G20 Summit: India’s Priorities on Environmental Sustainability

What is G20?

G20 stands for the Group of Twenty which is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It is a key platform and has an important role in designing and strengthening global architecture and governance on major international economic issues. The Group of Twenty was founded in 1999 after the occurrence of the Asian financial crisis as a forum for Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss and act on global economic and financial issues. The G20 Summit is held annually, under the leadership of a rotating Presidency. It initially focused largely on broad macroeconomic issues, but it has recently broadened its agenda to inter-alia including trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change, and anti-corruption.

The G20 Presidency steers the G20 agenda for a year and hosts the Summit. This year in 2023, India has been given the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023. The theme of India’s G20 Presidency is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means “One Earth · One Family · One Future”. This meaning is taken from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad. This is a powerful and impactful message of India’s G20 Presidency, which denotes striving for equitable growth for all in the world. We are navigating through crisis times, in a sustainable, holistic, responsible, and inclusive manner. This is a unique approach of the G20 Indian Presidency, of living in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem.

This year, the G20 Presidency in India defines a new beginning of “Amritkaal”, it is the 25-year period beginning from the 75th anniversary of its independence on 15 August 2022. Thus leading up to the centenary of India’s independence, marching towards a futuristic, prosperous, inclusive, and developed society, distinguished by a human-centric approach at its core. India has designed several priorities to focus on its G20 Presidency and those are as follows: 

  1. Accelerating Inclusive and Resilient Growth
  2. Digital Transformation
  3. Green Development and LiFE
  4. Women-led Development
  5. Need for Reformed 21st Century Institutions

In this article, we shed light on the priority that focuses on environmental sustainability at the G20 summit. Among the above-mentioned priorities, Green Development and Life are dedicated to improving one global goal which is climate change. In this article, we intend to highlight the priorities of the G20 Indian presidency in the areas of environmental sustainability and climate change.

Green Development and LiFE:

The green transition is a major milestone to protect the planet Earth. Sustainability can be successfully achieved hand in hand with inclusive economic growth and development. Climate action and progress on SDGs are two sides of the same coin. With increasing globalization and easier availability of resources, circular economy and responsible consumption have gained significant importance. The Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) is living a lifestyle with minimal waste production along with sustained growth. This lifestyle can be adopted by everyone throughout the world. Indian culture and lifestyle have always been sustainable since the beginning.

The lifestyle for the environment is specially designed for encouraging individuals and communities to change their behavior toward responsible consumption. Sustainable production and urbanization with a circular economy as a business model can be a better solution. Such a global pro-planet lifestyle movement holds the key to effectively addressing the multiple challenges of climate change, environmental degradation, and energy crises, thus achieving rapid, sustainable growth.

Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG):

The Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group meeting was conducted among G20 countries held in Bengaluru (February 2023) and Gandhinagar (March 2023). The meeting was led by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India. beginning of constructive discussions within G20 countries for a sustainable future, led by India’s G20 presidency.

Three priority areas identified by ECSWG under the Indian Presidency:

1.  Arresting Land Degradation, Accelerating Ecosystem Restoration

2.  Enriching Biodiversity; Promoting a Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Blue Economy

3.  Encouraging Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy

Some of the Highlights discussed in the meetings are as follows:

  • India intends to address matters of environment and climate change through an action-oriented and consensus-driven approach. The ECSWG will work in close collaboration with other G20 key working groups to holistically address issues relating to the environment, sustainability, and climate change.
  • Appropriate methods to restore land-based ecosystems affected by anthropogenic causes and enhancement of the Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Creation of circular economies in various sectors including steel and biowaste and the discussed the role of extended producer’s responsibility in the creation of a circular economy.
  • The Oceans and Blue Economy discussions covered a range of issues including marine litter, conservation and enhancement of coastal and marine ecosystems, and marine spatial planning, over three meetings and one side event. The focus of discussions was on the problem of marine plastic litter and its adverse impacts.
  • In the concluding session, it was highlighted that the Indian Presidency plans to convene an Ocean 20 dialogue to facilitate detailed discussion on important aspects of the Blue Economy.

In the second meeting of the ECSWG, The G20 member countries reaffirmed their commitment towards combatting the environment and climate crisis, but with a renewed sense of urgency.

  • Showcasing India’s ancient water management practices and the nation’s long-standing tradition of conserving water resources. During other sessions of the day the G20 countries presented their best practices in Water Resource Management.
  • Engaging deliberations amongst the delegates on the two priority landscapes identified under India’s Presidency and presentations on the proposed Gandhinagar Implementation Roadmap (GIR) and draft publications on a compendium of best practices by experts from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE).
  • Discussion on the deliberations of draft G20 documents on the four sub-themes – namely G20 Knowledge Exchanges in Circular Economy in Steel Sector, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Circular Economy and Circular Bioeconomy and the proposed G20 Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Industry Coalition – identified under the Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy formed the key discussion points during the technical session on Circular Economy.
  • Discussions on the need for protecting and conserving coastal and marine ecosystems for a healthy ocean, ecosystem conservation from the Blue Carbon initiative, mainstreaming Marine Spatial planning for a sustainable Blue Economy, and MSP Global Initiative.
  • Steps to accelerate the action on implementing the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework across G20 countries.
  • The conference ended on a note of collaboration with a goal to refine the proposed outcomes under the G20 India Presidency by incorporating the feedback of the delegates and best practices shared during the sessions and gathering inputs on the outline of the Communique presented. The 3rd ECSWG meeting is scheduled for 21st to 23rd May 2023 in Mumbai.

The G20 summit under the Indian presidency has given great importance to the environment and has developed strategies to tackle climate change. Readers are encouraged to read more about the plans and steps involved in this summit to address environmental sustainability.

Reference: G20 https://www.g20.org/en/

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