Prime Minister Narendra Modi today received the UN’s Champions of the Earth Award from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, at a function held in New Delhi. Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were jointly awarded the UN’s highest environmental honour for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action.
Speaking on this occasion, Modi said that a clean and green environment is at the root of his government’s policies. “The honour bestowed on him is a recognition of Indian tribes living in forests who respect trees more than their lives, its fishermen who capture only as much fish as they need to earn their living and farmers whose lives are intertwined with the cycle of seasons”, he said.
He said that it is also an honour for Indian women who have worshiped trees as gods. Modi said climate and calamity are linked to culture, and it will be difficult to avoid calamity as long as concerns for the climate do not become a part of the culture. From agriculture and industrial policies to building houses and construction of toilets, the need for a clean environment has been driving his government’s programmes, Modi added.
India’s commitment to environment has only increased, he said, adding that his government is working to bring down “emission intensity” by 20-25 per cent in the next two years against its 2005 figure and by 30-35 per cent by 2030. “We have also pledged to get rid of single-use plastics by 2022,” he said in his speech.
Citing ancient Hindu shlokas and texts, the prime minister also referred to India’s traditions to assert that respecting nature had always been part of Indian society. He said his government has succeeded in changing people’s behaviour accordingly, an apparent reference to ‘Swachhta Abhiyan’.