When he addresses the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the leader of the third largest economy, will be heard keenly by over 150 world leaders because his speech will outline where India, which has fiercely defended its right to manufacturing and industrialisation to pull its 1.2 billion people out of poverty, stands on the sustainable development agenda.
The summit is expected to adopt new sustainable development goals, the sequel to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. The draft agenda has 17 new goals that aim to end poverty, promote prosperity and protect environment by 2030.
Officials said Modi is expected to underline that his government has already begun implementing several of these development goals.
“If you look at the 17 goals, India has already started work on 11,” an Indian official told The Indian Express. The government’s efforts on two of these — Clean Water and Sanitation, and Affordable and Clean Energy — are especially noteworthy, the official said.
The government is expected to highlight how the Swachh Bharat campaign, with the Prime Minister’s commitment to building toilets and ending open defecation, is a vehicle for the Clean Water and Sanitation goal.
Modi has also emphasised the need to shift from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. In this respect, the official said, the government’s commitment to produce 175 gw of electricity from solar and other renewable sources by 2022, and double that by 2030, is significant.
The Sustainable Cities and Communities goal mirrors India’s smart cities project, while the Life Under Water goal recalls Modi’s pitch for more focus on the “blue economy”, officials said.
On Climate Action, which is goal number 13, there are high expectations from India which is one of the big economies that has yet to announce its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) ahead of December’s climate change conference in Paris (COP21).
An announcement on INDCs timed with Modi’s visit to the US was widely anticipated, also because the deadline for submission is October 1, and only a few weeks remain for the final round of negotiations in November before COP21.
Officials said there was no likelihood that the Prime Minister will use the UN platform to make any announcement on INDCs, although climate change is an important aspect of the sustainable development agenda.