The National Maritime Foundation and the World Sustainable Development Forum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise their partnership. Both organisations have a joint vision to ultimately move beyond dialogue and take action towards addressing the problem of climate change.
On the occasion, the Chairman of the NMF Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, IN (Retd) delivered some nuggets from the treasure-house of his experience, for providing guidance to the partnership.
“I am delighted to see that the National Maritime Foundation and the World Sustainable Development Forum have decided to formalise the engagement between them. This is an entirely beneficial engagement, and one that was initiated when the NMF and the POP Movement got together, thanks to the efforts of Dr Ash Pachauri and Cdr (Dr) Kapil Narula. Both of you deserve our individual and collective gratitude. Dr Ash Pachauri — the accomplished son of a particularly illustrious father — is the custodian of an especially rich legacy that has been handed down to him by Dr RK Pachauri, who has been the founder of several movements and fora that are in the vanguard of both, mitigating and adaptive measures to combat climate change. The WSDF is an especially significant one. It provides the intergovernmental counterpoint to the energy and sheer exuberance of the Protect our Planet Movement — or the P-O-P Family as it is more popularly known.
As most of us already know, the WSDF is a global initiative to promote and mobilise global action for effective implementation of both, the ‘Paris Agreement on Climate Change’, and, the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly. Since one of the main aspects of relevance of the WSDF on the global stage is the role it plays as a major facilitator for helping with implementation of actions required under these two sets of agreements, and, since these are amongst the thrust-areas of the NMF as well, there is a natural alignment of our respective institutions. The WSDF is uniquely placed because of its convening power with those who can act to meet the priorities of society defined by the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. The NMF can complement this convening-ability with a knowledge-based focus that is uniquely bedded in the maritime expanse of the Indian Ocean and its littorals, as also the wider Indo-Pacific as a whole.
The signing of MoU between the, “National Maritime Foundation and World Sustainable Development Forum” is a natural step in this progression. We need to approach the subject of climate change holistically, bringing to bear not only the exuberance and energy of the global youth but also the sagacity and wisdom of governmental structures that will facilitate the creation of wise and far-reaching policy.
That said, I would like to reiterate my deep appreciation for the exuberance of the young members of the POP Movement, towards keeping our planet earth healthy. Their passion is inspiring and under the able guidance and leadership of Dr Ash Pachauri, I am sure, many more objectives will be met than might have been the case if we were to restrict the process of combating climate change solely to governments.
The NMF-POP Movement partnership is already showing results, as was witnessed during the POP Movement’s mega event, the POP Youth Festival. The NMF Research Faculty relished the opportunity to interact with the young POP members and organised a workshop on the theme, “Becoming a leader: Using Legal and Institutional Frameworks to Achieve your Goals”, and shared some of their life experiences. I understand it was very well received. The relationship is gaining an impressive degree of traction, and, is becoming stronger by the day.
While the NMF, the POP Movement and the WSDF have already begun collaborating and are hosting papers on one other’s websites, this institutionalisation of a formal partnership between the NMF and the WSDF is an important milestone that will guide the collaboration between all three institutions.
It is heartening that India has been at the forefront towards addressing the effects of Climate Change, and remains in the Top-Ten nations for the second year in a row, as per the latest global Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). This improvement in the country’s ranking, from the 31st position in 2014, amply displays the thrust of India’s journey towards addressing climate change. The NMF is determined to be an important part of this journey.
It is true that the very recent global-reduction in CO2 emissions might be attributed to lockdown imposed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the in travel and industrial activities. It is also true that the entirely welcome reduction in urban pollution in many cities might well be temporary respite. However, what all this has certainly done is to confirm where the problems originate and where the solutions lie. There is no more room for nay-sayers. And yet, sadly, while the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP), ‘Emission Gap Report’ predicted a fall in CO2 emission reduction by 7% this year, the world is nevertheless heading for a temperature-rise in excess of 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. New Delhi is the perfect example of rampant pollution. While the initial phases of lockdown resulted in comparatively cleaner air, the subsequent lifting of restrictions saw a dramatic drop in the Air Quality Index of the city.
There is clearly a need to work jointly towards meeting the challenges of climate change and to seek multiple avenues along which to implement the 17 SDGs. While nations and their governments will certainly work towards meeting their commitments, both in respect of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, the importance keeping the debate alive and taking adequate action requires grassroots initiatives involving all stakeholders.
However, there formidable challenges to be overcome and speed-breakers that need to be levelled, on the path to mitigating climate change or adapting to it. Once of these is, of course, that the Paris Agreement is a voluntary one, and this allows nations to limit their ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) on a variety of grounds. Moreover, some nations tend to view climate negotiations through an economic lens rather than an existential one.
One question to which we must actively and urgently seek an answer is “how might we best effectively leverage advancements in technology to counter climate change?”. Thanks to the profusion of young minds and new, innovative companies around the globe, there is a marked reduction in the fiscal costs associated with technology — whether these are related to renewable-energy, batteries, super-efficient appliances, or smart grids. If nations can bring themselves to cooperate these “cleaner technologies” could be even more cost effective, and could greatly help us in our common quest for a cleaner and greener world by addressing associated climate-change risks.
I look forward to the NMF and WSDF working together and jointly evangelising suitable policy recommendations that could address the adverse impacts of climate change. In so doing, we will be able to draw the attention of policy-makers and policy-shapers to the many existential threats that we face from climate change and force the pace of policy-change in adopting mitigating and adaptation strategies.
In conclusion let me once again offer to each one of you, my compliments for your dedicated efforts in bringing this MoU to fruition. I look forward to a meaningful set of interactions and the rapid formulation of a detailed road-map of mutually-beneficial engagement.”
Thank you. Stay Safe.