Doctor/ PhD member, Institut de diplomatie publique
Ph.D. (Remote Sensing & Environment) University of Leicester,
United Kingdom, 2016
Environmental sustainability is the responsibility to conserve natural resources and protect global ecosystems to support health and wellbeing, now and in the future. Sustainable development is known to all people across the globe, but who are implementing in their policy to conserve natural resources. Still, people are using natural resources at a very fast rate if it is wood industries, paper industries, power generation plants or any other related ones. While sustainability is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. However, it refers to four distinct areas: human, social, economic and environmental which are known as the four pillars of sustainability. One has to use wisely the natural resources to meet the needs and requirements, as well as to conserve them for future generations, which is not met by all across the globe. This is in thoughts only, why people are not implementing. If sustainability is ignored while keeping the pace of economic growth and concentrating only on GDPs, means that at one stage of economic development, the environment will begin to degrade, but after a turning point or a point will come where it will not be possible to return to its original position or restore the environment. This is what is concluded by a recent report of IPCC, discussed later in this report.
Nowadays, pollution level and CO2 level is increased in the atmosphere up to such level that plantation of trees on each inch of the earth will not reverse back the CO2 level. SO what will be the target of agencies and government to monitor and deal with the situation? This is an alarm for our future scenario about the level of CO2 or other environmental global problems, to look into its mitigation and reduction of pollutants, and replace natural resources with renewable sources of energy. A recent report of IPCC (2021) presented the widespread and intensifying nature of climate change across the globe. It requires the urgency of strong and sustained cuts in the greenhouse gas emissions, CO2, CH4 and resulting in increased atmospheric temperature and the subsequent impact on the biosphere so that humans could cope up with the changing climatic conditions. Climate systems are dynamic and it is changing due to natural and anthropogenic activities, and thus resulting in increased GHGs concentrations, increased atmospheric-lithospheric temperatures, rise in sea level rise, melting ice and glacier retreat and extreme weather event may be extreme rainfall resulting in floods or extreme dry condition like droughts. It is also kept in mind that these problems highlight impacts on socio-economic development, migration and displacement, food security and also affecting our lithospheric and hydrosphere.
Policymakers, managers and governmental agencies have to deal with the natural resources, enacting laws to promote the use of renewable resources, use sustainable economic growth while keeping the stronger economic growths without any halts or suffering jobs by individuals. After all these actions are taken to tackle the effects of climate change, mitigation and reduction in GHGs emissions, replacement with other sources, implement policy with sustainable use and provide subsidy to individuals for purchasing the equipment’s or tools to implements at the local level. Policymakers have to keep in mind that these changes or implementation does not harm people's health, livelihoods and lives.
Environmental sustainability is concerned with issues such as Long-term health of ecosystems, Intergenerational decision making, renewable resources use, prevention of anthropogenic activities for global warming, biodiversity conservation, assessing the intrinsic values and intrinsic rights of the natural resources. These are concerned to meet the needs and requirements of the future generation along with protecting the long term productivity and health of natural resources, with bio-economy at the centre.
Bio-economy will be dealt with by policymakers taking into account – Bio-ecology, Bio-resource, and Biotechnology. This two bio-ecology and bio-resources could be monitored using remote sensing technology at local, regional and global levels. Remote sensing could provide a solution to assess the intrinsic values/ rights of for example rainforests, tropical forests, monitor forest cover changes, and their structure while measuring the rich biodiversity at those particular ecosystems. These sensitive forest ecosystems should be protected and conserved because they deserve to be protected rather than using a cost-benefit analysis of whether we gain financially from protecting rainforests.
Remote sensing has the potential to detect target plants species, to map their spatial distribution at that regions, thus providing the digital data to policymakers to take urgent actions as per need and requirement. Even, use of drone acquired images will be incorporated in agricultural practices to increase crop yields and also minimize inputs wastage – spraying fertilizers, or chemicals as one has assessed the plant status, soil conditions and estimated its requirements thus implementing inputs to fulfil those requirements. Researchers are employing remote sensing technology to monitor the natural resources and to provide the digital output to policymakers so that they can plan their proper management. These techniques are employed worldwide across all research domains for monitoring and management of natural resources. Right from local to regional and up to global level, policy managers are implementing the output generated from remotely sensed images.
Therefore, in a short discussion, it is asserted that remote sensing could be implemented by policymakers and agencies to monitor the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and take measures to avoid that damages, and minimize further damages in future as well. Once the local regional and global level assessment was performed using remotely sensed datasets based on space-borne, airborne or drones, one can implement it to fulfil the basic and take measures now to avoid further damages. Based on the remotely sensed digital outputs, policymakers could implement to ensure the environment does not deteriorate to a point where future generations face water shortages, extreme weather events, excess temperature. – All factors that could make living in parts of the world very difficult if not possible. Thereby, long term productivity and healthy resources are protected for sustainable development goals to meet zero hunger, food security, climate mitigations, clean technology and productivity.
Environmental Sustainability could be achieved by a shift to a renewable source of energy, intergenerational decisions, protecting ecosystems health, mitigation and reduction of atmospheric pollutants, and targeting the welfare of citizens/ individuals, not the GDP. If these interconnected factors are considered by policymakers in the act, laws or policy, it could help to have a long term healthy ecosystem to meet future needs and social needs such as food supplies, food security, looking at long term intergenerational goals, not the short terms goals- cost-benefit or carbon pay polluters pay which will be an extra burden to our future generation because of the tremendous increase in CO2 during that time, which will impose much burden of costs on them to mitigate or bear the medical expenses. The carbon tax is one of them is to make users face the full social cost. Policy related to the promotion of environmental sustainability will be focusing on the above discussion along with government regulation, subsidizing or encouraging more sustainable practices, cost-benefit analysis, shifting people behaviours and encouraging the use of behavioural economics. Changes will be seen once the policy is implemented and the utility of decisions accepted by individuals on the belief that the environment was there to be utilized for mankind’s benefit.
Dr. Prem Chandra Pandey
Doctor/ PhD member,
INSTITUT DE DIPLOMATIE PUBLIQUE
Approved by UNESCO IPL PUBLIC DIPLOMACY E-TEAM | Environmental diplomacy | INDIA