India’s approach to sustainable development shines brightly: Minister Puri

India’s approach to sustainable development shines brightly: Minister Puri

In last decade, over 250 million people lifted out of multidimensional poverty, testament to the nation’s commitment to inclusive growth

  • By ICN Bureau | February 24, 2024

If India succeeds, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will succeed. And if the SDGs are to succeed, India has to succeed,” emphasised Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing & Urban Affairs. In his address at UN Global Compact Network India’s (UNGCNI’s) 18th National Convention, he said that India is the most populous nation in the world, has the fifth-largest and fastest-growing economy, and is fast becoming the most preferred investment destination. “Outcomes in India will determine the outcomes of the world.”, he noted.

Puri inaugurated UNGCI’s 18th National Convention. Arun Kumar Singh, President, UN GCNI and Chairman and CEO, ONGC; Isabelle Tschan (Shan), Resident Representative, UNDP India; and Ratnesh, Executive Director, UN GCNI were among dignitaries present at the event.

Under the theme "Advancing Sustainable India: Driving Change with Forward Faster 2030," the one-day convention features various sessions covering topics such as accelerating climate change action, advancing water resilience, fostering prosperity through sustainable finance and investment, and promoting living wages for economic empowerment.

Highlighting the remarkable progress made by India in achieving SDGs in last decade, the Minister said that over 250 million people have been lifted out of multidimensional poverty, a testament to the nation’s commitment to inclusive growth. He said that the Missions such as the Swachh Bharat Mission, and AMRUT have utterly and totally transformed the water and sanitation landscape of the country, making it open defecation free. With rigorous 3rd party verification, these achievements are not just self-proclaimed but backed by solid evidence, he added.

In the midst of global challenges, India’s approach to sustainable development shines brightly, said Shri Puri. He said, while significant portions of the world struggle with access to clean water and sanitation, India has made remarkable strides in addressing these issues. Despite the vast financing gap in achieving sustainability goals, he said, India has been proactive in mobilising resources and implementing impactful initiatives.

Talking about the efforts of Government towards women empowerment, Shri Puri said that so far, all the schemes in India have been women centred but now there has been a shift towards women led schemes. He mentioned about the historic Women’s Reservation Bill introduced last year to ensure an equitable participation of women in political processes.

The Minister also spoke about India’s progress on its sustainability targets. Referring to the outstanding journey of ethanol blending in country, he said that in case of ethanol blending in petrol and diesel, we had set a target of 20 per cent blending by 2030, but we had to bring it forward to 2025-26 because of the outstanding progress made. He also mentioned about the efforts of Government towards building an enabling ecosystem for emerging technologies such as battery energy storage systems, green hydrogen electrolysers, e-mobility, and waste-to-energy through manufacturing incentives and innovative financing policies. He said that India’s net zero target of 2070 will be achieved before the deadline.

Along with Government, the Minister acknowledged the role of private sector including businesses and industries in achieving SDGs. Combining purpose with profit can generate a unique competitive advantage to meet the expectations of consumers, investors, and employees, he said. He said that the reputations of businesses are now linked to their public commitment to the SDGs, both for investors as well as for consumers. Not just consumers, even investors are increasingly paying attention to environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks when making decisions, he noted.

Puri acknowledged the contribution of impactful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in pushing the SDG agenda forward. However, he said that CSR is not enough by itself. It is just the beginning. If companies and businesses are to create meaningful change, they must look at incorporating sustainability in their operations as well, he said. He mentioned the example of ONGC which has integrated sustainable practices into its core operations to enable a reduction in Scope-1 and Scope-2 emissions by 17% in the last five years of its operations.

In his concluding remarks, the Minister said, as we move towards becoming a ‘Viksit Bharat’, our commitments to the Lima conference, 2015 Paris Agreement, Panchamrit Plan, and women-led development guide our thinking. The UNGC serves as a valuable ally, providing guidance, expertise, and a platform for collaboration, he said.

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