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DSDS is an international forum to gather wisdom: Hideaki Domichi

Mar 01, 2014

Hideaki Domichi, Senior Vice President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan spoke to OneWorld South Asia on the sidelines of DSDS-2014 in New Delhi. Excerpts from the interview.

OneWorld South Asia: The world is struggling to choose between economic development and ecological preservation. How can a platform like DSDS help the international community in making a wiser choice?

Hideaki Domichi: We pay a lot of respect to DSDS for its leadership in raising awareness on issues related to sustainable development. The world may have to choose between economic development and ecological preservation.

On the basis of my experience, I can say that we may be able to attain both. But it will require tremendous effort and lots of new technologies. In this respect, DSDS and TERI are playing a very important role in collecting people from all over and the world for addressing issues related to sustainability.

OWSA: JICA has been working on promoting rural electrification in India. Do you think that only renewable resources have a long term solution to the power demands in the developing countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan?

Domichi: We think that renewable energy is getting more important not only in developing countries like India but also Japan and other developed countries. Our continued dependence on fossil fuels would cause severe environmental damages.

But at the same time, it is also true that the renewable energy for the time being can not replace traditional energy which is the primary resources of energy.

Renewable energy is not totally reliable. Secondly, most of the renewable energy requires lots of lands and price too is a big factor.  In India, for instance, in areas where electricity is not available from grid, renewable energy like the solar or small hydropower can play a very significant role.

A country like India has to depend, for the time being, on coal. Therefore, we think it is very important for this country to improve energy efficiency.

OWSARenewable energy does not seem to provide an immediate solution. Hence, developing countries like India are also looking at alternative options like nuclear energy. How promising do you think nuclear energy could be?

Domichi: I think not only in India but in some of the developing countries nuclear power will be built one after another and that’s for sure. There are some conditions which include non-proliferation and this is the number one requirement to build the nuclear power station.

I think India is going to install more nuclear power stations. Currently, India meets 3% of its energy needs from nuclear power.It has to do a lot more in this regard.

OWSAJapan has taken a call to halve carbon emissions by the year 2050. The transition of low carbon society is said to usher in a new opportunity for economic growth. Do you agree? If yes, how do you think that will happen?

Domichi: I agree. Renewable energy is a future industry and everybody is making the best effort to develop the required technology. It will give us great opportunity for new business not only for Japan but also for a country like India.

OWSADuring his address at DSDS-2014, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that green house emission cuts should begin from the developed world. What is your opinion on this?

Domichi:  It is a very familiar argument. UNFCC debated on this issue for a long time. Under the Kyoto agreement, obligation had been imposed on the developed nations. There was no obligation for the developing countries and then they received a lot of arguments for or against it leading to severe division of opinions.

Kofi Annan’s remark is a representing argument of all the developing countries.

OWSAHow do you think that the international could be strengthened in the SDGs which are going to replace MDGs in the year 2016?

Domichi:  I think international cooperation remains a crucial factor in achieving the MDG goals, right now.I think it is very important to continue the international cooperation including the resources from the private sectors. And, right now I think JICA is handling the official development money. Overall, I think this has to be a combination of resources which would also include support from the private players.

OWSAAccording to estimates, 90 % of natural resources are accounted by the private sector and it is said to be a big stakeholder in our quest for sustainability. Are we overemphasizing on the role of private sector?

Domichi: We believe that India will become world’s third largest economy by 2015. It is very difficult to gather resources to help the economy to develop and if the economy is going to be developed, the private sector will be required to play a crucial role.

OWSA: JICA has given loans to many Indian infrastructure projects such as wild plantation, IIT Hyderabad and for building a national highway in an eastern state. How do you think addressing infrastructure woes can help in moving towards more inclusive development?

Domichi: I really appreciate that India understands the importance of inclusiveness.  Flourishing business alone can’t lead a country.Sooner or later, dissatisfaction of people would come to certain stages which might lead to destabilisation in the society.

Assistance to build infrastructure is one of the priorities and this year JICA’s assistance for India has reached 20,000 crore, the biggest amount so far given to one country in one year. So, you can understand how partnership plays a key role for building schools, hospitals and roads.

OWSA: The spoils of growth are not being equally distributed. How do you think that paralyses entire dialogue on sustainability?

Domichi:  Asia as a whole could become an engine in economic growth, Africa will follow. India is emerging as a big power that’s why we are talking about the importance of connectivity not just within the South Asian region but also connectivity between India and South Asian countries.

By doing so, I think, disparity will hopefully disappear. There is also disparity within the countries, the poor and rich, and this is traditionally recognizing the issues.I think through good governance democracy has a chance to think about the situation within the country and the underlying disparity.

OWSA: The theme of DSDS-2014 is attaining water, energy and food security for all. How do you think this dialogue this will guide us to better times?

Domichi: DSDS is an international forum to gather wisdom and to discuss the various issues for development and preservation of environment on the broader subject like MDGs.

It is a good thing that in this summit, the message has to come out from India itself. I congratulate the TERI for organizing this.

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