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Effective global governance is a prerequisite for sustainable development: Daniel

Mar 07, 2014

Daniel Ziegerer, Director of Cooperation and Counsellor, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, says that India and Switzerland are cooperating in glaciology and energy efficiency in a big way. Excerpts from the interview

Daniel Ziegerer


OneWorld South Asia: It is said that the concept of a green economy could be an effective tool to attain sustainable development. But do you think it is economically viable for developing countries?

Daniel Ziegerer: Green economy is about finding ways to achieve economic development while maintaining the natural resource base. I don’t think this is necessarily a more expensive choice. There is great opportunity in developing countries regarding the potential for upgrading technologies that can bring energy efficiency and then the investment pay off in a relatively short time period. So, I think green economy is first and foremost about realizing such opportunities. Also, more fundamental changes in the economic structure will be needed in the long run. That’s the case for both developed and developing countries. These fundamental changes will eventually pay off economically. For long term survival, there really is no alternative other than our economy to go green.

OWSA: SDC has been engaging with India and other countries on climate change issues. Can you mention some of these engagements with India in particular?

Daniel: The SDC has a global programme on climate change and through that we are also cooperating with Indian institutions on this issue. What we try to do through the global programme is really make available Swiss expertise and technologies to address matters related to climate change. What it means in concrete terms is that we are working with teams and institutions on the issue of improving energy efficiency in buildings. We are closely cooperating with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and with the Ministry of Power and other stakeholders. Another example would be cooperation in the field of glaciology as we have good scientists and expertise on this scientific programme in Switzerland. There is an interest from the Government of India and universities to have an exchange on the matter and to create a new generation of scientists who will be trained in depth. So, these are two examples where we try to make specific knowledge and expertise available so that the challenge of climate change can be addressed.

OWSA: You have worked on strengthening global environmental governance so, what kind of role can governance play in sustainable development?

Daniel: Governance discussion is really about making the institutional set up effective and efficient. It is also to list out the challenges in institutional set up, that is, to correctly protect the environment. There are many international instruments that have been created as a response, each quite specific for an environmental challenge. But there is no common roof that exists - such is the case for the economic rules in the World Trade Organization and its regime that goes along with it. So, what needs to be done is to implement environmental government forums that bring about more coherence and better coordination amongst the different instrumental institutions to protect environment. And I do think that effective international environmental governance system really is prerequisite for sustainable development.

OWSA: In which sector do you think can India pull itself up in energy efficiency?

Daniel: Micro small and medium enterprises play a vital role in Indian economy like generating employment but often in MSMEs there are old technologies being applied. There is quite a lot of need for upgrading these technologies. And this can often lead to win win situations as technology is for better food and environment but technologies also pay off economically for the entrepreneur in a relatively short time period of investment. So, by improving energy efficiency in MSME, they can really make a big contribution to combating the threat of climate change, in particular energy intensive industries that can make the biggest contribution. That’s why through our programme we have been focusing, in particular, on the foundry sector and also on the brick-making sector. There are other areas like glass or ceramics, where you have a lot of fossil fuels used in the production process. There is a potential for saving energy and also for making the enterprises more economically viable.

OWSA: The Swiss have been important participants at the DSDS in last few years. So, what is your view on how the DSDS actually makes a difference?

Daniel: I think what I am really looking for in the DSDS is that I am expecting to learn about successful experiences from other participants. Successful experiences which bring us closer to the vision of achieving sustainable development for all. In that sense I also hope that DSDS can contribute to forming alliances between partners from developed and developing countries, to jointly develop measures for achieving sustainable development.

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