The Concept Of Environment And Development In The Era Of Globalisation

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Author : Arundhati Kulkarni
Published on : December 05, 2012

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Dr.Arundhati Kulkarni,LL.M.Ph.D Assistant Professor at KSLU's Law School, Hubli

The Concept Of Environment And Development In The Era Of Globalization

There is enough for every one’s need, but not for every one’s greed” - - Mahatma Gandhi.

The ‘environment’ is where we live; and development is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. The two are inseparable. Environmental crises not only involve social, political & economic aspects but also pose a philosophical problem. It is 20 years since the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), emphasized the need for a sustainable way of life which not only addresses current environmental challenges but also ensures a secure society well into the future.

Human activities motivated by the attitude of rampant consumerism and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption have never been so inhumane and callous towards environment as in the modern era of scientific and technological innovations. Man’s greed attacks nature environment and ecology and wounded nature backlashes on the human future.Environment has clearly emerged as one of the big issues, perhaps the biggest contemporary issue we face. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. The most vital task is to build an environmental ethics that constructs an adequate theory of intrinsic values of nature. The global concern for environment has been aptly echoed in the preambular assertion made at the Earth Summit in the year 1992.

We are in the midst of the sixth era of extinction. This problem can be solved only by proper guidance, awareness, education, transfer of advance technology, research, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. In order to highlight the importance of biodiversity, 2010 has been selected as the International Year of Biodiversity in an attempt to educate people on biodiversity and how biodiversity supports everyday life.

Environmental protection was perceived by many as an obstacle to development. However, Our Common Future recognized “environment or development” as a false dichotomy. Focus shifted to “environment and development,” and then to “environment for development.” Principle 1 of Agenda 21 states: “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.”

A sense of environmental Protection in Ancient India
A good environmental sense has been one of the fundamental features of India’s ancient philosophy. The civilisation of India has grown up in close association with the nature. There has always been a compassionate concern for every form of life in the Indian mind. This concern is projected through the doctrine of Dharma. The Hindu rishis of vedic era perceived the value of maintaining a harmonious relationship between the needs of man and spectacular diversity of the Universe. To them, nature was not only the mother that sustained their life; it was the abode of divinity. The people were ordained in the ancient Indian culture not to harm any entity of Nature so as not to disturb the ecological balance. They were taught to maintain harmony in Nature. The cosmic vision of earth is based on the concept of ‘vasudev Kutumbakam’. The way forward will require a turn towards restoration and renewal. An analogous interpretation of holistic perception is given in the traditional system of Advaita Vedanta in India, as acme of spiritual realisation in which the entire physical world appears identical with oneself and Brahman.The people were ordained in the ancient Indian culture not to harm any entity of nature so as not to disturb the ecological balance.

However, during the last few decades global circumstances have forced our country into a situation where it is becoming increasingly difficult to practice a life style that does not push this planet towards doom. During the last ten years, there has been a gratifying resurgence of this good environmental sense in this country. It is imperative that environmental consciousness becomes a pre-occupation with our people as no amount of government intervention can reverse ecological collapse.

Environment as the foundation for development
Development is the process of furthering people’s well-being. Good development entails:

§ increasing the asset base and its productivity;

§ empowering poor people and marginalized communities;

§ reducing and managing risks; and

§ taking a long-term perspective with regard to intra- and intergenerational equity.

The environment is central to all four of these requirements. Long-term development can only be achieved through sustainable management of various assets: financial, material, human, social and natural. Natural assets, including water, soils, plants and animals, underpin the livelihoods of all people. At the national level, natural assets account for 26 per cent of the wealth of low-income countries. Sectors such as agriculture, fishery, forestry, tourism and minerals provide important economic and social benefits to people. The challenge lies in the proper management of these resources. Sustainable development provides a framework for managing human and economic development, while ensuring a proper and optimal functioning over time of the natural environment.

While a healthy environment can support development, the relationship is not always reciprocal. Many alternative views exist on the benefits and disadvantages of modern development. It has been argued that development is destructive, even violent, to nature. As GEO-4 illustrates, past development practices have often not been beneficial to the environment. However, opportunities exist to make development sustainable.

Sustainable Development
Sustainable development, according to the Brundtland Report of 1987, is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Put in the new globalised order, sustainable development is the integration of economic, social and environmental development considered as the inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing pillars which operate at the local, national, regional and global levels. This sets out two fundamental principles of intergenerational and intragenerational equity.

The principle of Intergenerational equity means need to preserve natural resource for the benefit of future generations. The principle of Intragenerational equity means equitable use of natural resources which implies that use by one state must take in to account of the needs of other states. We have to recognise our own limits in claiming the fruits of the earth and in managing and manipulating nature.

Development is a process that enables people to better their well-being. Long-term development can only be achieved through sustainable management of various assets: financial, material, human, social and natural. Non-sustainable use of natural resources, including land, water, forests and fisheries, can threaten individual livelihoods as well as local, national and international economies. For sustainable development to be achieved, links between the environment and development must be examined. It is also important to consider the end point of development: human well-being. The evolution of ideas on development has made the concept of human well-being central to the policy debate. This paper analyses the global trends in relation to environment and socioeconomic development, the challenges society faces today and provides signposts towards sustainable development.

Poverty eradication, the change in unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and the protection and management of natural resources, economic and social development are constantly cited as the over-arching objectives and essential requirements for sustainable development.

Barriers to sustainable development
Despite changes in environmental governance and greater understanding of the links between environment and development, real progress towards sustainable development has been slow. Many governments continue to create policies concerned with environmental, economic and social matters as single issues. There is a continued failure to link environment and development in decision making. As a result, development strategies often ignore the need to maintain the very ecosystem services on which long-term development goals depend.

It is useful and indeed necessary to remind ourselves that a healthy human environment depends entirely on biodiversity. Everything we eat, wear and produce on this planet Earth is ultimately dependent on its biodiversity. Indeed, there is little awareness in most urbanized societies that the food on the table is a product stemming from biological diversity. This lack of awareness compounds the problem that ever-increasing demands on the world’s resources to satisfy the needs of modern life are leading to overuse of biological diversity. Arguably, then, the greatest challenge facing humanity is to either curb unrealistic expectations and bring over-used resources back to sustainable limits, or find alternatives for these resources. Failure to conserve and use biological diversity in a sustainable manner would result in degrading environments, new and more rampant illnesses, deepening poverty and a continued pattern of inequitable and untenable growth.

Existing Policy Responses
Presently we have number of policy initiatives for the conservation of bio-diversity and ensure sustainable developments. Some of them are mentioned below.

The Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a landmark in the environment and development field, as it takes for the first time a comprehensive rather than a sectoral approach to the conservation of Earth's biodiversity and sustainable use of biological resources. It was in the year 1984 that the need to have in place a global convention on biological diversity started gaining momentum. In response, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the year 1987 recognised the need to streamline international efforts to protect biodiversity.The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was negotiated and signed by nations at the UNCED Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in June 1992. The

Convention came into force on December 29,1993. India became a Party to the Convention in 1994. At present, there are 175 Parties to this Convention. The CBD acknowledges sustainable resource management as a basic means of addressing conservation and economic issues, within the context of the full spectrum of biological resources: fisheries, forests, agriculture, wild plants and animals as well as the genetic material derived from them.

The main objectives of the Convention are :
· Conservation of biological diversity;

· Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity;

· Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.

Ten years have passed since the CBD entered into force. Ten years of intense negotiations and hard work by Parties, Secretariat and civil society have translated the text of the CBD into more concrete and ‘workable’ instruments such as work programmes and the Cartagena Protocol. Nevertheless, biodiversity, the very basis of life, is today still being lost at high speed and the implementation of the CBD remains difficult. The broad scope and overarching nature of the CBD as well as limited political support for its implementation, make existing instruments neither enough known nor used.

Wild Life Protection Act
Wild Life Protection Act is in the final stage of revision and provisions have been made for conservation reserves and community reserves to allow restrictive use to make it more people oriented. Presently Biodiversity Act which is in the final stage, has got the component of National Biodiversity Authority to control access to genetic resources form international community. There will also be State Biodiversity Boards to control access to domestic consumers.

Biological Diversity Act, 2002
After an extensive and intensive consultation process involving the stakeholders, the Central Government has brought Biological Diversity Act,2002 with the following salient features:-

i. to regulate access to biological resources of the country with the purpose of securing equitable share in benefits arising out of the use of biological resources; and associated knowledge relating to biological resources;

ii. to conserve and sustainably use biological diversity;

iii. to respect and protect knowledge of local communities related to biodiversity;

iv. to secure sharing of benefits with local people as conservers of biological resources and holders of knowledge and information relating to the use of biological resources;

v. conservation and development of areas of importance from the standpoint of biological diversity by declaring them as biological diversity heritage sites;

vi. protection and rehabilitation of threatened species;

vii. involvement of institutions of state governments in the broad scheme of the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act through constitution of committees.

Constitutional provisions
The Indian Constitution is among few in the world that contains specific provisions on environmental protection .The Directive Principles of State Policy and fundamental duties chapters expressly enunciate the national commitment to protect and improve the environment. Judicial interpretation has strengthened the constitutional mandate. Though part III of the Constitution does not contain any provision to provide right to pollution free environment as a fundamental right, but in view of the liberal interpretation given to article 21 coupled with articles 48-A and 51-A(g), the Supreme Court interpreted the right life and personal liberty to include the right to wholesome environment.

Policy Gaps
§ Lack of policies for protection of wetlands, grasslands, sacred grooves and other areas significant from the point of view of biodiversity.

§ Lacunae in economic policy, institutional and governance system.

§ Inadequate enforcement of existing laws.

§ Poor implementation of wildlife protection act 1972 as amended in 1991

§ Inadequate implementation of eco-development programmes.

§ Need for enhanced role of NGOs and other institutions.

§ Need for political commitment and good will.

§ Need for providing Institutional Structure.

§ Need for more sectoral financial outlay.

§ Human resource development – limited local community participation.

Policy Recommendations
§ Most of the legal provisions pertain mainly to use/exploitation of biological resources, rather than their conservation. Even Wild Life Protection Act 1972, focuses on protection rather than conservation. Protection under Wild Life Protection Act is largely directed towards large animal species (charismatic terrestrial species) rather than the large spectrum of fauna and flora also found in the marine realm.

§ Hence the existing laws relating to biodiversity shall be examined in order to bring them in tune with the provisions of convention to reflect current understanding of biodiversity conservation. There is a need for comprehensive legislation on biodiversity conservation and use especially fisheries policies, which is generally ignored.

§ Formulation of policies for protection of wetlands, grasslands, sacred groves, marine flora and fauna and other areas is significant from the point of view of biodiversity.

§ Documentation of biodiversity.

§ Increase allocation of financial resources for conservation of biodiversity.

§ Integrating conservation with development.

§ There should be continuous monitoring of biodiversity use for review of results of implementation of policies and programmes.

This is a critical moment in earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. Our planet earth is perhaps the only human habitat in the vast universe and we owe it to posterity to preserve the divine heritage of our biosphere without pollution, degradation and destruction.

While progress towards sustainable development has been made through meetings, agreements and changes in environmental governance, real change has been slow. The long term perspective for sustainable development requires the broad-based participation of various stakeholders in policy formulation, decision-making and implementation at all levels in particular of issues of biological diversity and this must be encouraged. While progress towards sustainable development has been made through meetings, agreements and changes in environmental governance, real change has been slow. To effectively address environmental problems, policy-makers should design policies that tackle both pressures and the drivers behind them. Economic instruments such as market creation and charge systems may be used to help spur environmentally sustainable behaviour.
*Assistant Professor, Karnataka State Law University’s Law School, Hubli.

# [1] V.R.Krishna Iyer , “The Dialectics and Dynamycs of Human Rights in India”, 1999, P.7
# Preamble, Para 1.1, Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development(UNCED)AGENDA -21, 1992
# of -diversity-a214198
# Arvind Jasrotia, Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development: Exploring the Dynamics of Ethics and Law,Journal of the Indian Law Institute,Vol.49 , p.34
# Ibid
# National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development, June, 1992
# Article 48-a and Article51-A(g) of the constitution of India.

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