Sustainable development core to India's development strategy

The Economic Survey for FY2020-21, presented in Parliament by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, lays emphasis on sustainable development for achieving equity not just within and across nations but also across and within the generations, thereby countering the iniquitous impact of Covid-19 pandemic too.

The Survey states that India has taken several proactive steps to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the policies, schemes and programmes of the government. 
Towards this, the Survey mentions the following:
The Voluntary National Review (VNR) presented to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development provides for review and follow-up of the SDGs through continuous engagement and feedback. This process also provides an avenue for active participation of private sector as seen in the Corporate Social Responsibility spending.
Localisation of SDGs: States and UTs have created discrete institutional structures for implementation of SDGs in their own specific contexts. A few states have also created nodal mechanisms within every department and at the district levels to make coordination, convergence and data management more precise and predictable.
The Survey recognises the challenges emerging on account of the unprecedented crisis due to Covid-19 pandemic and mentions that sustainable development will remain core to India's development strategy.
Climate change
The Economic Survey says that India has been taking several proactive climate actions to fulfil its obligations as per the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and equity. It mentions some of the prominent government initiatives on mitigation and adaptation actions such as India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change and implementation of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid &Electric Vehicle in India (FAME India) scheme.
The Survey highlights the importance of finance being a critical enabler of climate change action as India’s NDC effectively commenced on 1 January 2021. It clearly states that an integrated approach is required at the domestic and international front to get the necessary resources essential for apposite climate action.
The year 2020 was supposed to be the year by which developed country parties were to fulfill the goal of jointly mobilising $100 billion a year for climate finance, an essential component of the commitments made by the developed countries, which has remained elusive. The postponement of COP26 to 2021 also gives less time for negotiations and other evidence-based work to inform the post-2025 goal. But it is clear that issue of achieving consensus on the definition of climate finance, transparency mechanism, common time frames and a long-term climate finance will continue to remain top priority in COP 26.
Sustainable climate finance
The Economic Survey highlights the importance of sustainable financing to meet the government’s development priorities and mentions a few steps undertaken in this regard:
  • National Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Financing, finalised in 2015; 
  • RBI included lending to social infrastructure and small renewable energy projects within the priority sector targets; 
  • Voluntary Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility’ were issued in 2009 to mainstream the concept of business responsibility; 
  • Committee constituted to review and update Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) formats for listed as well as unlisted companies.
India is moving in the direction of creating a Social Stock Exchange (SSE), under the regulatory ambit of Sebi for raising capital by social enterprises working for the realisation of a social welfare objectives.
The Survey mentions that India being the second largest green bond market among the emerging markets after China, and in 2017, to give push to Green Bonds issuances in India, Sebi issued guidelines on green bonds, including listing of green bonds on the Indian stock exchanges. As of 24 December 2020, eight ESG mutual funds have been launched in India.
India at the international stage
The Survey mentions the initiatives taken by India at the global stage to foster the sustainable model of development and have disaster resilient infrastructure at the disposal of citizens.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has recently launched two new initiatives – a ‘World Solar Bank’ and ‘One Sun One World One Grid Initiative’ - of global import to bring about solar energy revolution globally. The ISA secretariat has recently launched a ‘Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action’ comprising of global public and private corporates. It has also organised First World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) in September 2020 with an objective of showcasing to member countries the state-of-the-art and next-generation solar technologies.
Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure: The Coalition functions as an inclusive multi-stakeholder platform led and managed by national governments, where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster resilience of infrastructure. CDRI is working on enhancing the resilience of power and transport  sector and also plans on expanding its membership to include countries from all the continents and at varied level of development and risk.