Chapters :

Global Migration and Adaptation – 03

India the emerging new leader 

India is a mega-diverse country with 4 bio-diversity hotspots (largest in the world) and the richest diverse natural habitats in the world like the Himalayas and western ghats, marine ecosystems etc. 

Environment has always been a significant part of Indian cultural ethos. And environmental conservation has been ingrained in the Indian lifestyle and economic systems. Industrial revolution across the globe as well as fast economic development in India is made out nation a big and significant stakeholder in the process of conserving the environment in the route to economic development, thus sustainable development. India for its given climatic-geography and socio-economic profile (eg. Monsoon climate and agricultural predominance) has a huge responsibility In addition to the responsibility of handing over a healthy future for the next generation. India is also equipped with a plethora of traditional practices like rain-water harvesting, mixed farming, sustainable agriculture etc which is the skill base required for conservation of natural habitat. 

Hence India at the political international level has always been a party to the mitigation and conservation efforts. Stating from the Stockholm convention, 1972 and recently assuming leadership for International Solar Alliance. India is also committing and leading the process of handling marine and plastic pollution. Faster and better committed for turning into renewable energy like the INDCs etc for a growing nation like ours and step towards this direction. India has achieved significantly in the biodiversity conservation by, increasing the Tiger population, following strict wildlife protection laws, and mechanisms for punitive measures, increase in forest cover etc.  Conventions like trans-boundary protected area networks and conservation collaborations with the ecosystem sharing nations also. 

Therefore India has been a significant player in environmental diplomacy in the comity of nations. India has a greater leadership role in the coming years in spearheading the dialogue process for Paris Climate deal and sustainable development.

Hence let us look at the various institutional and policy measures taken by the global community and our country towards achieving these above goals and environmental ethics. 


The environment has always been critical to life but concerns over the balance between human life and the environment assumed international dimensions only during the 1950‘s. At the end of the 1960‘s, the voice of environmental concern was heard almost uniquely in the west. In the communist world the relentless destruction of the environment in the name of industrialization continued unabated. In developing countries, environmental concerns were regarded as western luxuries. In the early 1970‘s, attention was focused first on the biophysical environment. The 1970‘s was the foundation of modern environmentalism. The world of 1972 was very different from that of today. The cold war still divided many of the world‘s most industrialized nations, the period of colonization had yet ended and global warming had only just been mentioned for the first time and the threat to the ozone layer was seen as coming mainly from a large fleet of supersonic airliners that was never to materialize. 

The world of the early 1970‘s was thus fiercely polarized. Against this backdrop, it was surprising that the idea of an international conference on the environment should even be broached by Sweden, in 1968; it was even more surprising that one should actually take place (in Stockholm, in 1972); and it was astonishing that such a conference could give rise to what later became known as the Stockholm Spirit of Compromise’ in which representatives of developed and developing countries found ways of accommodating each other’s strongly divergent views. The conference was hosted by Sweden following severe damage to thousands of Sweden‘s lakes from acid rain falling as a result of severe air pollution in Western Europe.



The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, was created as a response for Member States to cooperate together internationally on development issues after the Cold War. Due to issues relating to sustainability being too big for individual member states to handle, Earth Summit was held as a platform for other Member States to collaborate. 

The summit results in some of the first international agreements on climate change, which become the foundation for future accords. Among them is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which aims to prevent “dangerous” human interference in the climate system, acknowledges that human activities contribute to climate change, and recognizes climate change as an issue of global concern. The UNFCCC, which went into force in 1994, does not legally bind signatories to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and gives no targets or timetables for doing so. But it requires frequent meetings between the ratifying countries, known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP. As of 2019, it has been ratified by 197 countries, including the United States.

The UNFCCC has two sister Conventions also agreed in Rio, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification and Agenda 21

Agenda 21:

Agenda 21 is a non-binding action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels.

This 40 point document was a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment. For implementation of these points a Commission on Sustainable Development was established as a high level forum on sustainable development. The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development acts as the secretariat to the Commission and works ‘within the context of’ Agenda 21.

1994 – UNFCCC Enters into Force

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, spawned two years earlier in Rio, enters into force. Countries that sign the treaty are known as ‘Parties’. With 196 Parties, the UNFCCC has near-universal membership. Parties meet annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to negotiate multilateral responses to climate change.

1995 – First Meeting of UNFCCC Signatories

UNFCCC signatories gather for the first Conference of the Parties, or COP1, in Berlin. The United States pushes back against legally binding targets and timetables, but it joins other parties in agreeing to negotiations to strengthen commitments on limiting greenhouse gases. The concluding document, known as the Berlin Mandate, lays the groundwork for what becomes the Kyoto Protocol, but it is criticized by environmental activists as a political solution that does not prompt immediate action.

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