High Level Round-Table on Rebooting green growth

World Sustainable Development Summit: synergising global environmental efforts

The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) global presence is enhanced by a wide range of activities of geographical relevance that the institution engages in every year. Symbolic of this fact is its annual flagship event– the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS)–which focuses on sustainable development, environmental protection, and energy and the assessment of worldwide progress in these critical areas. Organized annually since 2001, the WSDS platform has facilitated the exchange of knowledge on all aspects of sustainable development. Over the past twenty years, it has emerged as one of the foremost fora on issues of global sustainability. This flagship event brings together regional and international thought leaders including various heads of state and government, policymakers, and leaders from several industries and academia to deliberate on myriad issues of topical environmental importance. As the Summit marks twenty years of its initiation, its 2021 edition will unify the world community by addressing the current global health crisis and the need to redefine our climate priorities as we emerge from it.

Redefining our common future to build back better

The COVID- 19 crisis has thrown the world off its charted course of actions and efforts, and nations across the globe are redrawing their national and international policies to address the significant economic, social, and political disruptions caused by the pandemic. By recognising the close inter-linkage that exists between climate change and global health, efforts towards wholesome environmental governance need to be increasingly streamlined. The 2021 edition of the WSDS will for this purpose focus its deliberations on attaining global consensus on ‘adopting greener mechanisms to build back better’ as we journey towards 2030 to meet our Global Targets. The Summit will refurbish and reinvigorate common world-wide efforts by espousing ‘Redefining Our Common Future: Safe and Secure Environment for All’ as the overarching theme of its discussions.

Rallying the global community through the COP26 Charter of Actions- a TERI effort

The UN Climate Change Conference – (UNFCCC COP26) – is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, the United Kingdom in November 2021. At the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), 196 countries will negotiate the acceleration of climate action in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. TERI proposes to develop a COP26 Charter of Actions publication as a document that represents the ‘voices of and for all’ by collating the interventions of not only experts but also assimilating the voices of global practitioners, academicians, climate scientists, youth, and the civil society involved in the climate change fight. It will cover the following broad themes that are in sync with the COP26 themes including- clean transport, green finance for a circular economy, adaptation and resilience, nature-based solutions, and energy.
This Charter will be a seminal report that will collate action agendas that emerge from a series of events- WSDS pre-events, stakeholder consultations, and a national level seminar. The final publication will be launched at the COP26 in November 2021 in Glasgow as a reference document for the global community that congregates at this international platform.

India’s emerging role as a global leader

India is increasingly assuming a leadership position to draw global attention to some of the key areas that are of relevance to the development of growing economies.  Accelerating sustainable economic growth is well recognized as the cornerstone for action and initiatives. India stands committed to meeting both the developmental requirements of its citizens and ensuring that we meet our stated commitments to climate action.

Even as the world recovers from the devastating impact of the pandemic, there is a need to retain sight of broader commitments to a cleaner and more sustainable path. The High Level Round-Table at WSDS 2021 has been conceptualised to rally global and Indian leaders together on a single platform as an important step in navigating the opportunities and challenges that emerge from redefining our shared environmental goals while weaving the inter-linkages between climate change, sustainable growth, and health priorities.

Leading up to the 26th Conference of the Parties, the High Level Round-Table under the theme, ‘Rebooting the Green Growth Narrative: Emerging Global Priorities’ will aim to steer discussions towards strengthening our commitment to maximizing renewable energy, enhancing our capacity to deal with the changing climate, and creating financial flows to help enable these actions.

Maximizing renewable energy (with a focus on solar and wind)

According to the IEA’s ‘Renewable 2019’ report, renewable energy capacity is set to expand 50% between 2019 and 2024 led by solar energy. US is predicted to double its solar installations to 4 million by 2023 with UK already at 1 million solar panel installations in 2018 and Australia at 2 million solar installations in the same year. Wind power is also becoming more prominent due to increased capacity. Onshore wind capacity is expected to increase by 57% to 850 GW by 2024. Annual onshore wind additions will be led by the US and China owing to a development rush and policy transition to competitive auctions respectively. Offshore wind capacity is expected to triple to 65GW by 2024 (almost 10% of total wind generation) with China leading this deployment at 12.5 GW in development. India, in the spot of fourth most attractive renewable energy market as of 2018 is well placed to benefit from this.

Enhancing our capacity to deal with the changing climate by integrating adaptation

The world is already experiencing change in average temperatures, shifts in the seasons and an increased frequency of extreme weather events and the longer efforts towards adaptation are put off, the more expensive and difficult they will become. Countries and communities need to urgently develop solutions and actions to respond to the current impacts of climate change and also prepare for future ones.

There is no one size fits all solution in adapting to climate change impacts. It can vary from building up flood defences to adapting to sea-level rise and the creation of drought-resistant crops to managing water shortages. For developing countries, it is also beneficial to have adaptation as a complementary part of their overall objectives with many aspects of economic development also facilitating adaption, like better education. India remains one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and so has always been active in raising the issue of ‘adaptation’ in climate change.

Enabling green growth

Aside from rapid adoption of technologies to combat climate change, green growth also calls for certain alternate measures like resource efficiency and effective waste management. The linear model of ‘produce, consume, and discard‘ needs urgent rejuvenation. Resource efficiency and waste management will need to be the key drivers of a green strategy because that is now the only viable path, which is capable of creating growth, new enterprises and a cleaner environment. Additionally, the focus of fiscal stimuli should be in demand side interventions instead of subsidies. The idea is to support initiatives which will eventually become independently viable and in turn be able to generate employment. This is of course particularly valuable in population dense countries like India.