Urging countries not to lose sight of economic statistics when setting environmental targets, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has accused the international political community of crippling environmental negotiations with its hardened approach.

Speaking at a meeting of the U.N. Secretary-General's High Level Panel for Global Sustainability in Helsinki on Tuesday, Mr. Ramesh highlighted the “international sclerosis” which has come to afflict global environmental issues, even as public awareness and domestic actions have expanded over the last two decades.

Sclerosis refers to disorders which cripple the body through the stiffening of tissues.

Mr. Ramesh made a strong call for equity and universal energy access by the year 2030 for all. He spoke of the need for an “economic anchor” to underlie international discussions on environmental issues, according to a statement. Metrics such as per capita income must be mainstreamed in such discussions, he said, with increasing international obligations being linked to levels of, and increments in, per capita income.

The U.N. panel was set up in September 2010 to develop recommendations for the world's sustainability agenda. It will submit its report by November 2011. The 20-member panel is chaired by South African President Jacob Zuma and Finnish President Tarja Hallonen.

Mr. Ramesh, one of the members, put forward three papers by Indian experts on equity, universal energy access and a proposal for a new indicator of sustainable development. He also made a presentation on India's “rights-based approach,” giving legal entitlements to citizens as a means of empowerment and improved service delivery, using the RTI Act, MGNREGA, Right to Education and the Forest Rights Act as examples.

More In: NEW DELHI | NATIONAL