CHENNAI:With climate change becoming real, the United Nations (UN) plans to enter into a strategic partnership with India and open a centre on climate change and resilience in New Delhi.Officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a UN global development network, have been in talks with various Union ministries for the past six months to finalise the modalities of the strategic partnership.
“We have been discussing the subject with various ministries such as rural development, energy, environment, housing, urban development and the Prime Minister’s Office for the past six months. Last week, we had a session with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was very receptive. He said India was ready to negotiate on what UN wants. We are hoping that in a couple of months, there will be an official announcement on the partnership,” Yuri Afanasiev, United Nations Resident Coordinator for India (UNDP), told Express on the sidelines of the third global conference on biodiversity finance.
The UNDP India chief said India economically did not have a choice, but take urgent measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. “Water scarcity and pollution are the two biggest challenges for India. Besides the country needs to change its agricultural techniques,” said Afanasiev.
“Countries like Canada, Russia and Brazil, which have relatively large areas with small population density, can wait and need not worry about climate change, but India can’t wait. In 10 years, India will have largest population in the world and by mid-century, it will have a bigger economy than China. So the internal challenges will only increase. Cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi are choking on waste and pollution,” he said.
Afanasiev said the UN was not trying to put extra weight or responsibility on India. Compared to China, India is in a better position because China has already made all mistakes. Sixty per cent of Indian infrastructure and 50 per cent of Indian housing still need to be built in 15 to 20 years. “India is in the beginning of the journey. If India applies smart technologies, smart solutions and smart policies. India can avoid the China syndrome,” he said.
“If you apply these sustainable technologies to smart policies and with private money, you will show the way to the world. Already, India’s renewable policy is being duplicated in Africa,” he said and added that talks were also on with China.“We hope India and China come together at least on this. What is needed is a circular economy that is gentle to the environment,” Yuri added.