Shillong, July 6, 2023: The Government of Meghalaya, started the two-day long conclave on the pressing topic of climate change “Nature Solves: A New Framework for Our Sustainable Future” under the aegis of G20 Summit being hosted by Government of India. The keynote address was delivered by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri Conrad K Sangma. Representatives from United Nations, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kenya, France, Nepal, USA, Bangladesh, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Maldives, Rome and organizations like World Economic Forum, SEWA India, ASCON India, South African BRICS Youth Association (SABYA), TERI India, besides others will be joining this discussion on various topics pertaining to the impact of climate change. The inaugural session was also attended by, Hon’ble Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya, Shri D. P. Wahlang, Smt. Eenam Gambhir, Joint Secretary (G20), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Smt. Laetitia Bruce Warjri, Head of Communications and Outreach, Observer Research Foundation, India, Mr. Samir Saran, Chair, T20 Secretariat; Member, T20 India Core Group, and President, Observer Research Foundation, India and Aparna Roy, Fellow, Lead, Climate Change and Energy, Centre for New Economic Diplomacy, Observer Research Foundation, India.
During his keynote address, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri Conrad K Sangma, stated, “This forum gives us the platform to remind the people that the climate change problem is real, and it is happening right before our eyes. We must the realize the reality of the situation. Often government pursuits such as achieving a sustainable GDP comes face to face with environmental impact. The Government is aware of this obstacle and therefore balancing green and sustainable ideas with sustainable development and initiatives is key to achievement equilibrium. Today, as we gather in Meghalaya, I must state that the people of Meghalaya have long been deeply connected to nature, blessed with rich biodiversity, and have upheld the responsibility of protecting this heaven for ages. Our sustainable culture and lifestyle have always been in harmony with Mother Earth. We are humbled by the wisdom and harmony that nature demonstrates, taking great pride in it. The world is currently at a critical juncture, grappling with a myriad of environmental challenges. Climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and pollution threaten the delicate balance of our ecosystems. These challenges demand our undivided attention and a paradigm shift in our approach. Through our Centre of Excellence project, we plan to host annual conferences, to allow citizens especially students to experience, learn and start dialogues on various topics such as climate change and other environmental related issues. Together, let us embark on a journey towards a sustainable future, where the wisdom of nature guides our path, and the power of collaboration propels us forward. By adopting a new framework that aligns with nature, we can create a better world for ourselves and future generations.”
Hon’ble Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya, Shri D. P. Wahlang, stated, “Over the past few decades, we have witnessed slow yet drastic changes in our environment. As a child, I remember the abundance of oranges in my village, but today, they have become scarce due to the impacts of climate change. This serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address environmental challenges. The Government of Meghalaya, under the visionary leadership of our Hon’ble Chief Minister, has taken proactive steps to combat and restore the delicate balance of our environment. One such initiative is the Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) program, which has already utilized more than 50,000 hectares for plantations. This endeavor demonstrates our commitment to sustainable practices and the preservation of our natural resources. Youth have a crucial role to play in bringing important environmental concerns to the forefront in their communities. It is through their passion, innovation, and engagement that we can drive meaningful change. We encourage them to become advocates for environmental stewardship and inspire others to join the cause. The establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Natural Resources Management holds immense promise for transforming the dynamics of sustainable development. Through research, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, we can develop effective strategies to address environmental challenges and pave the way for a sustainable future. Additionally, the Government of Meghalaya has implemented various other initiatives, including the electric vehicle policy, water policy, and soil and water conservation programs. These initiatives underscore our comprehensive approach to sustainable development and resource management. I urge everyone present here to join hands and work collectively towards achieving our goal of a sustainable future. The journey ahead may be long, but our efforts must be sustained and continuous. Let us unite our strengths, ideas, and actions to create a better and greener Meghalaya for generations to come.”
The Government of Meghalaya recognizes that nature holds the key to our sustainable future. It is time for the citizens to embrace a new framework, one that aligns our actions with the wisdom of the natural world. By harnessing the power of nature, we can find sustainable alternatives and transform our societies. Through effective solutions the state has witnessed the potential of nature-based solutions in restoring ecosystems, conserving water resources, and mitigating climate change. It is our duty to harness this potential to its fullest extent.
To achieve this, the Government has integrated nature-based solutions into every facet of their policies, plans, and actions. It requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach, transcending national boundaries. The need to foster partnerships and exchange knowledge, leveraging the expertise of scientists, policymakers, and indigenous communities. In Meghalaya, the Government has a decentralized governance system that addresses grassroots-level issues through the communities, who are integral parts of their society. These communities have always been at the forefront of preserving and conserving the age-old traditions and values. The Sacred Groves, representing Meghalaya’s tradition of environmental conservation based on indigenous knowledge and culture, span over 10,000 hectares in about 100 locations, alongside more than 150 community-owned Reserved forests covering over 2,500 hectares in the state of Meghalaya. These areas are preserved by Meghalaya communities with utmost reverence.
The Government of Meghalaya has initiated the Green Meghalaya program, rewarding communities for preserving and protecting the natural cover. Through this program, the aim is to preserve 2 lakh hectares of forest cover over the next 5 years. Government is also working relentlessly to tackle climate change and maintain the serenity of the homes with the comprehensive action plan, ‘State Action Plan on Climate Change 2.0’. This plan will identify key problems through scientific studies and vulnerability assessments, providing corresponding action plans for mitigation.
Other initiatives, such as the State Community Mass Plantation drive, Seedball initiative, and Land Reclamation, have been implemented to increase forest cover. The Government also support initiatives that promote sustainable practices, including regenerative agriculture, reforestation, and the development of renewable energy sources. Through the recently ideated Solar Mission, standalone solar power systems will be provided to households and institutions, incorporating renewable clean energy into the state’s power needs. The aim is to achieve solar installation in about 6 lakh households in the state.
Meghalaya’s community-led conservation efforts have resulted in the revival of degraded ecosystems, the protection of endangered species, and the empowerment of local communities. The citizens of the state have recognized the immense potential of ecotourism, showcasing their rich biodiversity to the world while creating livelihood opportunities for its own people.
During the two days of discussion and deliberation on the new framework for mankind’s sustainable future, let people not forget that human beings are custodians of this planet, entrusted with the responsibility to ensure its well-being for future generations. Nature’s solutions are waiting to be discovered, and it is everyone’s duty to embrace them wholeheartedly.
The Government of Meghalaya sincerely hopes this gathering serve as a momentous occasion for a renewed commitment, pledging to incorporate nature-based solutions into the nation’s policies, strategies, and actions. With converged energies, all can create a world where nature and humanity coexist harmoniously, where sustainable development is not just a lofty aspiration but a tangible reality.