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New Delhi/Gandhinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted that his government firmly believes in the path of sustainable development and said it is ensuring that development happens without harming the environment.

He also said that India is one of the few countries whose actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping rise in temperature to below two degrees Celsius.

Addressing the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) at Gandhinagar via video, he said India has been championing climate action based on values of conservation, sustainable lifestyle and green development model.

"My government firmly believes in the path of sustainable development. We are ensuring that development happens without harming the environment," Modi said.

India, the prime minister told the conference, has been traditionally practising the mantra of Athithi Devo Bhava .

"This has been reflected in the slogan theme for the CMS COP 13 -- 'Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home'," he said.

India proposes to strengthen its association with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Summit countries. This would be in sync with the Indo Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI), wherein New Delhi will be playing a leadership role, the prime minister said.

He also said that India will hold presidency of the Convention for coming 3 years and has prepared national action plan to conserve migratory birds along the 'Central Asian Flyway'.

Several protected areas in country share common boundaries with other nations, he pointed out pitching for cooperation in conservation of wildlife would lead to positive outcomes.

The number of protected areas increased from 714 in 2014 to 870 in 2019, the prime minister said, adding the range of "our initiatives include ambitious target of 450 MW renewable energy, smart cities and conservation of water".

"For ages, conservation of wildlife and habitats has been a part of the cultural ethos of India, which encourages compassion and co-existence ...India is one of the most diverse countries of the world. With 2.4 per cent of world's land area, it contributes about 8 per cent of the known global biodiversity," Modi noted.
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