India’s G20 presidency: A key driver for inclusive growth
The need of the hour is to sink narrower perspectives and embrace global priorities. These priorities cut across national boundaries and can impact humanity
India’s G20 presidency is a significant development. While it gets to showcase its belief in equity, equality, and inclusiveness at the global and national levels, the task ahead is onerous and compelling. The G20 comprises 80% of the world’s Gross National Product (GNP), 75% of international trade, over two-thirds of the global population and over 60% of the world’s land area.
Our planet faces two urgent, interrelated crises: The climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity and hence the international commitments under the three Rio Conventions, namely the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (add additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 gigatons), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (restore 26mha of degraded land) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (ensuring biodiversity conservation across 20% of geographical area).
In this context, investments in nature-based solutions (NbS) are crucial. This includes protecting, restoring, and improving the management of forests, wetlands, agriculture, and other lands so they can absorb and store more carbon. Natural solutions could provide up to a third of the cost-effective solutions (equal to or less than $100/ tonne of CO2) to the climate crisis needed by 2030, capturing up to 11 gigatons of CO2e per year. India is key in this. We are among the top five countries most vulnerable to and economically harmed by the climate crisis. India’s 2030 emissions would need around 1,603 MtCO2e (or 16% below 2005). Thankfully, NbS has the potential to support India’s net zero commitment by 2070 while enhancing livelihood benefits and ecosystem services. The National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) for the conservation and management of wetlands is one such timely initiative as it aims at holistic conservation and restoration of wetlands for achieving the desired water quality enhancement, besides the improvement in biodiversity and ecosystems.
With India all set to go beyond the renewable energy projection of 65% for 2030, India urgently needs to put in motion its decarbonisation strategy that provides pathways for land optimisation and enhanced agricultural yield. We could seize some immediate opportunities to augment unfertile land use for renewable power, vertical as opposed to horizontal urbanisation, and improved and mechanised farming practices. However, according to McKinsey estimates, our country needs investments of $7-12 trillion until 2050 to move in this direction.
Interestingly, many impact investment projects can use nature to produce cash flows – such as sustainable harvesting of timber, sequestering carbon or managing water rights. At the same time, those activities help protect healthy habitats, improve freshwater quality, or reduce negative impacts. As a result, investors are increasingly interested in these nature-based solutions, where conservation outcomes are generated alongside financial returns. The Nature Conservancy’s in-house impact investing team NatureVest, since its founding in 2014, has helped originate, structure, fund and close investment vehicles representing more than $2.5 billion of committed capital globally.
The G20 presidency allows India to tell its story of envisioning a vibrant and healthy future for its citizens. Despite crossing the world’s most populous country tag, India has lifted 415 million out of poverty in 15 years. Moreover, India’s progress is not restricted to one sector. It has showcased itself as an emerging player in the development, health care, digital and technology sectors.
Human well-being focusing on growth and sustainable development, is of utmost priority for India. The Indian subcontinent is the youngest and the largest democracy in the world. Its rapidly growing economy is slated at $3.1 trillion.
Echoing one nation and one planet in all its work, India is at the forefront of the environment and sustainability. With its mid-term 2030 Sustainable Development Goals goals and long-term 2070 net zero targets, India is leading an example when it comes to common but differentiated responsibilities (CDR). It strives to leave a better world for future generations through its newly placed nationally determined contribution (NDCs). It’s achieving all this by creating an enabling environment for all.
The need of the hour is to sink narrower perspectives and embrace global priorities. These priorities cut across national boundaries and can impact humanity - positively if well-addressed or otherwise ignored. Among the agenda points, India, for example, needs to strengthen the demands of developing economies for a more equitable and fair share of resources and their deployment in combating urgent issues, be it the climate crisis, meeting of SDG goals to balance and strengthen the arms of the marginalised and less privileged world economies.
To achieve this, the three-member countries from the developing economies –Indonesia (the outgoing presidency nation ), India ( the incumbent nation) and Brazil ( the next presidency incumbent nation) need to, for instance, strategise and put forth meaningful plans that coax the developed nations to understand better, assimilate and provide support to address the growing threats in the areas of sustainable development, malnutrition, women’s empowerment and energy security for instance that loom menacingly over the developing and underdeveloped economies of the world. This combined global force has within itself the resources and competencies to address and provide solutions that help alleviate and resolve prevailing and emerging threats and challenges. Therefore, sensitising the developed members to these challenges and encouraging them to embrace the spirit of the statement “Vasudeva Kudumbakam” should be a top priority for India.
Annapurna Vancheswaran is with The Nature Conservancy, India
The views expressed are personal