Here are the edited excerpts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Inaugural Address at TERI’s World Sustainable Development Summit:
I am delighted to join you at the Twenty First World Sustainable Development Summit. Environment and sustainable development have been key focus areas for me all through my 20 years in office, first in Gujarat and now at the national level.
Friends, we have heard people call our planet fragile. But it is not the planet that is fragile. It is us. We are fragile. Our commitments to the planet, to nature, have also been fragile. A lot has been said over the last 50 years, since the 1972 Stockholm Conference. Very little has been done. But in India, we have walked the talk.
Equitable energy access to the poor has been a cornerstone of our environmental policy. Through Ujjwala Yojana, more than 90 million households have been provided access to clean cooking fuel. Under the PM-KUSUM scheme, we have taken renewable energy to the farmers. We are encouraging farmers to set up solar panels, use it and sell surplus power to the grid. Standalone solar pumps as well as efforts for solarising existing pumps are being scaled up. The focus on ”Chemical-free Natural Farming” will also help promote sustainability, and equity.
Friends, our LED bulbs distribution scheme has been running for over seven years. It has helped save more than 220 billion units of electricity and 180 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. We have announced the setting up of the National Hydrogen Mission. It aims to tap into Green Hydrogen, an exciting technology to power our future. I encourage academic and research institutes like TERI to come up with scalable solutions to realize the potential of green hydrogen.
Friends, India is a mega-diverse country. With 2.4% of the world’s land area, India accounts for nearly 8% of the world’s species. It is our duty to protect this ecology. We are strengthening our Protected Area network. The I.U.C.N. has recognized our efforts. The Aravalli Biodiversity Park in Haryana has been declared as an O.E.C.M. site for its effective conservation of biodiversity. I am also glad that two more wetlands from India have got recognition as Ramsar sites recently. India now has 49 Ramsar sites spread over more than 1 million hectares. Restoring degraded land has been one of our main focus areas. Since 2015, we have restored more than 11.5 million hectares. We are on track to achieve the national commitment of Land Degradation Neutrality under the Bonn Challenge. We firmly believe in fulfilling all our commitments made under the U.N.F. C.C.C. We have also raised our ambitions during CoP-26 at Glasgow.
Friends, I firmly believe, and I am sure you would agree that environmental sustainability can only be achieved through climate justice. Energy requirements of the people of India are expected to nearly double in the next twenty years. Denying this energy would be denying life itself to millions. Successful climate actions also need adequate financing. For this, developed countries need to fulfill their commitments on finance and technology transfer.
Friends, sustainability requires co-ordinated action for the global commons. Our efforts have recognised this inter-dependence. Through the International Solar Alliance, our aim is ”One Sun, One World, One Grid”. We must work towards ensuring availability of clean energy from a world-wide grid everywhere at all times. This is the ”whole of the world” approach that India’s values stand for.
Friends, The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (C.D.R.I.), aims to build strong infrastructure in areas prone to frequent natural disasters. On the side-lines of CoP-26, we also launched an initiative called ”Infrastructure for Resilient Island States”. The Island Developing States are the most vulnerable and hence need urgent protection.
Friends, to these two initiatives, we now add LIFE – LIfestyle For Environment. LIFE is about making lifestyle choices to improve our planet. LIFE will be a coalition of like-minded people across the world who will promote sustainable lifestyles. I call them 3Ps – Pro Planet People. This global movement of Pro Planet People (3-Ps) is the Coalition for LIFE. These three global coalitions will form the trinity of our environment efforts for improving the global commons.
Friends, our traditions and culture are the sources of my inspiration. In 2021, I spoke about how the health of people and the planet are inter-linked. Indians have always lived in harmony with nature. Our culture, rituals, daily practices and numerous harvest festivals demonstrate our strong bonds with nature. Reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, re-design and re-manufacture have been part of India’s cultural ethos. India will continue to act for climate resilient policies and practices as we have always done.
With these words, and with that solemn promise, I extend my best wishes to TERI and to all the participants from around the world at this Summit.