New Delhi, February 09, 2024: For a long time, climate change and biodiversity loss have been dealt with in siloes. The two are not only inextricably linked; it is impossible to find a solution for one without factoring in the other.
In the face of triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, preserving ecosystems is crucial. Taking note of the twin crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, the 23rd edition of World Sustainable Development Summit organized leadership sessions on ‘Protecting Nature and Ecosystems-Towards Integrated Approaches’ today. The session delved into the challenges and actionable solutions relating to nature and ecosystems, such as data and interface between fragile ecosystems, socio-economic, and governance dynamics.
Earlier in the day a leadership session was organized on ‘Infrastructure, Resilience and Oceans’, highlighting the importance of establishing a robust coastal infrastructure.
Building on the lively discourses of the opening day, the Summit hosted a series of thematic tracks today engaging on several pertinent issues ranging from climate action, energy transition, decarbonization, sustainable agriculture, to building capacity on adaptation and resilience.
To combat severe impacts of climate change, the panelists stressed on developing actionable strategies for infrastructure resilience and fostering stakeholder collaborations.
Stressing on the importance of innovation, Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI said,” We are collaborating with different ports of the country and trying to look into international regulations, what timeframe is required, what kind of partnerships and collaboration are essential. Innovation is as important as partnerships. Oceans must be protected; marine pollution should be prevented. The Govt of India had set up the Ministry of Port, Shipping and Waterways. They have set up the National Centre of Excellence for green ports and shipping in partnership with TERI.”
Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, European Commission, appealed to accelerate action for oceans. “Our oceans face unprecedented challenges — climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. We need to accelerate ocean action and turn challenges into opportunities – opportunities for the ocean economy, opportunities to create jobs and support communities and all this while protecting fragile ocean ecosystem,” he said.
Mr Vatimi Rayalu, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Waterways, Fiji, highlighted the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States due to the worsening effects of climate change and emphasized on the need for building a robust infrastructure. “Fiji is vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its geographical location. This poses major challenges to the achievement of our national development plan. Infrastructure in Fiji is mostly situated in coastal and floodplain areas making it vulnerable to many hazards such as sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion etc,” said Mr Rayalu, insisting on the urgent need to protect marine and coastal ecosystems, and strengthen their resilience.
“Water infrastructure is critical as a concern as water is a major input in agricultural activities, industry, electricity generation, sanitation, and of course human consumption. Climate change will restrict the efficacy of future possibilities of adaptation measures for infrastructure. Climate Change poses significant problems also for food and nutrition security in Fiji,” he said.
Citing example of maritime cooperation, Ms May-Elin Stener, Norwegian Ambassador to India, pointed out, “India-Norway ocean dialogue in 2019 created a good area of collaboration. Indian shipyards are delivering autonomous zero emission vessel. Recent technologies are contributing to state-of-art ship repair facility at Indian shipyards. It is an excellent example of maritime cooperation.
“Norway and India are also looking to establish a maritime cluster project to capitalize on knowledge sharing,” she said.
Acknowledging the increasing strain on world ecosystems, the experts at the Summit pushed for adaptation measures and resilience building.
Prof Jeffrey D. Sachs, University Professor; Director, Center for Sustainable Development in the Earth Institute, Columbia University in a video message put spotlight on fragile state of world ecosystem and stressed on the need for regional cooperation. “The ecosystems are under profound stress everywhere in the world — the rainforest, the alpine regions, coastal regions, oceans. We can’t solve any of these problems without regional cooperation. The mindset is absolutely opposite of what we need right now,” he said.
“We need systematic planning, financial models at scale that address market failures. We need regulations and financing beyond the market forces and third we need to solve this on a regional scale rather than national scale.
Mr Avinash Persaud, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados, in a video message advocated for the rights of climate vulnerable countries. “The world is suffering from the actions of a small minority who put their interest above the planet’s health and the poorest are bearing the brunt of the damage.
Some of the rich (nations) are finally waking up to the reality of climate change, but they are still reluctant to pay for the damage they caused. The cost of mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage for developing countries, excluding China is over 2.4 trillion USD a year. We need to take action now,” he said.
Dr Erik Solheim, Sixth Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme and former Norwegian Minister in a recorded message complimented India’s progress in environmental stewardship. “I spent most of January in India and I came back really optimistic because I saw huge development. India has moved from 10 years ago from somewhat in the backseat of environment leadership to being in absolute front and center with China in the green revolution of the world,” he said.
Mr Ranjit Barthakur, Founder & President, Balipara Foundation, said, “The World must understand that there are three poles — North Pole, South Pole and the third pole is the Himalayas. The entire process of the Himalayas being the third pole is critical because of glaciers. By 2100 there will be 70 percent of these glacial melt which means we won’t be alive for sure and people who will be alive are completely going to be challenged, if we do not address this issue.”
A policy brief on ‘Benchmarking Industrial Water Use Efficiency in India: Opportunities for Water-Intensive Industries’ was also launched. The policy brief is a comprehensive evaluation of water-intensive sectors in India, including thermal power plants, textile industries, pulp and paper industries, and iron and steel plants.
Complimenting TERI for its work on water sustainability, Mr Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Hon’ble Union Minister, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, in a recorded message said, “TERI in the last few years has worked with Ministry of Jal Shakti on water sustainability and water efficiency. Government of India is working towards ensuring that there will be no water shortage in the country.”
Policy Brief Link