With India taking over the G20 presidency, the discourse around sustainable development in the United Nations Decade of Action (2020-30) goal has caught the global attention, says Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The first Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group meeting of G20, held in Bengaluru on February 9-11, 2023, saw extensive deliberations on topics which had sustainable development and climate resilience at heart, he said.

Delivering the keynote address on ‘Visionary Leadership for Mainstreaming Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience’ at the inaugural session of the World Sustainable Development Summit 2023 in New Delhi on February 22, Yadav said the concept of ‘Green Growth’ in the Union Budget validates how sustainable development has been mainstreamed in Indian policy making process. “The Budget lays down the vision for ‘Green Growth’ across multiple sectors, with the underlying thought being that all future growth in the country has to essentially be green,” he said.

According to the minister, India has on multiple occasions both at the domestic and international stage, demonstrated through evidence-based policy making and implementation that it has never been a part of the problem but is contributing significantly to become a part of the solution. “India has already submitted its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) document at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh which is premised on two major pillars of climate justice and sustainable lifestyles alongside principles of CBDR-RC. With this India has joined a list of 58 countries who have submitted their new or updated LT-LEDS”, he said.

Earlier, speaking at the opening session of the Summit, Jeffery D Sachs, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, said with India taking the Presidency at G20, there will be four years in a row where countries representing the voice of the real world are at the head of the G20. “It was Indonesia last year, India this year, Brazil next year, and South Africa, the next year. You have the power to make the change. The BRICS countries are now larger than the G7 economies. The world is in your hands”, Sachs said.

Sachs, a world-renowned economics professor and a global leader in sustainable development said the world is in a deeper crisis than it was at the time of 2002 UN Summit as earth continues to warm at the rate of about 0.2 degree Celsius per decade. “We are 0.4 degree Celsius warmer than we were 20 years ago. When we came together in 2001, we had been warning about what the future would be, about its consequences. Now we are not warning about the future. We are in the midst of droughts, floods, heatwaves, powerful storms, rising sea levels, everything that was projected is happening”, he said.

“The most positive news by far on this occasion is that the G20 Presidency is in India’s hands. This is a fundamental change of global politics that is underway. It is extremely important. It is not an accident that we have not had progress politically. The biggest obstacle to progress by far in the last 25 years has been the US government and a few other high income countries. We need India to be in the lead, we need China to be in the lead, we need Brazil to be in the lead. What is remarkable about global politics right now is that we are in the midst of fundamental change. We are at the end of the North Atlantic world and at the beginning of a true multilateral world,” Sachs said.

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