This World Environment Day, it’s time for nature. We must wake up and take notice and raise our voices. It’s time to build back better for people and planet
World Environment Day, the day reminds citizens to think about the way they consume, corporates to develop greener projects, agronomists, and manufacturers to produce more sustainably, and state administrations to conserve forest & wildlife. 2020 has seen quite a lot of crises from wild forest fires in the Amazon, the United States, and Australia to locust invasions across East Africa, Asia, and currently, Corona, the global pandemic. So keeping given the above, UN Environment has declared the theme of this year is ‘Biodiversity’. This year Colombia is going to host the official celebration in association with Germany.
In layman's language, biodiversity is a term coined to explain the immense variety of living beings on earth. It integrates whole biological changeability across all scales, from the genetic, through species and ecosystems, to landscapes. The rising humans' domination in the living world and increasing materialistic approach among human beings drive to severe degradation in the biosphere. The rise of the industrial revolution 4.0 has intended to numbers of adverse effect, mostly in metropolises. In India, it leads to a vast citified population and turns perilous for urban green space.
World Bank has estimated the global population will increase to 9.8 billion in the next three decades, and more than twice as many people in the world will be living in urban (6.7 billion) than in rural settings. According to current data, more than 4 billion people live in urban areas globally, and just under 1-in-3 people in urban areas lived in slum households. In India, urban residents share more than 34% of the total population; among them, 26% live in slums. In Mumbai, more than half of the population lives in slums. Fast growth in urbanization leads to the massive disproportion in the natural ecosystem and biodiversity ruin. Urban cover only 4% of land space nationwide but consumes 76% of the resources by importing from around. In socio-scientific language, it is an imbalance between parochialisation and universalization.
Biodiversity is a support component to natural regulations of the impacts of floods, droughts, and the refinement of air and water. So degradation in biodiversity drives to an uncertain future of the city. It has already started in metropolitans in India. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata & Chennai are a regular sufferer of high air pollution, unusual rain, and drainage issues, water crisis, and urban floods respectively. According to the recent Environmental Performance Index, 2018 measured by Yale University & Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, India has ranked at 177 among 180 countries. In the environmental health index, the country is at 180th position, in the last. Air quality and Water & Sanitation rankings are 178th and 145th, in that order. The ecosystem vitality rate is only 44.74% and in biodiversity – habitat, India places at 139th rank. This situation is going to be more inferior due to the rapid urbanization of the country, and keeping these in view, GoI has schemed several policies to protect the sustainability of urban biodiversity. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) set up in 2015 builds upon the experience of the previous mission to provide basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, and parks to improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged. It includes energy (streetlight) audit as one of the parameters of cities. AMRUT provides incentives for green buildings by offering rebates in property tax or building permission and development charges covered under the scheme. Smart City Mission 2015 includes objectives of preserving and developing open spaces- parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces, in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens, reduce the urban heat effects and generally promote eco-balance. Sixty cities have been selected under the mission covering a total of 9,152 km square of the urban area. Nagar Van Udyan Yojana was launched by MoEFCC in 2015 to develop at least one city forest in 200 cities having Municipal Corporation/ Class I status. Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is a part of CII for developing new green building rating programs, certification services, and green buildings training programs. Amending building bye-laws for making solar rooftops is mandatory in new constructions or for higher Floor Area Ratio. Mandatory share of 10% renewable energy under the Smart Cities Project. Smart cities project includes focusing on creating walkable localities, which in turn reduce congestion, air pollution, and resource depletion, boost the local economy, promote interactions, and ensure security.
However, there is a massive gap between the actual construction of the policies and their implementation. These plans cannot meet the intentions with which they are designed. The inadequate administration and negligible monitoring process is the root cause behind this nonfulfillment. Govt. should lead this campaign in PPPP (Public-Private-Person Partnership) mode. People's awareness and active participation would be more worthwhile to this biosphere conservation aim. The state should encourage corporates for sustainable green banking and capital accumulation for renewable energy projects. Amelioration of the cities environment through wise use of wetlands and formation and management of urban green spaces contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity standard of different ecosystems and complements landscape approach to safeguarding. Moreover, last but not least, the role of an individual is much more substantial, influencing, and far-reaching than all other interventions.
The executive director of the UN Environment Programme, Ms Inger Andersen, has quoted, “The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message: “To care for ourselves, we must care for nature. It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices. It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.” This World Environment Day, it’s time for nature!
About the author:
Omm Priyadarshi is a Development Studies Scholar, NIT Rourkela National In-Charge (Social Media & IT) and Odisha State Convenor of Think India (A premier forum and think tank of national institutes, students, professors, and research professionals)
Last Updated Jun 6, 2020, 11:40 AM IST