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India today made a strong call for equity and universal energy access by the year 2030 for all, at the meeting of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel for Global Sustainability.
Participating at the meeting of the Panel at Helsinki, India’s Minister of State (I/C), Environment and Forests, Mr Jairam Ramesh, put forward three detailed papers prepared by Indian experts with the Minister’s inputs (see appendix for full papers). These were:
India’s papers were widely appreciated by other Panel members and will form the basis for further discussion.
India also shared a presentation on its experiences with the “Rights-based Approach” which relies on giving legal entitlements to citizens as a
means of empowerment and improved service delivery. The models of India’s Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the Right to Education Act and the Forest Rights Act, were keenly discussed and Panelists felt it was an approach that has important lessons for both developing and developed countries, many of whom are still striving for such an inclusive paradigm. A discussion of the Rights-based Approach will form a key component of the Panel’s final report.
The UN High Level Panel on Global Sustainability was established in September 2010 by the UN Secretary General with the aim of developing a set of substantive recommendations for the world’s sustainability agenda. The Panel is chaired by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Tarja Hallonen of Finland and has 20 other members from across the world. India is represented by Minister Jairam Ramesh.
In his intervention at the meeting, Mr Ramesh highlighted the “international sclerosis” which has come to afflict global environmental issues, even as public awareness and domestic actions have expanded over the last two decades. He spoke of the need for an “economic anchor” to underlie international discussions on environmental issues, and the need to mainstream metrics like per capita income in the discussion, with increasing international obligations being linked to levels of and increments in per capita income. He also spoke of the need to mainstream biodiversity, especially marine biodiversity in sustainability discussions.
The UN Panel will continue its work over the next few months, and submit a final report to the UN Secretary General by November 2011.