Poverty is the biggest challenge for environment: Modi

Modi said same set of rules cannot be applied to all countries uniformly'.

New Delhi: Asserting India's stand in tackling climate change, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said same set of rules cannot be applied to all countries "uniformly" even as he identified poverty as the biggest challenge for environment.

Modi said sometimes the concern for environment was defined "narrowly" while making a strong pitch for "climate justice", addressing a conference on sustainable development which was attended by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur among others.

Suggesting a balanced approach in combating climate change, he said every country has its own challenges and ways to dealing with them and "If we apply the same set of rules for all countries and for all people, it will not work."

Noting that a path becomes sustainable, if all stakeholders are benefited, he also added a word of caution saying the stake should be natural and inherent and it "cannot be stretched to include those who may be working with ulterior motives."

India has been maintaining that the developed countries have been historical polluters and they should contribute more to address the problem of climate change.

"The rule of law dictates that no one can be punished for another's misdeed. We need to recognise that there are many people who are least responsible for the problem of climate change. They are also the people who still wait for access to modern amenities," the Prime Minister said.

He said the poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups have fewer resources to cope with climate disasters and that their present and future generations are also burdened by laws and agreements on environment.

"That is why I talk about Climate Justice. Moreover, the rules, laws, practices and principles of one country cannot be applied to another uniformly," Modi said.

The Prime Minister also chose the occasion to highlight his government's commitment towards poverty eradication and linked it with environment protection.

"I am sure all of us agree that poverty is the biggest challenge for environment. Therefore, eradication of poverty is one of the fundamental goals of my government. Guided by our core values, we are working towards achieving this goal with sincerity. We want to ensure a conducive environment for 1.25 billion Indians to develop, and prosper," he said.

Speaking at the event, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said judiciary, legislative and executive must respect each other, see each other's restraint and concerns as he talked about the gap between India's population and natural resources available for development.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pitched for achieving balance between developmental needs and environmental concerns to reconcile the contradictions between "ideal ecology and ideal economy".

Modi, whose government had feuds with section of NGOs said, "In modern terminology, there is a word called stakeholder. A path becomes sustainable, if all stakeholders are benefited. However, I must add a word of caution here.”

"The stake should be natural. It should be inherent. It cannot be stretched to include those who may be working with ulterior motives. Nature is pure. Hence, only pure intentions can keep it intact."

Addressing the International Conference on Rule of Law for supporting 2030 Development Agenda, Modi said that the problems being faced in India are not unique as other civilizations have also faced similar problems and were able to overcome them.

Expressing confidence that India will succeed through its collective efforts, Modi emphasized, "While doing so, we must ensure that we avoid contradictions between our need to develop and develop sustainably."

Noting that the workshop is being organized soon after two important international agreements---Paris Agreement on climate change and the Agreement on Sustainable Development Goals, the Prime Minister said this conference provides a timely and useful opportunity to discuss the way forward and is important not only in the national context but also in the global context.

Referring to India's tradition of "living in harmony with nature", the Prime Minister said respect for Nature is an integral part of its culture, and has been passed across generations and protection of nature comes naturally to Indians.

"I have always felt that anything which is not sustainable cannot be called development. Anything which compromises on the ability of future generations to meet their requirements cannot be called development. We in India have always believed in sustainability. For us, the law of nature holds great value.

"If we all observe it, then many man-made laws will not be required. The problems of environment are largely the effect of our consumptive lifestyles. If we want to make a meaningful impact, we all need to look within; before we read the books of law," Modi said.

The Prime Minister said that his government wants to ensure a conducive environment for 1.25 billion Indians to develop and prosper.

"We are encouraging education, skill development, digital connectivity and entrepreneurship to provide an enabling ecosystem for our youth to blossom. We aim to do all this in a sustainable manner," he said.

Sustainable development is our responsibility. I am confident that we can achieve it collectively, the Prime Minister adding "It is our moral responsibility to ensure that we leave a healthy planet for future generations."

( Source : PTI )
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