The EU and India discuss ways of achieving resource efficiency for a sustainable economic recovery

New Delhi: To mark World Environment Day, the EU Delegation (EUD) hosted a webinar on the theme, “Resource Efficiency for Greening of Recovery and fostering Sustainable Economic Growth in a resource constrained world.” The online high-level discussion, under the EU Public Diplomacy project, was held in association with the European Union-Resource Efficiency Initiative (EU-REI) and proposed ways in which resource efficiency can catalyse the economic recovery while helping India move on the path of sustainable development.

Delivering the keynote address, Mr. R P Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, said, “The Government of India has recognised the need for integrating resource efficiency with economic development of the country. Draft national policy on resource efficiency (RE) 2019 aims at enabling efficient use of resources and upcycling of waste across all sectors of the economy. The policy fosters cross sectoral collaborations, development of policy instruments, action plans and efficient implementation and monitoring mechanism. RE policy is guided by principles of reduction in primary resources consumption to sustainable levels in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Ms. Astrid Schomaker, Director, Global Sustainable Development, Directorate General for Environment, European Commission Brussels, speaking at the inaugural session on ‘resource efficiency for greening the recovery’ focussed on how the European Green Deal, which provides a roadmap with actions to achieve climate neutrality, combat biodiversity loss and boost the efficient use of resources, is at the heart of the EU’s recovery plan. “Climate Change, biodiversity loss and pollution are existential threats. The Green Deal is EU’s compass and engine for a sustainable post-COVID-19 future, which will ensure a resilient and inclusive economy that leaves no one behind. The EU is looking to be climate neutral by 2050 and this is not possible without a more resource efficient and circular economy. As strategic partners working towards green recovery, the EU supports India in its efforts to transition to a circular economy, and we are keen to scale up our cooperation,” she said.

Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute, (TERI) delivered the opening address highlighted, “The coronavirus pandemic has created the opportunity to implement a greener, more circular economy. Jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and economic growth are at the heart of the global economic recovery – and resource efficiency is what binds them together. A green recovery also necessitates minimising the amounts of virgin materials used and maximising recycling. India can adapt many global best practices and create benchmarks for other developing nations.”

Under the ongoing European Union-Resource Efficiency Initiative (EU-REI) project, key sectors (automotive, construction, electronics and plastics, steel, aluminium and renewables) using critical raw materials were assessed in terms of opportunities and policy focus that is required to enhance the efficiency of materials used.

Dr. Rachna Arora, Deputy Team Leader & Coordinator EU-REI, India, GIZ shared her perspectives on the resource efficiency strategy and policy for greening of recovery followed by Mr. Souvik Bhattacharjya, Associate Director, Centre for Resource Efficiency and Governance, TERI, who presented a sectoral analysis of the resource efficiency strategies.

Ms. Natalia Papú Carrone, Researcher and Analyst, Circle Economy, Amsterdam, Ms. Rhea Singhal, Founder & CEO, Ecoware – Sustainable Packaging and Mr. Shashank Nimkar, Eco-designer & Founder, Earth Tatva participated in the discussions as well.

Ms. Henriette Faergemann, Environment, Climate and Energy Counsellor at the EUD, moderated the session and administered the Green Pledge to 8 new partners including Saahas, Trash2cash, Pugdundee Safari Resort, Waxpol Group, V Mart Retail, Indian Youth Climate Network, Earth Tatva – Recycled Ceramics and Ecoware, who joined the #LeadTheGreenChange campaign towards the end of the webinar.

Launched in 2018, the Green Pledge was adopted by the Delegation of the European Union and the Embassies of the European Union Member States in New Delhi towards committing to a number of sustainable measures including discontinuing the use of single use plastics, managing waste responsibly and reducing water and electricity consumption. The pledge has now been adopted by 23 partners including government entities, leading educational, hospitality and industrial bodies and civil society organisations.