The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit
February 2012: Cynics say that most international conferences are little more than junkets where poverty and environmental protection are discussed over champagne and caviar. Be that as it may, the truth is that almost all the global action we see between governments today rides on the back of the many conventions and protocols signed at such events.
Organised annually by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) since 2001, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) provides a platform for discussion and debate that serious players acknowledge is ‘vital’ in this age of climate change. And even the cynics say that the 2012 DSDS theme, Protecting the Global Commons: 20 years post Rio, is unquestionably a matter of life and death.
DSDS in 2012
And what if anything does the term ‘Commons’ refer to? It essentially means that resources not owned by any country or community, but are shared by everyone for example… the earth’s atmosphere, Antarctica, the ocean floor and outer space. In 1992, at the Rio Summit, a list of sustainable development practices famously called ‘Agenda 21’ was formulated. Two decades later, the debate on the culpability of the global north and the rights of the global south continue to rage. Predictably the ‘consensus’ reached by the countries of the world on that other very amorphous word ‘sustainable development’ is still shrouded in a mist of words. DSDS 2012 is a brave attempt to clear the air so to speak. To take stock of the current situation and formulate a roadmap for the future.
In the words of Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Director, TERI, “Despite the massive increase in literature and knowledge on the human and economic implications of damage and degradation to the global commons, human society has been largely irresponsible in dealing with this challenge. The Rio Summit of 1992 was a rallying point for those concerned with the planetary crisis faced on account of mounting neglect in this area, but sadly actions since Rio have been far below expectations. It is, therefore, appropriate that DSDS 2012 focus on this major theme, 20 years since Rio and help evolve strategies, by which the neglect of the past can be addressed effectively and urgently in the immediate future.”
Pachauri is clearly angry. And well should he be. Not only is his advice being accepted in the breach, but he became the target of the oil industry, which unleashed unprecedented personal attacks on him, none of which they were able to prove. When the Editor of Sanctuary, Bittu Sahgal, spoke to Pachauri about the dirty tricks departments working against him, he responded saying: “Personal attacks are par for the course. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to be targeted, because the people who tried desperately to discredit our science, or the material substance of our warnings on climate change... failed to make their case.”
In the event, the issue of climate change never went away as the petroleum lobby hoped it would. If anything it has taken centre stage on the agenda of virtually every government in the world. Little wonder then that the speaker list for DSDS 2012 is so high-powered. Ranging from Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India to H.E. Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, plus a selection of Nobel Laureates and renowned institutions, global opinion makers will be in attendance at DSDS, New Delhi. (Check out the speaker list at: http://bit.ly/zYcs2K.)
The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit
When: February 2-4, 2012
Where: The Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi
Special Events at 4th Indo-Japan Energy Forum • Regional Rollout of the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ Year • Women and the Green Economy • “Environment, Conflict and Cooperation” Exhibition • Emerging Energy Innovations ∙ Renewable Energy Technology • Climate Modelling • Forestry ∙ Energy Access • Clean and Green Cities • Green Buildings • Film Screening • Green Transportation • Climate Change and Water Resources
Women and Green Economy
A crucial component of DSDS is Women and Green Economy (WAGE). Understanding that women are key influencers in natural resource usage for families, the Earth Day Network plans to organise an event on the topic at DSDS to establish a policy agenda for Rio+20 that focusses on empowering women to tackle the climate crisis. Their strategy is to work towards securing women’s education and jobs and channeling green investments to benefit women.
YUVA (Youth Unites for Voluntary Action) Meet
DSDS 2012 will also bring together the brightest young minds from across international and national borders. The YUVA Meet 2012 under the theme of ‘Conserving Global Commons: Transforming Knowledge into Action’ aims at engaging the youth in environmental action, recognising their role as future leaders.
World CEO Forum
Initially started as a curtain raiser for the DSDS, the World CEO Forum (WCF) has become a prestigious meeting of international CEOs and businessmen to discuss the role companies play in fighting the climate crisis. Over 1,000 Indian and international CEOs have attended the conference since its inception in 2004 by the TERI–Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) in association with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). In 2012, the conference has been renamed the World CEO Sustainability Summit (WCSS) and with over 350 participants, it will enable Indian and international business leaders to discuss ‘Doing Business – While Protecting the Global Commons’.
The DSS agenda is available at http://bit.ly/ABG0q2
A list of the sub-themes explored at DSDS, including biodiversity and lifestyle trends has been uploaded here: http://bit.ly/xdG72I
Hope for the future?
We must contend with the fact that the UNFCCC Conference of Parties has failed. So what options do we now have? Frankly, civil society has little choice but to engage in ‘smaller’ events focussed on individual issues, such as those listed above, and work assiduously to make progress on specific policies. Towards this objective DSDS hopes to facilitate open and plain-speaking communications that can spearhead the formulation of a strong international treaty to protect our planet’s biodiversity and our climate. Its recognition of the role of women and businesses is unique and provides an edge over most other summits that virtually ignored these two key sectors.
Will DSDS 2012 achieve something significant?
We can only hope it will, so that we have at least an outside chance of influencing the will of nations to back implementable actions at the upcoming Rio summit later this year.
by A Sanctuary Report, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXXII No. 1, February 2012