The world has made many strides on climate issues, but there is a long way to go in terms of horizontal and vertical integration of sustainable development across spheres
The just concluded World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) by TERI set the agenda for the climate change discourse this year. India’s presidency of G20 will go on till later this year. COP 28 is to be held in the UAE.
Talking at the summit, the COP president-designate Dr Al Jaber said, “COP 28 must finalise agreement doubling around adaptation finance. Adaptation also means preserving all life on earth, protecting biodiversity, natural ecosystems and the indigenous species. As COP28 presidency, we share India’s firm belief that safeguarding and respecting nature is a fundamental obligation.”
A message for the event from Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi read, “WSDS- 2023 is being hosted at a time when India holds the presidency of G20 and it is no coincidence that Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam constitutes the theme of the duration of India’s G20 presidency. This has enhanced the pride and glory associated with both the occasions.”
Jeffrey D Sachs, Professor, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, said, “The WSDS, now more than 20 years running, has been a formative global event from the start. It has prepared the way for India’s global leadership in sustainable development, as exemplified by this year’s presidency of the G20.”
G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant drew attention to LiFE (Lifestyle For Environment), decarbonisation, climate finance, etc. talking about the intersectionality of G20 and climate change, he said, “It has the majority of the world’s GDP, economic output, exports, emissions and historical emissions. It is critical to finding climate solutions.”
The viewpoint of small nations, too, got its due space. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, Vice President of Guyana said, “The small countries not only need climate finance, they need a reform of the global financial system to achieve sustainable development.”
Jean Pascal Van Ypersele, former vice-chair of IPCC, added, “Lifestyles are led by individuals but there is a collective aspect to that notion; it is not a question only to be solved by an individual.”
A number of ministers also spoke on the occasion. Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said, “About 99% of the energy demand from coastal shipping sector is presently met by fossil fuels. According to the International Maritime Organization, any unchecked measures will take emissions associated with shipping sector to anywhere between 50% and 250% by 2050 in comparison to 2008 emission levels."
Elba Rosa Perez Montoya, Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Cuba, said, “The south countries must unite in models of cooperation that go beyond traditional ways allowing us promotion of lifestyles respectful to environment.”
Electric Mobility, too, gained traction at the event. At the ‘Towards Net Zero Emission Target: Electric Vehicles In Freight’ session, Amit Bhatt, Managing Director, The International Council on Clean Transportation, said, “The next round of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) in India will also be very important for us to see, especially inclusion of freight. So far, we have looked at electric mobility adoption from mostly from demand side incentives, we also have to look at the regulatory aspects.”
Locating the discourse at WSDS in the larger context, Dr. Vibha Dhawan, Director General of TERI, said, “It has been more than 50 years since the 1972 Stockholm Conference. Since then, the world has made many strides in bringing to the forefront the issues related to the environment, biodiversity loss, climate change, and has achieved many milestones in integrating sustainable development into the public, private and societal discourses.” She added, “But we still have a long way to go especially in terms of horizontal and vertical integration of sustainable development across spheres.”