The need to build a resilient, low carbon and sustainable economy can never be overemphasized. The ongoing challenges faced by the world have further underlined the need to shift from linear to circular economy and creating industrial systems that are restorative by design. However, another aspect which is equally important toensure sustainable development is restoring natural habitats and conserving biodiversity. In this line, the Decade of Restoration (2021-2030) project launched bythe United Nations Organisation aims to prevent, halt, and reverse environmental degradation by calling for a worldwide collaboration and concentrated efforts torestore natural habitats. This project is also keeping the developmental, social, and ecological priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of variouscountries into perspective. Add to it, there are significant economic benefits as every dollar spent on the restoration efforts create opportunities of up to $30.
While various economies do their bit to restore biodiversity, countries across the world urgently need to re-imagine current systems, and by sheer intent, design arestorative and regenerative economy. For global sustainability efforts to achieve desired objectives, it is essential that there is a stronger global cooperation forchange management from a linear to a more circular economy.
Being amongst the world’s leading economies with around 7% share of global GDP, India, as it emerges from the pandemic-led disruptions, has an opportunity to rebuilditself on the lines of circular economy. As per the estimations of Ellen MacArthur Foundation, India, on a circular economy development path, can create an annualvalue of upto Rs 14 lakh crore by 2030.
The learnings from the second wave also call for a larger overhaul of existing structures and for public and private enterprises, institutions, and organization to shift to a more sustainable and resilient future and tackle the rapidly emerging challenges posed by climate change. Of the many possible measures, the following areessential transitions to support circular economy and global sustainability missions.
Towards Cleaner Energy and All-Electric Alternatives
Overcoming the contraction of 2020, as per IEA, the global energy demand is expected to grow by 4.4% in 2021, with demand for coal to increase by 60% more than all renewables combined. Simultaneously, the global electricity demand may account for 20% of total energy demand, with developing economies sharing 80% of the projected increase. Ironically, beating the contraction, the demand for renewables grew by 3% globally and about 5% in India where 80% of energy needs our fulfilled by fossil fuels.
To aid global sustainability efforts and reduce carbon footprint, the current scenario necessitates the geography-wise utilisation of renewable energy sources.Furthermore, India and the world need to accelerate to a more electricity-dependent ecosystem, while adopting various supportive technological innovations likedigitalisation which hold immense potential to increase efficiencies and reduce emissions.
A major step towards a more electric-dependent ecosystem would be to convert global mobility from oil and gas to electricity, as transportation accounts for over 24% of global CO2 emissions. While India has taken strides into EV manufacturing, the challenge is to trigger a behavioral change towards electric mobility and its benefits to environmental conservation. Electric mobility is the future, as a study estimates almost 50% of vehicles sold by 2030 globally will be electric.
Digitalization is a key partner to an all-electric and sustainable growth model, and a key enabler to facilitate green business operations. We need to leverage the limitless potential of digital technologies and embrace its transformative capabilities for making production, supply chain, distribution network, service delivery, waste management and recycling verticals more efficient, resilient, and ecologically viable.
These key transformations go together in making a real circular economy possible, effective, and sustainable. The strengthening of circular economy will also reduceexploitation of natural resources and boost biodiversity restoration efforts.
Till a couple of decades back, the reality and impact of climate change was beyond comprehension of common people. However, today’s more digital and connectedgeneration can better understand the impact of human action and neglect for nature. Human beings are at the epicentre of energy efficiency action and resistance. With their future at stake, they are more purposeful and ecologically conscious. The pandemic calls for pause and reflection on the likely destruction of global biodiversity and consequent future of life on earth. So far, the complex dynamics of biodiversity and the delicate balance on which life on earth exists remain least understood. It is time we build a momentum to restore biodiversity.
In the industrial world, a major responsibility of reversing the biodiversity loss falls on the private sector. Each business enterprise can minimize its carbon footprint and contribute to restoring biodiversity. And while enterprises across sectors are using a number of measures to lower their carbon footprints, there is an opportunity for MSMEs to incorporate energy efficiency as a process criterion and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future. Fostering entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities, MSMEs are contributing significantly to the social and economic development of the country. Energy efficiency plays a critical role in boosting MSMEs’ competitiveness, therefore investing in energy-efficient equipment and technology can result in long-term and profitable business outcomes.
No one solution, whether circular economy or biodiversity preservation, and some committed nations or individuals can prevent climate change. It must be aconcentrated global effort for a larger overhaul and transformation towards a clean and resilient economy, equitable and prosperous communities, and a healthy planet.
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