The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to an end in 2015 and India is far from realizing the objectives set out in this global declaration. Over the past one and half decades, India like many other developing nations has been designing and implementing concerted action towards ‘Eradication of poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality/women empowerment, reduction in child mortality rate, improved maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, environment sustainability and building a global partnership for development’. However, while “the unfinished agenda” of the MDGs needs to be dealt with, we like most nations of the world are also feeling the impacts of new global environmental challenges of a scale and intensity that cannot be dealt with simply by ‘business-as-usual’ economic growth and human development pathways. India of the 125 million people is a country of great dichotomies. A country racing towards economic growth, with 65% of its population below the age of 35, a large percentage of our population comprises the neo-middle class. Jobs, skills and aspirations for a better life are therefore, pushing our growth agenda. We are a country that is rapidly shifting from being primarily rural to more than 50% urban by 2030 and searching for a model of sustainable urbanisation that is the right fit for us. At the same time, we are also a country seriously plagued by unequal growth and internal social strife, a deteriorating ecological resource base with increasing vulnerabilities to climate change impacts and multiple natural disasters, food, water, energy, shelter and livelihood insecurities that are a bane for over 60% of our population. Clearly, new pathways of development are required that put human well-being and planetary health “both” at the centre of our development focus. We need to redesign our economic processes and governance frameworks that create social and environmental value for All rather than concentrating wealth in the coffers of a few. Going forward, National Development Goals and especially targets for a post 2015 development agenda need to be Universal – useful and applicable for all sections of our society, Integrated – those that enable coherence across policies, programs and sectors and Transformative – that result in rapid and cross cutting shifts towards sustainability. Systemic transformation needs to happen both at the level of ‘ends’ (development outcomes) and ‘means’ (identifying risks; addressing root causes; and accelerating key drivers of change for inclusive and sustainable development). It is about transforming existing structures (physical and economic infrastructure), culture (collective set of values, norms, paradigms) and practices (behaviours, implementation modalities).
What do we know that can guide our policies and practice towards this transition to a greener, more resilient, economy and a just and fair society?
The annual TARAgram Yatra platform explores models of sustainable practice and game changing policy interventions to catalyze multi-stakeholder dialogues and knowledge sharing to help us move closer “To Choose Our Future”
This year, we explore a fine balance between bio-diversity conservation and livelihood security of indigenous populations in the Nilgiris on the one hand and resource efficiencies in construction in a rapidly urbanizing Kerala on the other. We also look at system efficiencies to deliver safe water to all in our growing cities and mainstreaming climate risks and desired shifts into development planning processes.
The Yatra will benefit from on-ground action and inform discussions that will address policy coherence and planning systems, relevant metrics for tracking progress, institutional capacities, financing systems and fiscal measures and information and communications systems that are required for India’s Transition to a more Sustainable Future.