The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) held a special media interaction on the challenges and opportunities in the context of global sustainable development agenda post the recently concluded Rio Plus 20 Summit today. Director General of TERI, Dr. R K Pachauri, Executive Director Dr. Leena Srivastava and Distinguished Fellows Nitin Desai, Ambassador Chandrashekhar Dasgupta & Dr. Prodipto Ghosh, reflected on the various issues raised at the Summit and underscored the need to tackle unsustainable means of production and consumption.
The recent culmination of the Rio Plus 20 Summit has once again fuelled socio-political debate on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead on the road to sustainable development. While a number of environmental activists and NGOs have expressed deep disappointment with the outcome of this major event, several governments view it as a victory and vindication of their own specific stands. TERI's distinguished speakers said the need of the hour was to engage concerned stakeholders to arrive at a consensus on critical issues such as equity between developed and developing nations in achieving sustainable development.
Speakers felt there were two ways of following the outcome of Rio+20. One was to conclude that nothing of substance and certainly no agreements were produced by this conference. The second view would be to conclude that the 'future we want' as documented as the outcome of the conference clearly provided a wide canvas of concepts and directions that the world could possibly adopt towards the pursuit of sustainable development.
Speakers also pointed out that at the Summit, the developed countries had attempted to rollback principles of equity, which were an integral outcome of the Rio Conference held in 1992. However, lauding the strong and united stand taken by the developing nations at the Summit, Dr. R K Pachauri, Director General, TERI, said: "It is time India takes the lead and takes charge of the intellectual leadership of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) raised at the Summit." Dr. Pachauri further added, "The final produced at the culmination of the Rio Summit had enough substance for each community and stakeholder to pick up elements to promote the discourse of global sustainable development."
Speaking at the occasion, Executive Director, TERI, Dr. Leena Srivastava said: "The final document recognised the need of clean energy to achieve sustainable development. Emphasis of the Summit was also on boosting education and capacity building to meet sustainability targets."
Ambassador C. Dasgupta, a Distinguished Fellow at TERI, said: "The road ahead would focus on the evolution and scope of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their relation to the Millennium Development Goals."
Nitin Desai, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, said: "The interest and participation of corporate entities and the scientific and academic communities at the Summit was far greater at the Rio Plus 20 Summit than ever before. This is so because the trend is no longer limited to green consumerism, but to green investors."
Dr. Pradipto Ghosh, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, opined: "The focus on sustainable production and consumption is the main point that has emerged from the Summit. Strong unity among the G-77 group to protect their individual development space has also come out strongly through the conference."
Speakers also highlighted relevant opportunities to enhance the scope of the sustainable development agenda:
i) Profiling the elements of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The concept of green economy would need to take into account links between financing, technology, capacity building and national needs for sustainable development.
ii) Enunciating sustainable development goals and motivating of stakeholders, including business and industry to set in place a reporting system involving sustainability.
iii) Establishing regional, national, sub-national and local initiatives to implement the provisions of the Rio+20 document.
iv) Dealing effectively with the challenge of climate change and problems such as deforestation and loss of biodiversity as well as the problems of desertification, land degradation and drought.
v) Evaluating pathways to sustainable consumption and production.