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Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS)

Feb 07 2015

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS)

15th Annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) organized by The Energy Research Institute (TERI), under the able leadership of Nobel Laureate Dr. RK Pachauri, Director General of TERI, held at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi from the 5-7th February, 2015 brought together a galaxy of speakers from diverse sectors.

This is the first time in previous fourteen years that the Valedictory Session of this vital summit was graced by interfaith leaders. The theme of the concluding session was ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam,” the world is one world family. Previously, last year when the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) was launched in Delhi, Dr. RK Pachauri lauded the efforts of HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Co-founder of GIWA, in bringing together key interfaith leaders to work together for improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). Dr. Pachauri was inspired to include an interfaith component for the first time in the history of DSDS so that interfaith leaders could catalyze a change in behavior, perspective and priority towards global challenges of sustainable development and climate change. Just before their session the interfaith leaders met with Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways, who was also speaking during the last day of the summit and shared their commitment and eagerness to work together as one for a more sustainable, stronger and more stable world for all.

The revered interfaith leaders during the session included:

  • HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Co-founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, President of Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh)
  • Diwan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, Religious Head and Sajjada Nasheen of the Ajmer Sharif Shrine
  • Giani Gurubachan Singh, Chief Jathedar Akal Takht, Amritsar
  • Archbishop Dr. Kuriakose Bharnikulangara, Faridabad Diocese
  • Venerable Bhikku Sanghasena, Founder President of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre Leh-Ladakh
  • Acharya Rupchandra Muni, prominent Jain Monk

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, General Secretary of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and President, Divine Shakti Foundation chaired the session.

HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati shared, “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, the world is one family, is the core tenet of the Hindu faith. One of the major behavior changes that we can make to encourage and inspire sustainable development is to change our vision of the world from a “bazaar”, a market place, to a “parivar,” a family. With that spirit of a family we must all work towards and attend to the needs of our future generations. Similarly in our family when our Mother is very sick and in the hospital we do not merely dialogue but we prepare to act and do everything we can to save her. Today our Mother Earth is in dire need for us to act, she is devastated by massive deforestation, unsustainable, unplanned development, polluted rivers, toxic fruits and vegetables and polluted air. She is in calling us and urging us to notice, to realize that it is not too late to protect our brothers and sisters who are dying from hunger, lack of clean water, access to sanitation and hygiene much of it due to our neglect and lack of attention. This is why there can be a plan A, plan B but there cannot be a planet B and therefore we all have to come together, to work together to be and do the change. We have to live, breathe and eat sustainably, becoming truly mindful and deeply introspective of how our actions impact our planet and we must broaden our vision to factor in how our thoughts, words and actions impact our global family as well as our future generations.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said, “For the last 2 days we have heard about all the technology and policy prescriptions for Government, NGOs and multinationals. But the drive toward Sustainable Development and mitigating climate change needs to be not only top-down, it also needs to be bottom-up. It needs to be a movement catalyzed by change in thought and change in behavior by the people. We need information, inspiration and implementation. The greatest catalyst for change in thought and behavior is our faith. Our tradition teaches us Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam – If the world is one family then we need to live, work and choose not only for ourselves but also for our future generations.”

Pujya Swamiji also honoured Dr. Pachauri for the phenomenal service that he was doing and gifted him a Peepal tree as a symbol that just as the Peepal gives life-giving oxygen to all so too does he, through his work, bring relief and life to billions of people who are affected or will be affected by the effects of climate change. He also gave him a shawl that was woven by the Himalayan women from the Kedar Valley in Uttarakhand who were devastated by the floods in 2013. This was also a symbol of the vital and urgent need to bring hope to the billions of people affected by the unexpected floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, rising sea levels and so many other irreularities in weather conditions all across the globe and also to heal the planet before it really is to late.

Each year, the Summit brings together the best minds from the fields of government, business, academia, media as well as many others. This year the summit was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance, India, Mr. Jayant Sinha, and Managing Director & CEO, YES Bank, Patron Member of TERI BCSD, Mr. Rana Kapoor, Managing Director of TATA Chemical Ltd & Chairman Executive Committee, TERI BCSD, Mr. R Mukundan, Mr. Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever & Chairman, WBCSD. During the important sessions there were high-level guests and speakers such as US Ambassador, Mr. Richard Rahul Verma, Minister of Environment and Science, India, Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Former Governor of California, USA as well as high level presidents and prime ministers of many countries, high level ministers of many countries, high level representatives of the UN and World Bank as well as many international organizations, corporations and many, many other key stakeholders.

The theme of the Summit was “Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change,” especially because UN General Assembly (UNGA) is expected to arrive at a set of Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) for the global community as a whole. DSDS 2015, would, therefore, provided a unique platform by which the outputs of the Summit would be shared with the UNGA in defining and arriving at a set of SDGs, which should be consistent with the MDGs that the UN has been following over the past decade and more. The 21st Conference of the Parties (CoP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in France at the end of 2015, and it is expected that a global agreement on climate change would be finalized in that CoP. Hence, 2015 will herald in major initiatives in setting the SDGs as well as dealing with climate change.

Click here to read press coverage on this event.

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