Many countries have made commitments to implement and promote sustainability, both nationally and internationally – the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development (Art. 3d). According to the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), this is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainable development implies economic growth together with the protection of environmental quality, each reinforcing the other. The essence of this form of development is a stable relationship between human activities and the natural word, which does not diminish the prospects forprospects for future generations to enjoy a quality of life at least as good as our own. Environment is recognized as a priority of development and any developmental activity should take into account the effects of the activity on the environment at all stages. However, the developmental policy and strategy framework of many countries has not yet resulted in consistent and effective implementation of sustainable development principles in all activities. There is an evident need for further, coherent reform towards full integration of sustainability and environmental concerns in mainstream techno-economic development, especially in securing and protecting our resources such as water and energy, and in infrastructure development considering land use and waste management.
The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) has been promoting the new initiative “A New Passage to India” since 2008. Its objective is to strengthen the academic exchange between India and Germany, to expand existing research cooperation, and to create new connections between higher education and the private sector. As part of initiative, under funding line III “Indo-German Centres” and in cooperation with selected German universities (mainly TU 9), an Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS) was inaugurated in December 2010 at the IIT Madras in Chennai, India. During a visit of the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Dr. Annette Schavan, at IIT Madras in 2008, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the DAAD and IIT Madras, setting down the establishment of such Centre.
The IGCS has initially been headed by an Indian Chair (Director of the IIT Madras, Prof. M. S. Ananth, picture on the bottom) and a German Co-Chair (Rector of RWTH Aachen University), Prof. Dr. E. Schmachtenberg. At the end of 2011 Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, the new director of IITM took over this position. Additionally, two Centre Coordinators facilitate the activities of the IGCS and represent the connecting authorities between the two universities.
The German Centre Coordinator is Prof. Dr. R. Azzam, RWTH Aachen University, whereas Prof. S. C. Rajan (IIT Madras, Chennai) is the Indian representative. The main research areas depicted in the figure below are covered by German and Indian professors, the Area Coordinators.