World Sustainable Development Summit: Redefining Our Common Future

On 10 February 2021, inaugurating the World Sustainable Development Summit via video conferencing, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized “climate justice for fighting against climate change.” The theme of the Summit was ‘Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all’. H.E. Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Mohamed Nasheed, Speaker of the People’s Majlis, Republic of Maldives, Ms Amina J Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, and Shri Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change were one amongst some other delegations and heads of state present and listening in on the occasion. 

This year marked the completion of twenty years for the Forum. Addressing the event, Prime Minister Modi extended his wishes to TERI for sustaining the momentum and said that such Global platforms are important for our present and future. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is an independent, multi-dimensional organisation, with capabilities in research, policy, consultancy and implementation. It has pioneered conversations and action in the energy, environment, climate change, and sustainability space for over four decades.

Now the dilemma before us is, “What is the priority? Is it development and economic growth? Or, is it a reduction of Co2 emissions for protecting humanity from the destructive consequences of climate change? We are living in a critical time. In our attempt to work towards sustainable development,” PM said that the scale of the challenges we face is widely known. But conventional approaches cannot solve those problems. The need of the hour is to think out of the box invest in our youngsters and achieve SDGs. The health of the people and the health of our planet, both of them are inter-related things and will define the progress journey of humanity in the times to come, Prime Minister added. 

The biggest challenge for Sustainable Development is the dilemma of developing nations who are seeking a rapid economic development for the reduction of poverty, hunger, inequality, unemployment and social injustice without contaminating the global environment further. Emphasizing climate justice for fighting against climate change Prime Minister Modi said, “Climate justice has got inspired by a vision of trusteeship- where growth comes with greater compassion to the poorest. Climate justice also implies giving them enough space for developing countries to grow. When each one of us will understand our individual and/ collective duties, climate justice will be achieved.” 

Addressing the World Sustainable Development Summit, PM Modi said that India’s objective is assisted by concrete measures. Powered by the spirited public endeavour, India is on track to exceed its commitments and targets from the Paris Climate Agreement. India is committed to reducing the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 per cent from 2005 levels. He also shared that India is making constant progression on our commitment to Land Degradation Neutrality. Renewable energy is also gaining momentum in India. India is well on track to framing-up four fifty gigawatts of Renewable Energy generating capacity by 2030.

Prime Minister Modi said that sustainable development is incomplete without equitable access. In this direction too, India has made good progress. In March 2019, India achieved nearly a hundred per cent electrification. It was done through sustainable technologies and innovative models. He highlighted that through the ‘Ujjwala’ program, three 67 million LED bulbs became a part of people’s lives. This reduced over 38 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. The ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ has connected over 34 million households with tap connections in just about 18 months. Through the PM ‘Ujjwala Yojna’, more than 80 million households below the poverty line have access to clean cooking fuel. “We are working to increase the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket from 6 per cent to 15 per cent,” he added.

The Prime Minister pointed out that often discussing sustainability we get too focused on green energy but green energy is only the means. The destination we’re seeking is a greener planet. Our culture’s deep respect for forests and green cover is getting translated into out-standing results. He also mentioned that our mission to achieve sustainable development should also include special attention to animal protection. He then noted the growing population of lions, tigers, leopards and Gangetic river dolphin in India in the last five to seven years.

In the Global summit, Prime Minister Modi drew the attention of the participants to two aspects of Togetherness and Innovation. It was said that sustainable development will only be achieved by our collective efforts. When every individual will think of national good, when every nation will think of global good, that’s when sustainable development will become a reality. India has made an effort by making a stride in the direction through the International Solar Alliance. Modi urged all participants to keep our minds and nations open to best practices from all over the world. While referring to innovations, Prime Minister Modi said that many start-ups are working on renewable energy, environment-friendly technology and more. And as policymakers, we should support as many of these efforts. The energy of our youth will certainly lead to outstanding results. 

Specifically mentioning disaster management capabilities, he said, “We must enhance our disaster management capabilities. The way to do this is to improve our human resources as well as technology.” As part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, India is working in this direction. On February 7, India saw an avalanche cause a flood in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand which killed at least 30 people, destroyed two hydropower plants, and caused damage to livestock and property.

India’s commitment to the SDGs is reflected in its convergence with the national development agenda as reflected in the motto of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas’ (Collective Efforts for Inclusive Growth). Sustainable Development is, hence, a historic opportunity for the world communities to deliver inclusive growth, eliminate poverty and minimize the risk of climate change by changing perspectives and approaches to economic development. It entails everyone to participate in making efforts to achieve sustainable development.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Anjali Mishra

Anjali Mishra is a Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti

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