On the occasion of the World Environment Day, the Climate Collective Pune (PIC) had the honour of hosting Dr. Ejaz Ghani, Senior Fellow, PIC and former Lead Economist, World Bank and Dr. Gurudas Nulkar, Trustee, Ecological Society, for a panel discussion on “Green Development” on 6th June. The event was chaired by Prof. Amitav Mallik, Trustee, PIC.
Prof. Mallik provided the background for the topic and welcomed the eminent panelists. He noted that even if all commitments made by nations were met in terms of environmental reforms and carbon neutrality, it would not be enough to contain global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius. The aim of this discussion was to highlight that the economy and environment were not at odds, but in fact two sides of the same coin, he said.
Dr. Ghani began by providing a definition for ‘green growth’ as economic growth that takes into account environmental factors and restraints and is socially inclusive all at once. India’s performance in terms of green growth has had pockets of positive developments in terms of improvements in energy efficiency in urban areas and worsening environmental developments in lagging (mostly rural) areas. He spoke of the need for India to balance its needs for infrastructure and spatial development against the urgent need to meet environmental goals – given that it has the worst air quality in the world and highest energy consumption. Dr. Nulkar elaborated on the structure and impediments to ‘green development’ today. He noted that the current model of ‘green development’ did not mandate a need for judicious use of natural resources, impose any costs for pollution, or indeed encourage the adoption of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ The classical model of development had already failed, he noted, on account of the inequality it had engendered, especially the unequal distribution of natural resources as well as facilitating mostly ‘jobless growth.’ He mentioned examples of projects in mining, dams and even fertilizer industries in agriculture-allied activities. While economic growth is important as is the money that it brings in, there is a need to restructure for ‘green development’ to truly take hold and reform the nature of economic growth. He noted that education, reskilling, subsidies and incentives that facilitated the creation of a green industrial ecosystem would be crucial to bringing about ‘green development.’ A very interesting round of questions and answers followed the discussion.