Collective efforts, frontline leadership, technology and innovation can give to achieve SDGs and Climate Justice

New Delhi, February 08, 2024: The world has crossed the midpoint timeframe of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation, only to face a grim reality that it is falling short of meeting most of the SDGs by 2030.

Recognizing that SDGs are not isolated objectives, but a cohesive and interconnected framework designed to tackle the multifaceted challenges confronting our planet, the 23rd edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit, organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), hosted a series of sessions on sustainable development, energy transitions and climate justice today.

In this backdrop, the proceedings started with a session focused on climate action, peace, and spirituality. Highlighting the need to connect self with nature, BK Shivani, Rajyog Teacher, Brahma Kumaris, World Spiritual Organization during the invocation session pointed out, “Somewhere something has not gone the right way, otherwise a lot of efforts, results should have been a happy planet, and a happy planet would have been a healthy planet. But a stressed, depressed planet cannot create a happy and healthy environment.”

During the session on ‘Integrating Sustainable Development for Collective Action,’ experts on the panel deliberated on the tools that can further vertical and horizontal integration of sustainable development goals. The panelists called for global solutions, collaborations, and partnerships to advance SDGs and climate action at all levels, emphasizing the need to translate policies into ground-level projects.

H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, and President, Global Green Growth Institute, through a video message appealed, “Science has made it clear that political will is urgently needed. I encourage major economic powers to show leadership. Industrialized countries have historical responsibilities in addressing climate change, thus they must equitably lead the charge in solving this deepening global crisis.

“Without robust global action and elevated global will, the climate crisis will only worsen further. No one nation can combat climate change or accomplish green growth alone no matter however rich and powerful he may be,” he added.

COP29 President Designate, H.E. Mr Mukhtar Babayev, Minister, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Republic of Azerbaijan through a video message reaffirmed his commitment to better global climate. “Our focus is on a clear and actionable roadmap outlining steps to triple energy capacity and double energy efficiency. I am dedicated to securing strong commitment from nations and stakeholders translating ambitious targets into tangible realities,” he averred.

“Our decision to host COP29 arises from our strong belief in the power of international collaboration to address complex global issues. We recognize the interconnected nature of climate challenges and firmly believe that by fostering cooperation and dialogue on a global scale we can collectively work out impactful solutions.”

Prof Hoesung Lee, Former Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned, “The Global Stocktake of last year laid bare the stark reality of our insufficient progress in limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“While the prevalence of gaps in policy, ambition, implementation, finance, and technology is not new, what is truly surprising is the economic opportunity that lies in closing these gaps. Recent studies suggest that taking additional actions could yield a net economic benefit of up to 7 per cent of world GDP by 2015.”

Ms Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action Federal Foreign Office of Germany felt, “To pave the way for a sustainable future, let’s abandon the notion of a climate versus economic dynamic. Embrace the potential of climate-efficient and renewables-based energy systems, ushering in new industries, technologies, and ways of living.”

Dr Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, emphasized, “With key partners like India, UNDP is working to support digital public infra across the globe, which is becoming the basis of new digital solutions, could accelerate progress on 70% of the SDG targets and indicators.”

Addressing the audience through a video message, H.E. Mr Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, Minister, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway said, “Investing trillions of dollars, particularly in sectors like solar and transmission signifies our commitment to fostering climate resilience. Prioritizing talent, channeling funds through initiatives like the Climate Investment Fund, with India playing a crucial role, exemplifies our collective effort.”

Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, The International Solar Alliance, said, “There is also need for advocacy, providing information for countries to make an informed choices based on what their own projected roadmaps are.”

Lord Adair Turner, Chair, Energy Transitions Commission, opined, “The biggest single thing we need to do is to improve energy efficiency across the world and to reduce the energy demand to electrify.”

Dr Prodipto Ghosh, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, emphasized, “The main point is realizing that the SDGs must not be a peripheral activity for the collectives. It should be part of the main agenda.”

India’s development trajectory matters globally: Mr Martin Raiser

Complimenting India’s development record, Mr Martin Raiser, Vice President for South Asia Region, The World Bank, during a session on ‘Financing Climate Action and Sustainable Development’ said, “India’s track record puts it on a much lower carbon emissions path than other major economies. Its climate vulnerability, deep domestic capital markets and its domestic innovation capacity may also position it as a leader in developing and funding smart climate adaptation.

Mr Raiser was optimistic that despite the challenges of decarbonizing India’s industrial sector, investment in green technologies could help the country achieve its energy goals. “We project industries alone will account for 50 percent of India’s carbon emissions by 2050. But here too, building on the success in renewable energy India’s policy could further encourage investments in green technologies to de-carbonise its industrial sector to advance towards net zero.

“The right policies could help accelerate India’s energy transition,” Mr Raiser stressed.

The day also saw the release of the policy brief titled, “SDG Blueprint on Sustainable Agriculture”. The study finds that 135 out of 169 targets of SDGs have synergies with sustainable agriculture, making the sector vital to fast-tracking the sustainable development agenda. The publication provides cross-cutting recommendations such as addressing data gaps, strengthening policy coherence, and considering systems’ approaches in decision-making.