Unlikely bedfellows on the environment: India and Monaco

NEW DELHI, India—The world’s second-smallest country, by size, could come to the aid of Earth’s second-most populous country, particularly on hot button policy issues such as climate change and renewable energy. This was the takeaway from a Feb. 5 meeting between Monaco’s Prince Albert II and India’s President Sri Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

            The two countries emphasized the need to prioritize climate change, renewable energy and the environment through bilateral cooperation. Kovind specifically said India’s efforts to take on various environmental issues could greatly benefit from Monaco’s resources.

            “India is the fastest growing major economy in the world,” Kovind said in a released statement shortly after his meeting with Prince Albert II. “Monaco’s technology and investment companies can significantly benefit from the Indian growth story.

            Prince Albert II has been a major proponent of sustainable environmental practices, both within the principality of Monaco and abroad. Biodiversity, implementation of a climate-based energy plan and the management of resources are among Monaco’s top domestic priorities.

            “The Prince’s government fosters the sustainable development of the principality focusing its action on the preservation of biodiversity and resources, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and a policy in favour of a sustainable town,” one of Monaco’s policy positions on environmental action stated.

            Monaco has taken leadership in the space of ocean acidification and hosted three international workshops (2010, 2012 and 2015) to address the issue.

            Any collaboration between Monaco and India in the space of environmental issues such as climate change and renewable energy would be beneficial, according to Kovind.

            “On issues such as renewable energy, climate change and the environment, there is a strong meeting of the minds between us,” Kovind stated.

            The “meeting of the minds” on environmental issues comes on the heels of India submitting its second-ever Biennial Update Report to the United Nations in early January. The report outlined India’s plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. India claimed it had reduced its national greenhouse gas inventory by 21 percent between 2005 and 2014.

            Meeting its Paris Accord obligations remains a top priority for the Indian government, according to a Weather Channel news report on India’s report to the United Nations.

            The Biennial Report was organized into five categories: national circumstances; national greenhouse gas inventory; mitigation actions; finance, technology and capacity building; and, domestic monitoring, reporting and verification.

            Reducing emissions intensity by 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving 40 percent electric power infrastructure by the end of the next decade.

            Submission of the Biennial Report to the United Nations was followed by the approval of a Memorandum of Understanding between India and France (coincidentally, Monaco’s neighbor). The memorandum was actually signed on Oct. 3, 2018 but formally approved by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi three months later. India and France, through the memorandum, would work together to foster opportunities on new and renewable energies.

            “India and France aim to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable issues on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity,” a statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister’s office said. “The technical cooperation will cover joint research working groups, pilot projects, capacity building programs, study tour, case studies and the sharing of experience/expertise.”

            Achieving sustainable development goals was also the takeaway of a Jan. 8 meeting between Modi and Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

            Solberg, during her visit to New Delhi, inaugurated a Green Embassy in India; it is Norway’s first-ever sustainable embassy building in a foreign land. The Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi specifically earned a “Green Rating” by Integrated Habitat by the Government of India, according to an Economic Times news report. Sustainable water management and efficient energy practices were incorporated into the new building.

            “Sustainable Development Goals are … totally in congruence with the development goals of India. And it is a matter of happiness for us that both the countries are collaborating successfully on the subject of mother and child health through ‘Norway-India Partnership Initiative,’” Modi said of Solberg’s visit.

            The Norway-India Partnership Initiative is currently in its third iteration and aims to provide effective healthcare to rural populations. Women and gender equity are also major themes of the partnership, which was established in 2010.

            Can India’s latest partnership with Monaco help the world’s second-most populous country meet or exceed its environmental goals?