament to cultural sustainability and environmental innovation.

The show

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Mumbai’s coastline, the performance paid a tribute to the rich Koli culture and heritage. It highlighted their resilience in the face of the most urgent challenges like climate change, industrialisation, and overfishing, while demonstrating their commitment to marine conservation.

The production was led by Parag Tandel whose parents and grand-parents belonged to the fishermen community of the then Bombay.

Local dancers from UAE were hired to showcase the performance. Wearing vibrant colours the performers inspired the audience.