Securing Our Forest, Land, and Soil Resources
Need for Innovation and Coherence in Managing These Key National Assets
[UKPRwire, Wed Nov 16 2016] Human activities consume resources and produce waste. As human populations and economies grow, so does the consumption of natural resources and the production of waste. This in turn increases pollution and depletes the resource base and diminishes nature's absorptive and regenerative capacity.
Humanity now needs the bio-capacity of 1.7 Earths to obtain the resources used by the global economy, up from about 0.5 Earths in the 1950s. And India needs some 1.5 India’s to sustain itself, up from the 0.3 or 0.4 India’s it needed at independence. The generous wealth endowed to us by Mother Nature, like a spendthrift’s bank balance, is rapidly disappearing, as the gap between withdrawals and deposits keeps growing.
This situation is not widely understood but is clearly not sustainable; over the coming decades it has to change radically. All nations now need urgently to bring their ecological footprint into balance with their bio-capacity.
Per capita, India’s ecological footprint1 is relatively modest in comparison with affluent countries which often exceed footprints of 10. However, because of the size of its population, India as a nation has the third largest ecological footprint in the world. Only the US and Chinese arebigger.
While the country’s rich few consume large quantities of resources, comparable to their peers in highly industrialised economies, the large majority of Indians are too poor to access even the minimum amounts needed for a decent, healthy life. Yet, we have little room for manoeuvre.
Worse, as the footprint grows and the bio-capacity continues to shrink, the runaway narrowing of options inexorably reduces the space for making rational, optimal decisions for a better future, whether in the social, economic or political domains.
Dr Ashok Khosla Trustee, Club of Rome – India, Co-Chair, International Resources Panel and Chairman, Development Alternatives, says, “Other than water, perhaps no resource created by nature has a more fundamental role in maintaining living systems than soil. All over the world, and particularly in countries with fragile ecosystems such as India, there can be few priorities higher than conserving the health of their soils. Today, the threats to the quality and productivity of our soils come not just from natural causes such as wind or stream erosion, but even more from encroachment by cities, roads, and extractive industries – and, equally, by the demands for soils by the manufacturers of building materials such as bricks and concrete. It takes centuries, even millennia, to build an inch of soil; just a few years to blow it away.”
With an aim of bringing together top national and international experts to consider some of the fundamental pre-requisites for achieving the goals of both the concerns such as above in India, Club of Rome India is organizing an Annual conference under the theme of “Forests and Ecosystems Security” on 22nd and 23rd November 2016 at India International Center, New Delhi. The Annual Conference expects to witness active participations from policy makers, professionals, researchers and civil societies to engage in consultations for collaborating to address the issues revolving around Forests and Ecosystems security in India.
The conference will look deeply into existing or proposed policies that have counter-intuitive or counterproductive implications for securing the forests, land, water and soils. And it will highlight this needed coherence among these policies, and help formulation of converging strategies for revising or strengthening them.
Our forests, land, and soils are the essential supports for the health of our life-sustaining food and water resources (the security of which was discussed, respectively, in the Club of Rome – India’s Annual Conferences in 2014 and 2015). The conclusions from both discussions clearly homed in on three instrumentalities in which India needs great and immediate improvement: Innovation, particularly in institutions and technology; Investment, particularly in people and nature; and Coherence, particularly in the making of policies and economic structures.
So the challenge before our meeting is to identify the Innovations, Investments and Convergences that India now has to bring about to create a development pathway that provides all its citizens, rich and poor, with an adequate quality of life without relentlessly destroying its resource base and its future.
Overall, the Big Questions before the Conference, for consideration by each thematic Plenary, therefore are:
1. What are current trends in the state (both quantitative and qualitative) of India’s forests, land and soils?
2. Where these trends are negative, what are the changes in institutions and technology choices that can reverse them?
3. Where would investment in innovation and research; communication and awareness; and community institutions have the greatest pay-offs?
4. How does public and private investment need to be redirected for managing these resources sustainably for now AND the future?
5. What structural changes are needed in governance to ensure that policies in different sectors and domains that affect forests and land are coherent, convergent and mutually reinforcing?
6. What are the knowledge gaps or other barriers that prevent rational policy formulation for these resources?
While Club of Rome Conferences are designed to encourage “out of the box” thinking and sharing of unorthodox ideas, they are structured to facilitate the formulation of concrete and practical lines of action that can be conveyed to appropriate decision-makers with the intellectual weight and experiential strength of a credible body of practitioners and thinkers.
The 2016 Annual Conference of the Indian National Association for the Club of Rome is designed to address the above questions and formulate recommendations to those whose work could benefit from them.
About Club of Rome
The Club of Rome Founded in 1968 at Rome, Italy, the organization is a gathering of eminent thought leaders including current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders from around the globe. The Club’s mission is "to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity and the communication of such problems to the most important public and private decision makers as well as to the general public”.
Since its inception, many new Think Tanks and Thought Leaders have come into existence. Yet, the standing of the Club or Rome remains unique. The Club of Rome still stands alone among all the other wonderful initiatives around the world to tackle the crises facing us because of its commitment to dealing with emerging issues the importance of which others have not yet fully recognized, putting them in a new frame of thinking and looking at them from a perspective of fairness, resource impact and overall sustainability.