Sunday, 3 February 2013

A Student’s perspective on Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013

From 31st January to 2nd February 2013, the shining marbles of the Taj Palace, New Delhi hosted the shining marvels of the world that flew down to New Delhi to discuss the sustainability and resource management issues. The 13th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit was organized by TERI -The Energy and Resource Institute with the theme of “The Global Challenge of Resource Efficient Growth and Development.” The event was inaugurated by Dr. Manmohan Singh (Current Prime Minister of India). It was concluded by renowned ministers- Salman Khurshid and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. It was attended by country heads of Seychelles, Guyana, Kiribati and Finland, Ministers of countries like Bhutan, Poland, Thailand, Québec, Nigeria, Maldives, Japan and many other ‘environmentally concerned’ countries. The event was also value-added by the presence of Noble Laureates Dr R K Pachauri (Director-General of TERI) and Carlo Rubbia (Scientific Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Germany). Also, it was supported by leading corporates and was covered by worldwide media.

Amongst all these big names, in the dark of the hall, dressed in formals (many for the first time), handing over the mikes, rushing the people inside, distributing the papers, managing the paper work, running for autographs, were us- the student volunteers. Students- who were more enthusiastic than anyone else. Students- who felt a little out of place among those titans. Students- who were largely unacknowledged during the whole event. Since it was our first experience of participating in an event of this magnitude, I would like to share my views as a student on the summit. 
For me as an environmental studies scholar, what could be better than listening to our PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, an economist, talk about ecology and sustainability? It was great to know how well aware our political leaders are about the rising problems of climate change and are willing to take the necessary steps for betterment of global environment. When you hear governmental personnel of countries like USA and Japan (among the largest GHG emitters) and of small island nations like Kiribati (vulnerable to climate change) ardently supporting ecology and environment, you ought to believe that the world’s on the right track of the sustainable development. But it being the 13th summit makes me wonder, how many more such conferences do we need to have to actually do something impactful for the earth. When are we really going to walk the talk, in fact to be at the par with the rapidly changing climate, we might need to ‘run the talk’ and perhaps even that would not be enough.

While most of the sessions seemed enriching to me, some speakers and sessions managed to stand out. Amongst them was the energetic words delivered by Mr Bittu Sahgal who accentuated environmental services and lack of measuring instruments of their importance. Larry Brilliant’s presentation was also very informative and talked about sea level rise and its possible impact on India and Bangladesh.  It was a fateful moment for us to see two Nobel Laureates in conversation- Dr R K Pachauri and Carlo Rubbia discussing future of renewable energy.  Among the parallel running thematic tracks ‘Learning from Green initiatives in Asia’ was quite distinguished and provided a sneak view of the environmental efforts being taken by developing nations like India, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.

Events like these provide a platform for exchange of knowledge, best practices and policies. Survival stories of small islands serve as an inspiration to the more developed countries. The event concluded on 2nd February with countries looking forward to sustainable development, food and energy security with equity and it was a huge success. We hope to have more of such inspiring summits in our country.

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