With an aim to address alarming issues of climate change and biodiversity, the 3rd Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG) meeting under India’s G20 Presidency concluded on 23rd May 2023 in Mumbai on a high note.
The working group meeting saw enthusiastic participation of 141 delegates from G20 countries, 10 invitee countries and representatives of 14 international and regional organisations.
The three-day G20 meeting featured several engaging deliberations, activities and side events focusing on three core priorities: addressing land degradation, promoting a circular economy, and giving impetus to the blue economy.
On the first day of the event, a mega Beach Cleanup activity was hosted at Juhu beach in Mumbai which saw active participation from both the Central and State government officials. The beach clean-up activity covered several beaches of nearly 20 countries and 37 Indian beaches from the coastal states and Union Territories. The massive drive intended to highlight the impact of individual actions in tackling the marine pollution and emphasise the importance of community participation ("Jan Bhagidari") in safeguarding the coasts and oceans. “The idea is to promote the concept of Jan Bhagidari, encouraging the public to take responsibility for their actions towards achieving an environment-friendly lifestyle,” said Leena Nandan, G20 India Chair and Secretary, MoEFCC.
Approximately 16,000 volunteers participated in the beach cleanup activity at Juhu, which was preceded by a successful social media campaign. The initiative received enthusiastic responses from the public, highlighting the power of social media in spreading awareness.
Notable events at Juhu Beach also included sand art by a renowned Padma awardee, a selfie point with the presence of honourable ministers and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Eknath Shinde. A painting competition involving over 5,000 children to raise awareness about marine pollution, and a pledge board where citizens took a pledge to protect the oceans emerged as key highlights of the initiative. The day also included an Ocean 20 dialogue, focusing on science, technology, innovation, policy, and governance initiatives, and establishing finance mechanisms for sustainable and climate-resilient blue economy. The engaging and lively discussions saw participation of international experts, innovators, community representatives, policymakers, and industry leaders.
The second day started with the inaugural address by Shri Kapil M Patil, Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj. In his address, the minister stated, “The impacts of degrading biodiversity and environment are becoming increasingly apparent globally, presenting significant obstacles to preserving development progress and promoting well-being and prosperity. It is therefore imperative for G20 countries to collectively address the interrelated matters of climate change and biodiversity loss through joint international efforts. India’s G20 Presidency is committed to be inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action oriented.”
This was followed by opening remarks for the day by Leena Nandan, G20 India Chair and Secretary, MoEFCC, who expressed her gratitude to the delegates for engaging actively in the first two ECSWG meetings. She urged the G20 countries for their continued participation in the Communique discussion to ensure inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive outcomes as the Working Group moves closer towards the last leg of the proceedings under the India Presidency.
Later at the end of day two, Leena Nandan also addressed a press conference to brief the media. During the conference she stated, “The ECSWG is committed to facilitating tangible outcomes that will build a good foundation before the baton is passed on to the next Presidency. The discussions held during the ECSWG meetings are expected to contribute to the G20 Leader’s Summit to be held later this year.”
Besides, a presentation was showcased to the media which included snapshots from various countries that participated in the cleanup activity, including Russia, Mauritius, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, and Mexico.
The primary agenda of the 3rd ECSWG meeting was the detailed discussions on the draft Ministerial Communique and entailed constructive discussions and deliberations on priority areas. Talking about the Communique, Nandan said, “The presidency's approach for community development is consensus-driven, comprehensive, integrated, and inclusive. The first draft of the communique has already been circulated among G20 members, followed by focus group discussions and incorporation of inputs to develop a revised draft. We have conducted three meetings under the Indian presidency. The first meeting in Bengaluru focused on land restoration, while the second meeting in Gandhinagar centered on water security.”
Adding further she said, “In Mumbai, we are emphasising the theme of oceans. The beach cleaning activity aligns with our call to action for mission life, promoting sustainable lifestyles and responsible resource utilisation. These three days in Mumbai are dedicated to discussions on the communique, leading up to the final meeting in July, where the ministers from all G20 countries will come together to finalise and share the shared vision for ECSWG.”
The 3rd ECSWG meeting ended on a discussion mode on the Communique, to be further deliberated upon and refined in the virtual meetings scheduled over the next few weeks, as a run up to the 4th and final ECSWG meeting to be held in Chennai from 26th to 27th July, with the Minister’s meet on 28th July, 2023.