Environmental sustainability, which involves both intra-generational and inter-generational equity, has been the approach of Indians for very long.
It is possible for people to live in harmony with nature by harnessing its potential for the benefit of mankind without undue exploitation leading to irretrievable damage and consequences that block the progress of others
Indians believe in nature friendly lifestyle and practices rather than its exploitation.
India’s contribution takes into account its commitment to conservation of nature
India believes that development and environment are not adversaries but can go hand in hand, if environmental sensibilities can be imbibed.
India’s environment policy is anchored in the Constitution of India, Article 48-A of the Constitution states that “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.
National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) of India aims at encouraging and expanding tree plantation in complementarity and integrated manner with crops and livestock. It will help protect and stabilize ecosystems, and promote resilient cropping and farming systems to minimize the risk during extreme climatic events. It will also complement achieving the target of increasing forest/ tree cover.
The Government notified the Island Protection Zone (IPZ) in 2011 with the objective of ensuring livelihood security to the local communities, conserving and protecting coastal stretches, and promoting development in a sustainable manner. The IPZ focuses on disaster risk reduction through bioshields with local vegetation (mangroves) and other soft protection measures, and the conservation of beaches and sand dunes.
The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) addresses important issues concerning Himalayan Glaciers and the associated hydrological consequences, biodiversity and wildlife conservation and protection, traditional knowledge societies and their livelihood and planning for sustaining of the Himalayan Ecosystem.
Government has also launched National Mission on Himalayan Studies to complement NMSHE with the objective of building a body of scientific and traditional knowledge along with demonstrating replicable solutions to the problems in thematic areas including natural resource management, capacity building, long-term ecological monitoring etc.
India is also implementing programmes for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). The vision of the project is to build national capacity for implementation of comprehensive coastal management through ecological management, conservation and protection of critical habitats, coastal geomorphology and geology of coastal and marine areas, coastal engineering, socio-economic aspects, policy and legal issues and other related fields in the area of coastal governance.
Another initiative to protect coastal livelihood is ‘Mangroves for the Future (MFF)’ coordinated by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in India.
India, a mega diverse country with only 2.4% of the world’s land areas, harbours 7-8% of all recorded species, and 4 out of 34 global biodiversity hotspots. In order to protect the biodiversity from changing climate, India has developed a biogeographic classification for conservation planning, and has mapped biodiversity rich areas in the country. The protected area network has increased from 427 (3.34% of total geographical area) in 1988 to 690 (5.07% of total geographical area) in 2014.
[…] in an integrated approach to landscape restoration, where forest areas will be rehabilitated and conserved… In this framework, the current tree cover – 27% of the territory – will be conserved – maintaining natural areas, including mangroves, and existing forest plantations. In addition, forest carbon stocks will be improved, increasing coverage in 25% of the territory, with reforestation activities in critical areas such as gallery forests, water recharge areas, and landslide areas.
Government of India has also set up the National River Conservation Directorate for conservation of rivers, lakes and wetlands in the country and improving the water quality which covers stretches of 40 rivers in 190 towns spread over 20 States.