Rapid urbanisation in the country will be one of the most dominant trends in the coming years. It is expected that about 40 per cent of the population in 2030 would be urban as against 30 per cent currently. This key discussion took place during the session ‘Sustainable Development Goals and Implications for Cities’ at TERI’s flagship event ‘World Sustainable Development Summit’ that carries the theme “Beyond 2015: People, Planet and Progress”.
Through this summit, TERI is trying to foster an environment in which governments and stakeholders across sectors can engage in informed discussions and identify their individual and collective roles in achieving sustainable development in line with global climate change mitigation efforts.
It is estimated that half of the urban centres in India that will exist in 2030 are yet to be built, which presents a humungous opportunity for sustainability related interventions. With increasing population density in cities, climate resilient systems need to be developed in urban areas to address climate change impacts. As recognised by the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals have laid out a roadmap that can ensure an equitable future.
In the opinion of Dr Shipra Narang Suri, Vice President, General Assembly of Partners toward Habitat III and Co-Chair, World Urban Campaign, the issues of sustainability, inclusion, and resilience now figure in the global conversation for a better future. There is a pressing need to involve the broadest possible spectrum of stakeholders that can achieve the vision of ‘Cities for All’, as envisioned by the Habitat III agenda.
Talking about Sustainable Development Goals as a roadmap for progress, Durga Shanker Mishra, Additional Secretary (UD), Ministry of Urban Development, India, said “Cities contribute to 65 per cent of the GDP, but there are no facilities to cater to the needs of their inhabitants. We need to incorporate the sustainable development goals as indicators for urban development. The only way forward is to involve citizens in city planning, and create an ecosystem that meets the needs of the people”
Highlighting the need for bringing in energy-efficient and climate-resilient systems in urban areas, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, said, “Sustainable development is the key to ensuring the continued well-being of the people and the planet. SDGs and the Paris Agreement have recognised development imperatives alongside the need to preserve the environment. Being on the path to meeting sustainable development goals is critical to improve the everyday lives of all citizens. It is therefore important to address the root causes of issues like transport and air quality that are vital to identifying sustainable solutions.”
Further, stressing on the need to focus on the business case for development, Anita Arjundas, President and CEO, Mahindra Lifespaces, said “Competiveness of the country depends on the prosperity of cities. We need to have public and private entities working together to create an energy-efficient model for India’s urban areas.”
WSDS aims to be a common platform to identify opportunities for consensus and collaboration to balance the realities of ecosystem preservation with aspirations for holistic economic development.