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Environment, Sustainable Development And Globalisation:
A Plea To Indian Legislatures

By Dr.Zafar Mahfooz Nomani

31 July, 2007

The impact of globalization on environment and sustainable development needs to be continuously addressed in Indian context which profoundly remains in the transition. In spite of the potential of globalization to economic convergence it paved for an increase in inequality resulting in increased environmental impacts such as climate change, protection of the ozone layer, biodiversity and desertification. These international trade arrangements and environmental agreements contain very few provision for harmonizing trade and environment trade and development. The increasing tendency of tram national corporations to establish global standards for environmental performance enhances the contribution of FDI to sustainable development. The Commission on Sustainable Development urged creditor countries and international financial institutions to implement speedily the enhanced heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative. It also urged HIPC countries to develop national poverty strategies in a participatory way so that debt relief would be linked with poverty eradication. The Agenda 21 refers to national sustainable development strategies as important mechanisms for enhancing and linking national capacity so as to bring together priorities in social, economic and environmental policies. National sustainable development strategies provide an opportunity to put into practice common principles of strategic planning for sustainable development. The substantial human and institutional resources required for the formulation of national sustainable development strategies may impose a burden on India.

The United Nation’s Global Compact initiative, as a partnership between the United Nations, the business community, international, labour and civil society organizations commit to open markets while meeting the socio-economic needs of the world’s people and contributing to a more humane world. The main principles promoted by the Global Compact are taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s fundamental principles on rights at work, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development all of which enjoy universal political support and a strong international legal foundation. Understanding the links between globalization and sustainable development is essential to more integrated and strategically focused Indian legal policy making. It allows Governments, International organizations and other stakeholders in the development process to make proactive adjustments to changing conditions in the enabling environment for sustainable development at the national level and through international cooperation.

The new economic policies and the structural adjustment programme often predict environmental impact without accuracy because of the complex interplay of various economic, social, political and ecological factors. These are put into effect in an effort to meet India’s severe balance of payments crisis, and to propel its economy into quicker growth and global integration. A part from direct fiscal policies, the major components of the new package include boosting exports to earn foreign exchange, liberalizing industrial production, dropping barriers to the entry of foreign companies and goods expanding privatization and cutting government spending. The drastic nature of the NEP package has understandably underscored natural environment conventional economists advocates an exploitable resource, and sink into which the effluents of affluence can be thrown.

Indian companies are also squeezing natural resources at a faster pace for shrimp farming in most valuable brackish wetlands and lakes. Agri-business consortium has been proposed by the government, ostensibly to help small and marginal farmers, which is to give a boost to commercializing Indian agriculture to cater to expanding consumerist markets. In the new liberalized atmosphere, the environment departments in all states and at the centre are going to become everyone’s punching bag and will find it harder and harder to enforce their regulations. Industries have been cleared adjacent to a Marine National Park and protected areas of wildlife officials. The destructive potential of the liberalized economy justifiably identified tropical islands, rainforests, coral reefs and marine waters and genetic store houses.

World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in its report entitled “Global Challenge Global Opportunity” has identified water and sanitation, energy, agricultural productivity, biodiversity, and human health, as the moot point. UN Environment Programme (UNEP) believed that “A consumer lifestyle based on the desire for mobility, convenience and product disposability has undercut the further advancement of resource efficiency and waste reduction”. South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, that “a global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterized by islands of wealth surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable. The tragic result of this was the avoidable increase in human misery and ecological degradation, as seen in the growth of the gap between North and South. The international community needs to fight the global apartheid the elimination the global apartheid between rich and poor.

The India today needs to usher in a season of transformation, a season of stewardship to make long overdue constitutional commitment to protection and improvement of environment and security of future generation. Government’s organizations and financing institutions need to use their resources effectively to improve their performance and to set up their cooperation, working as one to overcome hunger and to consolidate the primary role of sustainable agriculture and rural development in food and environmental security. Indian legislatures should rise to occasion and act in a manner that fundamentally changes the lives of the poor and instill confidence by implementation of laws and policies to usher a humane, equitable and environment friendly society.R

The author is faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University


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