The United Nations has proposed replacing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which could have norms for green economy, energy efficiency energy appliances, water efficiency, protecting endangered species such as tigers and whales.
A zero draft circulated by UN is expected to be finalised in June in Rio, Brazil, where over 100 head of states including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are likely to participate in an Earth Summit.
Although India's concerns regarding carbon tax and technology dependence on the developed world has found place in the zero text many issues raised by India are missing.
India negotiators, who will discuss the text thrice before, PM Singh and others deliberate, say that there was unanimity of setting up a Sustainable Development Council in UN but many other issues remain to be worked out.
The SDGs targets on range of issues including reducing emission for per unit of GDP, preserving bio-diversity, provide quality education, ensure food and clean drinking water to all and gender equality would be applicable after 2015 will have to be met by 2030. The nations will decide these targets between 2012 and 2015 and also setup a mechanism to monitor the progress.
The developed and the developing world are already at loggerheads over the UN’s 128 page draft called ‘The Future We Want’, which seeks major policy shifts to meet the proposed goals with some financial assistance from the rich nations.
The UN has incorporated some elements of the position taken by India and other developing countries such as that green economy should not result in creation of new green barriers such as carbon tax, impose new conditions on aid and finance and increase dependence of the developed countries on rich nations for cleaner technologies.
What remains missing from the UN draft is India’s strong opposition to defining and aiming for quantitative targets towards sustainable development. India believes that the target should only be for the developed world and not the developing world, which has to deal with poverty eradication and providing livelihood avenues to its large deprived population.
“We are against mandatory SDGs for all nations,” said a senior government official. India believes that the principles of Rio summit in 1992 clearly say that rich nations have obligation to reduce global poverty and achieve sustainable development goals. The developing countries have to take voluntary actions depending on their domestic resources to meet the “aspirational” target.
Considering the clamour expected before the Rio conference, environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan will be calling a meeting of officials from different government departments to discuss the strategy for first round of negotiations on zero draft starting from January 25 at UN headquarters in New York.
After January, there would be two more rounds of officials negotiations before ministers discuss a draft for consideration of head of states meeting in Rio from June 20 to 22. Government said PM Singh is expected to visit attend the conference after attending a meeting of G20 nations in Mexico on 18th and 19th June.