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Let’s aim to achieve our economic & environmental goals together

Year 2030 will be an important year (and hopefully a memorable one) – it will be the year by which we have to fulfil our commitment towards climate change under Paris Agreement and also it is the year by which we want to become US$10 trillion economy. So, year 2030 is going to be an important milestone year for all of us because it will probably see a New India. If the things progress as planned we will see a qualitative improvement by 2030 in the way we live and behave with our environment.

India took five years to move from US$ 2 trillion to US$ 3 trillion economy and we aim to reach US$ 10 trillion economy in next ten years, which is not an impossible task either. It also means that we have to grow more than three times in next ten years. In other words, the growth we seen so far is just a fraction of what we are going to see in the current decade as much of India’s development and infrastructure growth is going to unfold in this decade.

Therefore, the decade presents an unparalleled opportunity and put great responsibility for integrating principles of green recovery and make it a win-win proposition. For India, unlocking a green recovery stimulus that can address the troika of jobs, growth and sustainability while addressing the impacts of climate change presents a huge opportunity. ‘Resilience’ and ‘people’ need to be the pillars on which the vision can be realised in the form of a green recovery.

We should ensure that there will be no trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection in the future. Therefore, our new development architecture must be less fragile and more diverse and inclusive which calls for a need for greater emphasis on ‘resilience.’ While the immediate attention for green recovery will be to address climate action through shovel-ready projects like renewable energy and energy efficiency, there is a need to complement these solutions by strengthening resilience to climate change and investing in nature-based solutions.

From environment angle we are in a precarious position but return to a comfortable position is not an impossible task as the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown showed us last year. We need to implement whatever we have learnt through the lockdown and make it habit to follow that rule. Equally important will be to emphasise building social security nets for the ‘people.’  The images of mass migration from urban/industrial regions during and post lockdown and the suffering the people went through should guide policymakers to keep ‘people’ at the centre of policies.

We should always keep in mind the fact that economic and environmental conditions impact individual welfare. High levels of pollution, lack of access to clean water and cramped living conditions all affect health outcomes as well as our professional efficiency. Often poverty forces people to make choices that degrade the environment. As FM unfolds government’s massive expenditure programme, there is a need to ensure that people’s livelihoods are protected, and they have access to clean air, water, energy, healthcare and education. We should aim to achieve our US$ 10 trillion economic goal by walking on sustainable development path so that we could also meet our Paris commitments simultaneously. For a growing economy like India, this also offers an opportunity to build back better around people’s aspiration by engaging with them at the national and sub-national level in deciding the growth model and importance of integrating societal and environmental wellbeing as part of development policies.

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