Delhi Sustainable Development Summit to Focus on Small Island Nations

The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) is scheduled to be held in New Delhi, India from February 3 to 5, 2011. The core agenda of the summit will be to address the concerns of small island-nations that are at the greatest peril from global warming. The summit will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the key speakers will be Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Seychelles President James Alix Michel.

The central theme of the three-day summit is “Tapping Local Initiatives and Tackling Global Inertia”. The summit has been organized by The Energy Research Institute (TERI). The countries facing the greatest danger from climate change include the tiny island states of the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Global warming has led to an increased threat from more intense hurricanes, rising sea levels and acute shortages of fresh water.

At the recently concluded Cancun Climate Summit, the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), which comprises 43 countries, had demanded a legally binding global treaty to control carbon emissions into the atmosphere. DSDS 2011 will follow up on that initiative and focus on devising a comprehensive strategy to push the sustainable development agenda forward. A TERI organizer commented that this annual summit, which is being held since 2001, has evolved as the single most important forum on the critical issue of global sustainability from the perspective of the developing nations.

Some of the pressing issues that are expected to be taken up at the summit include policy changes for sustainable development, establishment of sustainable energy systems, and integration of people at the grassroots level in the sustainable development process. It will highlight the challenges faced by economically and geographically vulnerable nations in the context of global warming and climate change. The summit will also look at positive business practices and initiatives that are bringing about local progress without compromising the environment.

Local successes in the area of sustainable development need to be identified and replicated on a larger scale. This is going to be one of the crucial areas to be covered by DSDS 2011. The summit will bring together 17 present and former Heads of State as well as Government Ministers from more than 40 countries. It will also see participation from eminent Nobel Laureates such as Prof. Joseph Stiglitz of the Columbia University, Prof. Sir James A. Mirrlees of the University of Hong Kong, and Dr. Yuan-Tseh Lee of Taiwan.

However, while the agenda of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2011 is entirely commendable, serious questions remain regarding the collective commitment of the developing and the developed world about tackling climate change. More than a political will, it needs a statesman-like vision and approach on part of the global leaders to move forward on the issue of a substantive global policy on climate change and sustainable development.

Photo Credit: Dominic