Analysis of Current Five Year Plan

Topics: Sustainability, Biodiversity, Ecology Pages: 9 (2694 words) Published: March 22, 2014
Is sustainability truly built into the 12th 5-Year Plan? | Politics of Biodiversity | Environm... Page 1 of 5

Is sustainability truly built into the 12th 5-Year
Plan?
Perhaps for the first time, environment and related livelihoods issues figure in several chapters of a 5-Year Plan approach paper. But it is far from achieving the kind of integration of environment, economy, and livelihoods that is required if India is to meet its obligations to its people, to nature, and to international agreements, writes Ashish Kothari

‘Faster, More Inclusive, Sustainable Growth’: this is the title of the draft Approach Paper for the 12th 5-Year Plan, prepared by India’s Planning Commission. The 11th Plan was about “inclusive growth”; now, sustainability has been added. Does the draft present a coherent vision of development that is sustainable and equitable (leaving aside for the moment, the deeper question of whether sustainable growth is itself an oxymoron; in a world with finite resources, growth cannot be endlessly sustained).

In 2007, in a review of the 11th Plan Approach Paper, I wrote: “15 years back, at the Earth Summit in Rio, India along with other nations committed to a path of sustainable development. In 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, this commitment was reiterated through a unanimous Political Declaration. Just before that, at the turn of the millennium, countries had also framed the impressive Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one of which was to “ensure environmental sustainability”. While a number of countries have slowly moved towards meeting this commitment, India seems to be even further away from it than it was before this millennium began. This appears painfully apparent when one examines the Approach Paper to the 11th 5-Year Plan, recently put out by the Planning Commission.”

It is five years later, there is much greater global and national awareness of the unsustainability of today’s ‘development’ and ‘economic growth’ paths. A series of international reports have shown how we have crossed the ecological limits of the earth, leading to dangerous, life-threatening consequences for humans and other life forms. A report by the Global Footprint Network (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/) and Confederation of Indian Industries has warned that India has already exceeded its ecological carrying capacity, meaning that we are eating into the well-being of our children and grandchildren. Does the Approach Paper draft for the 12th Plan take these lessons on board, and point to a path of ecological and social sustainability? The plus side

http://infochangeindia.org/environment/politics-of-biodiversity/is-sustainability-truly-built-... 2/11/2014

Is sustainability truly built into the 12th 5-Year Plan? | Politics of Biodiversity | Environm... Page 2 of 5

First, the silver lining. The Approach Paper contains a number of progressive recommendations regarding environment, natural resources, and related livelihoods issues, indeed more than previous Plan papers, including: 1. Recognition of a number of serious environmental problems facing India, such as water scarcity and pollution, and soil degradation due to overuse of chemical fertilisers.

2. Correct diagnosis of environmental governance issues such as non-enforcement of conditions under which environmental clearances are given to development projects, alienation, displacement and dispossession of tribal communities including by the government while using its ‘eminent domain’ powers, and inadequate decentralisation to panchayati raj and other local community institutions.

3. Recommendation to give environmental orientation to some sectors, such as ‘green manufacturing’ (energy efficiency, recycling), urban sustainability (“energy efficient buildings, management of solid waste and a shift to public transport”), and tourism that is ecologically sensitive and community-based. 4. A number of specific steps to...
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