NEW DELHI: Presidents, prime ministers and senior ministers from 47 countries will gather in New Delhi on Sunday to catch some sun. No, this is not some resort rest and recreation session, from which delegates return home with a suntan and memories of fun and frolic. The leaders are from the 121 nations that are part of the International Solar Alliance, which will be officially launched by co-founders India and France at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 11.
In November 2015, addressing a massive crowd at Wembley Stadium, London, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated that he was close to cobbling together an alliance of ‘suryaputras’ (sons of the sun) to help reduce dependence on fossils fuels, fight global warming and build greener economies. Later that month, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Modi and French President Francois Hollande unveiled the International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications, which would pool global knowledge and policy to spread cheap solar technology across the globe.
Before the summit, the two leaders had personally invited over a 100 nations — situated mostly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn — to join the coalition. These nations get ample sunlight at least 300 days of the year.
Two years later, on December 6, 2017, a month after 15 nations officially ratified it, the ISA became an international, intergovernmental treaty-based organisation with its headquarters in Gwalpahari, Gurgaon.
It’s mission? To generate 1,000 GW of solar power globally by 2030 through large-scale deployment, shared access to research, technology and best practices on solar energy, at a projected cost of US $1 trillion.
So far, 30 of the 60 nations that have signed the treaty have also ratified it. The rest of the 121 are expected to sign up once their governments have completed domestic formalities.
The inaugural session of the alliance, which will be launched by French President Emanuelle Macron and Prime Minister Modi on Sunday, is being attended by the Presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Djibouti, Rwanda, Togo, Gabon, Niger, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Nauru, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Seychelles, Ghana and the Governor General of Australia. Then there are the PMs of Tuvalu, Fiji, Vanuatu and Chad and senior ministers from 20 other nations. Also attending will be a representative of the UN secretary general and the heads of several multilateral development banks from Europe, BRICS, and Asia.
“As far as I know, this is the first international treaty initiated by and headquartered in India,” said an official involved in the negotiations. “Though no one doubts the need for such an alliance, it wasn’t easy to convince so many nations with different needs and priorities to sign up. More than half of the 60 signatory nations have already ratified the treaty. Usually such ratification takes several years, sometimes decades,” he said.
“This is an idea whose time has come. If these Suryaputras of the world unite, the powerless will soon find their rightful place in the sun.”