Jairam Ramesh Calls for Convergence between Rural Development and Sustainability
Consultation examines approaches to greening rural development
New Delhi, 14 May 2012: Pointing out that the goal of the 12th Five-Year Plan is to achieve, faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, today called for greater convergence between rural development programmes and sustainability. “It is only natural that with an expenditure of roughly 90,000 crores (Ministry of Rural Development) this year, we need to ask ourselves how these programmes can be leveraged to improve sustainability.”
The Minister outlined four key areas of convergence between rural development and sustainability – expanding quality and quantity of green cover; improving water use efficiency; enhancing the contribution of renewables in the energy portfolio mix and water supply for off-grid villages; and enhancing resilience of local communities to climate-induced changes. “Unless we mainstream green concerns in the rural development agenda, we will not be able to achieve national objectives,” said the Minister.
He was speaking at a day-long consultation organized by the Ministry of Rural Development, Planning Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that examined strategies to integrate “green” objectives into rural development programmes.
As the 12th Five-Year Plan Approach Paper states- as the economy gains the capacity to grow rapidly, it will come up against the constraints of limitations of natural resources and the need to exploit these in a sustainable manner. Sustainability has traditionally been viewed in terms of limiting the damage that economic activity imposes on the environment and remedying this damage as much as possible.
Several of the Ministry of Rural Development’s programmes have significant implications for environmental protection and conservation of natural resources. To internalize environmental considerations across various rural development programmes in India, this consultation aims to analyze and draw lessons from current programmes within and outside the country to effectively achieve “green outcomes”.
Commending the Government of India on taking the initiative to “green” rural development, Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, India said, “In response to the request of Minister Jairam Ramesh for UNDP’s support in finding ways to green the diverse rural development programmes in India, we are pleased to have brought together experts from India, Brazil South Africa, Indonesia and Ethiopia to share examples and good practices of integrating environmental sustainability with rural development and poverty reduction strategies. This workshop is particularly timely as we look forward to Rio+20 next month where we expect world leaders will agree to the goals simultaneously addressing the three pillars of growth, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.”
According to R.K. Pachauri, Director General, The Energy Resources Institute and Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “We need to ensure that rural development is driven by renewable sources of energy. “
At the request of the Ministry of Rural Development, UNDP has commissioned a study, to define the concept of 'greening' and identify broad set of 'green' outcomes. It will also suggest specific results that can be achieved through the rural development programmes. The study will also provide an action plan on how these results can be achieved and gather evidence on 'green' results from India and other countries.
The consultation also assessed rural development programmes to understand the environmental implications of programmes and their potential to address environmental issues resulting in environmental benefits and building resilience of communities. It aimed to identify and document case studies or models within India where rural development initiatives and programmes have led to significant environmental benefits. It discussed models and learning from initiatives from other countries , including from South Africa (Expanded Public Works Programme), Brazil (Bolsa Verde), Indonesia (Green PNPM ), Ethiopia (Productive Safety Net Program) and Peru (Conserving Jointly), which have successfully integrated or are attempting to integrate environment protection in their rural development and employment programmes.