The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the progress and attainment of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 6th BRICS Environment ministers’ meeting highlighted the importance of improving the environment. The meeting also stressed the promotion of a circular economy in national plans as steps towards recovery.
On July 30, a virtual meeting via video conferencing under the presidency of Russia took place between the environment ministers of BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The pandemic and environment
Environment ministers of the BRICS nations acknowledged that the novel coronavirus has heightened social vulnerabilities and resulted in significant job losses across the globe. The BRICS nations called for: “Initiatives to improve the environment, promote the circular economy in the context of sustainable patterns of production and consumption to be included in national plans for economic recovery after COVID-19.”
The ministers discussed and declared, “We express our concern that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious challenge to achieving the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs when the world is expected to be entering the decade of action.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened social vulnerabilities, resulting in significant job losses, particularly in the informal sector which has been most affected and that providing adequate means of support to this sector is crucial,” the BRICS countries said in a joint statement.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar represented India and stressed the need to implement various initiatives under BRICS and for the speedy implementation of the BRICS MoU.
He said that India attaches great importance to the BRICS. The minister called for the sharing of best practices among BRICS nations towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals.
He suggested that India could provide a platform wherein all the best practices in environmental management in BRICS countries could be showcased.
The Minister also elaborated on the efforts made by India in areas relating to sustainable urban management, tackling marine litter, air pollution and the cleaning of rivers.
He shared that in 2015 India launched the Air Quality index monitoring in 10 cities, today it has been extended to 122 cities. He also informed that India last year launched the National Clean Air Programme, the goal of which is to reduce particulate pollution by 20-30 percent relative to 2017 levels by 2024. The meeting was preceded by the BRICS Working Group meeting.
“Javadekar extended invitation to the BRICS nations to participate in the BRICS environment meetings. The meeting adopted BRICS Environment Ministers’ Statement. It was welcomed by all countries and shows BRICS countries eagerness to both work mutually and fruitfully.
India will assume the BRICS presidency in 2021. 7th BRICS Environment ministers’ meeting will be held in India. “We will most probably have the next meeting in India next year,” the Russian Minister said after the 6th BRICS Environment Ministers Meeting.
UNFCCC and other postponed events
The BRICS nations noted that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate change negotiations have been delayed and the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26) will now be held in November 2021.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges imposed by the pandemic we reaffirm our commitments to enhancing international cooperation on climate change to ensure full and effective implementation of UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement guided by the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
“We stress that COP26 should send a strong signal on the implementation of UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement and delivery of commitments,” the BRICS nation said in a statement.
The 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), stands postponed due to the pandemic. It was scheduled for October 2020 in Kunming, China.
“We acknowledge the importance of working together to adopt the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at CBD COP15, including implementation of support mechanisms,” the statement said.