Chapter : 7
What Are Environment And Natural Resources ?
Environmental Concerns In Global Politics
- There have been many environmental issues that are concerns of the global politics.
- There is a decline in the availability of cultivable land and a substantial portion of existing agricultural land is losing fertility.
- Around 1.2 billion people in developing countries have no access to safe water and 2.6 billion have no access to sanitation according to the Human Development Report, 2006.
- The loss of biodiversity continues due to destruction of habitat in areas which are rich in species. The act of deforestation takes place for personal gains, removing the natural inhabitants.
- Another danger to ecosystems and human health is a steady decline in the total amount of ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere. Even the coastal waters are becoming increasingly polluted due to land-based activities.
- The environmental consequences of economic growth acquired an increasingly political character from the 1960s onwards.
- International agencies like the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), started holding international conferences to deal with environmental issues.
- Earth Summit or Rio Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992 which produced conventions dealing with climate change, biodiversity, forestry and recommended a list of development practices called ‘Agenda 21’.
The Protection Of Global Commons
- ‘Commons’ are the resources shared by the community as a whole not individually.
- In the world, there are some areas which are located outside the sovereign jurisdiction of any one state and hence require common governance by the international community. This is known as global commons. They include the Earth’s atmosphere, Antarctica, the ocean floor, and outer space.
- A number of agreements were signed which includes the Antarctic Treaty (1959), the Montreal Protocol (1987) and the Antarctic Environmental Protocol (1991).
- The history of outer space as a global commons shows that the management of these areas is thoroughly influenced by North-South inequalities.
Common But Differentiated Responsibilities
- There are differences between the countries of the North and the South over environment issues.
- The Northern countries want everyone to be equaliy responsible for ecological conservation.
- The developing countries of the South believe that the ecological degradation is the product of industrial development undertaken by the developed countries.
- In the Rio Summit 1992, it was accepted that special needs of the developing countries must be taken into account in the development and interpretation of rules of international environmental law.
- The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also provides that the parties should act on the basis of equity.
- It was accepted that a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions has originated in developed countries and per capita emissions in developing countries are relatively low.
- Developing countries like India and China were exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.
- The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement setting targets for industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Commons Property Resources
- It represents common property for the group but with a rule that members of the group have both rights and duties with respect to the nature, levels of use of a given resource.
- But issues like privatisation, agricultural intensification, population growth and ecosystem degradation have caused common property to dwindle in size, quality and availablity to the poor in much of the world.
India’s Stand On Envir Onmental Issues
- India has signed and ratified Kyoto Protocol (1997) in August 2002. Developing countries like India and China were exempt from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.
- At the G-8 meeting in June 2005, India pointed out that the per capita emission rates of the developing countries are a tiny fraction of those in the developed world.
- The Indian Government is already participating in global efforts through a number of programmes like Energy Conservation Act (2011), Electricity Act of 2003 and so on.
- In 1997, a review of the implementation of the agreements at the Earth Summit in Rio was undertaken by India.
- India suggested that the developing countries must get financial resources and clean technologies from the developed countries in order to meet UNFCCC commitments.
- Some of the most significant responses to the challenge of environmental degradation has come from groups of environmentally conscious volunteers working in different parts of the world.
- The forest movements of the South, in Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Continental Africa and India are faced with enormous pressures regarding forest clearing.
- Another example is of the group which is working against mineral extraction company as it leads to displacement of communities etc.
- Another group of movements are those involved in struggles against mega-dams. In India, Narmada Bachao Andolan is one of the best known of these movements.
- Resource geopolitics means who gets what, when, where and how.
- Throughout the Cold War the industrialised countries of the North adopted a number of methods to ensure a steady flow of resources.
- Oil continues to be the most important resource in global strategy. The immense wealth associated with oil generates political struggles to control it.
- West Asia, specifically the Gulf region, accounts for about 30 per cent of global oil production.
- Another important resource relevant to global politics is water. Regional variations and scarcity of freshwater in some parts of the world are a leading source of conflicts in the 21st century.
- A number of studies show that countries that share rivers and many countries do share rivers are involved in military conflicts with each other.
The Indigenous People And Their Rights
- As per the United Nations, indigenous population comprises the descendants of peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country at the time when persons of a different culture arrived there from other parts of the world.
- Indigenous people raise their voices in world politics to treat them equally with other communities.
- The areas occupied by indigenous people include Central and South America, Africa, India and South-East Asia.
- Indigenous people appeal to governments to come to terms with the continuing existence of indigenous nations as enduring communities with an identity of their own.
- In India, the term ‘indigenous people’ is applied to the Scheduled Tribes who constitute nearly 8 per cent of the population of the country.
- Issues related to the rights of the indigenous communities have been neglected in domestic and international politics for very long. The World Council of Indigenous Peoples was formed in 1975 which became the first of 11 indigenous NGOs to receive consultative status in the UN.