Sustainable solutions for new-age economies

By: | Updated: September 21, 2015 11:46 AM

Protection of environment and development go hand-in-hand, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said at the 10th Sustainability Summit

Sustainable summitMinister of state for environment, forest and climate change (independent charge) Prakash Javadekar with ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar, former RBI Dy Governor Subir Gokaran and Seema Arora, executive director at the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for
Sustainable Development, at the 10th Sustainability Summit in New Delhi

India is not an IT superpower but simply IT labour contractor as it lacks innovation. “We have not come up with Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, any new operating system or real new products,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said while kicking off the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) 10th Sustainability Summit, held in New Delhi on September 15-16. The two-day meet was organised by CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, with The Financial Express as its print media partner.

Stressing that the protection of environment and development must go hand-in-hand, Javadekar said Indian industries must start investing more on research and development for creating sustainable practices, failing which the country would not benefit, pointing out that the industrial progress must be based on innovation. Reflecting on the last one year, the minister said he is “convinced that protection of environment and development is possible simultaneously, they go hand-in-hand, they are not against each other and that is what sustainable development means.” According to the minister, the key to sustainability is employment. Giving the example of wood, he said that what happens when we import it is that we export jobs. This is something that needs to change.

Javadekar announced at the Summit that the government is initiating, “public-private partnership, where land will remain with the government, but the private industries who are importing wood can do commercial harvesting.” This according to him will not only create a new carbon sink but will also create competition for the forest department. The minister appealed to the industry to not take shortcuts to growth, but find alternative routes even if it takes a little longer keeping in mind the life cycle costs.

The 10th Sustainability Summit was organised in partnership with the ministry of environment, forest & climate change, ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, ministry of new and renewable energy, Ananta Centre, CBD-UNEP, GIZ, IGBC, NFCG, WBCSD, WWF-India and The Financial Express as the print media partner. The other sponsors for the event were ITC, BMW, DSM India, Ambuja Cements, Dalmia Cements, Grundfos Pumps India, NABARD, National Biodiversity Authority, Rio Tinto India, Hindustan Zinc, Ericsson India, SABMiller India, Thinkstep and Wipro. The Summit focussed on important issues such as biodiversity, climate change, electric vehicles, next 10 years of sustainability in India, smart cities, water, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development goals amongst other issues covering vivid economic aspects and their impacts.

Javadekar said that climate change and sustainability have become businesses for western countries as they have developed new technologies for it. “Green coal technology, climate technology, sustainable development practices, each of them has been developed by somebody else. We are just importing. Unless we make and we have them, we will not progress,” he said.

YC Deveshwar, past president, CII, chairman, CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development Advisory Council and chairman, ITC, opened the Summit by saying that a decade back sustainability was a diffused thought when CESD began operations but with every passing year now sustainability has become a priority. Sustainability, he said, has three dimensions, “the competitiveness dimension, the job creating and social asset forming dimension, and the environmental asset creating dimension.”

Setting a macro-level context to the two-day discussions for the Sustainability Summit, Subir Gokarn, former deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India & director-research, Brookings India, highlighted the fact that trade-off between growth, development, and environmental protection is a false dilemma. This is not an either/or choice but both can be achieved together. “That requires behavioural changes, requires strategic changes, and organisational changes,” he said.

In her address, Seema Arora, executive-director, CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, pointed out that what we are “confronting is nothing less than an existential crisis.” What we need according to her is “to develop abilities to exist. This is called ExistAbility.” Her call for action to business and government both was that “keep talking but start acting, now. It’s not walk-the-talk; it’s gallop-the-talk.”

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