Redefining a Common Future: Air Pollution and Climate Change

This week, world leaders gather for the 20th WSDS to discuss pathways to balance the demand for further economic growth with the need for increased climate ambition. NRDC's Mitch Bernard and Frances Beinecke are speaking at this year's summit.

With dangerous levels of air pollution in India this January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a greater focus on climate justice to combat the climate crisis. The Indian government demonstrated significant support for cleaner skies by allocating over ₹2200 crore ($302 million) to fight air pollution in 42 cities as part of the country’s 2021 budget, among other allocations to environmental programs. Leaders and experts around the world are gathering virtually this week at the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) to find solutions to pressing issues, including climate change, air pollution, transportation, among others at part of India’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

“The road to fighting climate change is through climate justice and this requires us to be large hearted by thinking of the bigger and the long-term picture.”

—Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi

This week, world leaders gather for the 20thWSDS to discuss pathways to balance the demand for further economic growth with the need for increased climate ambition. The Summit, hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), is an important global platform focused on the unique challenges developing countries face at the front lines of climate change. 

For India, inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable communities in its development story while adequately addressing environmental challenges is critical to robust economic growth and social development. For many, 2020, exacerbated by COVID-19, has been characterized by the widening of the inequalities of access to energy and resources as well as the increasing burden of the climate crisis and air pollution. These and other critical issues will be discussed at with more than 30 sessions over the 3-day summit.  

This year’s the theme of WSDS is “Redefining our Common Future: Safe and Secure Environment for All”. Discussing local and international solutions to address air pollution will be a top agenda item at this year’s summit.  WSDS is also a critical milestone as countries aim to increase their climate ambition going into the UN Climate Conference in November 2021.  

NRDC Leadership at WSDS 2021

To advance global solutions focused on developing economies, NRDC is honored to partner with TERI for WSDS 2021. This year, senior leaders from NRDC will speak air pollution and climate change and present strategies from NRDC’s experience in the United States, China, India and around the world.

Thematic Session, February 11, 2021: “Cleaning the Air in Indian Cities” with Frances Beinecke, NRDC President Emerita. Speakers will discuss progress made at the city level for air pollution control in India with government officials and experts highlighting key takeaways from experiences abroad and in India.

Plenary Session, February 12, 2021: “Future of Air: Progress and Constraints” with Mitchell Bernard, NRDC President and Chief Counsel. This session will assess the implementation of NCAP and the progress made in India on combating air pollution with perspectives from government officials and international experts.

The detailed WSDS program is available here. NRDC is proud partner of WSDS for over 10 years. The summit serves as an opportunity to create solutions for all to climate change, air pollution and environmental threats.

Polash Mukerjee and Marie McNamara contributed to this blog post.