UPSC Ecology And Environment Environment And Sustainable Development / पर्यावरण और सतत विकास Notes - Sustainable Development

Notes - Sustainable Development

Category : UPSC


Sustainable Development



Sustainable development aims at meeting the basic needs of all people in general and the poor majority in particular- their employment, food, energy, water, housing, etc., by ensuring the growth of agriculture, manufactures, power and services with due consideration for environmental concerns.

Over the past two decades, economic growth has lifted more than 660 million people out of poverty and has raised the income levels of millions more, but too often it has come at the expense of the environment and poor communities.

Through a variety of market, policy, and institutional failures. Earth's natural capital has been used in ways that are economically inefficient and wasteful, without sufficient reckoning of the true costs of resource depletion. The burning of fossil fuels supported rapid growth for decades but set up dangerous consequences, with climate change today threatening to roll back decades of development progress. At the same time, growth patterns have left hundreds of millions of people behind: 1.2 billion still lack access to electricity, 870 million are malnourished, and 780 million are still without access to clean, safe drinking water.

Sustainable development recognizes that growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity for today's population and to continue 10 meet the needs of future generations. It is efficient with resources and carefully planned to deliver both immediate and long-term benefits for people, planet, and prosperity.


The three pillars of sustainable development - economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social inclusion - carry across all sectors of development, from cities facing rapid urbanization to agriculture, infrastructure, energy development and use, water availability, and transportation. Cities are embracing low-carbon growth and public transportation. Farmers are picking up the practices of climate-smart agriculture. Countries are recognizing the value of their natural resources, and industries are realizing how much they can save through energy and supply chain efficiency.


Concept of Sustainable Development


The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development implies economic growth together with the protection of environmental quality, each reinforcing the other. It is maintaining a delicate balance between the human need to improve lifestyles and preserving natural and cultural ecosystems. The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and socio-political sustainability. The essence of this form of development is a stable relationship between human activities and the natural world, which does not diminish the prospects for future generations to enjoy a quality of life at least as good as our own.


Participatory democracy is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.



The linkage between environment and development was globally recognized in 1980, when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature published the World Conservation Strategy and used the term "sustainable development". This term has been used as a unifying theme in presenting environmental and social concerns about worrisome trends towards accelerated environmental degradation and social polarization in the 1970s and 1980s.

The concept came into general usage after the Brundtland Commission Report (1987), formally called the Report of World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). WCED was set up by the United Nations General Assembly. Thus, the term 'sustainable development' was widely adopted by mainstream development agencies following the publication in 1987 of "Our Common Future" by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), chaired by the then prime minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland.

The Brundtland Report coined the most often cited phrase to describe the principle of sustainable development as... development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

It contains within it two key concepts:

  • The concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor to whom overriding priority should be given and;
  • The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organisations to meet their own needs.


Rio Declaration

The Rio Declaration (1992) consisted of 27 principles intended to guide future sustainable development around the world. It emphasised the links between environment and development and 176 nations agreed on the following five agreements:

  • The Rio Declaration
  • The Biodiversity Convention
  • The Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • The Agreement of Forest Principles
  • Agenda 21

Rio Declaration

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development consisted of 27 principles intended to guide future sustainable development around the world.

  • The role of humans.
  • State sovereignty.
  • The Right to development.
  • Environmental Protection in the Development Process.
  • Eradication of Poverty.
  • Priority for the Least Developed State.
  • Cooperation to Protect Ecosystem.
  • Reduction of Unsustainable Patterns of Production and Consumption.
  • Capacity Building for Sustainable Development.
  • Public Participation.
  • National Environmental Legislation.
  • Supportive and Open International Economic System.
  • Compensation for Victims of Pollution and other Environmental Damage.
  • State Cooperation to Prevent Environmental Dumping.
  • Precautionary Principle.
  • Internalization of Environmental Costs.
  • Environmental Impact Assessments.
  • Notification of Natural Disaster.
  • Prior and Timely Notification.
  • Women have a Vital Role.
  • Youth Mobilization.
  • Indigenous Peoples have a Vital Role.
  • People under Oppression.
  • Peace, Development and Environmental Protection.
  • Resolution of Environmental Disputes.
  • Cooperation between State and People.

Some Scholars have regarded the Rio Declaration as Third Generation Human Rights.


Convention on Biological Diversity

Convention on Biological Diversity is a legally binding document, which came as an outcome of Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. It is commonly known as "Biodiversity Convention".



Conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); Sustainable use of its components; and Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

The idea is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.



198 countries / territories including India are parties to the CBD. The United States has signed but not ratified the convention. Tre CBD has 23 preamble paragraphs and 42 articles. The preamble paragraphs interalia recognize and reaffirm the following:

  • Intrinsic value of biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity conservation as common concern of humankind.
  • Sovereign rights of States over their biological resources.
  • Responsibility of States to conserve and sustainable use their biodiversity.
  • Precautionary approach towards biodiversity conservation.
  • Vital role of local communities and women in conservation, and sustainable use of biodiversity.
  • Need for provision of new and additional financial resources and access to technologies to development countries to address biodiversity loss.
  • Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries.

By 2009, US, Iraq, Somalia and Andorra had to sign and ratify the CBD. With Iraq's accession to the CBD in July 2009, the US, Somalia and Andorra are now the only remaining countries that have not signed / ratified the CBD. US has ratified the UNFCCC and UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), but did not ratify the CBD. The main concerns of United States are the CBD provisions, which call for technology transfer to developing countries. US thinks that it could threaten US intellectual property interests. Further, there is another reason that the obligations for financial aid under the CBD are vague. Strangely, the other developed countries have not shared these concerns.


The Agreement of Forest Principles

The Rio Forest Principles is the informal name given to the Non-Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests (1992), a document produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit. It is a non-legally binding document that makes several recommendations for conservation and sustainable development forestry.

Of these Biodiversity Convention and Framework Convention on Climate Change were signed at Rio, although negotiated earlier. Action towards concluding a convention on Desertification was also taken. The most significant achievement of action was for sustainable development at local, national and global levels.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development, or Earth Summit took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from August 26 to September 4, 2002 to discuss sustainable issues.

The United Nations 2005 World Summit, Rio 10 outcome document refers to economic development, social development and environmental protection as the "interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars" of sustainable development.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio 2012, Rio+20 or Earth Summit 2012 was the third international conference on sustainable development aimed at reconciling the economic and environmental goals of the global community. Hosted by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro from 13 to 22 June 2012, Rio+20 was a 20-year follow up to the 1992 Earth Summit / United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in the same city, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.

However, the modern concept of sustainable development is derived mostly from the 1987 Brundtland Report; it is also rooted in earlier ideas about sustainable forest management and twentieth century environmental concerns. As the concept developed, it has shifted to focus more on economic development, social development and environmental protection for future generations. It has been suggested that the term 'sustainability' should be viewed as humanity's target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium 'homeostasis', while 'sustainable development' refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability.


UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate

Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992, then entered into force on 21 March 1994. The UNFCCC objective is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". The main challenges to sustainable development which are global in character include poverty and exclusion, unemployment, climate change, conflict and humanitarian aid, building peaceful and inclusive societies, building strong institutions of governance, and supporting the rule of law. The Open Working Group of the United Nations, while acknowledging the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has proposed the 17 aims for its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) accompanied by some specific targets .


Building Blocks of Sustainability


Agenda 21

Agenda 21, an action plan of the United Nations (UN) related to sustainable development, clearly identified information, integration and participation as key building blocks to help countries achieve development that recognizes these interdependent pillars - economic development, environmental development, social development and cultural development.

Agenda 21 emphasizes that broad public participation in decision-making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.


Agenda 21

Agenda 21 is the outcome of the 1992 Earth Summit. It is the "Voluntary" action plan of the United Nations (UN) related to sustainable development. This 40 point document was a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment. For implementation of these points a Commission on Sustainable Development was established as a high level forum on sustainable development. Agenda 21 was adopted by the UNCED (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) in June 1992. It recognised that humanity was at a defining moment?it could either continue with the present policies which deepen economic divisions within and among countries, which increase poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy worldwide sad which continue to deteriorate the ecosystems on which the Earth depends: OR we could change course and bring about a better and sustainable future for all through better management of the ecosystem.

Agenda 21 supported the liberalisation of trade and removal of distortions in international trade. It calls for increased investment in developing countries and better management of financial resources. It calls for combating poverty through policies in respect of population, health care and education, the rights of women and disadvantaged people. It emphasises the need to provide improved shelter, energy efficient technology, human resource development, protecting the atmosphere, combating deforestation and advocates sustainable agriculture and use of biotechnology.


The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development acts as the secretariat to the Commission and works 'within the context of Agenda 21.



The Rio+5 was the special session of the UN General Assembly organized in 1997 for appraisal of five years of progress on the implementation of Agenda 21.



Local Agenda 21 is a local-government-led, community-wide, and participatory effort to establish a comprehensive action strategy for environmental protection, economic prosperity and community well-being in the local jurisdiction or area. This requires the integration of planning and action across economic, social and environmental spheres. Key elements are full community participation, assessment of current conditions, target setting for achieving specific goals, monitoring and reporting.


Major Challenges of Sustainable Development

There are many challenges to Sustainable development like persistent poverty; globalisation and socioeconomic transitions; Sustainable development and climate change; human security, violence and conflict.

The world has made real progress in reducing poverty in the last 20 years. There is, however, far more to do in ensuring that the benefits of growth are distributed equitably, particularly in fast-growing middle income countries (MICs). There are also big risks, including shocks in the world economy, potentially significant challenges of civil conflict and fragility, long-term resource scarcities and climate change. Policy needs to engage with change, focusing especially on the supra-national level to deliver global public goods. The most significant contemporary challenge is how to address collective action problems in an increasingly multi-polar world.


Challenge 1: Persistent poverty

Twenty years ago extreme poverty was the norm in many regions. In Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa more than half of the population lived on less than $1.25 in 1990 (Melamed, 2012). Between a quarter and half of all children in the two regions were underweight, and in Africa only half of all children were in school.


Challenge 2: Globalisation and socio-economic transitions

Globalisation may be understood as the widening, deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of social, cultural, political and economic life - a phenomenon that has accelerated in the past 50 years. All regions have become more globalised by most measures of economic interconnectedness. Exports, inward flows and stocks of foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances all grew in value and in their percentage of GDP between 1970 and 2010 (World Bank, 2011). But, the peak was in 2008, with a considerable contraction afterwards as a result of the global financial crisis.


Challenge 3: Sustainable development and climate change

When modelling the impacts of the latest trends in \[C{{O}_{2}}\] emissions, projections show that global average temperatures will increase by about \[3.5{}^\circ C\] by 2100 (Climate Action Tracker, 2012; IEA, 2011). This is well above the \[2{}^\circ C\] of warming considered by many to be the threshold for triggering dangerous, runaway climate change (UK Met Office, 2010). Even with rapid decarbonisation and a green growth revolution, most climate scientists now consider \[2{}^\circ C\] to be unobtainable, though this remains a target for political negotiations. Such rapid warming has fundamental implications for development and economic activity.

Though climate-change poses a variety of challenges, important of them include: agriculture and food security; water stress and water insecurity; rising sea levels; and biodiversity and human health; which have immense relevance from the perspective of developing countries in general and India in particular. There are many ways to pursue sustainable developments strategies that contribute to mitigation of climate change. A few examples are presented below:

  • Adoption of cost-effective energy efficient technologies to electricity generation, transmission distribution and end-use can reduce costs and local pollution in addition to reduction of greenhouse gas emission.
  • Shift to renewable, which are cost effective, can enhance sustainable energy supply; can reduce local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Adoption of forest conservation, reforestation, afforestation and sustainable forest management practices can contribute to conservation of biodiversity, watershed protection rural employment generation, increased incomes to forest dwellers and carbon sink enhancement.
  • Efficient, fast and reliable public transport systems such as metro railways can reduce urban congestion, local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Adoption of participatory approach to forest management, rural energy, irrigation water management and rural development in general can promote sustained development activities and ensure long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction or carbon sink enhancement.
  • Rational energy pricing based on long-run marginal cost pricing can level the field for renewable.


Challenge 4: Human security, violence and conflict

Over the past decade the threat of inter-state conflict ha5 reached historically low levels, suggesting that this is an era of unprecedented peace and security. But this is only a partial picture. Security issues are very high on the development agenda, particularly civil conflict, terrorism, trans-national criminal networks, and some forms of social violence (e.g. urban gangs).


Challenges Tension between Developing and Developed Countries

"The Future We Want" has faced sharp criticism and been viewed as a disappointment by a variety of groups that see it as "vague and weak" because of the results caused by the lack of cooperation and consensus between the developed and developing nations. For example, environmental and antipoverty advocates have criticized Rio+20 for lacking the detail and ambition required to address challenges of sustainable development and poverty eradication. Additionally, the European Union Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, stressed that Rio+20 "did not lead to all the results the European Union hoped for." Unfortunately, the tension between developing and developed countries resulted in Rio+20 producing a one-sided outcome document favouring developing countries.

The views of developed countries were notably absent in the outcomes encompassed in "The Future We Want." This marked a change from previous international environmental agreements like the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 that respected the views of both groups. The one-sided nature of Rio+20 undermined advancing sustainable development on a global scale, which resulted in it being a failure overall. Efforts on the international level will continue to fail until the leadership in all countries makes the conscious choice to cooperate with each other. Without the necessary political will, little more will be done internationally to advance sustainable development.


Methods of sustainable development for developed and developing countries differ. If very rapid population growth, poverty, gender inequality and inadequate systems of education and medicine are typical for developing countries, developed countries mostly face such problems as excessive consumption of natural resources and environmental pollution. However both the developed and the developing countries except for those devastated by war or natural disasters are developing according to the pattern of natural evolution and their economies as well as welfare are growing, although at different paces. But in reality the developed countries don't agree to follow the mitigation as required in the name of economic slowdown. They argue if all majors will be followed it is very difficult to fulfill the basic needs of people. They follow a double standard and blame the developing countries. On the other hand they impose different sanctions. But in reality the developing countries are badly affected but they are committed to follow the goals.

There is a sharp tension between developing and developed countries, due to their divergent viewpoints on how to approach sustainable development. These remarkably different perspectives have led to the tension between the two groups as they struggle to define and implement sustainable development. Leadership in developing countries is primarily concerned with upward mobility, sovereignty, the costs of sustainable development, and the causes of environmental degradation. Developing countries approach sustainable development from the viewpoint of a need within their countries for socioeconomic upward mobility. The underlying problem of poverty must be addressed for sustainable development to become practicable for developing countries.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

With the expiry of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) which guided global development till 2015, the International community negotiated sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period 2016-30.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are officially known as transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, associated 169 targets and 304 indicators. This included the following goals:





  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modem energy for all.
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.


Sustainable Development in India

India presented its strategies for sustainable development in the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Johannesburg, South Africa which was held from 26 August - 4 September 2002. Empowering People for Sustainable Development (EPSD) the document introduces the essential framework for sustainable development in India. The framework included democratic continuity, devolution of power, independent judiciary, civil control over the armed forces, independent media, transparency and people's participation.

The four objectives of EPSD were: combating poverty, empowering people using core competence in science and technology and setting environmental standards.


National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC)

India launched an ambitious NAPCC in June 2008 which seeks to chart out a responsible plan to combat climate change through a policy of sustainable development.

The following are the main principles of NAPCC:

  • Protecting the poor through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy, sensitive to climate change;
  • Achieving national growth and poverty alleviation objectives while ensuring ecological sustainability;
  • Efficient and cost effective strategies for end-use- demand side management;
  • Extensive and accelerated deployment of appropriate technologies for adaption and mitigation;
  • New and innovative market, regulatory, and voluntary mechanisms for sustainable development and
  • Effective implementation through unique linkages with civil society, local governments and public-private partnerships.




The National Action Plan on Climate Change identifies measures that promote our development objectives while yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively. It outlines a number of steps to simultaneously advance India's development and climate change-related objectives of adaptation and mitigation.

It has set up eight national missions for India's sustainable development.


  1. National Solar Mission

Also known as Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was approved by Government of India on 11 January 2010. The Solar Mission was initiated with an aim to achieve long term Energy and Ecology security which was planned to implement in three stages to install the capacity of 20,000 MW by the end of the 13th Five Year Plan in 2022. The three stages are as follows:

Stage-I: 2010-2013 target 1,000-2,000 MW.

Stage-II: 2013-2017 target 4,000-10,000 MW.

Stage-III: 2017-2022 target 20,000 MW.

Custom and excise duty for several input raw materials for manufacturing of solar power devices is exempted by the government to reduce the cost of solar power.


  1. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency

Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW. Building on die Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates; energy incentives; including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances, and financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programmes in the municipal buildings and agricultural sectors.


  1. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat

To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for; extending the existing energy conservation building code; a greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling; including power production from waste; strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and incentives for the use of public transport.


  1. National Water Mission

With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.


  1. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem

The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India's water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.


  1. National Mission for a "Green India"

Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23 % to 33 % of India's territory.


  1. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture

The plan aims to support climate adaption in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.

  1. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change

To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourages private sector initiatives to develop adaption and mitigation technologies through venture capital fund.


Strategies for Sustainable Development

Use of Non-conventional Sources of Energy

India is hugely dependent on thermal and hydro power plants to meet its power needs. Both of these have adverse environment impacts. Thermal power plants emit large quantities of carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas. It also produces fly ash which, if not used properly, can cause pollution of water bodies, land and other components of the environment. Hydroelectric projects inundate forests and interfere with the natural flow of water in catchment areas and the river basins. Wind power and solar rays are good examples of conventional but cleaner and greener energy sources but are not yet been explored on a large scale due to lack of technological devices,


LPG, Gobar Gas in Rural Areas

Households in rural areas generally use wood, dung cake or other biomass as fuel. This practice has several adverse implication like deforestation, reduction in green cover, wastage of cattle dung and air pollution. To rectify the situation, subsidised LPG is being provided. In addition, gobar gas plants are being provided through easy loans and subsidy. As far as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is concerned, it is a clean fuel - it reduces household pollution to a large extent. Also, energy wastage is minimised


CNG in Urban Areas:

In Delhi, the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as fuel in public transport system has significantly lowered air pollution and the air has become cleaner in the last few years.


Wind Power:

In areas where speed of wind is usually high, wind mills can provide electricity without any adverse impact on the environment. Wind turbines move with the wind and electricity is generated. No doubt, the initial cost is high. But the benefits are such that the high cost gets easily absorbed.


Solar Power through Photovoltaic Cells

India is naturally endowed with a large quantity of solar energy in the form of sunlight. We use it in different ways. Plants use solar energy to perform photosynthesis. Now, with the help of photovoltaic cells, solar energy can be converted into electricity. These cells use special kind of materials to capture solar energy and then convert the energy into electricity. This technology is extremely useful for remote areas and for places where supply of power through grid or power lines is either not possible or proves very costly. This technique is also totally free from pollution.


Mini-hydel Plants

Mini-hydel plants use the energy streams to move small turbines. The turbines generate electricity which can be used locally. Such power plants are more or less environment-friendly as they do not change the land use pattern in areas where they are located; they generate enough power to meet local demands. This means that they can also do away with the need for large scale transmission towers and cables and avoid transmission loss.


Traditional Knowledge and Practices

Traditionally, Indian people have been close to their environment. They have been more a component of the environment and not its controller. If we look back at our agriculture system, healthcare system, housing, transport, etc. we find that all practices have been environment friendly. Only recently have we drifted away from the traditional systems and caused large scale damage to the environment and also our rural heritage. Now, it is time to go back. One apt example is in healthcare. India is very much privileged to have about 15,000 species of plants which have medicinal properties. About 8,000 of these are in regular use in various systems of treatment including the folk tradition. With the sudden onslaught of the western system of treatment, we were ignoring our traditional systems such as Ayurveda, Unani, Tibetan and folk systems. Not only are these are environment friendly, they are relatively free from side effects and do not involve large-scale industrial and chemical processing.



Large tracts of productive land have been adversely affected, water bodies including ground water system have suffered due 10 chemical contamination and demand for irrigation has been going up year after year due to chemical fertilisers. Farmers, in large numbers all over the country, have again started using compost made from organic wastes of different types. Indirectly, the civic authorities are benefited too as they have to dispose reduced quantity of waste.


Biopest Control

With the advent of green revolution, the entire country entered into a frenzy to use more and more chemical pesticides for higher yield. Soon, the adverse impacts began to show; food products were contaminated, soil, water bodies and even ground water were polluted with pesticides. Even milk, meat and fishes were found to be contaminated. To meet this challenge, efforts are on to bring in better methods of pest control. One such step is the use of pesticides based on plant products. Neem trees are proving to be quite useful.


Twelfth Five Year Plan Approaches for Sustainable Development and Lower Carbon Strategies

The Twelfth Plan strategy suggests that there are significant 'co-benefits' for climate action with inclusive and sustainable growth. India as a large responsible player with very low income has also to ensure that these efforts are matched by equitable and fair burden sharing among countries, taking into account the historical responsibilities for emissions. These issues are being discussed in the UNFCCC.

India's approach to a lower-carbon growth strategy explicitly recognizes that policies have to be inclusive and differentiated across sectors according to national priorities, so as to lower the transaction costs of implementing the policy, and conform with a nationally fair burden-sharing mechanism.


Low Carbon strategy

An Expert Group on Low Carbon Strategies appointed by the Planning Commission has outlined the lower carbon strategies for major potential carbon mitigation sectors:


(i) Power

On the supply side, adopt super-critical technologies in coal based thermal power plants; use gas in combined heat and power systems; invest in renewable technologies; and develop hydro-power in a sustainable manner. On the demand side, accelerate adoption of super-efficient electrical appliances through market and regulatory mechanisms; enhance efficiency of agricultural pump sets and industrial equipment with better technology; modernize transmission and distribution to bring technical and commercial losses down to world average levels; universalize access to electricity; and accelerate power-sector reforms.


(ii) Transport

Increase the share of rail in overall freight transport; improve the efficiency of rail freight transport; make it price competitive by bringing down the levels of cross-subsidization between freight and passenger transport; complete dedicated rail corridor; improve share and efficiency of public transport system; and improve fuel efficiency of vehicles through both market-based and regulatory mechanisms.


(iii) Industry

Greenfield plants in the iron and steel and cement sectors adopt best available technology; existing plants, particularly small and medium ones, modernize and adopt green technology at an accelerated pace, with transparent financing mechanisms.


(iv) Buildings

Evolve and institutionalize green building codes at all levels of government.


(v) Forest

'Green India Mission' to regenerate at least 4 million ha of degraded forest; increase density of forest cover on 2 million ha of moderately dense forest; and overall increase the density of forest and tree cover on 10 million ha of forest, waste, and community lands.


Budgetary Provisions

The country has been taking laudable and decisive steps in facilitating a low carbon economy with ambitious targets renewable energy deployment of 175 GW installed capacity by 2022, development of 100 smart cities for its citizens, and implementation of a Zero Defect Zero Effect (ZED) approach in manufacturing. Such initiatives have the potential to not only drive economic growth but also improve quality of life. In this direction:

  • Programme for sustainable management of ground water resources is allocated with Rs. 6,000 crore
  • Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan is allocated Rs. 655 crore. The scheme will help Panchayat Raj Institutions deliver Sustainable Development Goals.

India is also ramping up efforts to mobilise the finance needed to promote sustainable development, the most notable one, through a special budgetary provision of a coal cess, under the nation clean energy fund.


National Clean Energy Fund.

Having raised Rs. 25,000 crore successfully since FY11, about one third of the fund is estimated to have been used to promote renewable energy and water resource management.


Response to climate change

Climate change with its indelible impact on the financial system, has emerged as a priority in budget provisions, and needs an integrated response that can make India's economic growth more resilient through timely policy interventions and market reforms.

Increase Budget Allocations to Key Sectors

The increased budget to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan ($530 million or Rs.3500 crore is expected to have a manifold impact on bringing down costs attributed to lack of sanitation. Similar opportunities exist in various sectors, which would serve the dual purpose of future-proofing the economy while mainstreaming sustainable practices:

  • Increased funding towards sustainable agriculture could help adoption of newer technologies and climate resilient practices thus multiplying productivity:
  • Increased budget for watershed management and ground water replenishment would contribute to water security;
  • Allocating part of highway project costs to avenue plantations would increase India's carbon sink; and
  • Channelising funds towards adoption of cleaner technologies (energy conservation, increased use of renewable energy and rainwater harvesting) in public infrastructure would mitigate climate related costs and increase resilience


Align climate and development goals to financial systems

The Department of Expenditure under the Ministry of Finance could identify climate and development related schemes, policies, initiatives and institutions to track the allocated budget with emphasis on outputs, deliverables, and impact assessment. In essence, this would evaluate the implementation progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the NDCs through robust and comparable data, while also putting SDG and NDC related budget allocations in perspective with other expenditure. This would also enable India Inc. to better align its own strategic and financial allocations to these goals.


Incentivise states for effective implementation

The third and perhaps the most important intervention could be to incentivise states based on effective implementation of climate and development related policies and projects. This would not only result in a healthy competition amongst states, but would also highlight the better performing states to potential investors for Channelising the 'patient capital' available globally.


Deepen the green bond market

One of the existing financial mechanisms driving the global economy's transition to a greener future is Green bonds. Since the first green bond in 2007, the market has grown exponentially, peaking in 2016, with cumulative issuances pegged at over  180 billion globally. A growing number of corporates and financial institutions have been able to attract foreign investments using green bonds, demonstrating how innovations in emerging markets have the potential to capture global attention.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), recognizing green bonds as a key tool towards financing the nation's climate and development targets, has issued official guidelines for Indian green bond issuers, placing India amongst a select set of pioneering countries which has developed national level guidelines. To further induce momentum in the market, and to attract foreign investments, a sovereign green bond would be very timely. India would be the first among nations to issue sovereign green bonds, with Poland having taken a lead in December 2016.

With the Indian Government's emphasis on municipal bonds to augment financing to urban local bodies, green municipal bonds have the potential to not only attract both domestic and global capital, but also bolster transparency and accountability in the civil bodies.

This year's budget would need to set the ball rolling for the industry and the society to work collaboratively towards combating climate change and move towards sustainable development. India in its official NDC document has highlighted the need for channelizing US  2.5 trillion by 2030 to meet its climate targets, and a report submitted to the Government by Development Alternative (a renowned Indian research and action social enterprise) has indicated that an annual spend to the tune of US  960 billion would be required to achieve the SDGs. It would be interesting to see how the budget would be able to respond to the demanding element 'climate action' along with inclusive development and equitable growth at its helm Sustainable development has become a catch phrase today. It is 'indeed' a paradigm shift in development thinking. Though it has been interpreted in a number of ways, adherence to this path ensures lasting development and non-declining welfare for all.

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Notes - Sustainable Development

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