The Energy and Resources Institute held online the first pre-event on the theme ‘Redefining our Common Future: Safe and Secure Environment for All’—a prelude to the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) 2021 which is TERI’s flagship event that will be held next year on 10-12 February, 2021 in New Delhi.
In a video message, Honourable Indian Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr Prakash Javadekar said, “With only 4% of rainwater resources and 2.5 of the world’s land, India is home to 8% of global biodiversity. India’s ethos is to be one with nature and lead sustainable lifestyles to live with nature. India in its Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has decided to accept the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing and we are implementing it through the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. We are among the few countries walking the talk on the issue of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). India has voluntarily set out ambitious targets through NDCs about reducing energy and emissions intensities as well as to have 2.5 to 3 billion metric tonnes of carbon sequestration.
On climate-friendly growth path, climate change adaptation, technology and capacity building, we value our partnership with TERI to meet our commitments.”
Talking about how the Summit, which is dedicated to accelerating the pursuit of sustainable development, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI said, “As we step into the circles of new normal, it is absolutely important that climate change and biodiversity stay at the top of our sustainable development agenda. The COVID-19 crisis has forced governments and businesses to plan for ‘green recoveries’. The road to economic recovery can no longer ignore climate priorities.”
Speakers from partner countries such as EU, UK, Norway, as well as Asian Development Bank (ADB) deliberated on the current pandemic and the global efforts being made to recover in a sustainable manner.
Attending the virtual dialogue, HE Mr Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India said, “We are celebrating this year’s World Environment Day at a defining moment. The COVID-19 crisis makes it even more important to take action and to invest in a better and healthier world for our youth. We need to give them hope. The word requires collective cohesive response for a greener, resilient, and just future. The cost of action is much smaller than cost of inaction.”
HE Mr Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Ambassador of Norway to India said, “Norway has been a partner of the World Sustainable Development Summit for over a decade and I am grateful to TERI that they have organized this. The world is currently facing a giant lockdown which has impacted the global economy severely. The reopening of the world is an important test for our ability and our commitment towards sustainability. The opening must be green, clean, circular and inclusive. There has been a race between our scientific, technological, and institutional capacity of balance that we have been winning so far. We should not let these temporary setbacks endanger those winnings. We value our cooperation with India and there are a wide range of collaborations between Norway and India in the areas of sustainability, biodiversity, environmental and economic growth, waste management, marine litter, among others.”
Acting British High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson said that they “are committed to working with the Government of India and partners like TERI as a force for good against climate change as we rebuild our economies and our relationship with nature. COP26, to be held in the UK in November 2021, can be a moment when the world unites for clean, resilient recovery which delivers for people and planet. In a post-COVID world, we must lay the foundation for sustainable and inclusive growth. There are five key areas of action for greener future: 1) clean energy, 2) clean transport, 3) nature-based solutions to safeguard ecosystems, 4) adaptation and resilience, 5) finance to unleash the capital to pay for the zero-carbon economy.”
Professor Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, Co-Director of the India Observatory & Chair – Grantham Research Institute, LSE said, “After the Covid crisis we will need to do things differently. We have to be together with a vision to reduce poverty and achieve SDGs. Recovery will have to be built around the idea of sustainability and give importance to measures that are fast, labour intensive, and are economic multipliers. Measures such as retro-fitting buildings, spreading broadband and solar rooftops are ones we can pursue quickly, which would generate employment. Sustainability is also a strong recovery agenda along with work on debt reduction. Countries must respond quickly and manage the debt much better that loom large across world economies. We have to increase the ability of international financial institutions to play their role in the world and countries should look at building national investment banks. India will play a vital role in shaping 21st century and it can and will be a leader.”
Mr Woochong Um, Director General, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, ADB brought focus on the fact that “to overcome the three global challenges of climate change, biodiversity decline, and COVID-19, we must design recovery packages which are inclusive and leave no one behind – to build back better.”
For more than two decades, TERI’s World Sustainable Development Summit has brought together global leaders and policymakers to find solutions on challenges such as environmental degradation and biodiversity loss—issues that remain in spotlight this World Environment Day. WSDS has been a significant platform for showcasing India’s plans, policies, priorities and actions by identifying the most topical issues, of environment and sustainability.
Recognising the youth demographic as key to India’s future, TERI and WSDS launched an initiative called ‘Youth Unite for a Safe and Secure Environment’. This forum will explore opportunities to engage the youth in sustainable development activities and represent their voice on various national and international platforms such as the WSDS. Speaking on the occasion, Shambhavi Sharma(Pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Social Science from Cluster Innovation Centre, Delhi University), a member of TERI’s youth network, said, “We need to be vocal for local for a global impact. Involve us and give us a chance to promote sustainable solutions through our networks and campuses which are a budding ground for ideas and innovations.”
More than 1500 participants tuned into the online dialogue from various regions, sectors, and workforces.