LiFE Strengthens COPs

PM enjoying the Cheetah event

LiFE Strengthens COPs

Landmark Year For Environment, Biodiversity

PM leads from the front in promoting sustainable lifestyle across the globe, wins laurels for the nation.

The year 2022 saw the launch of Mission LiFE or Lifestyle for Environment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a flagship programme to promote sustainable lifestyle across the globe. The central elements of Mission LiFE i.e., sustainable lifestyle and sustainable patterns of consumption to address climate change were mentioned in the cover decision of Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan of Conference of Parties (COP) 27. Cheetah reintroduction in India by the Prime Minister was another milestone in the global conservation efforts of the species. The major achievements during the year 2022 are:

LiFE: A Global call for Mission LiFE was given by the Prime Minister while delivering India’s National Statement, at CoP26, held at Glasgow in October-November, 2021. Subsequently, the PM launched Mission LiFE at Ekta Nagar on October 20, 2022, in the presence of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

India participated in COP 27, with focus on mainstreaming the theme of LiFE - Lifestyle for Environment. The Indian Pavilion at COP 27 highlighted the theme of LiFE in various ways – models, audio visual displays, activities and 49 side events with participation of various central government ministries, state governments, UN and multilateral organizations, public sector undertakings, think tanks, private sector, international organizations and civil society organizations.

India invited all countries to join the LiFE movement which is a pro-people and pro-planet effort, seeking to shift the world from mindless and wasteful consumption to mindful and deliberate utilization of natural resources.

The cover decision of UNFCCC COP27, titled the ‘Sharm Al Sheikh Implementation Plan’, notes the 'importance of transition to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production for efforts to address climate change'. It also notes the ‘importance of pursuing an approach to education that promotes a shift in lifestyles while fostering patterns of development and sustainability based on care, community and cooperation’.

INDIA @ CoP27 on LiFE: At COP 27, India set up a pavilion on the theme of LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment.  A number of events, based on LiFE, were organised with the objective of spreading the message of LiFE. November 14, 2022 was dedicated to LiFE events. One such event was: “Understanding the Concept of LiFE” hosted by MoEFCC and United Nations in India. During the event, MoEFCC-UNDP Compendium ‘Prayas Se Prabhaav Tak’ was launched.

On the same day, HMEFCC launched India’s Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy. With the submission of this document to UNFCCC, India joined the select group of fewer than 60 countries in the world to do so.

The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), under the MoEFCC and UNDP, jointly launched “In Our LiFEtime” campaign to encourage youth between the ages of 18 to 23 years to become message bearers of sustainable lifestyles. This campaign envisioned recognizing youth from around the world taking climate action initiatives that resonate with the concept of LiFE.

The Union Minister also participated in the event “Transformative Green Education: Experiences from India” at India Pavilion.

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) in conjunction with Ministry of Power; IREDA; Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI); and Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) organized a side event on November 8, 2022, during which discussions were held on linking India’s numerous initiatives on energy access, transition, and efficiency with the principles of LiFE in the run-up to India’s G20 Presidency.

On November 8, 2022, a joint event on energy transition anchored to the theme of LiFE was co-hosted by three organisations including Himadri Energy International, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation & ReNew Power. It stressed upon transition towards a low-carbon system that needs to be cautious and ambitious, accompanied by a closer look at the environmental advantages, policy interventions for minimal loss of livelihood, and preparing a skilled workforce. One of the outcomes was on integrating low-carbon targets into developmental goals which is essential for long-term sustained implementation of climate goals.

CEEW organised an interesting event on November 09, 2022 on “Financing of Technologies to Enable the LiFE Movement in Developing Countries.” The event proposed specific financial instruments including those that provide standardised solutions across several markets and bespoke solutions to address particular risks in specific developing countries.

A panel discussion at India Pavilion presented by Government of Himachal Pradesh on November 10, 2022 shed light on the process and methodology adopted for scaling up villages and developmental plans towards Climate Resilient Lifestyles for Environment (LiFE). ASSOCHAM’s event on November 11, 2022 made LiFE principles the basis for inclusive growth pathways and solutions in net-zero urban development.

The state Government of Haryana took to the dais on November 15, 2022, showcasing the state’s initiatives to support climate goals through actions for LiFE. TERRE Policy Centre’s exchange at the side event on November 16, 2022 brought out the importance of traditional knowledge interlinked with eco-restoration and making choices for changing lifestyles. ICLEI’s side event on the same day established fostering of sustainable lifestyles through climate-smart development and urban partnerships in India.

Waste-to-Wealth: Prime Minister Modi, in his address to the nation on the occasion of 75th Independence Day on 15.08.2021, highlighted India’s action on ‘Mission Circular Economy’. NITI Aayog constituted 11 Committees for development of circular economy (CE) action plans for different categories of wastes.

Circular Economy Action Plans for 10 waste categories (Lithium-ion batteries; E-waste; Toxic and hazardous industrial waste; Scrap metal (ferrous and non-ferrous); Tyre and Rubber; End of Life Vehicles; Gypsum, Used Oil, Solar Panels and Municipal Solid Waste have been finalized, and are under implementation. Respective Nodal Ministries are coordinating on progress of implementation of these action plans. Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the Nodal Ministry for Circular Economy Action Plan for Tyre and Rubber and stakeholder ministry in other CE Action Plans.

Regulations on market based Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principle have been notified for four categories of wastes i.e. plastic packaging waste, battery waste, e-waste and waste tyre.

  • ‘‘Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Waste Tyre, 2022’’ on 21.07.2022.
  • “Guidelines on EPR for Plastic Packaging on 16.02.2022.
  • ‘’Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022’’ on 22.08.2022.
  • ‘’E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022’’ on 02.11.2022.

In EPR for Plastic Packaging, targets for minimum recycling, minimum use of recycled content and use of rigid plastic packaging in identified sizes have been mandated. In rules incorporating EPR principle that have been notified/amended this year, different targets of minimum recycling, minimum recovery percentage and minimum use of recycled content have been given lead times to start with. The optimum level will be reached over a period of time. This has been done to provide time to the industry as well as recyclers for the development of systems and recycling infrastructure. Regulations to bring in EPR for end-of-life vehicles is under development.

The Waste-to-Wealth Mission/ Mission Circular Economy is bound to create new business models as well as new employment opportunities. This will also result in integration of informal sector. Participation of industry is of critical importance to make the Waste-to-Wealth Mission a success. This will result in moving away from mindless consumption to mindful utilisation and will help achieve the vision of Mission LiFE - Lifestyle for Environment given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

NCAP: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been implementing since 10th January, 2019, a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a national-level strategy outlining the actions for reducing the levels of air pollution at city and regional scales in India. Rs 7100 crore have been released to 131 cities till date under NCAP & XVFC for implementing actions stipulated under city action plan. Fixed city wise year wise targets for improvement in air quality for FY 2021-22 to 2025-26 for this MoUs have been signed with NCAP cities between CPCB, SPCB and ULB and 42 MPCs between the MoEF&CC, State government and Urban local bodies under XVFC.

The national level plan: a comprehensive action plan has been prepared from 7 line ministries under NCAP which includes the action plans of different Ministries/ Departments of Government of India. This includes convergence of schemes/ programmes of different Ministries/ Departments.

State Action Plans are under process and received from 10 States/ UTs so far. City Action Plans are prepared by cities for implementation of activities which assists in air quality improvement. 88 Institute of Reputes (IoRs) are assigned to 131 NACs for capacity building and for effective implementation of City action plans.

MoEF&CC conducted regional workshops for sensitization, knowledge sharing and capacity building of the stakeholders in the State (3 regional workshops have been conducted so far and a National Conference on VAYU in Odisha).

MoEF&CC has also launched “PRANA” a portal for monitoring implementation of NCAP on the occasion of International day of clean air for blue skies on 7th September 2021 and in 2022 released brochures/ booklets on Guidelines for Capacity Building & Public Outreach.

Guidelines for release of funds under NCAP, Operational Guidelines for release of grants under Fifteenth Finance Commission along with that released booklets on best practices undertaken by various cities in sectors for abatement of emissions from waste and biomass dumping and burning, for abatement of vehicular emissions, Road dust and construction & demolition waste management, capacity building & monitoring network etc.

The Swachh Vayu Survekshan guidelines for Ranking of cities under NCAP has been issued to cities- 9 cities are awarded with a cash prize of 5 crores under 3 categories on 3rd December 2022 during VAYU conference in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

An overall improvement in ambient air quality has been observed in 95 cities during 2021-22 as compared to 2017. 18 cities were found to be within the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standard (PM10 less than 60^g/m3) in 2019-20 which has increased to 20 in year 2021-22.

Delhi HC’s pat: The Union of India has filed a detailed exhaustive report and also brought to the notice of the Court that the Cabinet has approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution which is a step towards achieving India’s long-term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070.

It has also been brought to the notice of the Court that the approval of the Cabinet translates Prime Minister “Panchamrit” announced at COP-26 into enhanced climate targets and India is now committed to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s a one-word movement to the global community proposed at COP-26 -LIFE i.e. Lifestyle for Environment and all efforts are being made in the country for cleaner energy for the period 2021-30 were brought to the notice of the court.

The Court appreciated the sincere efforts made on the part of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change for ensuring implementation of the steps in respect of climate change and for providing a better environment for the generations to come.

UNFCCC: The Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Article 4, paragraph 19, states, “All Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, mindful of Article 2 taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.”

In light of above, India launched its long-term low carbon development strategy at the 27th session of Conference of Parties (COP-27) to the UNFCCC. The strategy was launched by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav, who led the Indian delegation to the COP 27 from 6-18 November, 2022.With this release, India joins the select list of less than 60 parties that have submitted their LT LEDS to UNFCCC.

India’s approach is based on the following four key considerations that underpin its long-term low-carbon development strategy: (i)India has contributed little to global warming, (ii)India’s historical contribution to cumulative global GHG emissions is therefore minuscule despite having a share of ~17% of the world’s population, (iii)India is committed to pursuing low-carbon strategies for development and is actively pursuing them, as per national circumstances, (iv)India needs to build climate resilience.

The LT-LEDS aims to go beyond India’s climate targets or the nationally determined contributions (NDC) announced in August, of achieving 50 percent of India’s cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030, and reducing emission intensity of GDP by 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and builds on India’s Panchamrit (five nectar elements) pledges at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) of the UNFCCC in Glasgow, including the target of net-zero emissions by 2070.The roadmap is a result of a first of its kind inter-ministerial consultation, and a collaborative effort with experts and think-tanks.

In its present form, the LT-LEDS provides roadmap for sectoral transitions needed for India’s transition to the 2070 goal. India’s LT-LEDS rests on seven key transitions to low-carbon development pathways. These include electricity systems, transport systems, urbanization, industrial systems, CO2 removal, forestry, economic and financial aspects of low carbon development.

Enter the Cheetah: The last cheetahs in the Indian wilderness were recorded in 1947 where three cheetahs were shot in the Sal (Shorea robusta) forests of Koriya District, Chhattisgarh State. The main reasons for the extinction of cheetah in India were large scale capture of animals from the wild for coursing, bounty and sport hunting, extensive habitat conversion along with consequent decline in prey base and in 1952 Cheetahs were declared as extinct by the Government.

The Government initiated G2G consultative meetings with Republic of Namibia which culminated in the signing of MoU between the two countries on July20,  2022 for cheetah conservation. Following the signing of MoU, in a historic first wild to wild intercontinental translocation, eight cheetahs were translocated from Namibia to India on 17th September, 2022 and were released into the quarantine bomas by the Prime Minister of India. Post the mandatory quarantine period, the cheetahs have been released into the larger enclosure in phased manner. All the eight individual cheetahs are doing very well in terms of taking of feed, body condition, behaviour, activity and overall fitness.

The goal of Cheetah introduction project in India is to establish viable cheetah meta-population that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator and provide space for the expansion of the cheetah within its historic range thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts.

The major objective of the introduction project is restoring open forest and savannah grassland that will benefit biodiversity and ecosystem services from these ecosystems. Further, the project provides opportunity for eco-development and eco-tourism to enhance local community livelihoods.

Modalities of taking the cheetah project forward have already been discussed with South African Authorities and a second batch of 12 cheetahs are likely to be translocated to India during January 2023. 

Ramsar Sites: On the eve of 76th Independence Day India added ten wetlands to the List of Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar Sites. This took the total number of Ramsar Sites in India to an incredible 75, the highest in Asia, in the 75th year of its independence.

India ratified the Ramsar Convention in 1982. Keoladeo National Park (in Rajasthan) and Chilika (in Odisha) were the first two sites to be placed on the Ramsar List. Till 1990, only four more sites were added to the list, and another 20 over the following two decades. Since 2014, Ramsar Site designation has received a significant policy push from the MoEFCC, and 49 wetlands have been added to the list. The network of Indian Ramsar Sites currently covers 1.33 million ha, which is approximately 8% of the known wetland extent of the country.

Ramsar Sites form an international network of wetlands which are important for conserving global biological diversity and sustaining human lives through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and services. The international significance of these sites is indicated by their fulfilling at least one of the nine criteria set by the Convention. With 2,455 sites spanning 255.8 million ha, the Ramsar sites represent the world’s largest protected area network.

The Ramsar sites in India are highly diverse. The contribution that Ramsar sites make to biological diversity can hardly be over emphasised. A recent compilation of faunal diversity of 42 Indian Ramsar Sites by the Zoological Survey of India enlists 6200 species. For several of the faunal groups, these wetlands represent a significant share of the known diversity (for example, over one-third of recorded mammalian species, one-fifth of reptiles, and about two-thirds of known bird species). While the smallest Ramsar Site is just 19.75 ha in the area (Vembannur), the largest, the Sunderbans, spans 0.42 million ha.

Ramsar Sites are one of the three pillars of the Ramsar Convention, the other two being working towards the wise use of wetlands and cooperating internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetlands and shared species. The Ramsar Convention’s pillar of wetlands wise use is very well aligned with L.I.F.E., international mass movement launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards “mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption” to protect and preserve the environment.

Since 1986, the MoEFCC has been implementing a national scheme (presently known as the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems) to assist state governments in preparing and implementing integrated management plans for Ramsar sites and other priority wetlands. Ramsar sites receive legal protection under Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. Each Ramsar site needs to have a management plan which outlines the pathway to wise use. A diagnostic approach for developing such management plans has been prescribed by the Ministry. In June 2022, the Ministry also formulated the ‘Sahbhagita Guidelines’ outlining an “all of society” approach and governance framework for wetlands conservation in the country.

Ban on single Use Plastics: India has taken resolute steps to reflect its commitment to eliminate single use plastics that are not biodegradable and have an adverse impact on environment. The strategy adopted by the Government to tackle unmanaged and littered plastic waste has two pillars – ban on single use plastic items which have high littering potential and low utility, and implementation of extended producer responsibility on plastic packaging.

The country has taken a defining step to eliminate single use plastics. A ban has been imposed on identified single use plastic items from 1st July 2022. The ban was notified on 12th August 2021.

Ear buds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (Thermocol) for decoration; Plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, stirrers. Thickness of Plastic carry bags increased to 75 microns (30.9.2021) and to 120 microns (31.12.2022).

The introduction and use of alternatives to banned single use plastic items have led to creation of new employment opportunities, promote innovation and development of new business models. The manufacturing of alternatives with eco-friendly material in the MSME sector will further support development of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

India had piloted a resolution in 2019 for addressing pollution caused by single use plastics which was adopted by the 4th meeting of United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019.

To develop alternatives to single use plastics “India Plastic Challenge – Hackathon 2021” was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, for start-ups and students of colleges and Universities. Two startups in the area of alternatives to single use plastics were awarded. A completely biodegradable alternative to thermocol from paddy straw waste (Parali) has been developed. This innovation will use Parali and also replace thermocol. Packaging material from seaweed has been developed as innovative alternative to single-use plastics. 

National Expo on Eco-Alternatives to single use plastic and start up conference 2022 held on 26th and 27th September 2022 in Chennai. More than 150 manufacturers of eco-alternatives from across the country are participating in the Expo. The eco-alternatives included material made from sea-weed, bagasse, rice and wheat bran, rice stubble, plant and agricultural residue, banana and areca leaves, jute and cloth.

Prakriti- Messenger of the Earth was launched as a mascot of sustainability and protection of environment spread awareness amongst general public. A public movement is being built on elimination of single use plastics by NSS, NCC and more than 100,000 eco-clubs in schools and colleges. Puneet Sagar and Swachh Sagar Surakshit Sagar Campaign have showcased the importance of collective action in maintaining clean beaches and coasts.

The Guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility on plastic packaging are unique and have led to the establishment of world’s biggest framework for EPR implementation on plastic packaging.  The implementation of EPR on plastic packaging will lead to reduction in littered and unmanaged plastic waste in the country, promote circular economy of plastic packaging waste promote development of new alternatives to plastics and development of new business models move towards sustainable plastic packaging. The EPR framework is implemented through a centralized online portal ensuring ease of doing business.

The Guidelines for EPR in plastic packaging promote an environmentally conscious lifestyle that focuses on ‘mindful consumption’ through the reuse of rigid plastic packaging and sustainable plastic packaging instead of ‘mindless and destructive consumption’ of single-use plastics. The Guidelines for EPR in plastic packaging give a push for reducing plastic footprint in packaging through the use of recycled plastic content in manufacturing of plastic packaging material.

TX2 International Award: The TX2 a Tiger Conservation Excellence award is organized by a consortium of international organisations namely the Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS), Fauna & Flora International, Global Tiger Forum, IUCN Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme, Panthera, UNDP Lion’s Share, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative. The award is given to tiger reserves that have made significant progress towards doubling the tiger number since 2010 or displayed conservation excellence.            

In 2010, the ambitious goal of doubling wild tiger number by 2022 was set by the 13 tiger range countries. The tiger reserves/ tiger conservation sites of range countries can submit the applications for TX2 awards. From India, in 2020, the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh won the TX2 award and the Manas Tiger Reserve, Assam was selected for Conservation Excellence award for the transboundary conservation partnership.

The TX2 award for the year 2021 was bagged by the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu. Declared as tiger reserve in 2013, the Sathyamangalam had a tiger population of 25 individuals in 2011. Sustained management inputs (both technical and financial) by both Central Government and State Government for tiger conservation in Sathyamangalam have resulted increase in tiger numbers to 80 owing to enhanced protection, improved habitat management, scientific monitoring and involvement of local communities.

There are 53 Tiger Reserves covering an area of 75000 Sq Km in the country. India harbours more than 70% of the global tiger population and has honour of the largest tiger range country in the world. Tigers are apex predator in the ecosystem and conserving the wild cat results in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem, conservation of the entire gamut of the biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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