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INDIA'S BIODIVERSITY LOSS - ARE WE REACHING A POINT OF NO RETURN?


Development and the environment are all important. The environment is usually the area around us where we work and make a decent living and conform ourselves to the environments and their changes. Inclusionary development is not feasible without an appropriate focus on the conservation of the environment.


We can see that in today’s era the development and the environment are two sides of a single coin. We are worried about the atmosphere as major problems such as global warming, the greenhouse effect, water and air pollution are rising regularly however, at the very same time as poverty eradication and economic growth rise, sustainability is necessary.


Without economic development, a country cannot recover from the vicious cycle of poverty. There is a significant need to find a balance between economic prosperity and the usage of natural resources. Development without an atmosphere has no significance. We need to conserve our energy for future centuries and this can be done only by understanding the idea of sustainable development.


Sustainable development is the process of constructing land and building projects in a way that decreases their environmental effects by encouraging them to develop energy-saving self-sufficiency projects. This may take the form of installing solar panels or wind turbines at manufacturing sites, using geothermal heating methods, or even engaging in caps and trade deals. The main critique of sustainable development is that this does not do much to safeguard the environment at current and is focused on the idea that the destruction done in one part of the planet will be vastly outweighed by providing environmental safeguards in the other.


Both environmental protection and sustainable growth can share the same overall aim of protecting natural resources and developing more energy-efficient programs and initiatives. Environmental protection aims to preserve renewable resources and create new sources of energy while at the same time reducing emissions and harming the ecosystem. Many of the initiatives rooted in environmental preservation would include replanting forests, restoring wetlands and shielding natural areas from mineral harvesting. The strongest critique of environmental protection policies is that their goals might be at odds with the demands of a rising industrial community.


To curb Environmental Degradation, there are policies and Acts enacted in India:

• Environment Protection Act 1986

• The Forest (Conservation) Act 1980

• The Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972

• The Biodiversity Act 2003

• The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974

• The Water CESS Act 1977 and The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981


Even with these rules and regulations in place, still there is a lack of formulation of proper protocols and research methodologies towards environmental aspects.


Lack of Environmental compliance can be classified into:

• Negligence in following the Environmental protocol

• Improper Scientific research

• Destruction of natural resources through quarrying and cutting of hills with unscientific methods


The economic significance of the environment is evident with the range of ecosystem services that it offers. These include:


o Provisioning services (food, irrigation, drinking water).

o Regulating services (climate regulation, water quality regulation).

o Cultural services (recreational and religious services).

o Supporting services (nutrient recycling, soil formation).


Millions of households and developmental activities utilise these ecosystem services for production and consumption. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation are inevitable to bring in desired levels of economic development. This is also believed to be essential to substantially increase the per capita income.


However, these income-generating activities are sure to have negative environmental consequences such as pollution. Noticeably, environmental quality is being compromised for the goals of mass employment generation and poverty reduction. It is believed that with a gradual increase in income levels along with growth in financial and technological capabilities, environmental quality could be restored. But the reality is that the continued growth-generating activities only increasingly deteriorate the environmental quality.


Developing countries must look to ‘Sustainable Development, which focuses on economic development without the depletion of natural resources, as a long-term solution. Unfortunately, this is not easy. Each country’s economy and industry is complex, and years of work, trial & error, and progress have led to the formation of systems and thought processes that are hard to change overnight.


However, change must begin somewhere. Sustainable development requires concentrated and coordinated efforts across industries, with an appropriate governance structure that prioritizes the growth of green GDP.


The first step towards transformation would require an introduction of stringent policies and enforcement mechanisms that appropriately penalize polluting practices, and simultaneously encourage green solutions, without discouraging production.


This would involve detailed and unbiased assessments of projects to determine how much environmental degradation is acceptable, and employing strict measures to ensure nothing further is damaged. It would also require the acceptance that certain industries may not be able to modify their practices immediately. Nevertheless, efforts to invest in and explore alternative solutions, as well as countervail the effects of current operations should be established. For instance, companies unable to reduce or eliminate their carbon emissions must be prompted to offset their carbon footprint through tree plantation drives or experiment with CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies.


Developing countries also possess some of the world’s most treasured natural resources, such as the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The rainforest acts as a major carbon sink and is also home to some of the most unique and diverse species on our planet. The destruction of Brazil’s rainforests for the country’s economic growth can, however, be a disastrous venture for the rest of the world, which rely upon the preservation of Brazil’s rainforest as a common service to maintain global temperatures.


Due to this Brazil faces extreme pressure to conserve its rainforests and natural resources, predominantly from the likes of developed countries who are normally more interested in environmental prosperity than underdeveloped countries. This is especially controversial because most developed countries gained their economic advantage by pursuing the reverse.


So should Brazil impede its economic growth for the preservation of a globally beneficial resource? After all, the climate crisis is a world over phenomenon to which every country, especially the global North, is or has been a contributor. Given this unfair burden, MEDC’s must consider the development goals of developing countries and compensate for the economic losses associated with not exploiting their natural resources.

This can provide less developed nations with the necessary external support to choose the path of sustainable development without hampering their economic goals.


In this way, the conflict between development and the environment can be dampened, and a more holistic approach to growth can be administered in developing nations.


The ideal solution is to educate consumers and businesses, to leave behind every approach to growth and preservation and to follow a rational ratio strategy that finds the best of all worlds. This is very difficult to achieve since it involves an aspect of sacrifice to be embraced by the current culture. To this end, both parties need to work together to dedicate themselves to developing policies, investment schemes and tax credits that encourage economic growth while identifying environmental goals in diverse ways that will also support local populations back.


Development remains the greatest pursuit as well as a challenge, faced by humanity. However, despite the unprecedented economic and social progress that has been made over the last century, poverty, famine and environmental degradation still persist on a global scale.


Moreover, environmental deterioration and climate change have started to show irrevocable damage to the developmental progress made so far. Thus, development goals must be pursued without breaching environmental regulations.


The transition to economic growth coupled with efficiency in natural resource use and its conservation can help India attain its goals of inclusive growth with sustainable development. The time has indeed come to add “swachh paani” and “hawa” to “roti-kapada-makaan-aur-bijli”, to begin our journey towards sustainable growth.


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