The first G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG) meeting came to a successful conclusion in Bengaluru last week, with all G20 nations demonstrating interest in and commitment to working constructively towards the goal of the three priority areas of stopping land degradation, accelerating ecosystem restoration, and enriching biodiversity; promoting a sustainable and climate resilient blue economy, and encouraging resource efficiency and circular economy.
The G20 countries’ inaugural meeting of the ECSWG, presided over by India, signals the start of fruitful debates toward a sustainable future. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, served as the meeting’s host over its three-day duration from February 9 to February 11, 2023.
The meeting began with a side event focused on exchanging best practices for restoring ecosystems in mining and forest fire-affected areas, according to a statement from the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. This was followed by a visit to the Bannerghatta National Park and Kalkere Arboretum to showcase the forest ecosystems of Karnataka, ecosystem restoration and ecotourism models, and wildlife protection.
Hardeep Puri, the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs and Petroleum and Natural Gas, gave an opening speech to begin the second day.
Leena Nandan, the secretary of the MoEFCC, then gave the welcome speech. She emphasized that India plans to address environmental and climate change issues using a consensus-driven and action-oriented strategy. She said the ECSWG would collaborate closely with other major G20 working groups to address environmental, sustainability, and climate change challenges comprehensively.
The first half of the second day’s sessions focused on improving the Global Biodiversity Framework and repairing anthropogenically impacted land-based ecosystems. The development of circular economies in diverse industries, such as steel and biowaste, and the role of extended producer responsibility in the development of a circular economy were discussed in the second part. Al so proposed was a G20 industrial coalition for circular economy and resource efficiency.
Delegates from every nation participated enthusiastically in the meetings.
Eenam Gambhir, the Joint Secretary of the G20 Secretariat, presented the prospective deliverables that the Development Working Group is guiding, including the High-Level Principles of LiFE and the Green Development Pact.
The delegates, who had traveled from 29 different countries, were given a unique taste of India at a cultural event held in the evening to highlight the rich cultural history of Karnataka.
The “Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy” session kicked off on the third and final day. Dr . M. Ravichandran, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, gave the introductory comments. Throughout three meetings and one side event, the Oceans and Blue Economy discussions covered various topics, including marine trash, the preservation and improvement of coastal and marine ecosystems, and marine spatial planning. The issue of marine plastic litter and its adverse effects was the main topic of conversation.
The technical research on “Accelerating the transition to Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy” that would encompass all G20 Countries and provide inputs for the creation of high-level principles on “Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy” was introduced by the Presidency.
It was also indicated that the Indian Presidency and Japan would issue the fifth report on efforts to combat marine plastic litter under the G20 Framework for Marine Plastic Litter.
Delegates endorsed measures for conserving and improving biodiversity, sustainable use of ocean resources, and reduced pollution and littering. These are essential for enhancing climate resilience, preserving oceans’ capacity to store carbon, and fostering a robust blue economy that sustains nearby coastal communities’ livelihoods.
The Indian Presidency intends to hold an Ocean 20 forum to promote in-depth debate on crucial Blue Economy issues, it was noted towards the end of the conference. To highlight the significance of taking action against marine litter and involving the community, the Indian Presidency also announced a coordinated beach cleaning effort to be held on May 21, 2023, outside the Ocean 20 discussion.
The significance of the LiFE (Lifestyles for Environment) Principles was emphasized since behavioral adjustments to promote the adoption of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, litter prevention, etc., will help maintain clean and healthy oceans.
The talks from this meeting will be continued at the second ECSWG meeting, which will be held in Gandhinagar from March 27–29, 2023.