New Delhi (India), February 28: The key discussion agenda at the World Sustainable Development Summit held in New Delhi was the importance of sustainable living. Experts from diverse spheres were present at the event. They came together to advocate the need for a change in thinking when it comes to our consumption patterns. Another point that was stressed as a point of discussion was the need for an integrated approach to mainstreaming sustainable life. Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity in the current century. An institutional approach is not enough as a response; it must be complimented by an individualistic response. For this to happen, a massive worldwide education campaign is needed. Moreover, a multidimensional approach is also needed to chart a long-term roadmap for sustainable life.  

The World Sustainable Development summit saw leaders from across the spectrum agree on the need for change in consumption patterns and lifestyle changes. Ms. Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE, a key attending member, gave a speech highlighting the initiatives taken by the UAE to address lifestyle changes. Noting that public awareness is key, Ms. Almheiri said, “In UAE, the aim is to reduce our food loss and waste by 50% by 2030. Considering this, perception campaigns have been organized.”  

Dr Ali Abou Senna, CEO, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, and Assistant Minister, pointed out that Egypt has already drawn up strategies and plans to integrate environment decisions and climate action in all sectors. 

Providing an unfamiliar perspective to the impact of behavioral changes, Dr Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor, Earth Institute and Columbia University, stated that a decarbonized system will involve more technology than lifestyle changes. “A lot of the transformations will be in the systems we live on, like the power grid, that will be deeply transformed.”   

He further added that, “We would solve three quarters of emissions not with lifestyle changes but through technological transformation. Our lives will change in the future, and, for the better if we adhere to sustainable development norms.”  

Mr. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, former IPCC Vice-Chair, stressed the link between lifestyles and climate change when he stressed that all lifestyles would be affected by climate change. “The lifestyles of the vulnerable are the most affected by climate induced circumstances. Climate is changing because we have been using the atmosphere as a dustbin.”  

He also stressed the varying role played by developed and developing countries in aggravating the emission scenario, both at present and historically. The rich members of the community pollute much more in terms of GHG and must act first. Demand management does not mean demand decrease everywhere.”  

Dr. Erik Solheim, former Executive Director, UN Environment Programme, iterated that it is necessary to pick up a positive agenda for lifestyle change, closer to nature. 

Asserting the need to change the way we extract and consume resources, Dr Janez Potočnik, co-chair, International Resource Panel said, “Our work has shown that material extraction and processing are causing triple planetary crisis. They cause 50% of global climate impacts and over 90% of land-related biodiversity loss; along with water stress and over a third of health pollution. By changing how we extract and consume resources, we have a huge opportunity to simultaneously address all the crisis.”  

To summarize, Dr Prodipto Ghosh, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, pointed out that lifestyles need to grow into a global discipline and for that conceptual aspects must translate into a set of high-level principles. Dr Suneel Pandey, Director, TERI, also emphasized that global partnerships are needed to achieve the benefits of life.

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