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Friday, 24 December 2010 13:50

Climate Change and Environmental the Challenges

Dr. Suresh Kumar

Saifuddin Soz & R.N. Srivastava (ed). April 2010. SAARC Emerging Changes. FPSD. Delhi: 289-306



Industrialization led to colonialism that came to an end with the result of nuclear bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The outcome of cold war period (1948-1990) led to Arms race and the industrialization in the developed countries. As a result, there is increasing stress on the Earth’s ecosystem (60% of the Earth’s ecosystem has been degraded in the past 50 years) and consumption of natural resources is expected to rise to 170% of the Earth’s bio-capacity by 2040. The environment alarm bell has now sounded about this nexus of business houses and promotion of consumerism (through media and print advertisements) and the positive news is that after decades of denial or inaction, many governments have now made low-carbon and inclusive growth a national priority. Here the common man’s question is: why we are talking about it that reveals the secret of destroying the Climate due to last fifty years blind race for endless run.


This race raises the question that what do South Asia meant by environmental sustainability domain. Today, one identifies three major components to define this domain such as economy & technology, ecology & demography and governance & equity (Figure-1). All the components are inter-related and the solution for environment sustainability will come with the active functioning of all.

Brundtland Commission’s defines the term environment sustainable and mentions, “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable-to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”1 This is the time to understand the real meaning of Climate Change because of progressively degrading environments and iniquitous social structures in SAARC seriously felt the threat to mankind’s future. More than 4 billion people, comprising two-thirds of the world's population, live in poor nations and bear the severest brunt of these environmental and societal imbalances. With 17% of the world’s population in SAARC (almost 1.5 billion),2 it has only 4% of the fresh water resources and 1% of global forest resources. Coupled with degradation trigged by economic growth and global warming with scarce natural resources will limit future growth. The change in weather, increasing drought situation, rising of the water levels in the Oceans, less or no snow fall on the mountains, sudden floods due to heavy rains, hot weather (up to 50 degree) in summer and less cold in winter and melting of the glaciers around the SAARC region can be termed as Climate Change. It further threatens flora, fauna, forests and wildlife may lead to over industrial , vehicular air & chemical pollution, deforestation and disappearance of graded land areas. The impact of climate change on rain fed agricultural sector is quite complex, especially the adverse effect on soil, biodiversity and ecological regimes in South Asia.

It is clear that leading businesses of the future will survive only when the core business directly addresses the challenges in SAARC region. It is the time to drive forward with a shared understanding of what is meant by sustainable, responsible consumption from the business perspective. South Asia faces the rising fuel prices, serious issues of hunger and poverty, scarcity of water, arable land and other natural resources questions human consumption and how one may deal with it has never been more crucial. Dr. Jai Gopal Sharma stated that ‘progressively degrading environments and iniquitous social structures seriously threaten the future of mankind. Exacerbating these challenges today is the new danger posed by global warming and climate change. The developing countries bear the most severe brunt of these environmental and societal imbalances. It warns the post 1990 unstoppable competition for survival in the liberal market economy either to stop and think for the future of the coming generations or face the natural destruction of the Mammalian Class and natural environment.’3 Long term competitiveness will require significant efforts to augment scarce natural capital at our disposal. Along with it, industrial houses understanding towards consumer ethical choices should be on priority. Ignoring it shows the shortsightedness that may lead to the annihilation of the industrial houses itself. The companies should attract the consumer behaviour towards more sustainable choices and sharing this information with consumer. This information should act as a trigger for innovation and ultimately set the trend towards sustainable consumption in SAARC region. Ultimately, it offers the shared responsibility of producers and consumers working for quality product. The environmental symbol of the product in terms of production and disposal with respect to its environmental impact will be decisive. The business houses should work more closely with consumers, communicating top performance, the added value of sustainable products and enabling behavioural changes.

The SAARC region Climate Change risk management needs to adopt strategies to have up-to-date information about awareness programmes, support international initiatives in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change, safe business and benefit from the emerging opportunities offered by climate change mitigation and adaptation. South Asia today is confronted with an impending catastrophe related to the phenomenon of global warming and climate change. They would bring in new challenges that would significantly change the context of competitiveness for business and industry. It would be imperative for business to adopt strategies that are aimed at creating a low carbon regime through innovations in technologies, products and services. The industries should adopt decisive strategies to enhance the competitiveness and support the efforts in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change.

The role of proactive business houses around this region should address global challenges related to shortage of resources, water scarcity, climate change and loss of biodiversity.

SAARC region, despite of its progress on many fronts, mirrors these challenges as united developing nation with large number of people living at the margin. Recognizing the threat as reality, Ministry of Environment and Forests in India is working as nodal agency for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of environment and forestry programmes. It is also entrusted with the issues relating to multilateral bodies such as Commission on Sustainable Development, Global Environment Facility and the regional bodies like the Economic and Social Council for the Asia and Pacific and SAARC on matters pertaining to environment.

Today, there is an urgent need to analyze the SAARC drivers of consumption, SAARC consumption patterns & impacts, the role of consumer, the role of business approaches to sustainable consumption that will meet the challenges ahead. The business houses along with consumers, retailers, marketers, policy-makers and NGOs should define sustainable products and lifestyles to formulate actionable responses towards this challenge. Keeping climate change in mind, SAARC region should adopt the sustainable production and consumption policy and learn from those who have already identified and are practicing sustainable value creation for consumers, business and society as a whole.


Issue of Climate Change & SAARC


SAARC is collectively facing climate change as a critical issue and bears the intense impact than any environmental issue. Business growth, community prosperity is indeed a key to a stable economy. It’s now a well known fact that none of us can prosper in an environment that is polluted or atmosphere that is dense with noxious gases. Climate change is indeed making temperature rise and when agriculture, livelihood, forests, water bodies and the health of people, all are getting negatively impacted. Since the problem is global in scale and impact, SAARC society can play the saviour in its region and has to tackle the problem on multiple fronts. SAARC should ensure sustained and constructive integration on climate change so that rapid sustainable development is achievable.

The repercussions of climate change are visible in this region. There are increasing reports of drought, rising sea levels, eroding coastlines, melting glaciers, dry rivers and complete breakdown of ecosystems and human sustenance in the SAARC. The consequences of global warming have led to rapid climate change. These developments are of serious concern for the 16th SAARC submit and open it is apt to this debate from the human perspective, an economic and business point of view on the one hand and exacerbated climate change, rising temperatures, adverse impact on ecosystems and communities on the other hand. These impacts are inextricably linked to the broader concern on environmental degradation, natural resource consumption and sustainability. It’s now a well known fact that the impact of climate change knows no borders and businesses, governments and individuals across countries. The issue of environment sustainability needs to involve big business houses and develop public private partnership (PPP), which will seek to deliver solutions to climate change problems through adaptation and mitigation strategies, recommending policy changes, showcasing innovative research and industrial best practices. The PPP will work more to create awareness in the society and develop an action on climate change issues, create an informed environment amongst various stakeholders on climate change in SAARC and encourage them to work together to tackle climate change by sharing and communication solutions. ‘Understanding that climate change is the most significant social and environmental issue of our times today and indeed one on which countries, communities and individuals need to come together to take concerted action, the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, have teamed up with HSBC India to create the Earth Sciences Forum. HSBC is the first bank to go carbon neutral policy globally, with an active portfolio of climate change projects and both the Ministries of India’s are leading departments on Climate Change policy, research, technology, national agenda and international deliberations. Both partners in this endeavour are uniquely poised to deliver on this initiative that promises to be a vibrant platform for tackling climate change.’4

The PPP under SAARC consensus will organise periodical industry specific learning workshops on climate change across the region to demonstrate profitable low carbon growth strategies. These programmes may focuses on SME/industry concentration in the cities and will target carbon intensive industries. SAARC will suggest member states to adopt a comprehensive policy such as:

· Sustainable use of natural resources, including water and environment conservation, and reduction of direct impact on environment or reduction of carbon footprint.

· Responsible financing of industries that rely heavily on natural resources.

· Investment/financing in green business models: renewables, bio-diesels, techniques in sustainable resource utilization, pollution reduction, etc.

· Research and technology application to ensure reduction in carbon footprint.


SAARC should develop awareness programme on the impact and challenges of the climate change problem and spread in the school children, colleges and universities and society. People’s initiatives or steps to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change should be advertised in the media. All the member states should showcase existing initiatives or future solutions across industries in relation to climate change.


Climate Change & Industrial Sector in SAARC


The industrial sector technology innovations have driven the over-growth that stands as challenge before the climate change in the SAARC region. Peter Senge’s book on Necessary Revolution highlights that a collective awakening to new possibilities that changes every thing over time---is the Renaissance of Industrial Revolution--- what is starting to happen around the world today.’5 There is an urgent need to see a new industrial revolution that will be Clean, Lean and Mean. Clean because of climate consequences, water stress, and economic impacts. Lean, because it will be characterized by a low carbon economy and eco-efficiency, uncertainty around access to energy and resources, high resources prices and government regulations on resource efficiency. Mean, because transformational change and destructive innovations will create winners and losers. Bjorn Stigson of World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) beautifully articulates the challenge for companies. He says that business cannot succeed in societies that fail and has a strong interest in helping build thriving societies which are good places for doing business.6

Business is making investment decisions that will impact the climate issue for next few decades into the future. Companies therefore need clarity on the policy framework within which they do business. An important element for the post-2012 international framework will be the establishment of a quantifiable, long-term (50-year) emissions pathway for the management of global GHG emissions.7 The magnitude of change required demands participation by all stakeholders of society – from government to business to civil society. To succeed, they must work together. The next few years are critical for establishing policies to deal with energy security, competitiveness, mitigation and adaptation to climate impacts, and they will determine our energy infrastructure and emission patterns for many decades. As the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Y vo de Boer said, this will be “probably the most complex international agreement that history has ever seen.”8

Moreover, instead of looking at climate changes as only an environmental problem, where a maximum company can do is to reach zero pollution is not sufficient. It is time to look at how a company also can become part of the solution. Instead of having zero, or carbon neutral, as a target SAARC need companies that have a target that also make them a net contributor of sustainable energy solutions, to become carbon positive. Most work of companies and efforts by consultants has focused on reduction of emissions. While this is important; it is only half the story. A company generally looks at both reducing costs and increasing incomes a company should not only look at how they reduce their negative impact, but also they should focus on how they can increase their positive contribution. To become carbon positive requires a new perspective where companies focus on how their business affects the world around them. In this case, a company moves from a user of energy produced in such a way that generates CO2 becoming a net producer of renewable energy. This could happen if a supplier shifts business model and instead of using electricity to heat the building starts to produce its own electricity using renewable energy. If the company manages to produce a surplus it could be exported back to the grid and generate a carbon positive contribution.

SAARC needs to redefine the value and corporate value in line with its vision of a sustainable and prosperous society on the one hand and decide an optimal balance between self-regulating market mechanisms and legislative initiatives on the other hand. It is important to the SAARC business community to understand and adjust the requirements of future consumers who increasingly demands for ethical choices. Overlooking this trend would be shortsighted and a risk for the industries in SAARC region. Kirsi Sormunen, Vice President & Head of Environmental Activities, Nokia highlights, “Companies can also influence consumer behaviour towards more sustainable choices, both through product development and consumer information. It is our aim that this trend analysis on sustainable consumption will act as a trigger for innovation and ultimately for more sustainable consumption.”9 This development offers great potential as a driver for innovative product in SAARC region not merely in the sense of green products, but it offers consumer related solutions that link product quality to the shared responsibility of producers and consumers. The environmental footprint of the product in terms of production and disposal in SAARC become more important with the proper use of the product with respect to its environmental impact that step will be decisive in the region. The industrial groups of SAARC region should work more closely with consumers, communicating top performance, added value of sustainable products and enabling behavioral changes. World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) shares that the leading businesses of the future will be those whose core businesses directly address global challenges. The investment and the industrial growth in the SAARC region need to define their role in tomorrow’s society. SAARC leadership should work with the industrial sector in driving forward a shared understanding of what is meant by sustainable, responsible consumption from a business perspective and addressing the global challenges related to shortage of resources, water scarcity, climate change and loss of biodiversity.

Dennis Pamlin suggests that indirectly, a company becomes carbon positive when it does something that allows others to directly reduce their emissions. A supplier could, for example, sell pellets that allow a utility to move from coal power to bio-energy. A company could also sell energy efficient appliances and renewable energy equipment, like solar panels. Looking at the positive contributions requires a perspective where the whole value chain is included and then both the emissions and the contribution must be assessed.10 Some companies have also realized the potential in forestry for their carbon positive status. Well thought forestry and carbon credits, generate livelihood opportunities for communities managing those forests, and create carbon sinks for local emissions.

The industrial sector technology innovations have driven the over-growth that stand as challenge in the globe and touches SAARC region. SAARC needs to redefine the value and corporate value in line with its vision of a sustainable and prosperous society on the one hand and decide an optimal balance between self-regulating market mechanisms and legislative initiatives on the other hand. It is important to the SAARC business community to understand and adjust the requirements of future consumers who increasingly demands for ethical choices. Overlooking this trend would be shortsighted and a risk for the industries in SAARC region. Kirsi Sormunen, Vice President & Head of Environmental Activities, Nokia highlights, “Companies can also influence consumer behaviour towards more sustainable choices, both through product development and consumer information. It is our aim that this trend analysis on sustainable consumption will act as a trigger for innovation and ultimately for more sustainable consumption.”11 This development offers great potential as a driver for innovative product in SAARC region not merely in the sense of green products, but it offers consumer related solutions that link product quality to the shared responsibility of producers and consumers. The environmental footprint of the product in terms of production and disposal in SAARC become more important with the proper use of the product with respect to its environmental impact that step will be decisive in the region. The industrial groups of SAARC region should work more closely with consumers, communicating top performance, added value of sustainable products and enabling behavioral changes.

It is the time to unite sustainable production with sustainable consumption that needs an active participation of industrial houses in the SAARC activities. This participation linkage will understand current and future consumption patterns, harnessing innovation to develop more sustainable products, services and behavioral change initiative. SAARC should adopt the following points that will take care of producers, consumers and society at large such as:

1. Human social systems and well being does not necessarily rely on high levels of consumption.

2. More and more Consumers are concerned about environmental, social and economic issues, and increasingly willing to act on those concerns. Consumer willingness often does not translate into sustainable consumer behavior because of variety of factors such as availability, affordability, convenience, product performance, conflicting priorities, skepticism and force of habit.

3. SAARC idea of sustainable lifestyles should be based on informed purchasing decisions and changes in behavior of consumers that should get the support of business, governments and civil society.

4. SAARC should formulate a consensus on the legal, fiscal and cultural environment for sustainable business to flourish and implement on all member states.


Post Copenhagen, BASIC and SAARC on Climate Change

The Bali Action Plan (BAP) 2008 envisages long-term cooperation in terms of enhanced action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Mitigation), and increasing the capacity to meet the consequences of climate change that had already taken place and is likely to continue to take place (Adaptation). These objectives must be supported by sufficient financial resources (Finance) and technology transfers (Technology) from developed to developing countries.12 SAARC is and will continue to be severely impacted by Climate Change precisely at a time when it is confronted with huge development imperatives. SAARC expects that the post Copenhagen will provide the space SAARC require to accelerate social and economic development to eradicate poverty and support SAARC countries endeavours for ecologically sustainable development. SAARC member states will not allow its per capita Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to exceed the average per capita emissions of the developed countries. This effectively puts a cap on our emissions that will be lower if developed countries partners choose to be more ambitious in reducing their own emissions. To overcome this partial opinion, India as leader of SAARC has been invited by the leaders of developing countries under BASIC framework.

The second meeting of ministers of the developing countries of BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group came forward with the joint statement issued on climate change in New Delhi on 24 January 2010 is a sign of genuine sincerity towards environment sustainability and before the UNFCCC and world community. Now, the progress on climate talks will depend on a reassertion of the central principle of common but differentiated responsibilities outlined by the UNFCCC. ‘This joint statement underscores the view of the developing world that the Copenhagen Accord chose to give insufficient importance to this central tenet. Instead, it tried to get the developing countries to accept a regime of iniquitous emissions cuts. The UNFCCC process must now correct this fundamental distortion and set future negotiations firmly on an equitable path. That road map, drawn up earlier in Bali, emphasises the importance of long-term cooperative action while affirming that economic and social development and poverty eradication are global priorities. Clearly, the development imperative needs to be centre-staged again to give the climate conference to be held in Mexico later this year a fair chance to chart the future of the Kyoto Protocol. The Annex I countries under the Kyoto Protocol, who make up the developed bloc, must now take the lead and announce quantified emissions reductions for themselves. In parallel, they must promised funding mechanisms for mitigation and adaptation. Such leadership is vital to get other high-emission countries on board, and create the $100 billion annual fund that is envisaged by 2020 to help the least developed and most vulnerable countries. It is significant that as an expression of their sincerity, the BASIC Four have affirmed their intention to submit voluntary national mitigation actions to the UNFCCC by January 31. The onus now lies on the developed world to do its part. The demand that there should be several rounds of discussions leading to the Mexico conference is wholly justified. These should be inclusive and transparent. The absence of such transparency at Copenhagen resulted in a highly visible crisis of credibility for the entire process. Early action is also needed on another front. The funds from the $10 billion pledged under the Copenhagen Accord for countries most vulnerable to climate change impact must start flowing quickly. There is yet another important and positive outcome to the common strategy adopted by the BASIC countries. It has fostered active South-South cooperation among the developing nations to advance science. Given that intellectual property rights on technology remain a major barrier to achieving higher energy efficiencies, such joint efforts involving India and China hold great promise.’ 13

The developing countries of SAARC, focus on climate change action cannot just be on current emissions. There is the equally important issue of Adaptation to Climate Change that has already taken place and will continue to take place in the foreseeable future even in the most favourable Mitigation scenarios. SAARC is already subject to high degree of climate variability resulting in droughts, floods and other extreme weather events which compels SAARC member states to fix over 2 % of its GDP on Adaptation and may go up accordingly.

It is suggested that SAARC member states should devise a global package that:

1. commits developed countries to significant reductions in their GHG emissions;

2. achieves the widest possible dissemination at affordable costs of existing climate-friendly technologies and practices; and

3. puts in place a collaborative R & D effort among developed and major developing countries, to bring about cost-effective technological innovations and transformational technologies, which can put the world on the road to a carbon-free economy.

India has made written submissions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on:

i. Submission on Long Term Co-operative Action.

ii. Submission on enhancing action on Adaptation.

iii. Financing Architecture for Meeting Financial Commitments under the UNFCCC.

iv. Submission on Technology Transfer Mechanism.

v. Submission on Mitigation Actions of Developing Countries under paragraph 1 (b)(ii) of the BAP.

vi. Submission on Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV)- under Bali Action Plan (BAP) 1 (b)(i).

vii. Submission on Reduced Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD), Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and Affroestation and Reforestation (A&R) under the Bali Action Plan (BAP).

viii. Submission on Nationally Appropriate Actions of Developing countries.

ix. Submission on financing Flows (Why Financial Contributors to the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC cannot be under the Paradigm of Aid).14

India’s action programme on ecologically sustainable development is very different from binding international commitments or legal obligations, which are of a different nature altogether. Further, there is a clear distinction between the national actions taken by India with her own resources and without external support, and those envisaged under the BAP that are to be supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity building. India has an Energy Conservation Act under which it has identified nine energy intensive industries for observance of mandatory energy efficient standards. India’s National Action Plan on Climate (NAPCC) has a national mission on improving energy efficiency. India encourages Indian industrial sector to exchange best practices and improve energy efficiency through better management and adopting technological innovation. ‘India believes that investment in addressing climate change, especially in renewable energy, could create new industries, new jobs and spur technological innovation. Action on Climate Change must become part of the solution to the financial and economic crisis, in its causality. It is in this context, that India has welcomed US presidential Obama’s Plan for a 10-year, US$ 150 billion Renewable Energy Initiative and expressed its readiness to become an active partner.’15

Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Sectors and Firms

The member states should focus on minimizing the likelihood of extreme and catastrophic events and plan on the basis of central estimates to work with firms, technical change, and global funding for sustainable environment that will shape the balanced economic environment. The changed policies in the SAARC region should reach to the market and all businesses need to work under new regulatory exposure, physical exposure and competitive exposure accordingly. The major sectors primarily coming under the new regulatory are utilities, integrated oil and gas, mining and metals, insurance, pharmaceuticals, building and construction, and real estate. The firms that will prosper in a climate-changed SAARC region will tend to be those that are early to recognize its importance and its inexorability, foresee at least some of the implications for their industry, and take appropriate steps well in advance. It is suggested that SAARC may guide these sectors to adopt these framework for good management practice such as:

· ‘Inculcating in management a constructive culture of adaptation to a changing economic landscape;

· Encouraging employees to embrace change, and equipping them to do so;

· Undertaking the requisite R & D, which is often highly industry or even firm-specific; and

· Translating this R&D into appropriate investment in physical and human capital.’ 16


The pace of a firm’s adaptation to climate change and related policy is thus likely to prove to be another force that will influence whether, over the next several years, any given firm survives and prospers, or withers and, quite possibly, dies. Businesses participating from SAARC at Copenhagen directly or via trade associations have been played an essential role and strive to reach beyond national self-interest. ‘The recent global economic crisis provided a powerful example of how turning a blind eye for short-term reward and comfort can wreak chaos far beyond a single sector or government, putting society and future security in turmoil and jeopardy. As the Stern Review concluded in 2006 states, the economic benefits of strong, early action on climate change will outweigh the costs to business and society. Global businesses, committed to delivering long term shareholder value, have everything to gain by influencing a comprehensive, global deal that avoids dangerous climate change. The necessary actions will not be painless for anyone: CEO’s shareholders, employees, investors or customers as the consequences to the financial sector have not been painless but the essential changes are critical for humankind to achieve more than survival, and for meaningful life to flourish. Arguably, no one can ethically prosper in a world shaped by unabated global warming.’ 17

At Copenhagen, business leaders of our region need to shape an ambitious new global deal under BASIC framework. In doing so, they will help set our region on a path to avoiding the most dangerous consequences of global warming and create conditions conducive to economic prosperity alongside healthy societies and thriving ecosystems.

The demand for natural resources will grow and exert strain on the environment. Our region as an emerging market is inviting international companies that are predominantly using natural resources for robust economic growth. Automatically, the oil demand is projected to grow by 50% in the next two decades and without large new discoveries or radical innovations supply is unlikely to keep up. Our region is witnessing similar surges in demand across a broad range of commodities. ‘All economic activities either affect or are affected by the natural environment. Thus development based on reckless use of the natural resources is bound to result in reduced productivity of SAARC economic system affecting the quality of life of the future inhabitants of this planet. Sustainable development therefore attempts to strike a balance between the demands of economic development and the need for protection of our natural resource base. It is basically concerned with economic development in an environmentally responsible manner, keeping in mind the needs of the future generations.’ 18

The irresponsible and selfish use of these resources would cause their exhaustion and degradation that will reduce productivity and impede economic growth. The degradation of natural resources is not only affects the present generation but also have repercussions on our future generations. SAARC should formulate a development policy that needs a balance to maintain the requirements of the present and the needs of the future generations. It is the time that all corporate involve actively and show greater solution. The imbalances in its biodiversity in our region and the alarming depletion of its natural resources have no other alternative but to get ready with the environment sustainability of our region. SAARC should focus on the major areas to sustain environment sustainability that touches the common man future needs.


1. Agriculture Sector, Watershed Resources and development of Livestock in SAARC

The natural resources of our region are increasingly constrained. Water shortage will be the key constraint to growth in the member states. Our intention should balance the use of natural resources and degradation of environment that require dramatic shifts in human behaviour to keep it from being depleted further. By doing the innovation in technology, regulation and the cautious use of water resources will be central to creating SAARC that can both drive robust economic growth and sustain environmental demands. India as one of the important member state faces a turbulent water future. With over 16% of the global population having access to less than 4% of global fresh water resources, water scarcity in India is likely to worsen over the years. Efficient water management will therefore be one of the key imperatives for sustainable growth. SAARC as agrarian continent recognizes the vital role that water plays in the rural economy. It should promote watershed projects in water-stressed areas, providing precious water resources for agriculture, rural communities and livestock. SAARC should adopt a participatory approach that will facilitate new methodology of harvesting structures as well as management of water resources to reverse land degradation, provide critical irrigation and increase agricultural productivity. ‘ITC in India shared its experience and the work under this initiative has spread from 5 projects in two states, to 26 projects in 7 states. In addition to water user charges as a source of revenue, efforts were also made to link the Water User Groups to market-based activities with a view to enhance earnings. These included activities like agri-input sales, procurement of spices and raw material for organic fertilizers.’ 19

Along with it, the cost-effective pulpwood may be strengthened under social and farm forestry programme. Pulp wood obtained from sustainable sources may enhance its competitiveness in the SAARC region. Instead of taking the easier route of importing pulp, SAARC should innovate in the pulpwood requirements to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities by involving poor tribals and small farmers supporting them to convert their private wastelands into productive pulpwood plantations. SAARC should ensure the idea of commercial viability of these plantations by providing high-yielding, disease-resistant and site-specific clones. It may develop the sustainable source of livelihood for a large number of disadvantages sections of society and may bring large quantity of remuneration by initiating in this project, which will contribute radically to groundwater recharge, soil conservation and carbon sequestration.

The integrated agriculture development promotes a combination of solutions for optimizing water management and enhancing farm productivity. The agrarian community should motivate to develop centres of agro-industries that will improve productivity and quality. The agriculture extension service should initiate to enhance land productivity by introducing natural manure and efficient management of water through group wells and sprinkler systems. There is a need to promote crop diversification (such as chili, cumin, mustard, turmeric and coriander) and its availability of local market in SAAR region.

The livestock development programme such as pre and postnatal interventions, vaccination and proper health service will provide integrated animal services. It will assist small and landless farmers to upgrade the quality through cross-breeding. It will generate more livestock production for the market and by artificial insemination to boost milk productivity to cater the surrounding areas. It will lead to a threshold increase in household incomes and thereby an improvement in their economic status.

2. Development of Waste Management

There is a need of environmentally sustainable operations such as Carbon and Water positive, solid waste recycling positive that demand standards of responsible waste management in the SAARC region. With pervasive use of electrical and electronic equipments in our daily operations, disposal of obsolete equipments is increasingly posing a threat to our environment. There is therefore a need to handle such disposal that refers to e-waste management in a responsible manner with best practices and standards. SAARC may adopt information technology (IT) for the deal with ICT e-waste policy. It may lead to preferential dealing with IT vendors having sound e-waste management processes, extending the useful life of IT assets to postpone/minimize generation of e-Waste and responsible disposal processes conforming to regulatory requirements and best practices.

Figure-2 explains the emerging role of NGO’s such as the WWF, IUCN and local NGOs to play their important role in learning-dispersing informations in the society and collaborate with business partners to address adequately and prevent environmental degradation. The environment sustainability is largely motivated by the conviction that there is a strong business case for conserving biodiversity. All the agro-industry, industrial and R&D sector should work with the government and coordinate with SAARC monitoring team that will strengthen their demand to get global funding to work for environment sustainability.


Suggestions before SAARC and Conclusion

The major challenge before SAARC is to sustain biodiversity by recognizing the biodiversity-related risk and the value of ecosystem services. Our region’s industrial track record in managing biodiversity should access through retention of land and other natural resources, capital, markets and skilled staff. The responsible management of biodiversity concerns can result in benefiting directly to meet consumer demand for environmentally sustainable products. This applies not only to companies that depend on primary production, such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, oil and gas development, and mining, but to others too in our region. Most businesses use natural resources, such as paper, food products and clean water, in their operations. These resources are a function of a stable environment, maintained by complex interactions between diverse ranges of species. ‘Agenda 21 in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) framed in the Earth Summit, aims to bring about sustainable development in the 21st century – that is, development which respects the environment while meeting presents and future social and economic aims. India was among 160 countries to sign the CBD. Both the CBD and Agenda 21 call for the private sector’s active engagement.’20 SAARC should promote firstly, the leading businesses seeking to incorporate biodiversity concerns into their investment decisions, notably into the design and implementation of their business practices and supply chain management systems. It is impossible for anyone to replicate the actual ecosystem but businesses need to maintain characteristic biodiversity so that the right conditions can be created through the complex interactions in sustainable way.

Secondly, SAARC should promote the scope of the biodiversity business case extending beyond the marketing departments of companies promoting the environment as a means of improving the images of corporate brands. The areas of opportunities in our region relates to tourism benefits of species conservation and landscape beauty, the pharmaceutical value of genetic diversity, the insurance provided by resilient ecosystems in the face of natural disasters such as floods (e.g., mangroves act as natural barriers against storm damage) and the enhanced productivity of agricultural soils that are rich in biodiversity.

The industries of our region can engage with biodiversity issues and make a contribution to the objectives of the CBD ranging from raising employee awareness of biodiversity issues and managing environment impacts responsibly enhancing the conservation value of habitats on landholdings, helping to fund conservation initiatives and adhering to principles of sustainable use of biodiversity.

Third, there is need to for uniform biodiversity policy for leading companies in our region that will strengthen the approach towards biodiversity issues. All the industrial houses of our region need high-quality corporate policy on board level and implement biodiversity action plans connecting with the environmental management system. ‘India has developed a number of policies and laws to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and protect the environment. The challenge now is to assess and plug the gaps in these policies and laws, and in their implementation, so that economic development processes are reoriented to protect the natural resource base and associated livelihoods. BP have established a biodiversity unit at group level which is developing toolkits for the worldwide operations as part of Health, Safety & Environment Management System. Rio Tinto identified biodiversity as a strategic issue for the company in the mid-1990s. Since then they have been working towards the development of a corporate biodiversity strategy, and a Steering Group has been set up to continue the development of this strategy. Rio Tinto has played a leading role in the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development project being carried out by the International Institute of Environment and Development. Unilever has identified three key sustainable development areas of fish, water and agriculture. These form the company’s biodiversity policy and strategy. The company has been working on this since the mid-1990s with other stakeholders. ’ 21 A real solution to the biodiversity challenge as a SAARC issue must include contributions by all stakeholders, from government agencies to businesses (Figure-2).

Fourth, all the member states need to work (as mentioned in Figure-2) with the mutual coordination with the industrial houses. To fight against natural challenges, SAARC should initiate an effective corporate team having strong footings on environmental management systems on the one hand and should focus on the proper governance practices on the other hand. All shareholders and financial analysts will increasingly assign value to companies that prepare for and capitalize on business opportunities posed by these challenges whether from Green House Gas regulations, direct physical impacts or changes in corporate reputation.


To sum up, while climate crisis covers most of the headlines today, the simple fact that the wealth of the 200 richest people in the world exceeds the combined annual income of the world’s 2.5 billion poorest people should give anyone a pause, as should the knowledge that almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $ 2 per day while the average American earns $ 130 per day. The belief that economic growth alone will solve the problems of poverty is simply not borne out by the facts. The drive to satisfy legitimate ambitions for material progress is forcing all member states of SAARC towards unprecedented rates of fossil fuel consumption that leads to social and environmental crises. The current economic crisis demands and deserves immense effort and attention of our region to deal with the same sustainability challenges. The climate change in our region poses a well-rehearsed complexity of challenges and opportunities, from the tangible physical constraints of changing and extreme weather patterns and sea levels, to the reputation and legal context of which boards and brands are held accountable and liable for climate disasters, or rewarded for their foresight and insight in the innovation of new market solutions. The developed world should come forward and work with one of the most populous region of the world like SAARC and share the budget, R& D and transfer of technology.


1. WBCSD Global Scenario 2000-2050. 2009. Exploring Sustainable Development. World Business Council for Sustainable Development: 4.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asian_Association_for_Regional_Cooperation: Accessed on 24 January 2010.

3. Interview to Dr. Jai Gopal Sharma, Scientist in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, India, on Climate and Sustainable Development: 11.12.2009.

4. Ministry of Earth Sciences. 2009. Solutions for Climate Change: 2.

5. CII. 2009. 4th Sustainability Summit Asia. CII-ITC. New Delhi: 9.

6. Ibid: 14.

7. Ibid: 12.

8. Ibid.

9. WBCSD. op.cit: 5.

10. Dennis Pamlin. 2008. Winners in a low carbon economy. Sustainability Tomorrow. October-December.

11. Public Diplomacy Division. 27 February 2009. The Road to Copenhagen. Ministry of External Affairs. : 2.

12. Ibid.

13. The Hindu. 26 January 2010. English Newspaper, Delhi: emphasis mine.

14. Public Diplomacy Division. Opcit.: 7-8.

15. Ibid: 12.

16. CII. Opcit.:14.

17. Ibid: 15 (emphasis mine).

18. Ibid: emphasis mine.

19. Ibid: 74.

20. Ibid: 17: emphasis mine.

21. Ibid: 18-19: emphasis mine.


Last Updated on Friday, 24 December 2010 14:07