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Mar 30, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Keshav Jha - Cities Are Leading the Battle for Climate Change

ICLEI South Asia's Senior Officer discusses his relationship with Salzburg Global Seminar and taking the work forward Keshav Jha (center) in conversation at Salzburg Global Seminar

Keshav Jha is focused on promoting the transfer of knowledge and expertise in Asia-Pacific. In his role as a senior officer at the Energy & Climate Division of ICLEI South Asia, he is looking to improve mitigation and adaptation measures in Asian cities. He has assisted number of emerging countries and subnational authorities on low-carbon climate-resilient development and is currently developing the sustainable urban development framework for a growth-triangle involving Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. He has also recently co-authored a case analysis on resilient economies from emerging countries in the Asia-Pacific region which was published by Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland. It’s this background and expertise which brought him back to Salzburg Global Seminar.

Jha took part of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation – The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I – A Clean and Green Asia. Working alongside 29 other participants, representing 14 countries, Jha represented India and sought to address key questions around sustainable development and ensuring a low-carbon future.

Describing his latest experience in Salzburg as “constructive,” Jha said Fellows had discussed the frameworks and processes to assist countries on their low emission ambitions and sustainable development goals. He says, “We have a unique set of professionals from different countries with varied background who have shared their insight and their dynamic situations in which they perform…” It’s not just about defining processes, however. It’s about building on this thinking and moving forward.

“Fellows are going to individually test those iterative frameworks back in their home countries dynamic settings,” Jha added. “It’s important to document the processes experience, outcomes and challenges that we encounter. Eventually, the process outcomes will be disseminated with larger audiences and public/private sectors stakeholders for its wider visibility and recognition and replicability across Asia.”

The UN publication, The World’s Cities in 2016,  suggested by 2030, “urban areas are projected to house 60 per cent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.” Jha believes the rise of the global urban population will present an unparalleled amount of challenges and opportunities. He said, “Cities [are] where the main actions are happening and countries do not realize the cost-of-inaction which is getting unaffordable for number of least developed and island countries. I feel this discussion [at the session] is extremely crucial with respect to the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to achieve climate neutrality and a low-emission world in the second half of the century.” By infusing this wisdom into day-to-day work, Jha says we can move forward quickly on the low carbon development agenda.

One idea proposed to participants was the creation of regional knowledge hubs in countries across Asia. Jha said, “I think we should pursue it and fellows should converge more often and undertake initiatives to address the consequences of a changing climate. It is also important for decision makers in governments and businesses institutions to ensure that their plans and actions are technically sound, robust and based on scientific evidences.”

Jha previously attended Salzburg Global Seminar in June 2013 for the session, A Climate for Change: New Thinking on Governance for Sustainability. This session resulted in a Salzburg Statement on New Governance for Sustainability. Describing his relationship with Salzburg Global, Jha said, “Personally, Salzburg defines who I am right now and it helped me tremendously in my personal and professional life. I am very happy to witness and be part of the work at Salzburg which will advance the development of country-specific strategic plans to promote economic growth while mitigating carbon emissions – without causing trade-offs to environmental pressures—in the Asia region.”

Keshav Jha was a participant of The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia, the first session of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation. For more information on the session, please click here. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session on social media, follow #SGSasia.


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