The environment ministers of BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — participated in a meeting through video conference under the presidency of Russia on Thursday.
At the Sixth BRICS Environment Ministers’ Meeting, the nations acknowledged that COVID-19 has heightened social vulnerabilities and resulted in significant job losses.
“We express our concern that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious challenge to achieving the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs when the world is expected to be entering the decade of action.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened social vulnerabilities, resulting in significant job losses, particularly in the informal sector which has been most affected and that providing adequate means of support to this sector is crucial,” the BRICS countries said in a joint statement.
Representing India, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar stressed on the need to implement various initiatives under the BRICS and for the speedy implementation of the BRICS MoU.
He also elaborated on the efforts made by India in areas relating to sustainable urban management, tackling marine litter, air pollution and the cleaning of rivers.
India believes that equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, finance and technology partnerships are key pillars towards attainment of global goals of climate change mitigation and adaptation, the minister said.
“India is walking the talk on Paris Agreement and its climate commitments.”
The BRICS nations called for “initiatives to improve the environment, promote the circular economy in the context of sustainable patterns of production and consumption to be included in national plans for economic recovery after COVID-19.”
They also undertook to share experiences in developing national economic recovery programmes to keep moving towards sustainable development whilst addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment which have been exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic.
“We are meeting at a difficult time, when the world is in the middle of a joint fight against COVID-19. The fact that the pandemic has reached all corners of the Earth reminds us not only of our vulnerability, but also of the need to unite, to support and help each other in the face of the destructive power of the pandemic,” they said.
“We are learning from this experience and we will take the growing globalization of the risks and responsibilities to the environment and human health into account in our daily lives.”
The nations noted that due to COVID-19, climate change negotiations have been delayed and the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26) will now be held in November 2021.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges imposed by the pandemic we reaffirm our commitments to enhancing international cooperation on climate change to ensure full and effective implementation of UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement guided by the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
“We stress that COP26 should send a strong signal on the implementation of UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement and delivery of commitments,” the BRICS nation said in a statement.
It added the nations also recognise that COP26 offers an opportunity for countries to collaborate and share knowledge on climate-positive economic recovery packages.
They also emphasised on the need for strong leadership of developed countries in fulfilling their commitment to providing climate finance to developing nations, including the goal of USD 100 billion dollar per year by 2020.
India will assume the BRICS presidency in 2021.
“Javadekar extended invitation to the BRICS nations to participate in the BRICS environment meetings. The meeting adopted BRICS Environment Ministers’ Statement. It was welcomed by all countries, as an action oriented and progressive statement which shows BRICS countries eagerness to both work mutually and fruitfully,” a ministry official said.
The nations also noted the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) which was scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, in October has been postponed due to the pandemic.
“We acknowledge the importance of working together to adopt the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at CBD COP15, including implementation of support mechanisms,” the statement said.