The First G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG) meeting concluded in Bengaluru today on a positive note with all G20 countries showing interest and commitment to constructively work towards the objective of the three priority areas of Arresting Land Degradation, Accelerating Ecosystem Restoration and Enriching Biodiversity; Promoting a Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy and Encouraging Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy.
The first meeting of Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG) marks the beginning of constructive discussions within G20 countries for a sustainable future, led by India’s G20 presidency. The three-day meeting of the ECSWG from 9-11 February, 2023 was led by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India.
The meeting began with a side event centered around sharing of best practices for ecosystem restoration of forest fire and mining affected areas followed by a visit to the Bannerghatta National Park and Kalkere Arboretum to showcase the forest ecosystems of Karnataka, ecosystem restoration and ecotourism models, as well as wildlife protection.
The second day started with an inaugural address by Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs and Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Hardeep Puri. Thereafter, welcome address was delivered by Secretary, MoEFCC, Ms. Leena Nandan. She highlighted that India intends to address matters of environment and climate change through an action-oriented and consensus driven approach. The ECSWG will work in close collaboration with other G20 key working groups to holistically address issues relating to environment, sustainability and climate change, she further added.
The discussions during the first half of the second day revolved around methods to restore land-based ecosystems affected by anthropogenic causes and enhancement of the Global Biodiversity Framework.
In the second half, discussions were held on the creation of circular economies in various sectors including steel and biowaste and the role of extended producer’s responsibility in creation of a circular economy. The idea of a G20 industry coalition for resource efficiency and circular economy was also tabled. The sessions saw enthusiastic participation of delegates from all countries. During this session, Joint Secretary, G20 Secretariat, Ms Eenam Gambhir, made a presentation on the proposed High-Level Principles on LiFE and the Green Development Pact as potential deliverables, being steered by the Development Working Group. A cultural event was organized in the evening to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Karnataka and provided a unique ‘India’ experience to the delegates who had arrived from 29 Countries.
The third and last day commenced with the session focusing on theme of ‘Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy’. The opening remarks were made by the Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr. M Ravichandran. The Oceans and Blue Economy discussions covered a range of issues including marine litter, conservation and enhancement of coastal and marine ecosystems and marine spatial planning, over three meetings and one side event. The focus of discussions on was on the problem of marine plastic litter and its adverse impacts.
The Presidency presented the inception report of the technical study on ‘Accelerating the transition to Sustainable & Climate Resilient Blue Economy’ that would cover all G20 Countries and provide inputs for development of high-level principles on ‘Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy’. It was also mentioned that Indian Presidency will publish the 5th report on actions against marine plastic litter under the G20 Framework for Marine Plastic Litter, in collaboration with Japan. Delegates expressed support for actions for sustainable use of ocean resources, prevention of pollution and littering and for protection and enhancement of biodiversity. These are critical for building resilience to climate impacts and maintain the carbon sequestration potential of oceans, besides contributing to a thriving blue economy that would support livelihoods of local coastal communities.
Towards the concluding session, it was highlighted that the India Presidency plans to convene an Ocean 20 dialogue to facilitate detailed discussion on important aspects on Blue Economy. The Indian Presidency also announced a coordinated beach cleaning event to be conducted on 21st of May 2023 on the sidelines of the Ocean 20 dialogue to emphasize on the importance of action on marine litter and community participation. The importance of LiFE (Lifestyles for Environment) Principles was highlighted, as behavior changes to encourage use of sustainable alternatives to single use plastics, prevention of littering etc. would contribute to clean and healthy oceans.
Secretary MoEF&CC and Secretary Ministry of Earth Sciences addressed the media on the deliberations during the day.
The discussions will continue in the second half and the delegates agreed to engage constructively and collaborate with the India Presidency for further work towards achieving the proposed outcomes envisioned under the ECSWG.
The discussions during this meeting will be taken forward at the 2nd ECSWG meeting, which is scheduled on 27-29th March, 2023 at Gandhinagar.
February 11, 2023