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South and Central Asia: U.S.-India Energy & Climate, Environment, Science & Technology, and Health Cooperation

Recognizing the critical importance of increasing energy security and access, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving resilience in the face of climate change, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed in September 2014 to a new and enhanced strategic partnership on energy security, clean energy, and climate change, including strengthening and expanding the highly successful U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) and strengthened cooperation on climate change. Since that meeting, the two countries have made significant progress in advancing these objectives, and have continued important cooperation on environment, science & technology, and health. This cooperation strengthens our bilateral relationship, promotes economic growth, and allows us to develop new and innovative technologies and products to address shared challenges.

The two governments convened a series of meetings in September 2015 to review progress in these areas. On September 21, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal co-chaired the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue where they discussed ongoing work of five of the established working groups (power & energy efficiency, oil & gas, new technology & renewable energy, coal, and sustainable growth) and welcomed the formation of the new working group on research arm of PACE. The co-chairs emphasized the strategic importance energy plays in the U.S.-India relationship and discussed ways to further expand cooperation. Also on September 21, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Ashok Lavasa co-chaired the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change, which discussed cooperation on adaptation, forests, air quality, clean energy, and other topics.

Below are key highlights of progress since the 2014 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue:

Strengthening the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE):

During the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue, the two governments welcomed significant progress in implementing President Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to strengthen and expand the highly successful PACE program, in particular:

PACE-R: The two sides welcomed the expansion of PACE to include a new track on smart grids and energy storage under the Joint Clean Energy Research Development Center.

Greening the Grid: The two sides launched Greening the Grid, a $30 million, 5-year initiative to scale up renewable energy integration into India’s power grid

Off-Grid Clean Energy Access (PEACE): Under the Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE) track of PACE, the United States and India announced two major initiatives to mobilize financial resources for off-grid clean energy. For early-stage innovations, the United States and India established the PACEsetter Fund, a joint $7.9 million fund to accelerate the commercialization of innovative off-grid clean energy solutions. Proposals for the first funding round of up to $2 million are due in October 2015 (details at PACEsetterFund.org). To sustain and scale up more mature efforts, USAID/India launched a new public-private partnership that will work to mobilize $41 million in finance to support clean energy entrepreneurs. This effort, a partnership between New Ventures India, Insitor Management, the Global Social Business Incubator at Santa Clara University, and USAID/India, aims to help 1 million Indians gain access to electricity through off-grid clean energy solutions.

Clean Energy Finance Task Force: The Clean Energy Finance Task Force met on February 16 and September 9 to explore options the Government of India (GOI) could use to accelerate the flow of private capital to support its ambitious clean energy goals. The U.S. members of the Task Force presented U.S. experience in standardized processes and transaction documents, such as power purchase agreements; warehousing for securitization; and use of first loss facilities and credit guarantees in support of attracting private finance for clean energy projects. The Task Force concluded its meeting‎ with an agreement to design specific finance solutions appropriate to the Indian context.

Clean Energy Finance Forum (CEFF): The private-sector led CEFF met in New Delhi September 9 to formally report recommendations from several working groups to the Government of India. The recommendations focused on counterparty risk and architecture, developing domestic banking and capital markets, concessional financing and fostering international investment. The Government of India presented the recommendations and the strategy for implementation at the Energy Dialogue on September 21.

Enhancing Cooperation on Climate Change:

During the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change, held September 21 in Washington, D.C., the two governments highlighted priorities and progress in several areas, including:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): The United States and India reaffirmed their commitment to work together toward achieving a successful outcome at the UNFCCC in Paris this December.

Montreal Protocol: The United States and India welcomed the continuing work of their bilateral task force on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), including meetings this year in San Antonio and New Delhi, and reaffirmed their commitment to work together to achieve a successful outcome on HFCs in Dubai in November.

Fulbright-India Climate Fellowship: Following a commitment by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, the United States and India started implementing this new fellowship program designed to build long-term capacity to address climate change-related issues in both countries.

U.S.-India Partnership for Climate Resilience: Both sides welcomed significant progress in implementing President Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to improving resilience in the face of climate change in both countries. With NASA’s June 9, 2015 release of downscaled international climate models for the Indian sub-continent to much higher resolution than currently available, we have delivered on phase I of the Partnership for Climate Resilience. Both sides have agreed to send an expert team out to India within the next three weeks to discuss details for phase II.

Deepening Science & Technology (S&T) Engagement:

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Dr. John Holdren and GOI Department of Science and Technology (DST) Secretary Ashutosh Sharma held a bilateral meeting on September 21, and presented at the S&CD to highlight S&T priorities and progress, including:

U.S.-India Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on S&T Cooperation: Representatives of science and technology agencies met in Delhi in November 2014 and later agreed to an Action Plan that outlines a full slate of joint S&T activities and provides strategic guidance on the overarching direction of bilateral S&T relations. Co-Chaired by OSTP and DST, the JCM discussed cooperation through working groups on basic and applied science; health and medical science; atmospheric, environment, and earth science; and emerging materials and manufacturing science. The JCM further emphasized the importance of promoting women in the sciences, the sharing of scientific data, strengthening mechanisms to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), and promoting an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. Both sides have agreed to the formation of the U.S.-India S&T JCM Working Group on Agriculture and will move quickly to engage in robust collaboration on mutually agreed areas. Both sides plan to re-convene by the end of the year to discuss progress on implementation of the action plan.

S&T Endowment Funds: Two endowments established by the United States and Indian governments in 2000 and 2009, respectively, provide funds to facilitate bilateral S&T exchanges, fund joint research and entrepreneurial activities, and implement recommendations from the JCM. Since its inception 15 years ago, the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) has facilitated interactions among approximately 14,000 U.S. and Indian scientists, and supported over 300 bilateral workshops and training programs and 47 virtual joint research centers. In the last year, the IUSSTF activities have brought together over 600 Indian and U.S. scientists through 18 joint workshops, three innovation and technology transfer programs, 19 ongoing virtual joint centers, and about 150 student and faculty fellowships. The Board has selected a new Executive Director of the IUSSTF, who is expected to assume his duties this fall. The second fund, the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment Fund (USISTEF), supports the commercialization of innovative technologies that are jointly-developed by partners from both countries and that are socially relevant. Since the Endowment’s founding in 2009, the Board has approved a total of 19 collaborative projects between U.S. and India scientists and entrepreneurs to develop innovative and affordable technologies focused on neonatal resuscitation, prosthetics, water purification, and clean cook stoves, among others. Currently in its sixth call for proposals, the IUSSTF, which serves as the Secretariat for the Endowment Fund, is reviewing the latest round of applications.

High Energy Physics: The U.S. Department of Energy and India’s Department of Atomic Energy are working to develop a High Intensity Superconducting Proton Accelerator to allow collaboration in high-intensity particle physics. In January 2015, both sides agreed to a Project Annex and subsequently to a deliverables list that will foster accelerator R&D and related physics cooperation involving Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT).

Ocean Research: In January 2015, 32 researchers from 11 countries, including the United States and India, successfully completed an ocean expedition in the Bay of Bengal to increase scientific understanding of changes in the Indian monsoon and global climate by drilling for and analyzing deep core samples of the seabed. India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) along with funding agencies from 24 other countries contribute to the multilateral International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

Oceans Dialogue: The United States and India over the next year will deepen their dialogue on maritime and ocean’s issues in advance of the 2016 Our Ocean Conference, with a focus on combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing as part of sustainable fisheries, strengthening marine conservation, ending marine pollution, enhancing marine science, and with a joint commitment to a more robust ocean conservation agenda. The new Oceans Dialogue will allow both sides to reflect on our shared commitment to peaceful commercial use of the oceans, freedom of navigation, and protection of the ocean ecosystem.

Atmospherics and Climate: Both countries are jointly enhancing the ability to predict weather and climatic variations affecting India’s agricultural productivity and have jointly established a “monsoon desk” at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

LIGO-India: India is in the final stages of approving funds of approximately $200 million over 15 years to build a world-class gravitational wave detector in India through a partnership between the United States’ Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Laboratory and India’s Indian Initiative in Gravitation Observations (IndIGO). Gravitational wave detection will allow scientists to better understand the universe by testing Einstein’s theory of relativity and studying astronomical objects such as black holes, neutron stars, and supernovas.

Joint Munitions Research: Researchers from the U.S. Department of Defense the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have agreed to conduct a workshop on Munitions S&T in New Delhi from October 19-21, 2015.

Civil Space Cooperation: During the S&CD, the two governments noted the significance of the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group meeting scheduled to take place in Bangalore, India, on September 23-24, 2015, and highlighted priorities and progress in several areas related to civil space cooperation, including: a joint Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)-National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mars Working Group that is working together to enhance cooperation in Mars exploration; and ISRO-NASA collaboration on an ambitious Earth Science mission called NISAR, planned for launch in 2020/2021, that will make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes to improve our understanding of key impacts of climate change and advance our knowledge of natural hazards.

Strengthening the U.S.-India Partnership on Health:

During the U.S.-India Health Dialogue, held September 17-18 in Washington, D.C., the two governments highlighted priorities and progress in several areas, including:

U.S.-India MOU on Environmental and Occupational Health: Signed an MOU June 25 on environmental health and injury prevention which provides the umbrella for continuing and expanding activities which now include injury prevention, emergency preparedness for hazardous substance events, air pollution, and climate and health. Activities include training, research, and public health programs. Injury prevention activities are targeted towards the rapidly increasing problem of road traffic injuries.

U.S.-India MOU on Cancer: Signed an MOU June 25 on Cancer research and cooperation. Through this MOU, India and the United States hope to produce new treatment protocols, tools, and research findings which can impact cancer not just in the two countries but globally as well.

Antimicrobial Resistance: Signed a letter of intent June 25 on antimicrobial resistance. Under this cooperation, the Vaccine Action Program institutions will conduct research and public health activities on antimicrobial resistance, a core element of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and an area of focus at the recent 2015 World Health Assembly in Geneva. This work supports the commitments of the two countries under the GHSA.

Launch of Rotavirus Vaccine: Rotavac, a low cost rotavirus vaccine was launched by Prime Minister Modi in March, holding the potential to save millions of lives worldwide. It is the product of a longstanding Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program collaboration that includes government, private sector, and academic partners.

Maternal and Child Health: The Governments of India and the United States, in partnership with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Tata Trusts, co-convened the Third Call to Action on Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths in New Delhi in August. The United States along with other co-hosts in the valedictory session committed support towards achieving the Delhi Declaration, endorsed by 22 high priority countries to end preventable child and maternal deaths.

Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA): The United States and India have committed to advance the GHSA, which was announced in January by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, including holding a CDC-Ministry of Health Ebola and GHSA preparedness training, expanding the India Epidemic Intelligence Service, and developing a roadmap to achieve the GHSA targets within three years. Both India and the United State are GHSA Steering Group members.

Food Safety: The United States and India signed an MOU March 23 on food safety under which they will work together on training, sharing best practices, and conducting joint inspections to ensure good manufacturing processes and safe handling. This cooperation protects both American and Indian consumers.

U.S.–India Collaboration on President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): India continues to demonstrate commitment to PEPFAR. India is among a handful of nations that provides the majority funding for its own HIV/AIDS response. India supports 62% of its $769 million budget for HIV/AIDS care and treatment support. This is both an important service for the 2.1 million Indians living with HIV, and a key area of health cooperation.

Traditional Medicine

The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to partner on traditional medicine through research and technical collaborations, starting with a workshop in late 2015 to discuss joint research‎ on traditional therapies for cancer treatment and palliative care.

Working Together to Promote Wildlife Conservation:

U.S.–India Wildlife Conservation MOU: The United States and India finalized the text of a MOU to strengthen wildlife conservation and combat wildlife trafficking. The MOU includes efforts to protect critical habitat, human resources development in scientific information management in support of conservation programs, build public awareness, stabilize and increase populations of threatened and endangered species, strengthen law enforcement capacity, and combat illegal harvesting and associated trade in wildlife species, consistent with national laws and regulations. The MOU also seeks cooperation regionally and globally, to further the mutual objective of combating the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products through enhancing dialogue and sharing of best practices, capacity building efforts, and strengthening cooperation in regional and global fora. Under the auspices of the MOU, the United States will support Project Tiger and work with the Indians to deploy technology to track and protect India’s remaining tigers.

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