The EU and India to strengthen partnership in water sustainability and climate action for a green transition: EU Ambassador

Virtual EU Day held with Xavier University Bhubaneswar

New Delhi: The Delegation of the European Union hosted a virtual discussion with Xavier University Bhubaneswar today on the theme, “EU-India Cooperation in Sustainable Urbanisation and Urban Water Management.” The online event held as part of the EU Day series organized by the EU Delegation focussed on the growing EU-India partnership including policy dialogues, collaborative initiatives between different stakeholders, and the role of innovation.

 

Climate change is an existential challenge. Highlighting the need for urgent green transition, Mr. Ugo Astuto, EU Ambassador to India said “Over half of the global GDP depends on nature and the services it provides. When we look at the costs of inaction, it becomes clear we cannot afford to stand still: we have to invest in green transition.” He added, “To achieve our global objectives in fighting climate change and biodiversity loss an active partnership with India is essential. Our partnerships on water resources and on urban cooperation is a good case in point. We shall continue to strengthen it and make it fit for the new challenges ahead.”

 

In his opening address, Dr. Fr. Antony R. Uvari, S.J, Vice Chancellor, Xavier University Bhubaneswar welcomed the EU Delegation and gave an overview of the institution. “Research at Xavier University’s School of Human Settlements and School of Sustainability has underscored the growing importance of sustainable development in the Indian context. We must find solutions to support the rapid population growth in urban cities and raise urban living standards. Today’s EU Day has further highlighted the need for joint India-EU deliberations and collaborations towards sustainable urbanisation and urban water management,” he said.

 

Ms. Kamilla Kristensen Rai, Counsellor, EU Delegation to India, highlighted ‘EU-India Partnership on Smart and Sustainable Urbanisation’ which contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular UN SDG 11 to make cities inclusive safe and resilient and sustainable. Reiterating that partnership, holistic planning and local context are key components when working with sustainable urbanisation and urban water management, she said, “We are in the decade of action, and must work together to deliver on the UN SDGs at a global, local and people level. Underscoring this spirit of cooperation, Indian cities are working with European cities as part of the EU International Urban Cooperation (IUC) Programme. Under the project, cities get to learn from each and work together including on Local Action Plans and City Climate Action Plans.” She also shared about the EU’s collaboration on the Metropolitan Planning with Bhubaneswar.

 

Dr Jayant Routray, Professor Emeritus, AIT Bangkok, said, “Due to rising rural-to-urban migration, urbanisation is rising in India and across the world. Consequently, making cities both livable and sustainable is a challenge. In addition, slum population is rising, further adding to the common developmental challenges of housing, water and power access, urban mobility, and sanitation. The focus must be on preventing cityward migration by diversifying economic opportunities, greening urban areas with vegetative cover, promoting water renewal and conservation systems. Careful urban and regional planning is crucial. City management also must take into consideration the needs of people and communities vis-à-vis the availability of assets, in order to plan and implement a sustainable balance.”

 

Ms. Tania Friederichs, Head of Research and Innovation, EU Delegation, outlined the role of research and innovation (R&I) in Sustainable Urbanisation and Urban Waste Management and cooperation opportunities for India. She also highlighted opportunities available under EU-funded programmes for higher education and research such as Erasmus+, the Jean Monnet programme and Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions and collaborative projects under Horizon 2020, for Indian students and academia.

 

Key speakers at the event were Mr. Mathi Vathanan, Principal Secretary, Department of Housing & Urban Development, Government of Odisha, and Chairman WATCO; Ms. Kamila Lohrová, Specialist of Technical Infrastructure – Water Management Prague Institute of Planning and Development, Office of Technical Infrastructure, Prof. Kajri Misra, Dean, School of Human Settlements, Xavier University, and Ms. Sriparna Sanyal Iyer, key expert, India-EU Urban Partnership Support Project. The event was moderated by Prof. Prashant Prasad, Assistant Professor, School of Human Settlements, Xavier University and Prof. Mary Sabina, School of Sustainability, Xavier University. Prof. Sutapa Pati, Academic Dean, School of Sustainability, Xavier University delivered the closing remarks.

 

Prior to the EU Day event, an essay writing contest was organised for the students on the topic: “Role of good sustainable urbanisation and urban water management.” Students were asked to write on elements of sustainable urbanisation and urban water management, while sharing positive examples from India and the European Union which have inspired them. Four students namely Ms. Alisha Khan, Ms. Debashrita Tripathy, Ms. Pragyandipta Behera and Mr. Rajesh Pradhan, received certificates for meritorious participation in the essay contest. They also featured as panellists in the EU Day event.