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Global Migration and Adaptation – 02

The Gandhian thought 

The life and work of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) have had a considerable influence on the environmental movement in India. Mahatma Gandhi has been acknowledged as the ‘patron saint’ of the Indian environmental movement. Environmental activists have relied heavily on Gandhian thought of non-violent protest or satyagrah and have drawn heavily on Gandhain philosophy against heavy industry which may displace or crush the poor and downtrodden.

The chipko movement (Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sunder Lal Bahuguna), Baba Amte and Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan) all derived inspiration from Gandhi. Other groups like Sulabh International that work for uplifting of Harijans and sweepers, who once lifted night soil were also inspired by Gandhian thought. Gandhi was indeed an “early environmentalist” who anticipated the environmental crisis of the modern industrial society. His writings in ‘Hind Swaraj’ published in 1909 explained how the current mode of development is “exploitative of man by man and of nature by man”.

The Gandhian emphasis on frugality and simple life does not mean that environmental ethics is contradictory to pleasure. However, it is to be understood that there is no pleasure in wasteful consumption. Pleasures come from living in harmony with each other and with nature. Pleasures should not be based on exploitation of creatures. It should not harm the earth, but it should come from creative work and activity and cooperation. Environmental ethics also teaches us to appreciate the harmony in nature and its bounties.

Environmental considerations must form an integral part of all planning for India’s growth and development, last but not the least, 

“Mother Nature has enough for our needs but not enough for our greed.”

Practicing environmental ethics 

The ‘land ethic’ is an idea that should be created in every citizen’s mind. According to this, each person is a citizen of the land and thus responsible for its “health”. Health is the capacity of land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity. This idea of citizenship will enable every individual to use resource carefully and conserve it. Starting from practices like maintaining the close environment, segregation of waste at source, planting and maintain green cover and to the extended neighbourhood, public places etc, beach clean-ups etc

Corporate responsibility – One of the important lessons learnt during the past century is that the economy and environment are dependent on each other. A clean environment is now taken as one of the basic social responsibilities of the corporate world. The industry produces a large amount of waste products and disposal of waste or lowering of pollution levels has a cost. The cost of controlling waste determines a company’s profit margins. This is why it is cheaper to dump wastes into river than to install a waste water treatment facility; it is cheaper to release waste in the air than to trap them in filters. Such pollution is unethical and immoral, but the corporate world may adopt such practices to cut costs and make profits. However such decisions are based on short term profitability rather than long term benefit to society.

Hence recently with increasing environmental consciousness newer concepts like producer pay principle, extended producer responsibility, corporate social responsibility, setting up funds for environmental conservation like CAMPA, EIA etc are some of the mechanisms which ensures the corporate responsibility. 

Global community – as the child of mother earth, all the people of in this planet have common responsibility towards the environment. Hence nation states and UN as the common organized forum has started initiating and setting up various mechanisms for environmental ethics. (Which  will be discussed in detail in this chapter). 

Environmental diplomacy 

Environmental diplomacy can be broken into two general categories: conventions regulating the use of natural resources, and conventions regulating pollution. In each case, the central problem is that political boundaries rarely reflect biological boundaries, so that as national economies consume resources and produce pollution, they spread environmental problems far beyond their national boundaries. 

Environmental diplomacy is gaining influence in international relations and humanitarian relief. Environmental diplomacy addresses issues and actions related to environmental security, and involve a wide range of actors. The environment is borderless and the issues continue to be addressed at a multilateral level.

The United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, and Environment and Security Initiative, or ENVSEC, have a good groundwork for combating environmental issues such as multilateral engagement with organizations like the United Nations Development Programme, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and even the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The ENVSEC has worked on over 150 million products, utilizing projects and maps for their work. Environmental diplomacy is vital to security and post-conflict resolution, as 40 percent of internal conflicts are related to natural resources and environmental issues such as food and water security, land ownership, population growth and the new scarcity. Environmental issues act as threat multipliers and can affect economic security as well, making trade difficult and disrupting the economy in a conflict-ridden area.

The UNEP strives for transparency and cooperation between nations and organizations, and they advise to incorporate environmental issues into working negotiations rather than treat the environment as a separate issue. An example of how economic and environmental security is related is the case of rare earth minerals, which are components in many of our electronics. Mining and accessing these minerals is extremely destructive to the environment, however, and has been outlawed in Australia and the United States. The only country that still mines these minerals is China, and this severely affects their air quality. Since China is the only one still mining these minerals, however, other countries are economically dependent. This is an example where economic and environmental security work against each other. UNEP live online is an area where nations can share information and it offers a transparent tool for participating members to work cooperatively toward environmental security and can act as a catalyst for economic diplomacy as well.

Environmental security can be extremely significant in post-conflict resolution and economic diplomacy. After a conflict, fighters must return home and often find themselves in an economically insecure situation where their land is taken and they are out of work. Cooperative negotiations between economic diplomacy, environmental diplomacy and development are vital.

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