Conflict Between Human Activities And Environment

Conflict Between Human Activities And Environment

All animals and plants depend on air, water, soil, and the atmosphere that envelops the planet. Therefore, these natural elements must be protected from degradation for survival. Unlimited exploitation of natural resources is neither good for living beings nor for the fragile planet. Economic growth and prosperity of human beings directly impact the environment, and there exists a conflict between the two.

What is Environment And Ecology?

The term “environment” refers to (a) surroundings and (b) all conditions and circumstances that influence surroundings and affect the development of an organism or a group of organisms.

Meanwhile, the word “ecology” refers to the study of the processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms and the interaction among and between organisms and relationships between living organisms and their environment.

Human ecology is a system involving the interactions between human beings and surrounding living organisms.

While ecology means the relationship among organisms, environment means the relationship between human beings and the biosphere.

Conflict Between Human Activities And Environment

It is estimated that human beings have lived on the earth for about at least 65,000 years. Human beings survive by changing their natural surroundings to suit them.

Unless they are careful, they destroy the natural environment in doing so. Human activities after the Industrial Revolution (1750) have concentrated on rapid industrialization, ignoring the protection of the natural environment. Industrialization led to toxic emissions in the atmosphere that, in turn, had adverse impacts on the environment.

There is a nexus between industrialization and toxic emissions. Some economists hold the view that industrial development has been dominated by;

  1. agro-processing plants,
  2. heavy industry (e.g., metals, chemicals, paper), and
  3. high technology industry (electronics).

They all emit toxic substances. There are two factors involved in the production of pollutants: the toxic rate per unit of industrial activity and the level of industrial activity.

If fossil-fuel-based industrialization continues unabated, the toxic emissions will increase. The overall amount of toxic pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions will increase even though industries in rich countries are becoming efficient.

In essence, what is considered good for industrialization is bad for the environment, and there lies a conflict between human activities and the environment. The effects of degradation of the environment are not felt immediately as they take a long time to alter the pattern of nature.

Only during the second half of the 20th century, environmental degradation was visible, and environmentalists expressed serious concern about global warming.

The apparent conflict between industrialization and the environment continues to pose a dilemma for human beings. The view espoused by corporate leaders is that the planet will provide infinite resources for exploitation and discounts the need to set limits on the exploitation of natural resources.

On the other hand, a contrary view held by environmentalists is that economic growth as a result of unbridled industrialization at the cost of depletion of natural resources is not good for human beings and for the planet. They warn that planetary ecology cannot be destroyed in pursuit of industrialization.

Furthermore, some of the consequences of human activities can have deleterious effects on human beings. For instance, excessive spill of chemical refuse from industrial plants into rivers can contaminate water for human consumption.

The following factors are believed to have caused degradation of the environment:

  • Growth of population in the world.
  • Economic growth through overuse of natural resources.
  • Overuse of fresh water.
  • Financial interests of oil-exporting countries.
  • Poverty.

Population growth The world’s population (6.3 billion) is growing by more than 90 million a year and according to the revised estimate by the UN in 2003, there will be 8.9 billion people by 2050.

The growth of the population is concentrated in developing countries and according to the World Bank’s President James Wolfensohn, “In the next 25 years, there will be two billion more people coming onto the planet, but virtually all of that two billion goes to developing countries”.

Population growth results in environmental degradation. The more population in the world, the more housing, the more electricity will be needed to provide a minimum acceptable standard of living. Lands including wetlands and vital forest reserves will be claimed and developed for housing estates posing danger to the ecosystem.

Furthermore, it is estimated that the production of energy to meet the needs of additional people will need to climb by more than a factor of four by 2050. If energy is not provided, people will burn wood to meet their daily necessities. In such a scenario, the environment will be greatly degraded.

Economic Growth Economic growth and the environment conflict with each other because both developed and developing countries believe that economic growth comes first and apparently are content to let environmental destruction proceed.

Exploitation of natural resources is central to economic development, and to quote an author, “The treatment of nature as a resource which acquires value only in exploitation for economic growth has been central to the project of development. It is also central to the development crisis…. In the relationship of an ecological culture with resurgent nature, limits are recognized as inviolable, and human action has to be restrained accordingly.”

Capitalism and a free market economy lead to economic growth for nations. The richer a country is, the bigger are the industries and the more resources it commands, and the more pollution it generates.

Almost all the industrial plants are run on fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide and other harmful “greenhouse” gases. The US heavily relies on coal for power generation.

In the ecological sphere, the core technologies of the industrial age combined with a profligate use of resources threaten the viability of life on this planet.

The managerial skills and technologically sophisticated tools are creating a deepening global crisis. In the past century, energy use per capita increased six-fold; industrial output increased 40-fold; the marine fish catch increased 35-fold.

Professor Dexter Dunphy of Australia stated: “We cannot continue to increase consumption of resources at these rates. We are exceeding the limits of the world’s ecology to supply human demands and generating wastes and pollution at rates faster than the environment can safely absorb them.”

Traditional economists suggest that given the strong desire for economic growth, depletion of natural resources is justifiable from an economic point of view and that unsustainable productive activities are economically rational.

They have not seen sustainability as a desirable goal for developing countries. They argue that if economic growth is to be restricted to attain ecological sustainability, it raises several issues.

  • How will the poorest, less developed countries increase the income of their people?
  • Will poor countries be expected to forego economic growth?
  • To what extent are the rich nations prepared to redistribute income to the poor nations?
  • How do economic, social, and ecological systems influence one another?

These partly philosophical and ethical issues are central to ecological economics and affect us all.

For decades multi-national companies have developed ways to skirt the regulatory system, and whenever reductions of emission of greenhouse gases are proposed, they threaten governments with their intention to relocate their industries in another country or with massive retrenchment of workers.

In 2001, the Bush administration withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 on Reduction of Toxic Gases on the ground that the US economy would slow down.

Humanity faces a challenge in reaching a balance with the environment while continuing to push economic development to provide opportunities to improve the standard of living for billions of people. This balance must be found for protecting the natural environment.

Experts concerned with ecology consider capitalism as one of the agents of destruction of the environment.

Wallerstein believes that- “All the values of capitalist civilization are millennial, but so are other contradictory values. What we mean by historical capitalism is a system in which the institutions that were constructed made it possible for capitalist values to take priority, such that the world-economy was set upon the path of the commodification of everything in order that there be ceaseless accumulation of capital for its own sake.”

The industrialized countries have not spent money on research on alternative energy anywhere near the funds which go into space exploration.

The International Space Centre reportedly spent about US$ 100 billion as of 2000. David Suzuki, an eminent Canadian environmentalist, believes the need for designing an alternative energy to run industries so as not to damage the environment.

Environmental degradation, many believe, is due to the fact that prosperity led to modern affluent style of life and consumerism.

Rich nations have set a pattern of lifestyle that conflicts with the environment. The richest countries have 20 per cent of the world’s population but 86 per cent of its income (UN Human Development Report, 1999).

The US is the biggest polluter in the world (36 per cent) and followed by Europe (24 per cent). It is reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency admitted that its harmful gas emission would increase 43 per cent between 2000 and 2020.

With the improvement of quality of life, demands for consumer goods increase. A refrigerator becomes a must, an air conditioner is the next item to be installed in the house, and a car is no longer a dream.

Consumerism culture in vastly populated countries such as China and India can be disastrous for the environment.

For instance, an explosion of car-buying in China, India, and Southeast Asia is likely to accelerate air pollution. It is reported that air pollution in India causes 40,000 premature deaths annually and a loss of 1.2 billion workdays due to sickness (World Bank).

Fossil fuel-based energy/power systems have engendered planet-threatening climate change. The global economy is substituting un-ecological activities.

Economic globalization has succeeded in rendering ineffective the ability of all other forces to impose constraints on its activity in the name of a free market economy. The entrepreneurs have underscored the importance of the needs of human beings rather than nature.

They have looked at the issue of lifestyle as more important than the environment. They tend to forget what is good for the present generation may be harmful to the interests of future generations.

Early in 2002, Robert Watson, chief scientist with the World Bank and former Chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change, was attacked and removed from his position after he insisted that governments and corporations needed to reverse global greenhouse warming.

The editors of the book “Sustainable Planet” wrote: “the pressure to oust him came from the US government, backed by energy corporations. Watson’s views were simply too threatening for the dominant power-structure – a network of political, financial, and corporate leaders who prefer to burn fossil fuel and maximize expansion at any cost.”

A group of economists holds the view that it is necessary to conserve the natural environment in order to increase or to maintain the production of goods. Some writers have suggested that “economic systems are not ends in themselves but means to ultimate ends…. One cannot avoid considering the ultimate purpose or values of economic activity and human existence, the rights of future generations and of living things apart from man. Is it desirable to continue maximizing current consumption per head and economic growth?”.

There are benefits to human beings if the environment is kept free from pollution. Some economists believe that “individuals derive satisfaction not only from man-made or transformed goods but also directly from natural environments, such as parks, beaches, undisturbed forests, animals in the wild. Taking this into account, greater preservation of the natural environment may be called for…. Some conservationists argue that mankind has a moral obligation to conserve nature to a greater extent than might be dictated by humanity’s own selfish desires”.

The rampant economic growth has generated a backlash in the global community. Now an increasing number of citizens’ groups consisting of environmentalists from many countries have asserted that “global or national commons” need to be protected.

The “commons” include fresh water, air, genes, and seeds as well as public services that address basic needs such as public health and education. The “commons” should not be traded because they pose dangers to the environment.

In Canada, the Council of Canadians urged the government not to abandon its role as the “protector of basic rights.” In Chile in 1997, citizen movements conceived of a plan to build “Sustainable Chile”. Similar organizations have cropped up in Brazil and Uruguay.

Overuse of fresh water Global water use tripled just between 1950 and 1990. Although the surface of the earth is two-thirds water, 97 per cent of it is undrinkable seawater, while an additional 2 per cent is locked up in the polar ice caps.

The stark truth is that there is not enough fresh water and where there is, it is being wasted, mismanaged, and polluted on a grand scale. Director General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsura said while releasing a UN Report in March 2003 said that “Of all the social and natural crises we humans face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the heart of our survival and that of our planet Earth.”

The UN Report, under the title “World Water Development Report”, prepared by an association of 23 UN agencies under the umbrella of UNESCO, was released on 5 March 2003 ahead of the Third World Water Forum, a major conference on the future of the world’s fresh water supplies, held at Kyoto on March 16-23, 2003.

The 600-page report appears to be the most comprehensive assessment of the availability of water and painted a pessimistic outlook about water problems, indicating that the world’s population would surge over the next two decades while the availability of fresh water, hit by pollution and waste, would shrink. It stated that as many as 7 billion people in 60 countries could face water shortages by 2050. Many of the countries that would face a water crunch are located in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

In just 20 years, the report predicts that the average supply of water per person worldwide will have dropped by one-third, affecting those already suffering from a scarcity of water. A report from UNESCO ranks the overall cleanliness of water supplies and the amount of water available per person in each country. The bottom ten countries are Kuwait, Gaza Strip, United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, Qatar, Maldives, Libya, Malta, and Singapore.

Since fresh water is distributed unevenly around the world, water issues could be a political time bomb. More than 260 of the world’s river basins are shared by at least two countries. These areas constitute 40 per cent of the world’s population.

As demand for fresh water increases, conflicts of interests will arise between upper and lower riparian countries. Some experts say that water scarcity may lead even to regional armed conflicts in the next few decades in the developing world.

The Director of the UN World Assessment Programme, Gordon Young, said that potential water war flash-points included rivers that flowed from Turkey to Iraq and along the Nile from upper riparian countries to Egypt.

The growing populations in Africa along the Nile have been putting severe strains on supplies to downstream users such as Egypt, creating another possible theater of conflict. Ethiopia needs water to reduce its famine, leaving Egypt to bear the consequences.

Turkey controls the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphr ates rivers flowing through Syria and on to Iraq. If Turkey diverts a substantial amount of water for irrigation programs, water will be much less in Syria and Iraq. It appears that there could be a potential conflict over water among Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.

Much of Israel’s water comes from Palestinian and Syrian territory. Israel controls 80 per cent of water in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The UN has a goal to reduce by one-half the proportion of people who lack reliable access to clean fresh water (at least 20 liters per person per day) by the year 2015. The UN report concluded, “Globally the challenge lies in raising political will to implement water-related commitments.

Water professionals need a better understanding of the broader social, economic, and political context, while politicians need to be better informed about water resource issues.”

Oil-exporting countries Burning of oil, gas, and coal releases carbon dioxide that traps heat from the sun, causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm up. The UN’s top scientists say that carbon dioxide levels are now 370 parts per million, 30 per cent higher than in 1750 (beginning of Industrial Revolution) and could reach between 500 and 1000 parts per million by 2100.

Many experts suspect a warmer atmosphere has already begun to change the climate. Some fear the impact could be catastrophic if the worst predictions (a rise of 5.8 Centigrade, by 2100) come true.

To reduce carbon dioxide gas, alternative renewable energy, such as wind-power, solar heat, tidal power, is to be used.

However, most oil-producing countries strongly oppose increased use of renewable energy. This is because they generate wealth by exporting oil or gas (fossil fuel) to other countries.

In 2001, a task force set up by major industrialized countries recommended measures that would have brought renewable energy to one billion people over the next 10 years, but the proposal was abandoned after opposition from oil-exporting countries.

The problem is while environmental degradation can only be halted if oil, gas, and coal are not used as energy, oil and gas-producing countries are bound to lose revenues if demand for fossil fuel goes down. There seems to be a conflict between the desire for a healthy environment and the loss of revenue for oil-exporting countries.

Another issue is that the use of renewable energy is expensive and it is unfair to expect poorer countries to choose that option because economic development may stall. The question is how to ensure greater prosperity without environmental damage, and eventually, it boils down to the fact that there is a conflict between the environment and economic growth based on fossil fuel.

Poverty According to a writer, poverty means “one’s inability to meet one’s end … as to material factors, these could include discrimination, inequality, … non-availability of the minimum of necessaries required for economic or biological survival … all other forms of deprivation, destitution, hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, ill health, and exclusion from educational possibilities, etc.” Poverty is the principal source of pollution in developing countries, and the relationship between poverty and the degradation of the environment needs to be fully recognized.

Poverty and the environment have a double-edged relationship. For many people in Borneo, Amazon, and Papua New Guinea, their poverty begins with the destruction of forests.

Forests provided their livelihood in the form of food, shelter, fuel, fodder, and medicine. When forests are gone, they are deprived of some of the essential necessities of life.

In most developing countries, the wealth gap has been widening, and poor people live in abject poverty, degrading the environment in several ways.

First, poverty leads the poor to exploit natural resources in their daily life, rather than conserving them.

Second, poverty leads to unhygienic living conditions plagued by open sewers and piles of fermenting garbage.

Third, one of the daunting challenges is getting rid of household waste, and even in urban areas, city authorities do not collect most wastes regularly. It accumulates in piles that breed disease, or if it is burnt, it releases toxic fumes.

Fourth, the poor have to rely on firewood for domestic use. It is reported that about 280 million tons of firewood get burnt in India alone for domestic use every year.

In Bangladesh, the banning of two-stroke engine vehicles from January 2003 to prevent air pollution has left thousands of poor drivers of vehicles jobless. Here is an instance where a conflict between the environment and poverty emerges.

These are difficult choices to make for a government when alleviation of mass poverty is to be pursued without neglect of environmental concerns. How the balance between poverty and the environment is not an easy question for all developing countries.

The study of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, released on 4 March 2003, indicated that the world was well below the goal of cutting in half the number of hungry people by 2015 as was proposed in the FAO Summit in 1996 and might not reach that goal by 2030.

Furthermore, the study said that parts of South Asia might still be in a difficult position, and much of sub-Saharan Africa would probably not be significantly better off than at present in the absence of concerted action.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development, according to the UN Report, means that natural resources may be used in such a way as to meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

The new thinking is founded on the recognition of the interdependence of all life on the planet. It cherishes variety and beauty in the human, animal, and plant world. It is committed to the conservation of resources for future generations.

In 1987, a Report on the environment by a task force headed by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland (former Director General of the World Health Organization) was submitted under the title “Common Future.”

The Brundtland Report stated that sustainable development was achievable if planners would use proper technology and social organization.

For example, tree cutting does not exceed tree planting or carbon emissions do not exceed the capacity of nature to absorb carbon dioxide.

She stated in 2002 that “more than anything, sustainable development is about people – about providing food, shelter, and health to everybody on the planet in such a way that future generations can do the same.”

Experts believe that sustainable development is the way to go to protect the environment while the global economy moves ahead.

The conflict between the environment and industrialization must be resolved so that a balance is struck between the protection of the environment and the emission of toxic gases.

The 1998 Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen looked at sustainable development from a new angle and stated that – We can even question the general strategy of defining sustainable development only in terms of fulfillment of needs, rather than using the broader perspective of enhancing human freedoms on a sustainable basis.

The essential freedoms must, of course, include the ability to meet crucially important economic needs, but there are also many others to be considered, such as expanding political participation and broadening social opportunities.

Indeed, it is not all obvious why the enhancing and sustaining of democratic freedoms should not figure among the central demands of sustainable development.

The central challenge for the 21st century is to create a sustainable global economy and society supported by organizations that are sustainable themselves and also sustaining in their impact on society and the biosphere.

Women in Developing Countries and Environment

Most women in developing countries live in rural areas and are managers of households. Natural resources are an integral part of their life. Most things a family needs, women obtain them from natural resources.

They collect water from a nearby waterhole or canal or rivers. Fuel woods are collected by them or by their children. They use plants as medicine in case of illness.

While they exploit natural resources, they conserve them because they know that natural resources are their assets. Today their survival is threatened because forests have been denuded, and rivers are polluted.

Women are the natural linkages with the natural environment. They consider natural resources differently from men.

According to some Indian authors, “Women may perceive a local forest as a source of food, fuel, and medicine for household use while men may perceive the value of the local forest as the sale of the cut trees in the market. Additionally, because women are often dependent on free goods, such as water, fuelwood, and fodder, they have a special interest in environmental protection and rehabilitation. Women are often key agents in maintaining and enhancing the quality and stock of communal natural resources.”

Women play important roles in water resource management primarily at the household level. One can find innumerable differences in which women and men relate to and use water.

Because of the various roles women play in household affairs, they have considerable knowledge about water, including availability, quality and reliability, restrictions and acceptable storage methods and are key to the success of water resource management.

The issues related to women and water resources may vary from country to country. In developing countries, the roles of women in poorer communities as primary water resource managers as water carriers, end-users, and family health educators for the household level need attention.

Women and the poor generally have fewer opportunities to share in and benefit from the development and management of water resources. Women are the ones to be affected first in cases of depletion in the amount of water availability or a reduction in water quality.

However, when it comes to decision-making about water resource management, women are almost invisible. Thus there is clearly a gender imbalance in the water sector whereas the responsibilities, burdens, and insecurities are for women.

Women have been good resource managers, and many are involved in grassroots movements. In the mountain regions of Garhwal region of Uttar Pradesh in India, women started to protect their local forests from commercial exploitation, even at the cost of their lives by starting the famous “Chipko movement,” embracing living trees as protectors.

A survey carried out in Sierra Leone found that women knew the usefulness of thirty-one forest products while men only eight.

It is acknowledged that women in developing countries are often the victims of environmental degradation. If forests and water availability decrease due to environmental degradation, lives of women become harder because they have to search, often at a great distance, for water and fuelwood for their day-to-day use.

Technology-centered development ruptures the nature-women-nexus, leaving starvation and ecological destruction in its place. Indian female activist Vandana Shiva argues Eurocentric science and economics in their arrogance pit a linear, reductionist managerial logic against nature’s cyclical flows – a pseudo-science quite inappropriate to its task. The Green Revolution was a case in point and desertification its result.

Another writer Ariel Salleh stated: “Ecofeminist politics is a feminism in as much as it offers an uncompromising critique of capitalist patriarchal culture from a woman’s perspective; it is a socialism because it honors the wretched of the earth; it is an ecology because it reintegrates humanity with nature.”

Protechtion of Environment And International Efforts

International environmental actions including legal regimes have played a pivotal role towards global protection and conservation of the natural environment. It is important that the present generation should conserve biological diversity for the benefit of future generations.

The threat to the global environment was first highlighted in the 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment.

The Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment made a recommendation that on June each year the World Environment Day would be observed. During and after the 80s, a series of global actions were taken to address the degradation of the environment.

In 1987, the Montreal Protocols signed now by 150 countries began to phase out of ozone-destroying chemicals and hastened the development of alternatives. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, was entrusted with the task of forecasting the likely change of climate in the world.

In 1989, the International Labour Organization adopted a new Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries. The Convention requires that states parties take special measures to safeguard the environment of indigenous peoples.

In particular, governments must ensure that studies are carried out to assess the environmental impact of planned development activities and take measures, in cooperation with indigenous peoples concerned, to protect and preserve the environment of the territories they inhabit.

In 1990, the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction began and the link between natural disasters and environmental degradation was established. In South Asia, a group of experts was constituted during the SAARC summit in 1987 to recommend to the member-countries any action plan to prevent environmental degradation in South Asia.

Desertification is a great problem in Africa. It is reported that the Sahara desert has been slowly and steadily

expanding into areas in Africa. In 1994, the Convention on Desertification was adopted to preserve soil and water.

Rio And Johannesburg Earth Summit in 1992 and 2002

The Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development) took place in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

At this summit, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted. The Convention which came into force in 1994 sets out only voluntary goals of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and other gases) for 38 industrialized countries. However, the voluntary goals were not acted upon.

The follow-up Rio+10 Summit (dubbed as Rio +10 as it was held after 10 years since the first Earth Summit in 1992) took place in Johannesburg (South Africa) from August 26 to 4 September 2002. The Summit was formally called World Summit on Sustainable Development.

A non-binding Action Plan was agreed upon at the Summit. However, critics believed that too much compromise led the Summit with a limp document, full of fine sentiments but very few new measures and too few deadlines for action.

Kyoto Protocol

One of the most important agreements with regard to the reduction of greenhouse gas was the adoption of the Kyoto (Japan) Protocol in 1997. It provided mandatory targets and timetables to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases for industrialized countries.

It was agreed in Kyoto that the European Union would reduce its greenhouse gases by 8 percent below 1990 levels, the US by 7 percent, and Japan by 6 percent. These targets are to be reached by 2010-12.

The Kyoto Protocol came into effect on February 2005 with the ratification of the Protocol by China, Canada, Japan, Poland, and Russia. The required number of ratifications would hopefully be met by that time.

On the other hand, the Bush administration dumped the Kyoto Protocol as unrealistic because it did not compel developing countries (India and China) to reduce greenhouse gases. The US’s stance was a great blow to the Kyoto Protocol.

Carbon-credits as stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol remain a novel feature of the Protocol. Carbon-credits are the name given to as yet undefined units designed to offset greenhouse gas pollution. The idea is that a company-polluter must purchase credits or face further action.

A common example being canvassed is the purchase or lease of forest areas in other countries which are supposed to act as “sinks” for the excess carbon being emitted by the polluters in their countries.

Critics of the phenomenon of global warming maintain that the world’s climate has always been changing and will continue to change, irrespective of which particular human activities are being engaged.

Furthermore, the Kyoto Protocol would deliver only about a 1 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and ratification to it would lock countries into binding commitments that could result in economic loss and unemployment.

Furthermore, even when the Kyoto Protocol comes into effect, one of the major issues remaining to be discussed is how the industrialized countries will meet the reduction targets after the first commitment period of the Protocol, which runs until 2012.

It also includes issues of how the developing countries such as India and China can join the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their own emissions.

World Bank And Environmental Protection

The increasing awareness to protect the environment of the earth has led the World Bank to examination of environmental impact prior to initiating infrastructure projects in a country.

The relationship between feasibility of a project and impact on environment is being recognized. The World Bank examines projects from environmental perspective and many of the World Bank-funded projects in the Third World caused in the past mass environmental vandalism.

There exists an independent three-member Inspection Unit within the World Bank that examines the impact of environment on projects approved by the World Bank and recommends, if necessary for cancellation for funds if they degrade environment.

It was reported that the World Bank canceled its interest in Nepal’s giant “Arun Dam” project for fear of environmental damage.

Environment and Least Developed Countries (LDCS)

The UN General Assembly categorize certain countries as Least-Developed on the basis of criteria of the size of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), share of manufacturing in total GDP, economic diversification index, the adult literacy rate, population size, and the augmented quality of life index.

At present there are 49 Least-Developed countries that include Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, and the Maldives in South Asia.

The Least-Developed Countries have a Fund created for them in 2001. These countries had a successful meeting in Dhaka in September 2002 and at this meeting they formulated procedures for them to carry out national adaptation programmes of action to climate change.

Environmental Protection in South Asia

Environmental protection has been a subject of importance for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It has been incorporated as one of the topics under the Integrated Programme of Action.

In 1987 the Heads of State/Governments of SAARC countries initiated a Study on the causes and consequences of natural disasters and protection and preservation of the environment. In 1992 another regional study was undertaken and its recommendations are being implemented by the SAARC Technical Committee on Environment and Technology.

In 1997 the leaders of SAARC called on the Environment Ministers of the region to meet annually in order to give impetus to the implementation of the recommendations of the studies undertaken by SAARC and for promotion of greater regional cooperation in the field.

The SAARC Environment Ministers at their fifth meeting in Bhutan on 10-11 August 2002 adopted a resolution on issues before the Johannesburg World Summit. They stressed the need for implementation of decisions and recommendations adopted by the Ministers of Environment at their previous meetings.