Delhi, Tuesday 14 February 2023: Investors, policy makers, bureaucrats and representatives of Indias growing renewable energy sector assembled in Delhi today to discuss three key challenges to making the countrys RE sector ecologically safe, rights-respecting and socially just.

Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Rajnath Ram, Adviser – Energy, NITI Aayog said, “In the recent budget, almost Rs. one lakh crores was announced as allocations towards green growth initiatives, but the challenge for the renewable energy sector is to ensure that the community participates and gets great benefit from it.”

Bharath Jairaj, Executive Director, Energy, WRI India said, “The Responsible Energy Initiative (REI) was built on a set of principles that we and our partners agreed upon. These are based on lofty universal values but that’s what we need right now to ensure the RE sector is socially just and environmentally sound. Over the past few months, we’ve attempted to translate these principles into actionable pilots on land use, circularity, and financing, because these principles must not be just goals but actions for the RE sector must take forward.”

As the Union Governments recent budget allocations suggest projects like the 13GWh solar-wind hybrid in Ladakh getting primacy over other forms of RE, like distributed renewables and off-grid, concerns have been expressed by communities living in these regions over loss of livelihoods, and lands for grazing and allied activities.

Finding land that is increasingly scarce for installations of grid-scale wind and solar energy is beginning to become a challenge. Moreover, concerns about permanently altering land use patterns in rural India, loss of livelihoods of communities that hitherto used these lands as village commons, farmlands, water catchment areas, or as sacred groves, is leading to a pushback by communities where these RE projects are sited.

Shirish S Garud, Senior Fellow and Director, TERI, said, “REI aims to set new norms and guidelines for land use and land ownerships. We are proposing pilots to evaluate the options and impacts of renewable energy projects on farmlands." 

Ensuring the RE sector is kept accountable to society and nature, requires financing institutions to build frameworks that consider social, ecological and circularity processes while taking investment decisions, be they private capital, Sovereign Wealth Funds, or international development organisations.

“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamans recent Budget announcements made clear the need to seek the RE sector to become more responsible. The RE sector must seize this opportunity to ensure it leads by not committing the mistakes that mark the fossil fuel industry, which is extraction and inequity,” saidAnna Biswas, Managing Director (India), Forum for the Future.

And as the RE sector grows, it will need significant natural resources and will generate waste at an unsustainable level, unless circularity is introduced into the production process, safeguarding the sector's potential for positive social and environmental impacts.

The day-long event, called the Responsible Renewable Energy Summit, is led by REI India's core partners World Resources Institute India ("WRI India"), The Energy and Resources Institute ("TERI") and Forum for the Future ("Forum") and supported by expert partners including the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre ("BHRRC"), Council on Energy, Environment and Water ("CEEW"), Consensus Building Institute ("CBI"), Climate Group, Landesa, WWF India. The Summit was organised by REI India with organising partners The Nature Conservancy, NSEFI and Vasudha Foundation. 


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About the Responsible Energy Initiative India

The Responsible Energy Initiative is a multi-year programme working to ensure renewable energy in Asia achieves its full potential and creates value in a way that is ecologically safe, rights-respecting and socially just. The Responsible Energy Initiative seeks to enable the RE sector in Asia to adopt business models and value chains keeping justice, equity, universal rights and resilient ecological systems at their core. The first inquiry started in India in 2020.