Covid pandemic result of degradation of natural areas, loss of species, exploitation: UNEP India
The Covid-19 pandemic is the result of degradation of natural areas, loss and exploitation of species, said UNEP country chief Atul Bagai, stressing that countries, including India, must step up their efforts to prevent and reverse ecosystem degradation.
He also pointed out that climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity are three crises facing the entire planet and India, and are interconnected.
India has taken the path of short-term economic self-interest over the decades, which has diminished the ability of ecosystems to provide and support both humans and other life, the official said. of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
“The Covid-19 pandemic is the result of the degradation of natural areas, the loss and exploitation of species. This must change. India is already making a concerted effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and be part of the global effort to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, “he said.
“India must step up these efforts and actively participate in the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, which was launched on World Environment Day 2021, to prevent, stop and reverse ecosystem degradation,” said said Bagai.
Several actions on this front are relevant to India, including taking policy and legislative action, raising awareness and making smart decisions, he said.
“For a better future, India must strive to create food systems that work with nature, reduce waste, adapt to change and resist shocks. It could also take the form of stopping purchases of products that are not certified as sustainable or that engage and donate for restoration initiatives, ”said the UNEP official.
Bagai said a barrier to restoration is the limited awareness of the negative effects of ecosystem degradation.
This can be rectified in several ways which include discussions about the value of ecosystems, campaigns that draw attention to climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, empowering smallholder farmers, evolution consumption patterns, challenging social norms and business practices, and capacity building and education, he said.
“We must instill in India a culture that respects and cares for nature. A healthier respect for nature will give us a healthier country and people,” Bagai said.
Regarding the role of young people on the issue of climate change, he said they were part of the larger international youth movements demanding drastic and visible action in the face of global warming and climate justice, biodiversity loss and development at the expense of the environment.
“My best advice to young people concerned about environmental issues is twofold: educate yourself and get involved. There are plenty of opportunities to make a difference. Often the best place to start is in your local community. there is a lot to do and we need everyone to be involved, ”he added.
In recent years, he said there had been an increase in global attention to marine litter and plastic pollution.
“However, scientific knowledge on marine plastic litter and effective countermeasures remains insufficient. With this in mind, UNEP is implementing two major projects in India that focus on plastic waste management and reduction of marine plastic pollution, ”Bagai said.
UNEP, with the support of the governments of Japan and Norway, is undertaking a multi-year assessment of how plastic ends up in waterways and ultimately in the ocean through the “CounterMEASURE” project and the India-Norway initiative on marine pollution.
Both projects aim to reduce marine litter and other pollutants from land-based sources and to track the leakage of plastic waste from land to rivers.
‘CounterMEASURE’ has worked in Agra, Haridwar, Allahabad, Patna and Mumbai to solve the problem of plastic waste. Technical studies have been carried out, including analysis of microplastics, macroplastics and mapping of plastic pollution hot spots in these towns and in the Ganga River, Bagai said.
The new phase of the project will also examine the impact of plastic pollution on migratory species.
“We have also trained the relevant stakeholders and carried out awareness-raising actions to raise awareness and change behavior. UNEP is further supporting India by developing a national roadmap on marine plastic litter and organizing policy dialogues, ”he said.
Speaking about the concept of inclusive wealth, Bagai said it is a measure of the social value, not the dollar price, of all of its capital assets, including natural capital, human capital and wealth. produced capital.
“It can provide information on the sustainability of current growth or on the overexploitation of natural capital. This information can help shape better policies to support growth while better managing human and natural capital, ”he said.
On the other hand, he said that the shortcomings of gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of social welfare are now well known. GDP has been presented as an index of the size of a country’s economy – an accounting measure of all the goods and services produced in a country over a period of time, Bagai said.
“Over time, however, it began to be used not only as a measure of market activity, but also as a measure of the general well-being of a country. In doing so, GDP ignores the value of human capital. , the non-market values of natural capital, and the economic value of environmental externalities, such as pollution, ”he said.