Side Event of 2nd G20 Development Working Group Meeting  in Kumarakom, Kerala

Accelerating Progress on SDGs with Data for Development (D4D) & Towards a Sustainable Future: Through Lifestyle for Environment and Just Green Transitions.

The 2nd meeting of G20 Development Working Group (DWG) under the G20 Sherpa Track kick-started today in the quaint backwaters of Kumarakom village in the district of Kottayam, Kerala, with a side event covering the issues of  data for development (D4D), lifestyle for environment, and transitions that are globally just, which are the key priority areas for India’s G20 Presidency. The Side Event was organized by the Ministry of External Affairs and G20 Secretariat in partnership with Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), United Nations in India, Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The event saw huge and active participation. Over 150 delegates & participants from G20 Members, 9 invitee countries, and various international and regional organizations, along with  representatives from government, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and private companies participated in the event.

The first part of the side event on the theme, “Accelerating Progress on SDGs with Data for Development (D4D)" began with the remarks of Amb. Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, Joint Secretary (G20) who emphasized that timely, reliable and accessible data is key to meaningful policy-making, efficient resource allocation, and effective public service delivery. He also mentioned that developing countries today need assistance in building their data capacities to bring about real development impact. He also underlined the need to curb data misuse and ensure that data serves a larger social purpose.

The  keynote video addresses were delivered by Mr. Suman Bery, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog of India and Mr. Indermit Gill, Chief Economist of the World Bank Group & Senior Vice President for Development Economics. Both speakers set the context on how to harness the power of data, curb its misuse and ensure that it improves development outcomes. NITI Vice Chairman Mr Suman Bery said that access to data is a necessary condition to benefit from data, but it is not sufficient; it is essential to have the capacity to convert the data into digital intelligence that can be used for purposes of public good. India’s SDG localisation model is an exemplary example of this principle. World Bank Chief Economist Mr Indermit Gill highlighted that lack of data makes it difficult to assess even global price movements accurately – information that is critical for understanding the severity of conditions in these areas and informing potential responses for addressing global poverty.

The first session on ‘Human-centric approaches to D4D’ was moderated by Dr. Laura Cyron, Economic Affairs Officer, UNCTAD which saw lively discussions on ensuring that D4D is inclusive, transparent, consent-based, integrous and accountable. The speakers included Ms. Claire Melamed, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data; Mr. Siddharth Shetty, Co-founder, Sahamati and Advisor, Digital Public Infrastructure, Ministry of Finance and Dr. Abhishek Bapna, Google Research who noted how data is a representation of people’s lives in numbers and highlighted the need for building trust in society and capacity of developing countries towards digitalisation and data-related technologies.

The second session on ‘Need for Capacity Building for D4D’ was moderated by Mr. Fayaz King, Advisor to the Office of UN SG’s Special Envoy on Technology and the panelists included Ms. Diana Sang, Digital Impact Alliance; Mr. Jojo Mehra, eGov Foundation; Ms. Chrissy Meier, Digital Public Goods Charter and Ms. Dafna Feinholz, UNESCO. The session highlighted the gaps in capacity building in D4D and the role of governments, civil society and private sector in D4D capacity building.

In addition, the side event saw presentations by Mr. Siddharth Hande, Founder, Kabadiwalla Connect, a waste management company that is in using ICT and IoT based technology to integrate informal actors into the formal waste management system; to deliver cost-effective and low-carbon waste management solutions that cities in the Global South need to support their growing economies and populations as well as by Dr. Abhishek Bapna of Google Research who demonstrated Google’s ambitious commitment to build a machine learning (ML) model that would support the world’s one thousand most-spoken languages, bringing greater inclusion to billions of people around the globe.

The second part of the event was titled ‘Towards a Sustainable Future: Through Lifestyle for Environment and Just Green Transitions’. The keynote address was delivered by Mr Avinash Persaud, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados on Investment and Financial Services and Member, Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance, who highlighted practical ways in which G20 countries can enable the required finance to set up an international enabling environment for realizing the green development across the world. This was followed by welcome remarks by Ms. Eenam Gambhir, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and co-chair of the DWG and panel discussions on ‘LiFE and Just Green Transitions’.

In the panel moderated by Professor Sachin Chaturvedi, on ‘LiFE: An Engine for growth’- panelists discussed how the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) approach can drive global growth, while meeting the ambitious environmental goals.. The panelists Dr.Fahmida Khatun, Mr. Heerad Sabeti, Dr. R Balasubramaniam and Ms. Celeste Cristina Badaro, deliberated ways on how to create an environment for adoption of LiFE through  sustainable production and create green ecosystems and infrastructure to empower individuals and the possible international financial instruments for unlocking financing for promoting sustainable lifestyles and intrinsic interlinkages between the development and environment including climate agenda. The speakers also highlighted various tangible steps needed to support evidence-based policies and data to demonstrate the impact of LiFE and highlight the central role of sustainable lifestyles in international climate action and the crucial role G20 could play in making LiFE a global movement.

In the second panel moderated by Ms. Sunaina Kumar on ‘Just green transitions: A comprehensive, integrated approach’ speakers discussed how to make transitions that are globally just and the need for an international enabling environment that supports a development paradigm which reduces the trade-offs between development, environment and climate agendas. Presentation was made by Mr Giuseppe de Simone on the need for transitions that are globally just and how it can lead to globally transformative actions in scaling up climate action and sustainable development for all. The panelists: Mr. Avinash Persaud, Amb. Manjeev Singh Puri, Mr. Rathish Balakrishnan and Mr Giuseppe de Simone, also highlighted  the means of implementation for creating an international enabling environment viz., financing, technology, capacity building, coherence in policy support and the various opportunities for transitions that are globally just as - driver of better jobs, financing and socio-economic opportunities, and contribution in gender equality, and overcoming existing inequalities.

The day-long session ended with closing remarks by the co-chairs of the Development Working Group where they emphasized on the critical role of G20 in implementing an inclusive vision of green development by providing strong political momentum and coordinating international commitments for a more sustainable future.

The main plenary sessions of the 2nd G20 Development Working Group meeting will commence tomorrow. Shri Dammu Ravi, Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs will  deliver special remarks at its opening session.