The Coronavirus Pandemic that has created a devastating impact on the economies of the nations around the world and has pushed the global economy to a great recession should be taken as a great opportunity to create new pathways of economic development based on caring concern for man and nature.
This would require focused attention on new economic policies and programs, that shall accelerate economic growth with low carbon technologies, said Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw while delivering the Amity Eminent Webinar Lecture today, June 17, 2020, organized by Amity University Gurugram. This was the 3rd Webinar Lecture under this eminent lecture series that has been addressed last month by Noble Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi and also Noble Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus.
Addressing the large audience of Vice-Chancellors, Senior Scientists, members of the faculty, and young inspired students from 11 Amity Universities in India and 17 Amity Campuses abroad. Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said that “we are in a surreal world this is the world that we never experienced earlier. But we have responded to this Pandemic crisis with great courage and conviction to protect the life of the people but at a great economic loss due to prolonged lockdown that was absolutely essential”.
As per the Asian Development Bank Report of 15th May 2020, the global economy is expected to suffer 5.8-8.8 trillion $ losses due to Corona Virus pandemic. But then the positive side of the Corona Pandemic also reveals a great improvement in the health of the environment due to closure of industries, Government offices, MNCs, institutions, universities and drastically reduced mobility on road. This has brought down the air pollution in capital city like Delhi by almost 70%. In China also the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in upto 50% reduction in Nitric Oxides that is equivalent to saving 77000 lives in just two months. Likewise in India, the river Yamuna in Delhi and Ganges at Haridwar have been reported to have greatly improved their water quality due to drastic reductions in industrial wastewater that was making its way to these river streams untreated.
As such, Covid-19 should be taken as a wakeup call on the devastating effects of the increasing pressure we are placing on our planet. But in the endeavor of confronting the multiple implications of this crisis, there is also an opportunity to re-imagine what is possible and is highly desirable for the future. Policies are currently being designed to confront it and massive additional financial resources are being mobilized. A key question is therefore is how to make this crisis an opportunity for a positive change, said Ms. Kiran Majumdar Shaw during her highly motivating and action-packed keynote address.
In our new normal post-COVID-19, we need to seriously consider focusing our attention and devise policy and programs to promote growth and development based to increased use of renewable energy such as Solar, Wind, biofuel and micro hydel to prevent us from returning to the pre-COVID times of highly degraded environmental health. “It makes a bigger economic sense to integrate sustainability in economic growth models as the penalty of poor environmental health is enormous”, said Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Citing a study by WHO, Ms Shaw said that Air Pollution alonecosts the global economy 225 billion dollars and 7 million deaths every year. As such we would not like to go back to the world that we left behind before the Covid-19 pandemic.
India has done remarkably well in respect of Solar power generation and it must accelerate its march on solar and other renewable energy technologies such wind and biofuel. These renewable technologies also generate jobs in millions. As per IRENA Annual Report job opportunities for 11 million people were created through renewable energy around the world in 2018. Of these 32% of jobs were held by rural women.
Further 42 million new jobs could be added in the renewable energy sector alone in the coming years if this sector is allowed to grow at the present rate.
Thus, one can imagine that great opportunities lie ahead for low carbon economic growth fueled by renewable energy. India in fact has enormous solar power to harness. We must with a missionary zeal bring EVs on the roads of India and also accelerate promoting solar charging stations in great numbers including along the highways and expressways.
This besides promoting green mobility shall create millions of new jobs and save environmental degradation presently caused by fossil fuel powered vehicles. We need to make environmental sustainability as a major thrust of our economic development here on, said Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Responding to a question on low efficiency of solar power MsKiran Mazumdar Shaw said that investment in new research would be advisable to push the efficiency of solar cells to much higher levels in the future. Apart from renewable energy, sustained effort should be employed to induct zero waste technologies in production. Further, effective waste management would require new technologies to convert waste into energy, organic fertilizer and biofuel from organic waste.
Great opportunities for the young innovators lie ahead in areas of energy farming, waste treatment plants, and also in taking technologies to rural areas and establish new age enterprises for organic agriculture and food processing, said Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw while addressing the young innovators.
The biomedical waste from our hospitals offers a new challenge as the quantum of medical waste would significantly go up because of the increasing use of disposable PPEs and other medical devices. We need strict enforcement of environmental laws to protect us from the hazardous effects of medical waste.
While answering the question of how one can help as an industrialist in the making environment better, Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said: “The industry owners must constantly think about innovative solutions to reducing industrial waste and invest in waste treatment technologies and recover this expenditure by recycling and reuse of the reclaimed material from waste processing systems”. In Biocon, we are highly conscious of this responsibility.
Responding to another question from the audience Ms. Mazumdar Shaw said “We need to reenergize cooperative farming, establish cooperative food processing industry zones and aggressively promote organic agriculture. This besides creating jobs for the rural population shall contribute to improved quality of food for our people”
Founder President of Amity Education Group Dr. Ashok K Chauhan and Chancellor of Amity University Haryana Dr. Aseem Chauhan were also present in the Webinar that was moderated by Prof PB Sharma Vice-Chancellor, Amity University Haryana. Dr. SanjanaVij coordinated the webinar for which excellent IT support was provided by Dr. JS Sodhi and his team.
Founder President Dr. Ashok K Chauhan while expressing his great appreciation for Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw for sparing her highly valuable time for today’s webinar announced that Amity University shall establish “Amity Centre for Low Carbon Economic Growth” to support the cause of research and innovation in areas of low carbon technologies and policy formulations for accelerating growth and development without sacrificing the interest of the environment. It may be added that as a research and innovation-driven university, Amity University is deeply engaged in developing breakthrough technologies and innovative solutions aligned to the national and global needs.