New Delhi: The three crises of food, fertiliser and fuel remain the chief challenges as India takes on the G20 Presidency, said Hardeep S Puri, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, speaking at the valedictory session of the 22nd edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi on Friday.
Noting that all the crises have a strong link to sustainable development, Puri said that the Panchamrit Action Plan shared by the Prime Minister Modi at COP26 "provide the ambitious response needed to push the sustainable development agenda."
"Despite the pandemic, India has not deviated from the commitments we have made at the international levels and domestically. At the global level we need a paradigm shift from a country-centric approach to a people-centric approach to climate action," said Puri. Elaborating on the country's green transition, the Minister noted that the target of 20 percent ethanol blending in petrol by 2030 has been advanced by five years, while both the private sector and the refineries are geared up to use green hydrogen.
Speaking at the session, Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), narrowed down "the three key areas where support and leadership is needed" to make COP28 "a transformational moment". Stiell asserted the need to deliver a truly transformative Global Stocktake. "The Stocktake is the focal point of our work this year, the centre piece of COP28 and, the first time the world comes together to determine whether nations are meeting the climate goals agreed in Paris. The success of COP28 depends on the success of the Global Stocktake, or more specifically the response to the Stocktake," he said.
Observing that the current international context is critical especially for developing and least developed countries particularly in the backdrop of the post Covid-19 crisis, the fall-out of the Russia-Ukraine war, climate change and unprecedented rise in food and energy prices, Najla Bouden, Prime Minister of Tunisia, said, "These are all challenges which can, in the absence of rapid and collective response, undermine the efforts of the international community in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and further widen the gap between North and South, between ambition and achievements."
Ugo Astuto, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to India, underscored the imperative need to act now and act fast to address the climate change challenge and limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree celsius. "Even at the current 1.2-degree celsius warming, every single country in the world is already affected by the climate crisis," he added.
Underscoring that the convergence of sustainable development and climate change is at the heart of the G20 strategy this year, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director-General, The International Solar Alliance, asserted the need to build solar capacities. "We need the G20 to push for solar mini grids as the option for universal energy access and help it by providing the guarantees that are necessary to pull in private sector financing," he said.
Speaking at the session, Justice Prathiba Singh, Judge Delhi High Court, noted that the judiciary has made important contributions to save the environment. Speaking on the key theme at the Summit, Dr Renu Swarup, former secretary, Department of Biotechnology, noted that "Sustainable development, climate resilience and collective action are intrinsically linked to each other. If we have to meet the targets on any of them, we need to strengthen the other."
Nitin Desai, Chairman-Governing Council, TERI, said that the sessions at this edition of WSDS have brought together a wide range of people engaged in the arena of sustainable development. "There is a sense of optimism as people were presenting solutions to the problems we are witnessing, whether it is climate finance or the management of sustainability in areas like agriculture, water and others."
A 10-point Act4Earth Manifesto, which encapsulated the key messages emerging from the Summit deliberations, was presented at the Summit. The theme of the 2024 edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit - Leadership for Sustainable Development and Climate Justice' - was unveiled at the valedictory session.
In the year India's holding the G20 Presidency and the pivotal COP28 scheduled to held later this year, WSDS 2023 witnessed the presence of the Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 President-designate, Simon Stiell, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Bhupender Yadav, the Union Environment Minister, and Amitabh Kant, the G20 Sherpa. A written message from the Prime Minister of India, and a video message by the Tunisian Prime Minister were shared during the Summit, while Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, Vice President of Guyana, spoke at multiple sessions in-person. Over 20 ministers from across the globe took part in WSDS 2023
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