Climate directly linked to culture, says Modi after getting UNEP award

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New Delhi (IANS) Climate and culture are directly linked as without this calamity cannot be avoided, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after he was conferred the 'Champions of Earth' award of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) here on Wednesday.

"Climate and calamity have direct links with culture," Modi said after he was conferred the award by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a special ceremony here.

"As long as culture is not a part of our thoughts about the climate, it will be difficult to save ourselves from calamity," he said.

Modi, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, was named for this year's 'Champions of Earth' award by UNEP under the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron's work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi's unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.

India and France played key roles in the drafting of the Paris Climate Agreement during the Conference of Parties (CoP) in 2015.

Modi, along with then French President Francois Hollande, launched the India-initiated ISA during CoP 2015.

The ISA was conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

The first general assembly of the ISA was held here on Tuesday, which was also attended by Guterres.

In his remarks at the award presentation ceremony, Modi said that though the world has recognized India's commitment to the cause of climate, it has been a part of Indians' lifestyle for thousands of years.

"This award is for our Adivasi brothers and sisters who love the jungles more than themselves," he said.

"It is for our fishermen who take from the seas only what is needed to earn for their living. It is for our farmers for whom the cycle of seasons is the cycle of their life."

Modi also dedicated the award to the women of India for whom reuse and recycle is a part of their everyday life.

He said that without putting extra pressure on the environment and nature, people need to join hands to take advantage of development opportunities.

"That is why I talk about climate justice," he said.

"Without ensuring climate, the challenge of climate change cannot be handled."

Modi said that today India is among those nations where urbanization is taking place at a fast pace, which is why the emphasis is being put on making Indian cities smart and sustainable.

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