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Regional business models can be the local solutions to global problems:TERI

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an independent, not-forprofit research institute, in collaboration with Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) brought together multiple stakeholder groups to deliberate on the need to adopt efficient and transformative approaches for sustainable development of urban centres on varied aspects. The Dialogue was attended by senior representatives from government organizations, think tanks and top Indian conglomerates, and saw deliberations that focused on the theme of sustainable waste and water management and transforming habitats.

India has 13 cities with over 2 million population, 33 cities with over one million, and 298 cities with population of over hundred thousand, which is expected to double in by 2050. Over the years, cities in the eastern region of India have been encountering issues of increased flooding, dilapidated infrastructure for water supply and waste reduction, transportation issues, energy crisis among others. These make cities like Kolkata vulnerable to several risks in terms of economy and health. As a case in point, the capital is the most important city in the eastern region, used to be one of the most water-rich cities in the country, but today is lagging behind in urban water supply infrastructure development and proper operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure.

The Dialogue today aimed to address some of the above issues and recommend key strategies for segregation at source, generation of less hazardous waste, substantial private investment for developing water distribution infrastructure and leading to climate resilient cities and an improved quality of life. It stressed strongly on the need for joint effort by all stakeholders including governmental agencies, urban local bodies, industries, informal sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community based organizations (CBOs) and households.

Addressing the audience at the session, Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI said, “We are delighted to work with the BCC&I in organising the first Dialogue for World Sustainable Development Summit 2018 here in Kolkata.” Talking about the relevance of the Dialogue, he added,“We need to find out how do we ensure to live in a world which continues to provide us our requirements. We feel that solutions have to be local, and we’re keen to listen to regional business models when we discuss water-energy sustainability. These ideas will culminate in Delhi in WSDS 2018 in order to become part of the global mainstream.”

Delivering the inaugural address, Shri Basudeb Banerjee, IAS, Chief Secretary to Government of West Bengal said, “Political parties can set the right priorities in terms of achieving the said sustainable goals. The government is keen to set up green cities and it has already identified five locations for this purpose - Dabgram, Kalyani, Bolpur, Asansol, Howrah and Baruipur.”

Commenting at the occasion, Mr. Sutanu Ghosh, President, BCC&I said that advance technology today is a very key element for conservation of energy and sustainability.

Also present at the session was Shri Arnab Roy, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal who stressed the need to engage the masses for any effective change towards sustainable development.

Other eminent speakers at the Dialogue today were as follows – Mr. Nazeeb Arif, Executive Vice President-Corporate Communications, ITC Ltd; Mr. Arun Kumar Mukherjee, Chairperson Emeritus, Energy and Environment Committee; Dr Suneel Pandey, Director, TERI; Mr. Deb A. Mukherjee, Chairperson, Energy & Environment Committee; Chairperson, North East and Emerging Areas; Mr Rounak Bandhopadhyay, Regional Manager, West Bengal & North Eastern States, EESL; and Mr. Harsh Vardhan Patodia, Vice President, CREDAI National and Chairman & MD Unimark Group.

As a precursor to the 2nd edition of WSDS, to be held in February 2018, TERI will be hosting a number of Regional Dialogues across the country and overseas – Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Guyana, Ethiopia, and Fiji. WSDS 2016, themed ‘Beyond 2015: People, Planet & Progress’ was held in October 2016 and was amongst the first international platforms to discuss the new development agenda post the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The 2nd edition will attempt to create partnerships in order to implement the vision expressed therein.