Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Over the twentieth century, the earth has witnessed continuous increase in greenhouse gas emissions largely due to indiscriminate deforestation, mineral exploitation, industrialisation, and urbanisation. As a result, climate change is one of the major concerns that the world is facing today. The consequences of climate change are unevenly distributed across geographical, economic, and social boundaries. While developed nations are better equipped to mitigate and adapt to the consequences of climate change due to their financial and infrastructural conditions, developing nations are more vulnerable to its adverse effects.

One key element to ensure sustainability of climate change interventions are partnerships that involve both public and private sector actors towards a common goal. In technical terms this collaboration is called Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The importance of partnerships is also reflected in Goal 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which focuses on “strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”.

In line with this, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda also encourages building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships, including the promotion of effective public-private partnerships. This calls for the establishment of a formalised partnership defining the respective roles of the public and private sectors. PPPs provide inclusive frameworks by ensuring public leadership and accountability in tackling the impact of climate change while the ownership of certain components of climate finance is transferred to private hands. One example is the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals (P4G) 2030. This global initiative seeks solutions for climate action and green economic growth through PPPs and aims to develop sustainable strategies for the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

India is a key signatory member of the Paris Agreement. At the Conference of Parties 26 (COP 26), India has announced that the country will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy and will be net zero by 2070. Net zero or carbon neutral means not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, achieving carbon neutrality is a challenging task. Despite having several policy frameworks in place, India still has a long way to go to meet the development needs. Moreover, the country requires finances across its vast geography and population. To meet its goal of carbon neutrality, India needs to enhance its measure to develop alternative sources of energy such as nuclear, solar, and wind energy.

Role of PPP towards SDGs

India is committed to becoming net zero and at the same time achieving the objectives of the SDGs. In this spirit, the country has taken various initiatives through promotion of renewable energy, energy efficiency, better management of water, and waste. However, this is hampered by a lack of an adequate infrastructure and resources as it requires specialised, effective, and smart investments. In this context, the private sector can play a crucial role as it is the driving force of economic development through industrialisation, designing new technologies, finances, and communication tools, as well as providing unique skills development and employment opportunities. PPPs can increase the quality, efficiency of public services and raise additional finance in areas where there is limitation on budget and skills.

Emerging concept of sustainable eco-villages

One of the major areas where PPPs is playing an important role, is the concept of developing a sustainable eco-village. An eco-village is an intentional traditional or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned, participatory processes in all four areas of regeneration (social, culture, ecology and economy) to restore their social and natural environments. It is an emerging holistic development concept that serves the purpose of both socio-economic development and preservation of the environment of the village. It not only address the issues of climate change but also provides pathways towards sustainable development by promoting the use of renewable energy technologies, improved agricultural practices, conservation of forests and green cover, water, and waste management by productive use of local-level resources. In turn sustainable eco-villages create local livelihoods opportunities. The eco-village needs the cooperation and assistance of government and private sector for investments and a clear framework to achieve its long-term objective of sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has initiated the develoPPP programme for private sector cooperation which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. GIZ is a public-benefit federal enterprise which supports the German Government and a host of public and private sector clients in a wide variety of areas, including economic development and employment promotion, energy and the environment, and peace and security.

In India, GIZ and Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) jointly implement the develoPPP project ‘From Local to Global – creating a model for Eco-Villages’ which aims at securing access to potable water, fostering zero waste to landfill management, and promoting carbon neutrality to set a model for eco-villages.

Many villages in India have access to sufficient natural resources which provides an excellent basis for initiating the process of creating eco-villages. The concept of eco-villages can help revitalise rural India by making it economically and ecologically self-sufficient. PPP is an instrument that plays a vital role in the effective implementation of these policies and programmes as it provides finance, resources, technological expertise, and professional skills.

The future ahead

Given the socio-economic dynamics in India, PPPs have emerged as a feasible approach for sustainable development. The eco-village is one of such community led development model that has the potential to contribute to achieving the SDGs. It is the need of the hour that more public and private entities jointly collaborate to address the development priorities and amplify the approaches for sustainable lifestyle in the country.

This article is co-authored by Meghana Kshirsagar, Senior Advisor-Climate Change & Circular Economy GIZ India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members