Institutionalizing the SDGs: An Indian Approach


by Anant Bhaskar Garg and Manisha Agarwal. Twitter: @HRDEFIndia




As per the Rio + 20 Summit, there is a vital link between our living practices and depletion of our natural resources. The United Nations setup various groups and forums to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  in a participatory and engaged way, uniting all stakeholders during the post-2015 process, also addressing the completion of Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid emphasis on sustainable lifestyle, growth of low income people through clean, green environment, healthy practices, education, research, and development during his statement at the United Nations General Assembly, addressing Swatch Bharat, energy, water, sanitation, and education.

To address issues of sustainability, equality, health, poverty reduction, education, and quality living condition for all we need to shift towards institutionalizing the SDGs in our development, manufacturing, environmental, and educational programs.

In this regard, the Government of India (GoI) committed to implement the SDGs and started programs such as Made in India, Digital India, focusing on renewable energy, Namami Gange, and sanitation.

Thus, the SDGs encompass policy, planning, development and action, with monitoring and evaluation at the central, state, and local level. In a recent BRICS Summit, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan emphasized the need to strengthen cooperative mechanisms and innovating new institutional means to meet the needs of member countries towards the SDGs, with women at the center of development strategies.

The GoI formed the NITI Aayog (The National Institution for Transforming India), which mapped the SDGs goals and targets with various Ministries in their developmental planning. However, sustainable development requires participatory and inclusive approaches, involving all stakeholders, in particular citizens at all levels.

Therefore, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is crucial for the SDGs awareness and success for ALL. Education in schools and higher education institutions (HEI) play a key role as in our golden times, e.g., Nalanda, Takshila Universities in India. Schools (Ashrams) and universities are not only spaces for learning but also providers of solutions to humanity’s problems. However, modern schools and universities are not very well connected with their local communities and the environment.

We need synergy between all stakeholders with proper participation, monitoring, accountability, and evaluation frameworks.

We need to build synergies between our civil representatives in the centre and state levels to create a transparent systems which encompass processes to manage the SDGs at the local level. For example, the Uttarakhand Govt. formed a Sustainable Development Forum to carry out the implementation of SDGs in the state with involvement of all stakeholders required.

India started the International Solar Alliance with a target of generating 100 GW by 2022. There is a need for more local incentives and awareness for the population to adopt solar energy and for this target to be achieved. Similarly, accordingly to the draft of the New Education Policy released by MHRD in 2016, there is a need to address and embed the SDGs in the education sector. This in turn will educate and roll-out future ready citizens.


Sustainable Development for Himalayas (Anant Bhaskar Garg, HRDEF)

Education has made important contributions to development but now there is a need for more participatory, community oriented accountability to shape Generation Z’s future with sustainability in mind and to create “Sustainable Consciousness”. The school system and HEIs must orient programs and practices around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help graduates to learn from actual problems and try to address them with community involvement to support improving the society.

We need more focus on skills development, innovation, decision-making, and problem solving through establishing Centres of Excellence with focus on the 21st century skills.

Information and communication technology should be used as a tool for change, transparency, and data validation. There should be much emphasis on the connection between universities and society to understand community challenges, working for mutual benefits. Universities must have a local sphere of influence with global know-how. This way, students will have real-life experiential knowledge, soft, and management skills besides tackling local problems and the opportunity of being employed locally.

As per India’s INDC there are eight goals given to balance all components – mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance and capacity building towards achieving the 2030 targets. Major emphasis is on sustainable living to reduce carbon footprints, sustainable consumption and production and renewable energy as measures for energy for all by 2030.

Young people can be driving forces for sustainability and act as agents of change and lead the “greenovation” for sustainable development. Further, students must engage on responsibility, accountability, global citizenship, gender equality. Those values and community engagement can provide real-life scenarios with learning centers focusing on the SDGs. And for this reason, we are promoting capacity development programs for 21st century skills and Sustainability (SDGs).

About the Authors

Anant Bhaskar Garg, Director, HaritaDhara Research Development and Education Foundation (HRDEF). An engineer and educator with 20 years of experience in various capacities in academia and industries. He has research experience in information science, neural networks, UI, HWID, HCI, AI, and their applications in automotive sector, water resources management. Published two books, 48 papers, two chapters in Springer’s book, invited speaker on ICT, Sustainability, Energy, Climate Reality Project Leader,  

Manisha Agarwal, Director, HRDEF. Scientist and educator, PhD (Forest Botany) FRI, Dehradun, MBA in Education Management. Published a book and 17 papers in international and national journals, Climate Reality Project Leader, involved in capacity building on sustainability awareness among students and skills development


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