Emphasising that circular economy and resource efficiency can provide solutions to the challenges posed in the process of reconciling economic growth with environmental sustainability, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has pointed to the need for corporate participation in building resource efficiency and a circular economy. Addressing the 13th Sustainability Summit with the theme – “Everyone’s future” here today, Dr. Vardhan underlined the growth of Indian economy, along with successful management and development of forests, wildlife habitats and ecosystems. He stated that India has registered 1 per cent growth in its forest and tree cover, according to the latest report of Forest Survey of India. The Minister stressed that while talking about sustainable development, economy and ecology must go together. “The present Government has given equal thrust to both these components and we are marching towards the path of Sustainable Development”, he said. Dr. Vardhan referred to the recent implementation of ‘PARIVESH’- a single window clearance system in the spheres of Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zone. He pointed out that the automated system will help applicants track the application status, as well as help in improving environmental compliance. The Minister highlighted India’s affirmative action in embracing a sustainable lifestyle by aligning the 5 Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.
Acknowledging that the quality of air is an environmental issue that impacts the health of the country’s citizens, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the National Clean Air Action Plan and air quality monitoring infrastructure are the Government’s key areas of focus. The Minister averred that environmental challenges necessitate coordinated action from all sections of the society. He said that human beings have put immense pressure on the systems of nature, which has resulted in the emergence of global challenges such as climate change, melting of glaciers, loss of biodiversity, poverty and growing inequity. Dr. Vardhan alluded to the development of strategies for proper segregation of municipal solid waste and utilisation of plastic waste for recycling and recovery. “We have engaged with various municipal authorities and state pollution control boards to facilitate better understanding of regulatory frameworks to ensure an efficient waste collection and disposal system”, Dr. Vardhan said.
The Minister also invited the industry representatives to join hands with the Government on various initiatives such as air pollution control, waste management river conservation, or biodiversity conservation.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Housing and Urban Development, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri said, “India’s development trajectory will be ‘green’ and in consonance with the ethos of the 2030 development agenda”. He stated that India stands united in its efforts against rising global temperatures and elaborated that a quick glance at India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions reaffirm this point and referred to the target of 175 GW renewable energy capacities by 2022 as unprecedented. He averred that the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 recognized the intrinsic linkages between climate change and urbanization. “Goal 11, titled “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” has embedded in it, critical elements of climate action. Solid waste management, air pollution, slum housing, and water related disasters, are just some of the climate-related aspects covered in Goal 11”, he outlined.
Pointing to the objective of the Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM) to make India ODF and have 100% scientific solid waste management by October 2, 2019, the Minister suggested that SBM is not only about infrastructure, but also bringing about behavioural and cultural changes among citizens. He added that to ensure India’s city driven development is sustainable, the government has embarked on the world’s largest planned urbanization programme. The key to the process is “integration”, meaning all policies, projects, and proposals are considered in relation to one another, he added.
Shri Puri stated that the use of new and alternate construction technologies in the construction of houses, locally available eco-friendly materials suited to local climatic conditions are being encouraged, reducing not only the cost of construction but also the resultant carbon footprint. He also emphasised on affordable, eco-friendly and modern urban transportation services and said that Delhi Metro is today comparable to the best in the world.
Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Shri Chandrajit Banerjee, European Commissioner, Mr. Karmenu Vella and representatives from industry and civil society were among those present on the occasion.
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