Public Diplomacy Public Diplomacy

Opening Remarks by Hon'ble Minister of State for Environment and Forests at the Media Interaction in Rio de Janeiro

June 20, 2012

I am very pleased to be interacting with friends from the media, in this lovely city of Rio.

Right at the outset, I must thank our host Brazil for their excellent arrangements for the Conference and also warmly congratulate them for their leadership in ensuring a speedy conclusion of the Rio+20 outcome document. I commend the Brazilian Presidency for the transparent and inclusive way this process was handled and the fine balance they were able to achieve in the outcome document which is key for its acceptance by all delegations.

As far as India is concerned, the outcome document takes into consideration our interests and concerns and we are satisfied with the overall package. India was constructive at Rio and, in addition to our own proposals, which met with widespread support, our delegation played a crucial role in bridging differences and building consensus on many important issues.

One significant development has been the restoration of the centrality of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the environmental discourse. Equity and its manifestation, the principle of CBDR, are at the heart of international cooperation for sustainable development and we are glad that we have collectively agreed on this key issue, which is of great significance to developing countries, not least in the climate change context.

The outcome document also clearly recognizes poverty eradication as the greatest global challenge. In doing so, it places this squarely at the centre of the global development agenda.

The conference will also be remembered for kick-starting the process on Sustainable Development Goals. Since they are expected to become a part of the post-2015 global development agenda, SDGs will hopefully guide the international community towards inclusive sustainable development. We are happy that this process and its outcome will be guided by the Rio principles, respect national circumstances, priorities and capacities.

We are satisfied that no specific goals and targets have been agreed a priori and we look forward to engage constructively in the intergovernmental process to outline and develop goals that would be applicable to all countries, not just developed countries, integrate the three pillars sustainable development, respect CBDR and involve meaningful action by all parties and not constrain development.

We have also recognized Green Economy as one of the means to sustainable development and poverty eradication, and have firmly rejected unilateral measures and trade barriers under the guise of Green Economy.

While we remain disappointed with the weak political will in developed countries to provide enhanced means of implementation to developing countries, we are glad that we have agreed to set up two important mechanisms one for Technology Transfer and another for Finance. Both were Indian proposals, which received strong support from G77 countries, including from Africa, LDCs and small island states. We now keen to collectively ensure that these mechanisms are operationalized and deliver effectively for developing countries.

This evening I was invited to address a High-level round table, where I highlighted that it was ironical that we not only faced a global meltdown - but simultaneously staring at a total environmental meltdown. Thus we are here today to talk once again about the rights of Earth and her children not the rights of polluters, whoever they may be.

I mentioned that I represented 1.2 billion people and that our challenge was to create a robust economy and eradicate poverty while at the same time, ensure that our poor who are already deeply vulnerable to climate change disasters, are not further impacted.

Permit me to point out the difference between the environmentalism of the rich and the environmentalism of the poor. The rich countries grew, developed and polluted the world. Consequently, when the environment movements came, they had the money to clean up. Our nascent growth and economy start our growth trajectory with the problems of a polluted world.

Our fundamental challenge is to do more with less. Frugality and innovation will be our way to growth and our challenge will be to provide the gains of development to the vast majority of our people to make growth sustainable and affordable.

The efficiency revolution brought few results. The sufficiency revolution should begin. As Mahatma Gandhi said, we have enough to satisfy everyone's need but not everyone's greed.

When we talk of the Green Economy, India is committed to a Green World Economy but, I must hasten to add, a real green economy - not a Green Washed Greed Economy, as our environmentalist says.

We are committed to a green economy that does not commodity nature and one which protects local communities. Therefore, the market driven green economy - the old paradigm of trading in land, water and forests cannot continue in a business as usual scenario for this is a failed paradigm. Local communities have to be protected and involved. Local solutions have to be operationalised. Green Economy has to be bottoms up and democratised. Otherwise it will be no more than green-wash. Cost of Green Development cannot be unaffordable for the poor.

I also pointed out in the roundtable that India has already taken several steps to promote green growth in the context of sustainable development including plans for emissions intensity reduction by 20-25% by 2020 over 2005, for 20,000 MW of solar energy, Prime Minister's National Missions for enhanced energy efficiency, sustainable habitat etc.

Thank you.

Rio de Janeiro
June 20, 2012


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