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ENVIRONMENT is derived from the word Environner which mean “encircle or surround” .
Environmental Studies deals with every issue that affects an organism.
So, ENVIRONMENT refers to surroundings which vary from place to place and continent
depending upon Physiography, Topography, Climate and the available Natural resources.
Since the beginning of the culture, the natural resources such as Soil, Land, Water etc are being
over-exploited causing the environment gets polluted or degraded.
This has resulted in multi – dimensional environmental crisis like soil erosion, landslides and in
turn have created soil pollution, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution etc.

Environmental Protection Act (1986) defined “Environment as the sum total of water, air and
land, their interrelationship among themselves and with the human beings, other living beings
and property.”

Ecology and Scope of Ecological Studies:

Ecology is that part of environmental studies in which we study about organisms, plants and
animals and their relationship or interdependence on other living and non living environment.

The term ‘Ecology’ is derived from Greek word ‘Oekologue’ which is composed of two words:

(a) ‘Oekos’ means surrounding

(b) ‘Logs’ means study on a whole ecology means ‘Study of surrounding’

The scope of ecological study includes:

1. It deals with the study of flow of energy and materials in the environment.

2. It deals with the study of nature and its function.

3. It deals with the exchange of various materials between the biotic and abiotic components of
environment. E.g., Biogeochemical cycles.

Meaning Of Environmental Studies:

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Environmental studies are the scientific study of the environmental system and the status of its
inherent or induced changes on organisms. It includes not only the study of physical and
biological characters of the environment but also the social and cultural factors and the impact of
man on environment.

Objectives and Guiding Principles of Environmental Studies:

According to UNESCO (1971), the objectives of environmental studies are:

(a) Creating the awareness about environmental problems among people.

(b) Imparting basic knowledge about the environment and its allied problems.

(c) Developing an attitude of concern for the environment.

(d) Motivating public to participate in environment protection and environment improvement.

(e) Acquiring skills to help the concerned individuals in identifying and solving environmental

(f) Striving to attain harmony with Nature.

According to UNESCO, the guiding principles of environmental education should be as follows:

(a) Environmental education should be compulsory, right from the primary up to the post
graduate stage.

(b) Environmental education should have an interdisciplinary approach by including physical,

chemical, biological as well as socio-cultural aspects of the environment. It should build a bridge
between biology and technology.

(c) Environmental education should take into account the historical perspective, the current and
the potential historical issues.

(d) Environmental education should emphasise the importance of sustainable development i.e.,
economic development without degrading the environment.

(e) Environmental education should emphasise the necessity of seeking international cooperation
in environmental planning.

(f) Environmental education should lay more stress on practical activities and first hand

Scope and Importance of Environmental Studies:

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The disciplines included in environmental education are environmental sciences, environmental

engineering and environmental management.

(a) Environmental Science:

It deals with the scientific study of environmental system (air, water, soil and land), the inherent
or induced changes on organisms and the environmental damages incurred as a result of human
interaction with the environment.

(b) Environmental Engineering:

It deals with the study of technical processes involved in the protection of environment from the
potentially deleterious effects of human activity and improving the environmental quality for the
health and well beings of humans.

(c) Environmental Management:

It promotes due regard for physical, social and economic environment of the enterprise or
projects. It encourages planned investment at the start of the production chain rather than forced
investment in cleaning up at the end.

It generally covers the areas as environment and enterprise objectives, scope, and structure of the
environment, interaction of nature, society and the enterprise, environment impact assessment,
economics of pollution, prevention, environmental management standards etc.

The importance’s of environmental studies are as follows:

1. To clarify modern environmental concept like how to conserve biodiversity.

2. To know the more sustainable way of living.

3. To use natural resources more efficiently.

4. To know the behaviour of organism under natural conditions.

5. To know the interrelationship between organisms in populations and communities.

6. To aware and educate people regarding environmental issues and problems at local, national
and international levels.

Need of Public Awareness about Environment:

In today’s world because of industrialization and increasing population, the natural resources has
been rapidly utilised and our environment is being increasingly degraded by human activities, so
we need to protect the environment.
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It is not only the duty of government but also the people to take active role for protecting the
environment, so protecting our environment is economically more viable than cleaning it up
once, it is damaged.

The role of mass media such as newspapers, radio, television, etc is also very important to make
people aware regarding environment. There are various institutions, which are playing positive
role towards environment to make people aware regarding environment like BSI (Botanical
Survey of India, 1890), ZSI (Zoological Survey of India, 1916), WII (Wild Life Institute of India,
1982) etc.

 Environment is concerned with day – to – day interaction with the surroundings with which
human being is closely associated.
 Environmental Science is related to many branches of Sciences
 Environment is concerned with the importance of wild life and its protection.
 Environmental Science explains the significant role of biodiversity in establishing ecological
 Environmental Science gives information relating to Population growth, Population explosion
and impact on Population growth ..
 Environmental Science also gives information about water conservation, watershed
management and the importance of water.
Biodiversity: the existence of a large number of different kinds of animals and plants which
make a balanced environment or the totality of all species and ecosystems in a region.
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Introduction to Environmental Science

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and

biological sciences, (including but not limited to ecology, physics, chemistry, zoology,
mineralogy, oceanology, limnology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science, and geography)
to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. Environmental
science provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of
environmental systems

Environmental science came alive as a substantive, active field of scientific investigation in the
1960s and 1970s driven by (a) the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to analyze complex
environmental problems, (b) the arrival of substantive environmental laws requiring specific
environmental protocols of investigation and (c) the growing public awareness of a need for
action in addressing environmental problems.

Environmental studies deals with every issue that affects an organism. It is essentially a
multidisciplinary approach that brings about an appreciation of our natural world and human
impacts on its integrity. It is an applied science as it’s seeks practical answers to making human
civilization sustainable on the earth’s finite resources.
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Environment and its Components

Environment: The environment encompasses virtually everything that surrounds an organism in

a holistic ecological approach.
Out of all the nine planets, meteorites, and satellites in our solar system, the earth is the only
planet known to support life. Life on earth experiences different types of surroundings. These
surroundings may be living or non-living. Each living organism constantly interacts with its
surroundings and adapts to it. These surroundings are our environment. The physical
environment, which consists of soil, air, water, sunlight among others, provides favourable
conditions for the existence and growth of different life forms. Living beings constitute the
biological environment.
Both the physical and the biological environments closely interact with each other to form a
stable self perpetuating system. Everything that influences an organism and its living processes
from outside is collectively known as ‘environment.’ The living component of the environment is
known as the biotic component and the non-living component (things) as the abiotic component.
Hence, the term ‘environment’ can be defined as the sum total of living and non-living
components, their influences and events surrounding an organism.
No organism can live without interacting with the environment. Animals depend on green
plants for food and oxygen, whereas plants depend on animals for pollination of flowers and
dispersal of seed or fruit. Therefore, for the survival of human civilization, the protection of its
environment is very important.

Some fundamental principles have to be followed:

i. Maintenance of biodiversity.
ii. Maintenance of all gaseous and material cycles and interdependence of living
organisms among themselves and with abiotic environments.
iii. Maintenance of ecological order and natural balance, which depend on the food chain
relationship, sustainable productivity and biotic interaction.

These principles were known to early human beings, who lived in harmony with nature.
However, in the course of evolution, man has developed a new type of environment, the man-
made environment. A large chunk of the imbalance in nature is caused by this man-made
environment. This man-made imbalance has forced us to put restraints on the use of natural
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Segments of the Environment

Our environment can be broadly classified into natural and man-made environment.

Natural Environment
 Each living organism has a specific surrounding with which it interacts and to which it is
adapted. This surrounding is its natural environment. The natural environment can be
broadly classified into two categories.

 The non-living or abiotic component, which includes:

o Climatic factors such as solar radiation, temperature, wind, water current,
and rainfall.
o Physical factors such as light, air, pressure and geomagnetism.
o Clinical factors such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, acidity, salinity, availability
of inorganic nutrients and so on.
 Living or biotic factors such as microbes, plants, animals and all living organisms and
their organic by-products.

Man-made Environment
With the development of science and technology, human beings have begun to alter the
environment to suit their requirements. This has led to the evolution of a man-made environment.
Hence, the environment— which earlier comprised just air, land, and water—now also includes
crop fields, urban areas, industrial space, vehicles, power plants, telecommunications, and much
The basic needs of human beings are shelter, followed by potable water and sanitation. The
houses of people in the city are made of brick and cement and not of mud with a thatched roof.
The resources for urban housing are transported from rural areas in cars, buses, trucks and trains,
which consume a large amount of energy and pollute the atmosphere. The ever-increasing
demand for comfort has resulted in the migration of people from villages to urban areas. Urban
areas, on the other hand, are unable to meet the demands of basic civic amenities. As a result,
they are becoming hovels of dirt, disease and crime. This has resulted in the paradox of concrete
skyscrapers coexisting with slums and the atmosphere being polluted with exhaust from traffic,
factories and domestic smoke.

Example, Park, Man-made Environment

Social Environment
Human beings are social animals. This is why the socio-cultural environment plays an important
role in their lives. The social environment is formed by the network of social institutions, which
include political, religious and economic institutions. Family is one of the basic institutions of
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the social environment. It is here that human beings perform various activities, including
socialization of children, and the transference of cultural heritage and morals from one
generation to the next. Groups of families form communities which are classified according to
their occupation, religious faith, and other parameters.


Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by
humanity, in a natural form. Natural resources are derived from the environment. Some of them
are essential for our survival while most are used for satisfying our wants. Natural resources may
be further classified in different ways.

There are various methods of categorizing natural resources, these include source of origin, stage
of development, and by their renewability.

1. On the basis of Origin:

(i) Biotic – These are obtained from the biosphere (living and organic material), such
as forests and animals, and the materials that can be obtained from them. Fossil fuels such
as coal and petroleum are also included in this category because they are formed from
decayed organic matter.

(ii) Abiotic – These are those that come from non-living, non-organic material. Examples of
abiotic resources include land, fresh water, air and heavy metals including ores such
as gold, iron, copper, silver, etc.

2. On the bases of their stage of development:

(i) Potential resources – Potential resources are those that exist in a region and may be used
in the future. For example petroleum occurs with sedimentary rocks in various regions, but
until the time it is actually drilled out and put into use, it remains a potential resource.

(ii) Actual resources – Actual resources are those that have been surveyed, their quantity and
quality determined and are being used in present times. The development of an actual
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resource, such as wood processing depends upon the technology available and the cost

(iii) Reserve resources – The part of an actual resource which can be developed profitably in
the future is called a reserve resource.

(iv)Stock resources – Stock resources are those that have been surveyed but cannot be used
by organisms due to lack of technology. For example: hydrogen.

3. On the bases of Renewability:

(i) Renewable resources – Renewable resources can be replenished naturally. Some of these
resources, like sunlight, air, wind, etc., are continuously available and their quantity is not
noticeably affected by human consumption.

(ii) Non-renewable resources – Non-renewable resources either form slowly or do not

naturally form in the environment. Minerals are the most common resource included in this
category. By the human perspective, resources are non-renewable when their rate of
consumption exceeds the rate of replenishment/recovery; a good example of this are fossil
fuels, which are in this category because their rate of formation is extremely slow
(potentially millions of years), meaning they are considered non-renewable.

4. On the basis of their Distribution:

(i) National Resources - National resources are those resources that are available within the
national boundaries of a country. In this respect, a few examples would be the minerals and lands
available in profusion in the country.

(ii) Multinational Resources - Multinational resources are those that are shared by more
than one country between two geographical boundaries. Rivers, migratory animals and lakes are
definite examples.
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(iii) International Resources - These resources are shared by all nations and are provided in
bounty to all the countries in the earth. Oceans, air, solar energy and precipitation are a few
examples of international resources.

How to economized the problem of natural resources in the process of economic


There are two fundamental facts that constitute the economising problem. Society’s material
wants, that is, the material wants of its citizens and institutions, are virtually unlimited, or
insatiable and another is Economic resources which means of producing goods and services—are
limited or scarce.

1. Unlimited wants

At any given time, the individuals and institutions that constitute society have innumerable
material wants unfulfilled. Some of these material wants—food, clothing and shelter—have
biological roots. The social and cultural environment in which we live influence our material
wants as well. As a group, our material wants are unlimited and are incapable of ever being
completely satisfied.

2. Scarce resources

All the natural, human and manufactured resources that go into the production of goods and
services which require innumerable types of labour; and land and mineral resources of all kinds

If our resources are scarce, we cannot satisfy all of society’s material wants.

Society wishes to use its limited resources efficiently; that is, it wants to obtain the maximum
amount of desired goods and services producible with its available resources. To achieve this, it
must achieve both full employment and full production. Economics is a science of efficiency—
efficiency in the use of scarce resources.

a. Full employment

Full employment means that all available resources should be employed: no workers
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should be involuntarily out of work; no capital equipment or arable land should sit idle. For
example, legislation and custom provide that children and the very aged should not be employed.
Further, it is desirable for productivity to allow land to lie fallow periodically. Along with this,
some resources will need to be conserved for the future.

b. Full production

The employment of all available resources is, however, insufficient to achieve efficiency. Full
production means that all employed resources should be used to make the most valued
contributions to output. If we fail to achieve full production, economists say that our resources
are underemployed.

Full production implies that two kinds of efficiency—allocative and productive efficiency are

i. Allocative efficiency means that resources are devoted to the combination of goods and
services most wanted by society. For example, society wants CDs rather than records. The most
desired combination of goods and services is known as optimum product mix.

ii. Productive efficiency occurs when the least costly production techniques are used to produce
the desired goods and service.
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Environment of the Earth

The environment of the earth has been studied with various modern and scientific instruments,
such as satellites, rockets, and balloons. The results indicate that the environment of our planet
comprises mainly of three segments. These are:

i. Air or atmosphere
ii. Water or hydrosphere
iii. Land or lithosphere

Atmosphere: The earth’s atmosphere is an envelope of gases extending up to 2000 feet above
the ground level. The gases include nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, traces of carbon
monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur and hydrocarbon, and very little amount of water vapour.
The concentration of these gases decreases with an increase in altitude. The bulk of these gases
are present within the atmospheric band that stretches up to 5 km above the earth.
The atmosphere protects the earth’s biosphere by absorbing a major portion of the
electromagnetic radiation and most of the cosmic rays. The atmosphere also absorbs infra-red
radiation and thereby maintains the temperature of the earth at life sustaining levels. It also helps
nature in maintaining its balance through different biochemical cycles, namely the oxygen cycle,
nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle, and hydrological cycle.
However, scientific advancements of the modern man are polluting this protective blanket by
dumping waste materials like carbon emissions and smoke into the atmosphere.

Layers of the atmosphere: The earth’s atmosphere is broadly divided into five regions:

Troposphere: The lower portion of the atmosphere is called troposphere. It contains 70 per cent
of the atmosphere’s mass. The density of the troposphere decreases with altitude. The air near
ground level is heated by the radiation from the earth, but the temperature decreases uniformly
with altitude. This decrease of temperature with altitude is known as lapse rate. The cold layer
(56°C) at the top of the troposphere, which shows a temperature inversion, that is, a negative to
positive lapse rate, is known as tropopause. The global energy flow, resulting from the difference
in heating and cooling rates between the equator and the poles, makes the troposphere a turbulent

Stratosphere: Above the troposphere, the quiescent layer with a positive lapse rate is known as
the stratosphere. Very little water vapour is found here. The ozone molecule, present in the layer,
absorbs the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, and decomposes into oxygen molecules and an oxygen
atom. When these particles combine, energy is released as heat radiation which causes a positive
lapse rate.
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The stratosphere not only shields life on earth from the injurious effects of the Sun’s ultraviolet
rays, it also supplies heat for separating the quiescent stratosphere from the turbulent
troposphere. The stratopause separates the stratosphere from the mesosphere.

Mesosphere: In the mesosphere, the lapse rate is negative again due to low levels of ozone that
absorbs ultraviolet radiation. The mesopause separates the mesosphere from the thermosphere.

Thermosphere: In thermosphere, the positive lapse rate raises the temperature to a maximum of
about 1200°C. Hence, atmospheric gases such as oxygen and nitric oxide split into atoms, which
absorb solar radiation in the far ultraviolet region and then undergo ionization. That is why this
layer is called ionosphere.

Exosphere: The uppermost layer of the atmosphere is called the exosphere. This extends up to a
height of about 1600 km and gives way to interplanetary space. It is extremely rarefied. The
upper layers of the atmosphere are continuously pressing down on the lower ones. Hence, the
density of the lower layers is higher and it decreases as we move upwards.

Having described the layers of the atmosphere, now we shall deal with the hydrosphere which
forms the second of the three main segments of the earth’s environment.

Hydrosphere: All types of water resources, namely the oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, polar
ice caps, streams, glaciers, ground water, and water vapour are collectively known as the
hydrosphere. Water being the elixir of life, all ancient civilizations were linked to major sources
of water, be it the Egyptian Civilization along the River Nile, the Indus Valley Civilization along
the River Indus, or the Mesopotamian Civilization between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
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The hydrosphere is an important part of the earth’s surface. About 70 per cent of the earth’s
surface is covered with water. The northern hemisphere is dominated by land surface, while the
southern hemisphere is almost entirely occupied by water bodies (oceans).

Water is the most essential component of life for all living organisms. The hydrosphere is of
immense importance to mankind. It maintains the availability of fresh water to the biosphere
through the hydrological cycle. A major component of the hydrological cycle is the ocean. The
oceans are great reservoirs of water and they also regulate carbon dioxide. The oceans can absorb
more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. Oceans are also the storehouses of vast resources,
such as, water, salt, minerals, and food. The oceans are the largest sinks (pollutant receptor) of
the planet. Thus, the role of the hydrosphere is critical to the sustenance of life on the earth. This
is underlined by the fact that life on the earth originated under marine conditions.

Lithosphere: The lithosphere is the outermost mantle of the rocks constituting the earth’s crust.
Rocks are subjected to continuous physical, chemical and biological (attack by lichens)
weathering. Plants grow and decay on the soil covering the rocks. Soil is the major component of
the lithosphere. The organic matter in soil is decomposed by micro-organisms, thus forming
biomass. This biomass is mixed with the soil fauna. The major components of soil are air, water,
minerals, and inorganic matter obtained from weathering of the parent rock. Organic matter of
soil comprises plant biomass that is in various stages of decay. It also includes a high population
of bacteria, fungi and animals such as nematodes, micro arthropods, termites and earthworms.
Soil plays a vital role in supplying nutrients to the plant kingdom. The nutrient supply power of
soil is a measure of its fertility, while the productivity of the soil is a function of crop and animal
biomass per unit area. Thus, the yield of crop depends solely on soil and crop management
strategies. Therefore, this dynamic balance between the soil and the crop needs to be preserved to
maintain the interrelationship between the two.
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The lithosphere has a thickness ranging from 64 to 96 km. The uppermost part of the lithosphere
(the earth’s crust) is rich in silica (Si) and aluminium (Al) and is therefore, known as the SiAl
layer. The continents belong to the SiAl layer and are made up of granite rocks.
The zone next to the SiAl is rich in silica (Si) and magnesium (Mg). This layer is formed of
basalt rocks and constitutes the ocean floors. The basalt rocks are heavier than the rocks formed
by SiAl layer. Below the SiMg layer, the density of the layers increases with depth. Such
differences in density cause the constituting layers to float, one over the other. The continents are
basically large segments or ‘plates’ of the earth’s crust floating on top of this heavier layer. These
floating plates are responsible for the tectonic movement of the earth’s surface during an
Below the lithosphere lies the mantle, which has a thickness of about 2400 km. The upper part
of the mantle is known as the Asthenosphere, while the lower mantle is called the Mesosphere.
The interior-most part of the earth is called the Core, which consists of minerals such as iron,
nickel, cobalt mixed with sulphur, and silica. The thickness of the core extends to about 3500
km. The Core consists of the outer core and the inner core. The inner core appears to be solid,
while the outer core is molten and metallic. The temperature of the core ranges between 5000
and 5500°C.
The direct interaction between the atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere for millions of
years has made the earth suitable for life and has formed the biosphere.

Biosphere: Life on earth occupies a ‘thin skin’ extending more than a few kilometres below and
above its surface. This is commonly known as the biosphere. Both the biosphere and
environment influence each other a lot. The oxygen and carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere
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depend entirely on the plant kingdom. All the different biogeochemical cycles are essential for
the continuous circulation of constituents necessary for supporting life. This is possible due to
the interaction of the biosphere and the environment
It is in the biosphere that radiant energy is converted to chemical form (carbohydrates) through
the process of photosynthesis. Only then does energy transfer take place from chemical to
mechanical, and heat forms during cellular metabolism.

Thus, it is the biosphere which is responsible for large scale recycling of matter and energy. Even
today, the existence of life on earth is closely dependent on the biosphere because it constitutes
an essential life support system for all living beings.
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Biodiversity is multiple resource based offering us a range of products, materials and services. Our survival
and well being of man-kind is directly dependent on biodiversity. Biodiversity produces goods and services for
the most fundamental of our needs – clean air, fresh water, food, medicines and shelter. It also provides people
with recreational, psychological, emotional and spiritual enjoyment.

Biodiversity or biological diversity is a neologism and portmanteau word, from bio and diversity. It is the
diversity of and in living nature. Diversity, at its heart, implies the number of different kinds of objects, such as
The term biological diversity, was coined by Thomas Lovejoy in 1980, while the word biodiversity itself, was
coined by the entomologist E.O.Wilson in 1986, in a report for the first American Forum on biological
diversity organized by the National Research Council (NRC) biological diversity is a measure of the relative
diversity among organisms present in different ecosystems. “Diversity” in this definition includes diversity
within species, among species, and comparative diversity among ecosystems.

There are three levels of diversity viz. genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. In effect, these levels cannot
be separated. Each is important, interacting with and influencing the others. A change at one level can cause
changes at the other levels.

1 Genetic Diversity

Genetic diversity is the “fundamental currency of diversity” that is responsible for variation. This is the
diversity of basic units of hereditary information which are passed down generations found within a species
(e.g. different varieties of the same species). Genetic diversity underlies the variability (differences) among
individuals of a given species. For example no two individuals even in the same family are identical, unless of
course they are identical twins with the same genome (i.e. complete genetic makeup). This t is genetic
diversity that allows a species to adapt to changing environmental conditions such as a lower rainfall, a higher
temperature year round, etc.
2 Species Diversity

Species diversity means the differences between species (both domesticated and wild). It is the most visible
component of biodiversity as implied by the word ‘species’ which literally means outward or visible form. This
is why we often tend to describe biological diversity in terms of the number of species in a particular area or at
the global level.
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There are different estimates of extant (i.e. currently existing) species on earth which range from about five to
100 million, but a figure of about 12.5 million is the most widely accepted. Of these, only about 1.7 million
species have been described as yet.

Known species of flora and fauna in the world

4,500 species of mammals

10,000 species of birds

12,000 species of amphibians and reptiles

22,000 species of fish

400,000 species of invertebrates (excluding insects)

960,000 species of insects, approximately 600,000 of which are


270,000 species of plants

70,000 species of fungi

4,000 species of bacteria
5,000 species of viruses

3 Ecosystem Diversity

Ecosystem diversity means the variation between different types of ecosystems. Different species of animals,
plants and micro-organisms interact with each other and their physical environment (such as water or
minerals). Groups of organisms and their nonliving environment, and the interactions between them, form
functional dynamic and complex units that are termed ecosystems. These systems help maintain life
processes vital for organisms to survive on earth.

Different combinations of species and physical conditions (such as sunlight, climate, soil and water) and their
varied interactions give rise to variation among ecosystems. For example, the physical conditions in a coral
reef are very different to those in a tropical forest. Accordingly, the species in a coral reef differ from the
species in a tropical forest.

Biodiversity is multiple resource based offering us a range of products, materials and services. Our survival
and well being of man-kind is directly dependent on biodiversity. Biodiversity produces goods and services for
the most fundamental of our needs – clean air, fresh water, food, medicines and shelter
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Conservation of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is essential for maintaining the ecological functions, including stabilizing of the
water cycle, maintenance and replenishment of soil fertility, pollination and cross-fertilization of
crops and other vegetation, protection against soil erosion and stability of food producing and
other ecosystems. Conservation of biological diversity leads to conservation of essential
ecological diversity to preserve the continuity of food chains.
Biodiversity provides the base for the livelihoods, cultures and economies of several hundred
millions of people, including farmers, fisher folk, forest dwellers and artisans. It provides raw
material for a diverse medicinal and health care systems.

The Earth Summit produced a plan of action on a number of issues (Agenda 21) including
conservation of biodiversity during the 21st century.
There are several strategies which are adapted for conservation of Biodiversity.
Some of these are:
1. Legislation:
Formal policies and programmes for conservation and sustainable utilisation of
biodiversity resources dates back to several decades. The concept of environmental
protection is enshrined in the Indian constitution in articles 48a and 51a(g). Major
central acts relevant to biodiversity include:
 Environment Protection Act, 1986
 Fisheries Act, 1897
 Forest Act, 1927
 Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
 Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 1991

2. In-situ Conservation

Conserving the animals and plants in their natural habitats is known as in situ conservation. The
established natural habitats are:

 National parks
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 Wildlife sanctuaries
 Biosphere reserves

The first such initiative was the establishment of the Corbett National Park in 1936. National
Parks are highly protected by law. No human habitation, private land holding or traditional
human activity such as firewood collection or grazing is allowed within the park. Sanctuaries are
also protected but certain types of activities are permitted within these areas. Biosphere Reserves
are another category of protected areas. It aim at conserving the biological diversity and genetic
integrity of plants, animals and microorganisms on their totality as part the natural ecosystem.

Under this, a large area is declared as a Biosphere Reserve where wildlife is protected, but local
communities are allowed to continue to live and pursue traditional activities within the Reserve.
The Government of India has set up seven biosphere reserves: Nokrek (Meghalaya), Nilgiri
(Kamataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu), Namdapha (Arunachal Pradesh), Nanda Devi (Uttar Pradesh),
Sundarbans (West Bengal), Great Nicobar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands), Gulf of Mannnar
(Tamil Nadu).
A programme "Eco-development" for in-situ conservation of biological diversity involving local
communities was initiated. It integrates the ecological and economic parameters for sustained
conservation of ecosystems by involving local communities with maintenance of earmarked
regions surrounding protected areas. Approximately, 4.2 % of the total geographical area of the
country has been earmarked for extensive in-situ conservation of habitats and ecosystems. A
protected area network of 85 national parks and 448 wildlife sanctuaries has been created. The
results of this network have been significant in restoring viable population of large mammals
such as tiger, lion, rhinoceros, crocodiles and elephants.

3. Ex-situ Conservation

Ex-situ conservation of plants and animals preserve/ or protect them away from their natural
habitat. This could be in zoological parks and botanical gardens or through the forestry
institutions and agricultural research centres. A lot of effort is under way to collect and preserve
the genetic material of crops, animal, bird and fish species. This work is being done by
institutions such as the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, the National
Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, etc. Reintroduction of an animal or plant into the habitat
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from where it has become extinct is another form of ex situ conservation. For example, the
Gangetic gharial has been reintroduced in the rivers of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and
Rajasthan where it had become extinct. Seed banks, botanical, horticultural and recreational
gardens are important centres for ex situ conservation. Ex-situ conservation measures
complement in-situ conservation.
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Sustainable Development

Sustainable development today it is the most politicised catchword of international developmental conferences
and programmes. Sustainable development has emerged out of the fears of depleting natural resources and a
subsequent slowing or even closing down of much of the economic activities and production systems. It
developed in the 1960s when people became aware of the detrimental effects of industrialization on the
Nature provides human societies and economies with a complex life support system, air, water, food and a
suitable climate for survival. It also provides the physical resources that are necessary for the sustenance of
economies. Nature has supported and maintained life on earth since times immemorial and should continue to
do so in the future. This is known as the sustainability of nature or ecosystems or environment.


The term ‘Sustainability’ has been defined variously, such as:

Sustainability refers to a process or state that can be maintained indefinitely.

Natural resources must be used in ways that do not create ecological debts by
overexploiting the carrying and productive capacity of the earth.
A minimum necessary condition for sustainability is the maintenance of the total
natural capital stock at or above the current level.

The economist Herman Daly has offered specifications for maintaining sustainability. He is of the opinion that:

Rates of use of renewable resources should not exceed regeneration rates.

Rates of use of non-renewable resources should not exceed rates of development
of renewable substitutes.
Rates of pollution emission should not exceed assimilative capacities of the


The term ‘Development’ means the social and economic improvement in a broad sense. It is needed to create
opportunities, prosperity and choices for all inhabitants of the world and it must proceed in a way that leaves
choices available for future generations also. It refers to a holistic growth of the human and natural
environment towards autonomy and freedom. It indicates a growth pattern, which makes nations
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more decisive in their internal and external environment.

Sustainable development

The concept of Sustainable development was envisaged to bring environmentalist ideas into the central theme
of economic development policy. It sought to modify the kind of unsustainable development strategies that
were being pursued Sustainable development combines the two terms of ‘sustainability’ and ‘development’ to
indicate a pattern of growth, which strengthens both the national capabilities to care for their people in relation
to their total relationship with the resources of the earth.

Objectives of sustainable development:

Sustainable development has some forward looking and broad based objectives, which transcend class, caste,
language and regional barriers. These objectives are a charter for liberating one’s economy from the clutches of
exploitative mindset, which has depraved nations and defied their biomass wealth.

These objectives are:

1. To maintain the standards of living of the largest number of people with equity and justice. The
consideration of Trans-boundary and cumulative impacts in decision-making has to be realised.

2. To conserve and protect earth’s natural resources from misuse and wasteful consumption. This
demands respect for the land and its diversity as the foundation for healthy communities.

3. To innovate new technology and scientific techniques, which work in unison with laws of nature and
are not opposed to it. There needs to be a consideration of sharing the risks and benefits from
developmental policies undertaken by different nations.

4. To respect diversity and involve local and indigenous communities for a more grassroots oriented and
relevant developmental policies. This would involve consideration of economic viability, culture and
environmental values, as policies and programmes are developed.

5. To decentralise governance institutions and make them more resilient, transparent and accountable to
people. They should have an open, inclusive and participative decision-making.

6. To plan international institutions, which recognise the requirements of poor nations and support them
to achieve their growth targets without destroying their natural wealth and environment.

7. To seek peaceful coexistence of all nations of the world because only peace can allow them space to
innovate for the larger interests of humanity. This may demand honouring of treaties and fiduciary
obligations and international agreements.
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Sustainable development is a value-based concept, which appeals to the universal themes of mutual existence
and respect for others. It is a continually evolving process bringing together cultural, social, economic,
environmental and political concerns.

Need of Sustainable Development due to :


The Industrial Revolution began in England sometime after the middle of the 18 th century and transformed
Great Britain from a largely rural population making a living almost entirely from agriculture to a town-
centred society engaged increasingly in factory manufacture. A series of inventions transformed the
manufacture of cotton goods in England and gave rise to a new mode of production - the factory system.
During the years from 1750 to 1830, other branches of industry effected comparable advances, and all these
together, mutually reinforcing one another, made possible further gains on an ever widening front. The
abundance and variety of innovations may be included under three principles:

1. The substitution of machines - rapid, regular, precise, tireless- for human skill and effort.
2. The substitution of inanimate for animate sources of power, in particular, the introduction of engines for
converting heat into work, thereby opening to man a new and abundant supply of energy.
3. The use of new and far more abundant raw materials, in particular, the substitution of mineral for vegetable
or animal substances.
The Industrial Revolution needed the resources, especially the raw materials, which were concentrated mainly
in the now poor nations. While the resources were extracted from the Southern countries (presently the
developing countries), the value addition was done mostly in the Northern countries (presently the developed
countries), thus creating an economic imbalance.


The relation of urbanisation with industrialisation is very close. The expansion of industrialisation has resulted
in the expansion of cities. This has meant expansion into rural lands that grow food and nurture cattle and
village forests and provide several forms of sustainable occupations to the communities in these areas. The
spread of cities and industrial towns on one hand leads to the loss of agricultural land including forest
resources and intense and unmanageable migration towards the cities on the other. The level of urbanisation in
India has increased from 25.4 percent in 1970 to 33.6 percent in 1990 and is expected to rise to 57 percent by
the year 2025.
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Uncontrolled and unplanned expansion of towns and cities with large populations has overwhelmed transport,
communication, water supply, sanitation and energy systems resulting in a growth of urban poor and
unemployed population with precarious health problems. The impact of urbanisation is that the cities consume
raw material ls from surrounding regions and generate waste and pollution. For example, fuel wood consumed
in Delhi comes from the forests of Madhya Pradesh.
The migration of labours and entrepreneurial skills to the city, and industrial towns and commercialisation of
the land in these rural areas may have positive outcomes in terms of employment, but it also results in the
change of type of productive activities and even expulsion of farmers from their lands.

The new indices, e.g., Human Development Index (HDI) developed by the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) to study the quality of life have brought into focus the widening gap between the
countries of the North and the South. On one hand, a wealthy minority of the world’s population is consuming
at an unsustainably high level, causing disproportionate damage to global ecosystems, while protecting only
their local environment. On the other hand, a poor, larger and rapidly-growing proportion of the world’s
population is being forced by poverty to degrade the natural resource base on which it is directly dependent.
The developing countries with 77 percent of world population generate only 15 percent of world income. in the
last decade that the number of poor is going to increase in the coming decades. This increase is largely related
to the unfair developmental policies being pursued by international trading institutions. The key issues are how
to add value to agriculture and cottage industries produce at the production site itself as also how to provide
welfare funding to institutions catering to the poor children, destitute women and dalits who have remained
marginalised and reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots that is increasing in the process of
economic globalisation.

Resource Utilisation

The four major resources of this earth, which are taken care of by every nation individually, as well as through
international agreements are land, water, air and forests. The industrialised countries such as the G8 (United
States [US], Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and Russia), Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) which have less than 23 percent of the
world population have been consuming resources that are several times more than that being consumed by the
whole of Asia, Latin America and Africa taken together

Stockholm Conference
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The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm
Conference) was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in
Stockholm, Sweden from June 5-16, 1972. It was the UN's first major conference on
international environmental issues, and marked a turning point in the development of
international environmental politics.

Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, having met at Stockholm from 5 to
16 June 1972,having considered the need for a common outlook and for common principles to
inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human

Proclaims that:

1. Man is both creature and moulder of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance
and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long
and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet a stage has been reached when, through
the rapid acceleration of science and technology, man has acquired the power to transform his
environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale. Both aspects of man's
environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment
of basic human rights the right to life itself.

2. The protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the
well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of
the peoples of the whole world and the duty of all Governments.

3. Man has constantly to sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and
advancing. In our time, man's capability to transform his surroundings, if used wisely, can bring
to all peoples the benefits of development and the opportunity to enhance the quality of life.
Wrongly or heedlessly applied, the same power can do incalculable harm to human beings and
the human environment. We see around us growing evidence of man-made harm in many regions
of the earth: dangerous levels of pollution in water, air, earth and living beings; major and
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undesirable disturbances to the ecological balance of the biosphere; destruction and depletion of
irreplaceable resources; and gross deficiencies, harmful to the physical, mental and social health
of man, in the man-made environment, particularly in the living and working environment.

4. In the developing countries most of the environmental problems are caused by under-
development. Millions continue to live far below the minimum levels required for a decent
human existence, deprived of adequate food and clothing, shelter and education, health and
sanitation. Therefore, the developing countries must direct their efforts to development, bearing
in mind their priorities and the need to safeguard and improve the environment. For the same
purpose, the industrialized countries should make efforts to reduce the gap themselves and the
developing countries. In the industrialized countries, environmental problems are generally
related to industrialization and technological development.

5. The natural growth of population continuously presents problems for the preservation of the
environment, and adequate policies and measures should be adopted, as appropriate, to face these
problems. Of all things in the world, people are the most precious. It is the people that propel
social progress, create social wealth, develop science and technology and, through their hard
work, continuously transform the human environment. Along with social progress and the
advance of production, science and technology, the capability of man to improve the
environment increases with each passing day.

6. A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with
a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference we
can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on which our life and well being
depend. Conversely, through fuller knowledge and wiser action, we can achieve for ourselves
and our posterity a better life in an environment more in keeping with human needs and hopes..
To defend and improve the human environment for present and future generations has become an
imperative goal for mankind-a goal to be pursued together with, and in harmony with, the
established and fundamental goals of peace and of worldwide economic and social development.

7. To achieve this environmental goal will demand the acceptance of responsibility by citizens
and communities and by enterprises and institutions at every level, all sharing equitably in
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common efforts. Individuals in all walks of life as well as organizations in many fields, by their
values and the sum of their actions, will shape the world environment of the future.

Local and national governments will bear the greatest burden for large-scale environmental
policy and action within their jurisdictions. International cooperation is also needed in order to
raise resources to support the developing countries in carrying out their responsibilities in this
field. A growing class of environmental problems, because they are regional or global in extent
or because they affect the common international realm, will require extensive cooperation among
nations and action by international organizations in the common interest.

The Conference calls upon Governments and peoples to exert common efforts for the
preservation and improvement of the human environment, for the benefit of all the people and
for their posterity.

The meeting agreed upon a Declaration containing 26 principles concerning the environment and
development; an Action Plan with 109 recommendations, and a Resolution. Principles of the
Stockholm Declaration:

Principle 1 : . Human rights must be asserted, apartheid and colonialism condemned

Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an
environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn
responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. In this
respect, policies promoting or perpetuating apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination, colonial
and other forms of oppression and foreign domination stand condemned and must be eliminated.

Principle 2 : Natural resources must be safeguarded

The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, land, flora and fauna and especially
representative samples of natural ecosystems, must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and
future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate.

Principle 3 : The Earth’s capacity to produce renewable resources must be maintained

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The capacity of the earth to produce vital renewable resources must be maintained and, wherever
practicable, restored or improved.

Principle 4 : Wildlife must be safeguarded

Man has a special responsibility to safeguard and wisely manage the heritage of wildlife and its
habitat, which are now gravely imperilled by a combination of adverse factors. Nature
conservation, including wildlife, must therefore receive importance in planning for economic

Principle 5 : Non-renewable resources must be shared and not exhausted

The non-renewable resources of the earth must be employed in such a way as to guard against
the danger of their future exhaustion and to ensure that benefits from such employment are
shared by all mankind.

Principle 6 : Pollution must not exceed the environment’s capacity to clean itself

The discharge of toxic substances or of other substances and the release of heat, in such
quantities or concentrations as to exceed the capacity of the environment to render them
harmless, must be halted in order to ensure that serious or irreversible damage is not inflicted
upon ecosystems. The just struggle of the peoples of ill countries against pollution should be

Principle 7 : Damaging oceanic pollution must be prevented

States shall take all possible steps to prevent pollution of the seas by substances that are liable to
create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or
to interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.

Principle 8 : Development is needed to improve the environment

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Economic and social development is essential for ensuring a favorable living and working
environment for man and for creating conditions on earth that are necessary for the improvement
of the quality of life.

Principle 9 : Developing countries therefore need assistance

Environmental deficiencies generated by the conditions of under-development and natural

disasters pose grave problems and can best be remedied by accelerated development through the
transfer of substantial quantities of financial and technological assistance as a supplement to the
domestic effort of the developing countries and such timely assistance as may be required.

Principle 10 : Developing countries need reasonable prices for exports to carry out
environmental management

For the developing countries, stability of prices and adequate earnings for primary commodities
and raw materials are essential to environmental management, since economic factors as well as
ecological processes must be taken into account.

Principle 11 : . Environment policy must not hamper development

The environmental policies of all States should enhance and not adversely affect the present or
future development potential of developing countries, nor should they hamper the attainment

of better living conditions for all, and appropriate steps should be taken by States and
international organizations with a view to reaching agreement on meeting the possible national
and international economic consequences resulting from the application of environmental

Principle 12 : Developing countries need money to develop environmental safeguards

Resources should be made available to preserve and improve the environment, taking into
account the circumstances and particular requirements of developing countries and any costs
which may emanate- from their incorporating environmental safeguards into their development
planning and the need for making available to them, upon their request, additional international
technical and financial assistance for this purpose.
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Principle 13 :. Integrated development planning is needed

In order to achieve a more rational management of resources and thus to improve the
environment, States should adopt an integrated and coordinated approach to their development
planning so as to ensure that development is compatible with the need to protect and improve
environment for the benefit of their population.

Principle 14 : . Rational planning should resolve conflicts between environment and

Rational planning constitutes an essential tool for reconciling any conflict between the needs of
development and the need to protect and improve the environment.

Principle 15 : Human settlements must be planned to eliminate environmental problems

Planning must be applied to human settlements and urbanization with a view to avoiding adverse
effects on the environment and obtaining maximum social, economic and environmental benefits
for all. In this respect projects which are designed for colonialist and racist domination must be

Principle 16:” Governments should plan their own appropriate population policies

Demographic policies which are without prejudice to basic human rights and which are deemed
appropriate by Governments concerned should be applied in those regions where the rate of
population growth or excessive population concentrations are likely to have adverse effects on
the environment of the human environment and impede development.

Principle 17 : National institutions must plan development of states’ natural resources

Appropriate national institutions must be entrusted with the task of planning, managing or
controlling the 9 environmental resources of States with a view to enhancing environmental

Principle 18 : Science and technology must be used to improve the environment

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Science and technology, as part of their contribution to economic and social development, must
be applied to the identification, avoidance and control of environmental risks and the solution of
environmental problems and for the common good of mankind.

Principle 19 : . Environmental education is essential

Education in environmental matters, for the younger generation as well as adults, giving due
consideration to the underprivileged, is essential in order to broaden the basis for an enlightened
opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in protecting and
improving the environment in its full human dimension. It is also essential that mass media of
communications avoid contributing to the deterioration of the environment, but, on the contrary,
disseminates information of an educational nature on the need to project and improve the
environment in order to enable mal to develop in every respect.

Principle 20 : Environmental research must be promoted, particularly in developing


Scientific research and development in the context of environmental problems, both national and
multinational, must be promoted in all countries, especially the developing countries. In this
connection, the free flow of up-to-date scientific information and transfer of experience must be
supported and assisted, to facilitate the solution of environmental problems; environmental
technologies should be made available to developing countries on terms which would encourage
their wide dissemination without constituting an economic burden on the developing countries.

Principle 21 : States may exploit their resources as they wish but must not endanger others

States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of
international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own
environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or
control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of
national jurisdiction.

Principle 22 : Compensation is due to states thus endangered

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States shall cooperate to develop further the international law regarding liability and
compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage caused by activities
within the jurisdiction or control of such States to areas beyond their jurisdiction.

Principle 23 : Each nation must establish its own standards

Without prejudice to such criteria as may be agreed upon by the international community, or to
standards which will have to be determined nationally, it will be essential in all cases to consider
the systems of values prevailing in each country, and the extent of the applicability of standards
which are valid for the most advanced countries but which may be inappropriate and of
unwarranted social cost for the developing countries.

Principle 24 : There must be cooperation on international issues

International matters concerning the protection and improvement of the environment should be
handled in a cooperative spirit by all countries, big and small, on an equal footing.

Cooperation through multilateral or bilateral arrangements or other appropriate means is

essential to effectively control, prevent, reduce and eliminate adverse environmental effects
resulting from activities conducted in all spheres, in such a way that due account is taken of the
sovereignty and interests of all States.

Principle 25 : International organizations should help to improve the environment

States shall ensure that international organizations play a coordinated, efficient and dynamic role
for the protection and improvement of the environment.

Principle 26 : Weapons of mass destruction must be eliminated.

Man and his environment must be spared the effects of nuclear weapons and all other means of
mass destruction. States must strive to reach prompt agreement, in the relevant international
organs, on the elimination and complete destruction of such weapons.

One of the seminal issue that emerged from the conference is the recognition for poverty
alleviation for protecting the environment. The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her
seminal speech in the conference brought forward the connection between ecological
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management and poverty alleviation. It is to be noted that she was the only other speaker in the
conference other than the hosting country prime minister.

Agenda 21

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with
regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) 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
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executed at local, national, and global levels. The "21" in Agenda 21 refers to the 21st Century. It
has been affirmed and modified at subsequent UN conferences.

It offers policies and programmes to achieve a sustainable balance between consumption,

population and the Earth’s life-supporting capacity. It describes some of technologies and
techniques that need to be developed to provide for human needs while carefully managing
natural resources. Agenda 21 does not shun business. It says that sustainable development is the
way to reverse both poverty and environmental destruction.

The relationship between economic development and environmental degradation was the first
placed on the International Agenda in 1972 at the UN conference on the human environment
held in Stockholm. After the conference govt. set up the united nations environment programme
UNEP which today continues to act as a global catalyst for action to protect the environment.

By 1983, when the UN setup the world commission on environment development, environmental
degradation, which had been seen as a sideeffect of Industrial wealth with only a limited impact
was understood to be a matter of survival for developing nations. The commission put forward
the concept of sustainable development as an alternative approach to one simply based on
economic growth.

The Rio declaration on environments sustainable development supports Agenda 21 by defining

the rights and responsibilities of states regarding these issues among its principles:

1. That human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. They are
entitles to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

2. That scientific uncertainty environmental degradation irreversible damage.

3. That state have a sovereign rights to exploit their own resources but not to cause damage
to the environment of their state.

4. That eradicating poverty and reducing dispatches in worldwide standards of living are
“Indispensable” for sustainable development.
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5. That the full participation of the women is essential for achieving sustainable

6. That the developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the
international pursuit of the sustainable development in view of the pressuring societies
place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they

Structure of Agenda 21:

Agenda 21 is a 300-page document divided into 40 chapters that have been grouped into
4 sections:

 Section I: Social and Economic Dimensions is directed toward combatting poverty,

especially in developing countries, changing consumption patterns, promoting health,
achieving a more sustainable population, and sustainable settlement in decision making.

 Section II: Conservation and Management of Resources for Development Includes

atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments,
conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), control of pollution and the
management of biotechnology, and radioactive wastes.

 Section III: Strengthening the Role of Major Groups includes the roles of children and
youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and industry, and workers; and
strengthening the role of indigenous peoples, their communities, and farmers.

 Section IV: Means of Implementation: implementation includes science, technology

transfer, education, international institutions and financial mechanisms.

Agenda 21 calls on governments to adopt national strategies for sustainable development. These
should be developed with wide participation, including non-government organizations and the
public. Agenda 21 puts most of the responsibility for leading change on national governments,
but says they need to work in a broad series of partnerships with international organizations,
business, regional, state, provincial and local governments, non-governmental and citizens’
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As Agenda 21 says, only a global partnership will ensure that all nations will have a safer and
more prosperous future.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize
international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the
Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The
organization deals with regulation of trade between participating countries; it provides a
framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process
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aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by

representatives of member governments.

World Trade Organisation: Functions and Principles

Functions: The WTO sets rules for trade among nations. The WTO agreements, which emerge
out of several rounds of negotiations, provide the legal ground-rules for international commence.
They are essentially contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed
limits. WTO also helps settle disputes related to trade. Most of the agreements, in the WTO
system, often need interpretation. At times differences take place among the trading partners on
the interpretation of the agreements.

Principles of the Trading System: As WTO sets the rules for trade; it has developed sets of
agreed principles for this purpose. Indeed WTO agreements are based on certain fundamental
principles. These may be described as follows:
 Trade Without Discrimination. This principle has two aspects to it

i) Most Favoured Nation-MNF: Under WTO agreements no country can

normally discriminate among its trading partners. When some special fovours
are given, e.g., the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment, the same favour
is normally to be thrown to all the other WTO members. Even though it
sounds like a contradiction, in essence it implies that each member treats all
the other members as Most Favoured trading partners.

ii) National Treatment. This involves “imported and locally-produced goods

should be treated equally — atleast after the foreign goods have entered the
market. The same should apply to foreign and domestic services and to
foreign and local trademarks, copyrights and patents” (source: www.wto.org).
To WTO, “opening markets can be beneficial, but it also requires adjustment.
The WTO agreements allow countries to introduce changes gradually through
progressive liberalisation. Developing countries are usually given a longer
turn to fulfill their obligation”. Significantly the WTO agreement also desires
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the member governments to ensure that the business environment is stable and

 Open Trade Policy and Fair Competition: WTO recognises that “all countries, including
the poorest, have assets – human, industrial, natural, financial - which can be used for
producing goods and services
both for the domestic and overseas markets. It also recognises that
bilateral trade policies, that allow the unrestricted flow of goods and
services, sharpen competition, motivate innovation and breed
 Encouraging Economic Reforms: Trade liberalisation is an important agenda of WTO.
Over three quarters of WTO members are developing countries and countries in transition
to market economies. Here all members have committed themselves to market access
within a specified timeframe (we shall discuss this timeframe

There are several provisions in the WTO agreements dealing with environment .
There is a reference to sustainable development as one of the general objectives to be served by
the WTO in the Marrakech Agreement which established the WTO. There are provisions in the
Agreement on Agriculture and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). However by
far and away the most important provisions as far as environmental issues are concerned are
Article XX of the GATT and the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the
Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
1. Article XX of the GATT: Article XX specifies what activities are exempt from GATT
rules. These exemptions give members very wide latitude to control trade to protect the
environment. They include protection of national security, protection of morals,
preservation of national cultural heritage. Of particular importance is the right to waive
the rules in order to protect human, animal, plant, health and safety.
2. Preventing abuse – the role of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
(SPS): Such provision stated that decisions be based on science and a process of risk
assessment introduced transparency into decision-making by creating a visible check on
abuse of executive discretion. This not only protected the rights of members of the WTO,
it also gave assurance to consumers that governments were not abusing their powers.
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3. Preventing abuse II – the role of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT):
The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). It was designed to reduce the
scope for countries to use technical standards as disguised barriers to trade. It obliges
members to ensure that national treatment and non-discrimination apply when technical
standards are adopted as mandatory regulations.

Sound regulation, standards and eco-labeling: There is large body of standards which aim
to improve the quality of goods and services and provide information to consumers. Most
of these are national standards and are set by national standard setting organizations. A set
of international standards is produced by the International Standards Organization. Well-
known quality standards developed by that organization include the ISO 9000 series (to
improve quality in organizations) and ISO 14000 (to set quality standards to improve
environmental management.). Eco-labelling systems are applied by commercial entities
for the information of consumers, these are voluntary standards.

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) sets binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of
greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of
achieving the "stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that
would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."
The Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on 16
February 2005. As of September 2011, 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol. The
United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol and Canada withdrew from it in 2011. Other
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United Nations member states which did not ratify the protocol are Afghanistan, Andorra and
South Sudan.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding
targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions .These reductions amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels
over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention
encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to
do so.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of
GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the
Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but
differentiated responsibilities.”

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force
on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at
COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “Marrakesh Accords.”

The Kyoto Protocol treaty was negotiated in December 1997 at the city of Kyoto, Japan and
came into force February 16th, 2005.
"The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries will
reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990 (but
note that, compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol,
this target represents a 29% cut). The goal is to lower overall emissions from six greenhouse
gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs, and PFCs - calculated
as an average over the five-year period of 2008-12. National targets range from 8% reductions
for the European Union and some others to 7% for the US, 6% for Japan, 0% for Russia, and
permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland."
The view that human activities are likely responsible for most of the observed increase in global
mean temperature ("global warming") since the mid-20th century is an accurate reflection of
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current scientific thinking. Human-induced warming of the climate is expected to continue

throughout the 21st century and beyond.
The range in temperature projections partly reflects different projections of future greenhouse
gas emissions. Different projections contain different assumptions of future social and economic
development (e.g., economic growth, population level, energy policies), which in turn affects
projections of future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.The range also reflects uncertainty in the
response of the climate system to past and future GHG emissions
The main aim of the Kyoto Protocol is to contain emissions of the main anthropogenic (i.e.,
human-emitted) greenhouse gases (GHGs) in ways that reflect underlying national differences in
GHG emissions, wealth, and capacity to make the reductions. The treaty follows the main
principles agreed in the original 1992 UN Framework Convention. According to the treaty, in
2012, Annex I Parties who have ratified the treaty must have fulfilled their obligations of
greenhouse gas emissions limitations established for the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment
period (2008–2012). These emissions limitation commitments are listed in Annex B of the
The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in
the atmosphere at a level that would stop dangerous anthropogenic interference with the
climate system." Even if Annex I Parties succeed in meeting their first-round commitments,
much greater emission reductions will be required in future to stabilize atmospheric GHG
For each of the different anthropogenic GHGs, different levels of emissions reductions would be
required to meet the objective of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations (see United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change#Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations).
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important anthropogenic GHG. Stabilizing the concentration of
CO2 in the atmosphere would ultimately require the effective elimination of anthropogenic CO2

Key Provisions

 In accordance with the Kyoto Protocol, Contracting Parties from developed

countries are committed to reducing their combined greenhouse gas
emissions by at least 5 per cent from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.
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The targets cover the six main greenhouse gases, namely, carbon dioxide
(CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs),
perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), along with some
activities in the land-use change and forestry sector that remove carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere (carbon "sinks"). Each Contracting Party from
developed countries is required to have made demonstrable progress in
implementing its emission reduction commitments by 2005.

 Implementation of the legally binding Protocol commitments promises to

produce an historic reversal of the upward trend in emissions from

 The Kyoto Protocol also establishes three innovative mechanisms, known

as joint implementation, emissions trading and the clean development
mechanism, which are designed to help Contracting Parties included in
Annex I of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
to reduce the costs of meeting their emission targets. The clean
development mechanism also aims to promote sustainable development in
developing countries. The operational details of these mechanisms are now
being fleshed out by the Contracting Parties.

 The procedure for the communication and review of information is

established in the Kyoto Protocol. Contracting Parties from developed
countries are required to incorporate in their national communications the
supplementary information necessary to demonstrate compliance with their
commitments under the Protocol in accordance with guidelines to be
developed. The information submitted shall be reviewed by expert review
teams, pursuant to guidelines established by the Conference of the Parties,
which is the supreme body that shall regularly review and promote effective
implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
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Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

 The Protocol provides that the Contracting Parties shall periodically review
the Protocol in the light of the best available scientific information and
assessment on climate change and its impacts. The first review will take
place at the second session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the
meeting of the Parties to the Protocol. Further reviews shall take place at
regular intervals and in a timely manner. A framework for a compliance
system is required to be developed under the Protocol.

Market-based trading mechanisms provided under Kyoto Protocol:

Three mechanisms have been established under the Kyoto Protocol: ET, the clean development
mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation (JI).

1. Emissions trading
Emissions trading is established by Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol. Annex I Parties may
participate in ET for the purposes of fulfilling their commitments under Article 3. ET is closely
related to the accounting of assigned amounts under the Kyoto Protocol, the modalities of which
are defined under the following Articles of the Kyoto Protocol:
(a) Article 3: paragraphs 7 and 8 deal with the establishment of assigned amounts;
(b) Article 3: paragraphs 10, 11 and 12 deal with the transfer and acquisition of some types of
(c) Article 7: paragraph 4 deals with the modalities for accounting assigned amounts.

2. Clean development mechanism

The CDM is established by Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol to assist non-Annex I Parties in
achieving sustainable development and in contributing to the ultimate objective of the
Convention, and to assist Annex I Parties in achieving compliance with their quantified emission
limitation and reduction commitments under Article 3.
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The CDM is supervised by the Executive Board which, inter alia, recommends modalities and
procedures for the CDM to the CMP and performs operational functions under the authority and
guidance of the CMP.

3.Joint implementation
Joint implementation is established by Article 6 of the Kyoto Protocol to assist Annex I Parties in
meeting their commitments under Article 3.
A host Party of an Article 6 project that meets all the eligibility requirements for participation
may verify its own emission reductions by sources or enhancements of removals by sinks from JI
projects and issue the resulting emission reduction units (so-called Track 1). If a Party does not
meet those requirements, such verification takes place through the verification procedure under
the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC) (so-called Track 2). The JISC operates
under the authority and guidance of the CMP.