TERI couldn’t have done a better job at the 13th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit in bringing together global stakeholders on a single platform— both multi & bi-lateral development organizations, governments, the corporate sector, non-governmental organizations, and academic and research institutions.

Distinguished speakers, erudite audience, and the right flavour of topics that got discussed. Day 1 saw six deliberations take place – Defining the Future We Want 1 & 2, Ensuring Energy, Water and Food Security, Corporate Perspectives on Resource-Efficient Growth and Development, Accelerating Transition to Sustainable Economy, and Creating a Sustainable Asia through Disaster Resilience & Green Growth.

There were a few common threads running in the different discussions that tied the speakers together – One, everyone felt that Rio+20 was a failure in moving the needle towards the Climate Change agenda. Two, the Third World countries are carrying a disproportionate amount of burden of the emissions they never created. Three, that governments already know the kind of future they want and that there is no need to re-write any of those lengthy documents over and again, only if we can focus on the existing ones. And four, the missing ingredient is the ever-missing political will!

But apart from that, in my opinion there were about 12 key takeaways from the Day 1 here at the DSDSummit:

  1. Controlled need for Resource-extraction
  2. Need to keep general people in the centre of the debate
  3. Women’s empowerment can play a critical role in Sustainable Development Goals
  4. Good Governance will not do. We need fair governance which may not be popular and good for some
  5. Need to create the right enablers – right policies, right framework, drive investments and provide incentives
  6. Formalize Sustainability into the Risk Management systems
  7. Integrate Sustainability into the Business Strategy
  8. Work together in Sectors and Value Chains
  9. Since most of India’s and China’s building stock of 2030 has yet to be constructed. So, there’s this massive opportunity for more resource efficient techniques.
  10. Addressing the rise of inequality within a particular country can solve most of the social issues
  11. The need to have a one single entity that anyone can turn to for a definitive advice for most of the challenges. For example, a single place for sustainable agri, single place for gender equality, single place for building sea walls (mangroves) etc.
  12. Leadership for green growth will not come from the centre but from state level governments.

But two of my best key takeaways came from the Minister of UAE and President of WBCSD. Minister believes that our future is very much dependent on scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs. Something that was heartening to know that all is yet not lost in the hands of politicians. And the second was from Peter Bakker, the WBCSD President who said that just the business case of sustainability will not save the world. It has go beyond that.

Well, it certainly has to go beyond the return on investments. The thing is, most companies still haven’t grasped the idea of embedding sustainability into their businesses. When you know that you don’t have much time left and that being sustainable is the only way forward, then you don’t see the business case only – that’s called Capitalism Revolution!

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