Officials also said the issue of climate finance will be factored in the discussions. (File)
Land degradation, biodiversity loss, marine pollution, need for protection of mangroves and coral reefs, resource overconsumption and lack of waste absorption are the key environmental concerns which will be addressed in India's G20 presidency, the Union environment ministry said on Monday.
Officials also said the issue of climate finance will be factored in the discussions.
The Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group, one of the 13 working groups under the Sherpa track, will meet four times between February and May.
The first meeting will be held in Bengaluru (February 9-11), the second in Gandhinagar (March 27-29), the third in Mumbai (May 21-23) and the fourth in Chennai (May 26-27).
The ministerial meeting of the group is planned to be held on July 28 in Chennai.
"There is an urgent need to arrest land degradation, biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems as 23 per cent of the global land area is no longer productive for agricultural use because of resource extraction and waste," Additional Secretary Richa Sharma said.
There has been a 68 per cent decline in the population of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish on average since 1970, according to WWF's Living Planet Report released in September 2020.
The second priority is to promote a sustainable and climate resilient blue economy, the official said, adding India is in the final stages of developing a blue economy policy.
"This is an important issue that we would like to continue from the Indonesian presidency. So, marine pollution, need for protection of mangroves and coral reefs are issues that will be discussed in the Indian presidency," she said.
Also, India wants to draw attention to the specific issue of marine litter and will organise a coordinated beach cleaning drive that will cover all the G20 members and the guest countries on May 21.
The third priority is to encourage resource efficiency and circular economy -- another very big policy priority of the Indian government.
The ECSWG meeting will build on the existing groundwork done by the United Nations Environment Assembly and the three Rio Conventions the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the ministry said.
It will also leverage Mission LiFE to collectively define a new, sustainable and resilient development paradigm for the G20 countries.
Under India's presidency, the ECSWG meetings will focus on bringing an integrated, comprehensive and consensus-driven approach to address climate change and pursue sustainable growth.
"Naturally, we wanted that the key concerns being addressed in the three Rio conventions should find a reflection... So, you find issues of land degradation, climate change and biodiversity conservation reflected in the priorities of the Indian presidency," Sharma said.
We also wanted to bring through an approach which is integrated, which means we wanted to address climate change as impacting biodiversity, leading to land degradation and not in silos, she said.
"Typically, countries have addressed environment issues through an environment deputies' meeting and climate issues through a climate sustainability working group meeting. We have tried to bring it together," she said.
The Indian presidency seeks to encourage discussions, inputs and reflections from all the G20 countries to arrive at its outcomes.
Asked if issues related to climate finance will be part of discussions, Leela Nandan, secretary in the environment ministry, said: "There has to be some discussion, understanding and deeper resolve to address climate finance requirements and there is a dedicated (sustainable) finance working group for that. Climate finance is a very important aspect that is being deliberated (in that group)." "In our working group also, certainly the issues of climate finance... will be factored into our discussions," she said.
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