Report by Santanu Ganguly, New Delhi: 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.”
Dr R. K. Pachauri, Director General, TERI: Padma Vibhushan, Dr. Pachauri has been with TERI since 1982. Under his able leadership, TERI today has emerged as one of the few action-oriented interdisciplinary institutions in the world and one that firmly believes that its research and findings must result in implementation to improve the human condition. In April 2002, Dr. Pachauri was elected the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as position to which he was re-elected in September 2008. It was during his chairmanship that IPCC Gore was awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize” for the year 2007 along with former Vice President Al Gore. Recently, he was conferred with the “Mexican order of Aztec Eagle” ,the highest decoration awarded by Mexico to foreigners for their contributions to the Mexican nation or to the humankind.
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.” Dr. Leena Srivastava, Executive Director, TERI, is responsible for coordinating TERI's research agenda across the Institute and facilitating the implementation of the same. She is also the Acting Vice Chancellor, TERI University. Over two decades of experience at TERI, Dr. Srivastava has worked on a range of issues across energy and environment policy/planning, energy economics and climate change. She holds several memberships that includes, Member of the Advisory Group on Energy and Climate of the UN Secretary General; Member, International Advisory Panel, Global Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Institute, Member, ESMAP Expert Panel on Sustainable Energy Supply, Poverty Reduction and Climate Change. In 2008, the Prime Minister of the French Republic awarded Dr Srivastava with the Knight of the Order of Academic Palms ( Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques ). She has also received a Certificate of Recognition from the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the IPCC for her contribution to the work of the IPCC.
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.” Mr. C Dasgupta was an Indian Foreign Service officer from 1962 to his retirement in 2000. Among other distinguished positions, he served as Ambassador to the European Union (1996–2000) and as Ambassador to China (1993–96). Mr. Dasgupta has a long association with international negotiations on climate change and other sustainable development issues. He is presently a Member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change; Distinguished Fellow at TERI; and Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. He is the author of War and Diplomacy in Kashmir 1947–48 and has authored numerous articles on environmental issues and international affairs. He also has been awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India.
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.” He joined TERI as Distinguished Fellow in August 2005 after a long and illustrious career with the Government of India and the United Nations . A graduate of the London School of Economics, Mr Desai retired from the UN in 2003 as Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. In India, he was part of the Planning Commission (1973–88) and later the Ministry of Finance as the Chief Economic Adviser (1988–90). In the UN, where he was Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, his major contribution was organizing a series of global summits notably the Rio Earth Summit (1992), the Copenhagen Social Development Summit (1995), the Monterrey Finance and Development Summit (2002), and the Johannesburg Sustainable Development Summit (2002).
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.” Dr. Ghosh a multidisciplinary professional specializing at the interface of science, economics, and public policy, was a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) from 1969 until 2007, when he retired as Secretary, Environment and Forest, Government of India. He was appointed Distinguished Fellow at TERI in 2007 and is actively involved in climate change and sustainable development policy. He currently serves as Member of the Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change; Member of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, and Scientific Consultant in the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India. He is a member of the Eminent Persons Group on G-20 matters set up to advise the Ministry of Finance.
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.
From microbiology to global climate change, from smoke-filled rural kitchens to plush corporate boardrooms, from schoolchildren to heads of state—no sphere of human endeavor is unfamiliar to TERI. Headed by world-renowned economist and Nobel Prize winning climate scientist, Dr R K Pachauri, TERI is best described as an independent, not-for-profit research institute focused on energy, environment, and sustainable development and devoted to efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.
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