G20: The world renews pledge to recover together


I spent the last two days attending the G20 Joint Environment and Climate Ministers Meeting in Bali, Indonesia’s very own Land of Gods, which is also a traveller’s paradise given its natural beauty marked by looming volcanoes, attractive islands, lush terraced rice fields, and enchanting ancient temples. Bali exudes peace and serenity but for Indians the attraction to the place goes beyond just that. India and Bali are unified by Sanatan Dharma which is eternal and transcends all boundaries. 

The G20 Environment and Climate Ministers met against this backdrop to deliberate upon the challenges facing the fight against climate change and to work on ways to steer the world towards a sustainable future. The meeting was organised on the theme ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’ given the fact that the world is currently under pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which requires joint and inclusive efforts in finding a way out.

As a representative of India, I underlined Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi ji’s stated policy that lays emphasis on the need to work together for stronger recovery and resilience across the world, leaving no one behind especially the most vulnerable sections of the society, a tenet which is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I also stated that sustainable recovery should also lead towards Sustainable Development Goals drawing the attention of the world leaders to the fact that while climate change is a global phenomenon, its negative impacts are more severely felt by the poor and vulnerable especially in the developing countries. As a result those who contributed the least to global warming are the worst hit by its vagaries.

Reminding the developed nations of their responsibility, I underlined that India is committed to be part of the solution even though it hasn’t been a significant contributor to the climate crisis. I reminded the gathering of Hon’ble PM Shri Mod ji’s address at the World Leaders Summit at COP 26 in November 2021, where Shri Modi ji gave a new mantra for sustainable development i.e. LiFE- Lifestyle For Environment to the world. A mantra that beseeches us to move away from mindless and destructive consumption to mindful and deliberate utilisation. 

I highlighted to the world how India’s effort towards the clean energy and energy security low carbon and efficient industrial growth, sustainable agriculture and low-carbon living affirm our commitment to a transformative shift towards sustainable lifestyle for all. 

I also underscored the Hon’ble PM’s views on the need to redefine prosperity to ensure affordable, servable and sustainable lifestyle for all, saying sustainability requires coordinated action for the global commons. India stands for a ‘whole of the world’ approach that recognizes the interdependence of countries, economies and communities.

In my bilateral engagements and multilateral events, I underlined that India is working with a Green Budget towards building a circular economy which works on the principle of reduce, reuse and recycle.  

The event saw some very constructive and meaningful engagements between countries to find ways towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Priority issues of the Indonesian G20 Presidency including i) supporting a more sustainable recovery, (ii) enhancing land and sea-based actions to support environment and (iii) enhancing resource mobilization to support environment protection and climate also came up for discussions. 

Member states agreed to collaborate to scale up efforts to combat desertification, land degradation and drought, as well as to restore degraded land to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030, as per SDG 15.3, towards the G20's ambition to reduce land degradation by 50% by 2040. The Ministers and country representative also agreed to actively promote and increasingly mainstream ecosystem restoration, including land and forest restoration.

The group agreed that acknowledge that wetlands in all their diversity, including peatlands and mangroves, are unique ecosystems and particularly important in the provision of many ecosystem services and to implement measures to protect, conserve, sustainably use and restore them, and to ensure their sustainability and resilience.

There was also an agreement to acknowledge the importance of strengthening the G20 support to existing global initiatives for sharing experience and knowledge in tackling desertification, land degradation and drought.

In sync with Hon’ble Indian Prime Minister’s message of building a sustainable life, participants at the G20 Ministerial emphasised on the importance of resource efficiency and circular economy for the achievement of sustainable production and consumption thus contributing to addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, land and water degradation and pollution. In a bid towards building a sustainable future, delegates agreed to steer their economies towards recycling.

As India gears up to assume the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 culminating in the G20 Summit in 2023, I stated that as under the Indonesian Presidency, there shall be meetings, side events, workshops, seminars and site visits, which shall be held across major cities.

The potential priorities during India’s Presidency for the EDM-CSWG may include promotion of blue economy along with coastal sustainability; restoration of degraded lands and ecosystems; and promoting LIFE, including sustainable consumption and production, resource efficiency and circular economy.