By Ritu Jha
Beginning with the inaugural speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 16, the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) ended on a positive note with the launch of ‘Act4Earth Strategy papers’ and ‘Act4Earth Manifesto’ in its valedictory session on February 18. The three-day long summit is an annual affair organised by the Delhi-based The Energy Resource Institute (TERI). Every year, the summit follows a theme and this year it took up ‘Towards a Resilient Planet: Ensuring a Sustainable and Equitable Future’.
Climate finance and climate justice remained at the core of the conference attended by leaders from across the world. The sessions focused on the reorientation of the role of every stakeholder from consumer-centric to nature-centric and green growth with acceptance of responsibilities for a sustainable and equitable future for all.
Special highlights of the summit: Commitment to climate finance by the global north
Speaking at the inauguration PM Modi emphasised India’s commitment towards global commons and its resonance in the form of ‘IRIS- Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States’, ‘LIFE – Lifestyle for Environment’, ‘Pro Planet Peoples - The 3Ps’. He also stressed that “environmental sustainability can only be achieved through climate justice” for which developed countries need to fulfil their commitment on climate finance and technology transfer to the global south. India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupendra Yadav, repeated the words emblazoned in the logo of the ministry that is “nature protects if she is protected”. He pressed that “both development and environment are just two sides of the same coin” and asked for “mindful utilization” of the natural resources.
The ministerial session on the ‘Ambition and Action in the Climate Change and Realizing Sustainable Development’ brought together seven nations on a single platform. The US Special Presidential Envoy to Climate, John F. Kerry pointed out the seriousness of the climate crisis and explained that the “Tipping point concerning the critical aspects” has already been reached as per the scientific findings. He asked the global north to “deploy literally about 4 trillion dollars a year for the next 30 years” to bring green technologies to the global south but also mentioned the need for “creating climate and capacity for that investment to actually take place”. Barbara Pompili, Minister of the Ecological Transition, France, stated that “we all are one in facing the consequences”, German politician Seffi Lamke noted the need for “sustainable finance”, Canadian politician and former activist Steven Guilbeault conveyed that “the world can no longer ignore the cost of the natural environment” called for action on the climate crisis.
Inter-state and Intra-state Disparities: Inclusive Green Growth
A ministerial session on the ‘Sub National Leadership and Inclusive Green Growth’, presented the perspective of the sub-national level leaders for inclusive green growth at the state level. Maharashtra’s environment minister Aditya Thackeray mentioned “the global south and global north within India”, James Sangma, Cabinet Minister of Home, District Council Affairs, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Law, Power, in Government of Meghalaya, highlighted “north-east as the green-laboratory for India and World”, Deepak K. Singh, Minister of Environment,
Bihar, pointed out that green growth is to be realised as a way of life which is possible with its accessibility to the individual level, to the common man.
Women and youth leadership at WSDS
The session on women leadership and the youth plenary sessions touched the vital aspect of inclusivity in rebuilding resilience and reflecting the diversity of voices. On the second day of the conference, the plenary session on ‘Women leadership and our common future’ witnessed the views of women in leadership roles. The young women Mexican-Chilean climate activist Xiye Bastida pressed for the principles like “act locally work globally”, “reciprocity- time to give back” as a behavioural change. The youth plenary session on the intergenerational conversation’ held on the last day of the summit, February successfully conveyed the messages of youth activists from different parts of the globe to set a tone for climate justice at the local level. Youth activist Vanessa Nakate from Uganda emphasised “community involvement”, as every community can give solutions to deal with the climate crisis specific to their community.
The WSDS announced its yearly Sustainable Development Leadership Awards during the Summit. American businessman and philanthropist Michael Rubens Bloomberg was chosen for the honours this year. TERI also released a book and archives on its founder late R.K.Pachauri, as well as the student’s magazine ‘Vasundhara’. The Summit finally ended with the launch of the two vital papers: The ‘Act4Earth Strategy Papers’ and the 'Act4Earth Manifesto’ which are considered to be setting milestones in the right direction.