Dr. AFTAB AHMAD KHAN : “ENVIRONMENT” does not observe boundaries. Air, Water, Forests and the Land are contiguous, inherently structured, designed to join and bring people together and their nations closer. Ironically indeed, this has never been so due to the higher value of there resources, which are naturally available to mankind and also due to the difficulties and dilemmas the system of dividing, demarcating and measuring the distribution of their use and misuse by mankind or various nations. Ironically, “NATURE” that exists to create relation of interdependence even amongst the antagonists has now developed into the sizzling specialty of human interaction or of international politics. The emerging statistics of resources scarcity and the widening income gape between the developed and the developing nations is once again threatening the world with a disaster more devastating then the II World War. It is this realization that G-7 now G-8 Nations with the addition of Russia, has diverted attention from the proliferation of strategic weapons and balancing the MAD capabilities to conservation, acquisition and control of the resources of the world such as Forests, Land, Agriculture, Water and Technology. It is perplexing situation because now the deliberations are focused towards future and not on the governments or to the military potential/power of the nation, but the people who control resources at the gross root level. Where Communities, People’s Organizations, Voluntary Agencies, Farmers Groups, Forests Dwellers, Labor Unions and Tribal’s are asserting themselves and struggling to clean the clogged channels of the centralized State structures.
The environment contingencies are defying both the meteorological forecasts as well as the indigenous wisdom. The last century, owing to excessive human intervention and misuse of fossil fuel, was the warmest century in the past 600 years and fourteen of the warmest years since 1860’s occurred between 1980 and 1998. Some of the worst environmental calamities like floods, droughts, cyclones and earthquakes occurred during the last decade. Most of the low-lying areas of the world are getting inundated and the number of ecological refugees has been growing at an unmanageable pace. The world wide scarcity of resources has led to the “Water Wars” over and above the already prevailing wars over forests ownership usufruct rights. The shrinking environmental space has mobilized men and money across national boundaries in a manner never seen before. Under these circumstances, the concept of military security appeared outdated and irrelevant since the new environmental insecurities threatened not one country but all the inhabitants of this “Spaceship Earth”. ‘Greenhouse effects’ and el-Nino is the new terminology, which baffles the decision makers and perplexes the technology studies.
That the world is serious about these unanticipated developments manifests in the path breaking study by Brandt-Land Commission that was soon followed by another study by international Group headed by Helmut Schmidt, former Chancellor of Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. It published a report which offered a vision for dealing with the change. It is a vision in which security is achieved by tackling the root of human violence against environment and its degradation. the reports of course emotionalizes and exorcise the threatening revelations about resources sacristies, pollution hazards and technological dumping and has brought together sensible people of the all nations, faith and occupation together in a united campaign to rise above boundary disputes and work concertedly for the betterment of environment and human life with sustainable material advancement. Global trade and trans-national companies are seen as dominant factors in pushing their trade into national policies.
The journey from Rio (1992) to Seattle (1999) has demonstrated the rising discontent and rebelliousness amongst citizens of both developed and developing countries against the official insolence towards environmental demands in their policies. Environmental problems are the problems of development and of international cooperation. They are also very much part of a broader “system” and cannot be taken in isolation. However, environmental issues are right now the political problems of the highest order since they have grown in complexity and often lack the unified political constituency to lobby for them. The degree of degradation, depletion and degeneration of environment resources are different in different countries and so the scales of priority of these varying problems also differ. A ‘New Environmental Outlook to 2020’ issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) sets out “Practical Policy Option” and environmental consequences of the OECD’s 29 member Countries. With the Rio+10 Johannesburg Conference on Sustainable development i.e. World Summit on Sustainable Development, try for a political gel on environmental issues, both the developed and the developing countries emerge as assertive participants to obtain support for their policy agenda.
It is acceptable and out of debate that the continuance of existing wasteful developmental paths are suicidal and the whole enterprise of ‘catching up’ with the west is nothing more then a debt-trap for the developing countries, in which the multinational financial institutions enjoy the golden harvest. The earth’s resources are limited and the Superpower of today will not be the one with the bomb but the one “Intellectually controlling”the alternatives to the existing paradigm of development. Ian Johnson the World Bank’s Vice President of the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, acknowledged the problem, and remarked that “ the next generation of War’s almost certainly will be fought over natural resources because they will become the binding constrains on development”.
The new thinking to environment should create new relationship of people to their economy, of culture to law, and of productive forces to natural resources. The new social activism which of course is progressing, should vibrantly advocate a direction of transforming the world from destructive, negative and quantitative push to development to a more regenerative, positive and qualitative development.
Writer is Head, Department of Political Science, Govt College for Woman,M.A. R.oad -Srinagar