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Reflecting consistency on climate diplomacy between successive governments, Union environments, forests and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar pitched ‘poverty eradication’ as the over-riding aim of the Sustainable Development Goals that the UN has to fix by 2015. Javadekar was speaking at the ministerial plenary of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi on Thursday. In 2012, the UN member countries decided to establish global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2015 as an upgrade of the Millenium Development Goals with three key pillars – economic, social and environmental concerns – being addressed. Negotiations are currently underway between the UN member countries to set these targets.
Since 2012 the developed countries have pushed hard to integrate environmental targets emphatically in the goals and the developing countries have come together to demand a more balanced approach with poverty eradication and development being as central pillars. Javadekar’s speech in Nairobi, made it unequivocally clear that the NDA government would only push further along the lines that the UPA government had earlier taken in these negotiations. “Poverty eradication…must remain the central and overarching objective of the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda,” Javadekar said. “The SDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda must be universal in nature and cannot remain a series of policy prescriptions from the North to the South unlike the MDGs,” he added emphasising that the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities would dictate the goals. Countering the building pressure from developed economies, he said, “While the social and environmental pillars tend to gain prominence, it is important to underscore that the economic pillar is the foundation of sustainable development and must be adequately addressed and elaborated.” Taking the battle in to the developed countries he added, “The central importance of sustainable production and consumption cannot be overemphasized. There is sheer inequity in consumption of world’s resources.” The developed countries have opposed setting a separate goal on this count which would push the rich nations to bring their consumption levels to sustainable levels. He also asked that the $100 billion Green Fund (which is to come about by 2020 through contributions of the developed countries) should be used to buy out costly IPRs of green technologies to provide these free to poor nations. Javedakar also demanded that the ministerial declaration at the Nairobi meet should be only a summary of proceedings (which works more as advisory and carry no legal weight) rather than another negotiated document that pre-judges the actual negotiations underway on SDGs in New York between countries. Showing yet again that India was coordinating closely with other developing countries including China on environmental negotiations, Javadekar said he backed the G77 & China submission to include a stand-alone goal on means of implementation (finance and technology from the developed world) in the final outcome of the SDG talks.