Sustainability is the new buzzword

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dire forecasts about climate change and the global failure to rein in the growing carbon footprint has made it imperative for both industry and grassroots movement to not only advocate sustainability but embrace it.

"Unfortunately for many decades, we have delayed taking action to protect our environment, which is now at the edge of collapse. We have been brushing our problems aside to dream of solutions tomorrow . But now there are no easy options left," said Times Group MD Vineet Jain in a grim warning.

In an address at the Earth Care the awards ceremony on Friday evening, Jain called for striking a balance between development and environment sustainability. "There are no 'either-or ' solutions. We cannot choose one option over another. We have to find a way of accommodating both. This requires imagination, innovation and determination."

ITC Group board member Nakul Anand, in a presentation peppered with figures on the state of the environment, said India lost about 2% of its GDP to environment damage.

Speakers at the gathering of industry honchos, activists and bureaucrats, emphasized unequivocally the urgent need for reforms if the earth was to be saved for the future generation. Minister for rural development, and water & sanitation Jairam Ramesh hailed The Times of India for being the first to make environment "news" .

"The Times of India has made environment front-page news, and it was the possibly the first newspaper to have a full page every Friday dedicated to green issues," he said.

Ramesh also brought up the issue of livelihood sustenance and environment. "We need not lifestyle environmentalism but livelihood environmentalism. What you see are protest movements because land, water and employment is involved. We should be sensitive to these issues," he said.

Elaborating on an inclusive approach, Rajendra Shinde from UNEP Paris, stressed the need for more programmes like the Earth Care Awards that would serve as an encouragement for industry to adopt cleaner practices. "We need millions of these. It's not just about annual events at Cancun and Durban," he said. Talking about the awards, Shinde said it was not just about measuring the carbon footprint or emission reduction. It was also about the process which the participants had gone through to build their own concepts and put them into practical reality.

JSW group chairperson, Sangita Jindal, while lauding the efforts of industry giants, also praised grassroots environmentalists who won the award. "We salute these silent crusaders working for the environment," she said. 

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