Rising population is the greatest threat to the sustainable development in India, a policy maker has told a recent summit.
Rural areas in particular must receive better formal education on environmental issues to improve the quality of stewardship.
SP Singh, a planning advisor to the state of Uttarakhand said that the failure to manage population in the Gangetic plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand could lead to the disruption of natural resource management in Himalayan region.
Singh called for improvements in society’s understanding of the economic and environmental impact of ecosystem services.
He also said a system of accountability was required to prevent the indiscriminate use of natural resources.
At an international level, Indian politicians are calling for the right to use their resources to pursue development, without externally imposed constraints from the UN.
The Environmental concerns and sustainable development conference, organised by the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development (IESD), Banaras Hindu University, also heard a plea for local knowledge to come to the fore.
“Wisdom emerging from the local community is a better method for sustainable development,” said Professor PS Ramakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru University, who pointed to political conflict as the main driver of environmental degradation.
India is currently facing the “perfect storm” scenario of escalating climate impacts, rapidly growing population and increasing development all putting pressure on food security and ecosystem health.
Instilling sustainability concepts for developing nations, such as efficient cook stoves and clean lighting can have benefits for human health and the environment.
The Sundarbans habitat, which spans Indian and Bangladeshi territory is currently under is facing immense environmental pressures and could soon be home to a new coal power station.