Fundamentals of PUBLIC POLICY is An Online Spring School Program, A Four-Week Immersive Online Introductory Certificate Training Course conducted in March 2023. The session was opened by Prof Mukul Asher Former Professor Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; Visiting Distinguished Professor, IMPRI. For the day7, he introduced the two major issues that are of High degree significance for India and one of which is the environment and Public policy. India needs to make progress in the environment Arena for its own National goals. Another issue, which is very domestic, that enough attention is not paid to India’s Urban-rural bodies and their governance.
The first Speaker, Mr Manoj Misra, Former Indian Forest Service; Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, started with the basic definition of Public Policy by State Government or an International agency, like, United Nations or other such intergovernmental forums. The very purpose of these statements or documents is to either restrict or to regulate and to facilitate the appropriate public behaviour toward their own declared social and economic growth and these statements or documents, emerge they could be either part of the respective constitutions or they could be drafts or declarations made by the state or they could be in the form of either specific laws legislations which are made.
Many times, as it has happened in India it is the judicial action judgments or the courts that have also defined or led the making of public policy. There are different government schemes and action plans both physical and fiscal and non-fiscal which also form part of the public policy this is a very general overview of what we understand what public policy is all about.
Environment and Public Policy
Focal point, which could be natural & manmade; Dynamic or Static; Living or Non-Living, also can be at different scales (from global, regional, local to immediate). Environment should be defined specifically and legalistically as per the Environment Protection Act, 1986 of India.
“Environment” includes water, air and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human beings, other living creatures, plants, micro-organism and property.
History of Environmental Consciousness
The development of environmental consciousness emerged after World War II, with significant advancements in science and technology. Key players in this movement included the United Nations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Key Environmental Conventions and Agreements
The session outlined the major international environmental conventions and agreements, including the Ramsar Convention, the 1972 UN Conference on Human Environment, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These agreements shaped global environmental policy.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The introduction of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, followed by the SDGs in 2012, highlighted the importance of addressing environmental concerns alongside poverty reduction and development efforts.
Decade of Ecosystem Restoration
The current decade (2021-2030) has been designated as the “Decade of Ecosystem Restoration” to address the urgent need for restoring imperiled ecosystems due to human activities.
The session mentioned the ongoing UN Water Conference in 2023, which aims to address water scarcity concerns caused by climate change, pollution, and unsustainable consumption and production patterns.
The speaker highlighted three often-neglected pollutants: excessive artificial light, noise pollution, and radiation (e.g., 5G technology), which can have adverse effects on the environment and human health.
COVID-19 as an Environmental Challenge
The COVID-19 pandemic was discussed as an environmental challenge with significant impacts on human health. The session emphasized the need to address such challenges more effectively.
Indian Environmental Policies
India has been proactive in creating environmental policies and laws since the 1950s. Key policies and legislation include the Forest Policy, Wildlife Protection Act, Water Prevention and Pollution Act, and the introduction of environmental articles in the Indian Constitution.
National Environment Policy (NEP) 2006
The NEP 2006 defines environment broadly and recognizes that environmental concerns are related to human health. It calls for integrating environmental values into economic development, cost-benefit analysis, and good governance.
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)
The NEP 2006 emphasizes the importance of environmental impact assessments for development projects and encourages standardized environmental accounting practices.
Despite progressive policies, challenges in implementing environmental policies persist, as evidenced by the deteriorating state of the Yamuna River.
Yamuna River Case Study
The Yamuna River in Delhi has faced severe pollution and encroachment issues. The session highlighted the failure of environmental policies in protecting this vital water resource.
Land Grab in Disguise
Riverfront development projects can often lead to land grabs and further degradation of rivers and floodplains.
The session concluded by emphasizing that environmental policies must consider global implications, and revision of national environmental policies is essential. It also highlighted the role of NGOs and the importance of addressing climate change as a symptom of broader environmental policy failure.
- Consider revising and updating the National Environmental Policy in line with changing environmental challenges.
- Recognize the interconnectedness of environmental policies with sustainable development goals and global implications.
- Encourage the role of NGOs in environmental policy advocacy and implementation.
- Address climate change as a symptom of broader environmental policy failure and work towards effective solutions.
The session underscored significant international environmental conventions and agreements, such as the Ramsar Convention, the 1972 UN Conference on Human Environment, CITES, and the IPCC, which have shaped global environmental policy. The importance of aligning environmental concerns with poverty reduction and development efforts was highlighted through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In conclusion, the session stressed the need to revise and update national environmental policies to align with evolving environmental challenges. It emphasized recognizing the interconnectedness of environmental policies with sustainable development goals and global implications. Additionally, the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in environmental policy advocacy and implementation was highlighted. Addressing climate change as a symptom of broader environmental policy failure was identified as a crucial step toward effective solutions for the benefit of India and the global community.
Acknowledgement: Mansi Garg is a research intern at IMPRI.
Youtube Video of Fundamentals in Public Policy Programme: https://youtu.be/vmzTpBU7fwo?si=WRkcqRf7xe2N6XCS.
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