Script by K V Venkatasubramanian, Senior Journalist
More than five years ago, the United Nations set out a collection of 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global goals provide a shared “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. They address the challenges our world and the people face every day. These goals are intended to be achieved by the year 2030, ensuring peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and into the future. They are an urgent call for action by all countries, developed and developing, in a global partnership.
The sustainable development goals recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and stimulate economic growth–all while tackling climate change and working to preserve the oceans and forests. The SDGs coincided with another historic agreement reached in 2015 at the COP21 (Conference of the Parties) Paris Climate Conference.
To shape the energy and climate agenda ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties this November in Glasgow, UK, a three-day virtual World Sustainable Development Summit is being held from February 10. The summit has brought together governments, business leaders, academicians, climate scientists, youth, and the civil society in the fight against climate change.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the summit through a video conference. He emphasised that the route to tackle climate change was through climate justice. India has shown the world that the pursuit of development and protecting the environment are not contrary to each other. It can be done simultaneously in a sustainable way, he said. India is committed to reducing the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 percent from 2005 levels.
The theme of the summit is ‘Redefining Our Common Future: A Safe and Secure Environment for All’. The topics of discussion include energy and industry transition, adaptation and resilience, nature-based solutions, climate finance, circular economy, clean oceans, and air pollution.
The inaugural session was attended by President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea James Marape, Speaker of the People’s Majlis, Republic of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed and India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar.
The prime minister said the health of the people and the health of the planet will define how the progress journey of humanity will unfold. India believes that sustainable development is incomplete without equitable access. It has brought in a significant change in people’s lives through various social welfare schemes.
The country achieved nearly 100 percent electrification in March 2019 using sustainable technologies and innovative models. The Ujala scheme has brightened up people’s lives– through 367 million LED bulbs. As a result, 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide have been reduced per year. The scheme, also known as the LED-based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP), aims to promote efficient usage of energy for all.
Another social welfare scheme called Ujjwala Yojana envisages a smokeless rural India. Today, about 83 million families, especially women, living below the poverty line have access to clean cooking fuel. Concessional LPG connections given to the households have helped in reducing health disorders, air pollution and deforestation.
More than 34 million rural households have been provided tap connections in just about 18 months, under the country’s Jal Jeevan Mission. Launched in 2019, it aims to provide tap water connections to rural households by 2024. The mission’s urban segment, to be launched soon, will bring safe water to 28.6 million households through tap connection.
India is ready to do whatever possible to further sustainable development. “Our human-centric approach could be a force multiplier for global good,” PM Modi said.
The summit has been organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The key partners are India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Earth Sciences.