Covid-19 Created Opportunity to Implement Greener, More Circular Economy: Dr. Ajay Mathur

Covid-19 Created Opportunity to Implement Greener, More Circular Economy: Dr. Ajay Mathur

The coronavirus pandemic has created the opportunity to implement a greener, more circular economy, said Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute, (TERI).


He was speaking at a webinar hosted to mark the World Environment Day on the theme, “Resource Efficiency for Greening of Recovery and fostering Sustainable Economic Growth in a resource-constrained world.”

Dr. Mathur also suggested that “jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and economic growth are at the heart of the global economic recovery – and resource efficiency is what binds them together. A green recovery also necessitates minimising the amounts of virgin materials used and maximising recycling. India can adapt many global best practices and create benchmarks for other developing nations.”

This online high-level discussion, under the European Union (EU) Public Diplomacy project, was held in association with the EU-Resource Efficiency Initiative (EU-REI) and proposed ways in which resource efficiency can catalyse the economic recovery while helping India move on the path of sustainable development.

Speaking at the event, R P Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India (GoI), said that “the GoI has recognised the need for integrating resource efficiency with the economic development of the country. Draft national policy on resource efficiency (RE) 2019 aims at enabling efficient use of resources and upcycling of waste across all sectors of the economy. The policy fosters cross-sectoral collaborations, development of policy instruments, action plans and efficient implementation and monitoring mechanism.”

Gupta also added that “RE policy is guided by principles of reduction in primary resources consumption to sustainable levels in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

On the other hand, Ms Astrid Schomaker, Director, Global Sustainable Development, Directorate General for Environment, European Commission Brussels, focused on how the European Green Deal, which provides a roadmap with actions to achieve climate neutrality, combat biodiversity loss and boost the efficient use of resources, is at the heart of the EU’s recovery plan.

Schomaker said “climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are existential threats. The Green Deal is the EU’s compass and engine for a sustainable post-COVID-19 future, which will ensure a resilient and inclusive economy that leaves no one behind. The EU is looking to be climate neutral by 2050 and this is not possible without a more resource-efficient and circular economy. As strategic partners working towards green recovery, the EU supports India in its efforts to transition to a circular economy, and we are keen to scale up our cooperation.”

Under the ongoing EU-REI project, key sectors like – renewables, construction, electronics and plastics, steel, aluminium and automotive, using critical raw materials were assessed in terms of opportunities and policy focus that is required to enhance the efficiency of materials used.

During the discussion, Dr. Rachna Arora, Deputy Team Leader & Coordinator EU-REI, India, GIZ shared her perspectives on the resource efficiency strategy and policy for the greening of recovery followed by Souvik Bhattacharjya, Associate Director, Centre for Resource Efficiency and Governance, TERI, who presented a sectoral analysis of the resource efficiency strategies.

Among other participants in the discussion were – Natalia Papú Carrone, Researcher and Analyst, Circle Economy, Amsterdam; Rhea Singhal, Founder & CEO, Ecoware – Sustainable Packaging; and Shashank Nimkar, Eco-designer & Founder, Earth Tatva.

Meanwhile, Henriette Faergemann, Environment, Climate and Energy Counsellor at the EUD, moderated the session and administered the Green Pledge to 8 new partners including Saahas, Trash2cash, Pugdundee Safari Resort, Waxpol Group, V Mart Retail, Indian Youth Climate Network, Earth Tatva – Recycled Ceramics and Ecoware, who joined the #LeadTheGreenChange campaign towards the end of the webinar.

In another significant development, Power Minister RK Singh has also launched the ‘#iCommit’ initiative on World Environment Day, giving a clarion call to all stakeholders and individuals to continue moving towards energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability to create a robust and resilient energy system in future.

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Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.