Environmental economics, policies and development in Pakistan
By: Nida Sana
The environment is the complex set of physical, geographic, biological, social, cultural and political conditions that surround an individual or organism and that determine its form and the nature of its survival. The environment influences how people live and how societies. For that reason, people, progress, economic development and environment are closely linked.
Environmental economics is a sub-field of economics concerned with environmental issues. Environmental economics undertakes theoretical studies of the economics effects on natural or local environmental policies around the world, particular issues include the costs and benefits of alternative environmental policies to deal with air pollution, water quality, toxic substance, solid waste, and global warming (National Bureau of Economic Research).
Environmental issues in Pakistan threaten the population’s health and have been disturbing the balance between economic development and environmental protection. The environmental conditions in Pakistan are a matter of great concern.
A number of serious environmental problems present in our country, which are of great ecological concern in terms of sustainable economic future. These are water pollution from raw sewage, industrial, limited natural fresh water resources, solid erosion, pesticide misuse, deforestation, desertification and urban pollution.
Environment has never been matter of concern for Pakistan and the tendency goes further chronic as all mainstream political parties, bracing for participation in the forthcoming polls, have placed environment issues at the bottom of their draft manifestos.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1994 and as a result the adoption of Kyoto Protocol initially in 1997 (which later entered into force on February 16, 2005) has dubbed it necessary for all to have more vibrant climate change policies at political and national level across the world.
However in Pakistan, politics has all glamour but blind to environment issues. Indifference on the subject gets more appalling because common people especially civil society have not bothered to bash political leadership for downplaying environment matters in their manifestos. Adding insult to injury, various NGOs engaged in revamping environmental degradation, government departments and independent associations, national and international have also opted out to remain silent over the situation.
In terms of words, Pakistan claims to be part of global world but at the time of action, it lacks interest to follow environment protocol, which are accepted and practiced on international front.
Even neighbouring country India has better awakening for environmental problems and its political parties are so sensitive on the issue that they have placed climate matters on the top of their manifestos.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was founded in 1967 by late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but PPP spotted environmental problems during 2002 general elections when late Benazir Bhutto positioned them in party manifesto.
The same manifesto was incorporated in 2008 general elections. The manifesto just mentioned them instead putting greater emphasis on environment to ensure water security, green energy, environment-friendly policies and environment curriculum in educational institutions. With similar fashion and mind, PPP’s 13-member manifesto committee is again on the roll to fine tune its 2013 election manifesto highlighting five Es: ‘Employment, education, energy, equality, environment.
The Pakistan Muslim League-N headed by two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has even given a cold shoulder to environment issues in all manifestos. It is not surprising the manifesto does not cater to environment issue specially climate change, pollution of air and marine habitat, water quality, biodiversity, invasive plants and animals, eco-system, unsustainable agriculture, overpopulation and so on and so forth.
Pakistan Environment Lawyers’ Association (PELA) President Rafy Aalam criticised political parties for belittling environment issues in their manifestos but courageously confessed “Our like environment associations and NGOs also under-performed as if political parties did nothing and we also stayed out of the focus.”
He said, “Had we been in touch with political leadership in making of manifestos giving feedback on environment issues, they might have enlisted environment problems in true letter and spirit and this would have turned as tipping point but we remained dormant.”
A lot of environmental policies are introducing in Pakistan some of these are, national conservation policy (1992) aims to facilitate integration of environmental considerations in millions of daily economic, social and physical decisions of individuals, households communities, corporations and government objectives conservation of natural resources, sustainable development, improved use and efficiency of management of resources, operating principles achieve greater public participation in development of environment.
Integration of environmental economics in decision making focus of durable improvement of quality of life. National environmental policy 2005 goal to protect, conserve and restore Pakistan’s environment in order to improve quality of life of citizens through sustainable development objectives conservation and efficient management of environment resources integration of environmental consideration in policy making and planning process capacity blinding government agencies and stakeholders for better environment managing organisations more dynamic and responsive.
National sanitation policy 2006 goal aims at providing adequate sanitation coverage for improvement of quality of life of the people of Pakistan and to provide physical environment necessary for health life objectives.
To ensure an open defection free environment, safe disposal of liquid, solid, municipal, industrial and agricultural waste and promotion of health and hygienic practice.
To link and integrate sanitation programmes with the city and regional planning policies of health, environment, housing and education.
To promote Lead Total Sanitation Develop guidelines to effective institutional framework. Enhance capacity of government agencies and other stakeholders for better sanitation and particularly water-borne diseases to develop and implement strategies for integrated management of municipal, industrial, hazardous, hospital and clinical waste meet international obligation in-line with national aspirations.
Change attitude towards sanitation services and increase mass awareness. National water policy objectives, efficient management and conservation of existing water resources. Optimal development of potential water resources. Steps to minimise time and cost overruns in completion of water sector projects. Equitable water distribution in various areas and canal commands. Measures to reverse rapidly declining groundwater levels in low-recharge areas. Increased groundwater exploitation in high-recharge areas.
Effective drainage interventions to maximise crop production. Improved flood control and protective measures. Steps to ensure acceptable and safe quality of water. Guiding principles of national water policy. Holistic and sustainable resource protect the environment planning, development and management of specific water resources should be decentralised to an appropriate level. Delivery of specific water services should be delegated to autonomous and accountable public, private or cooperative agencies.
Services in a defined geographical area to their customers and/or members for an appropriate fee. Water use in society should be sustainable with incentives, regulatory controls and public education promoting economic efficiency, conservation of water resources.
Protection of the environment with a transparent policy framework shared water resources within and between nations should be allocated efficiently for the mutual benefit of all riparian users.
Promote cost effective and appropriate technological options for water supply systems- increase public awareness about water safety, safe hygiene practices and water conservation, enhance capacity of line ministries, departments, agencies and organisations at all levels in planning, implementation and monitoring of water supply programmes.
Promote public-private-partnership for enhancing access of safe drinking water and sustainable operation and maintenance of water supply systems. Promote research and development for enhancing access, effectiveness and sustainability of water supply interventions and promote inter-sectoral collaboration to maximize the impacts of water supply interventions.
The national forest policy (DRAFT) goals the policy aims at restoration, development, conservation and sustainable management of forests and allied natural resources to ensure sustainability of ecosystem functions, services and benefits for presented future generations of Pakistan.
Objectives restoration and maintenance of natural forests to preserve ecological cycles, functions and services. Increasing productivity of forests to meet requirements of timber, fuel wood, fodder and non-wood forest products and to promote sustainable natural resource based livelihoods.
Encouraging efficient utilisation of wood and non-wood forest products, maximising wood substitution and development of alternative renewable energy resources.
Development of forest resource base to enhance carbon sequestration capacity and mitigation of climate change effects, mainstreaming sustainable forest management into sectoral policies, plans and programmes.
Conservation of biological diversity, protection and sustainable use of indigenous flora and fauna. Fostering public-private partnerships to enhance forest cover and promote commercial forestry in private sector and encouraging role of civil society organisations.
Strengthening forestry education and research institutions to cope with the emerging challenges of deforestation and climate change.
Creating mass awareness and involving local communities in sustainable natural resource management. Meeting national obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements especially CBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC and UNFF.
Policy measure for the forest policy protection of forest lands from encroachments transfer of forest land to non-forestry uses-control of encroachment- forest fire management-regulating mining and quarrying bringing additional land under Tree Cover Firewood Substitution Sustainable livelihoods through integrated NRM Transparency and Good Governance Wood Substitution and Impact Liberalisation Grazing Regulation Forest Development Fund.
National rangeland policy (DRAFT) goal to rehabilitate the degraded rangelands and pastures close to their potential for increased productivity enhance their environmental and regulatory functions and services, increase and conserve rangeland biodiversity besides mitigating the negative impacts of global climate change through collaborative and holistic rangeland resources to contribute to the livelihood improvement of the rangelands dependent communities as well as to the national economy objectives to enhance the productivity and the related functions and services of the rangeland ecosystem. To promote rangeland enterprises for the livelihood improvement of the rangeland dependent communities. To conserve and maintain rangeland biodiversity. To mitigate the negative impacts of global warming and climate change especially related to the desertification. To enhance the skill and capacity of the key stakeholders for the sustainable management of the rangeland management. To undertake applied and action research on the key problems of the rangelands Policy Thrusts of National Rangelands Policy. Rangeland resource assessment and monitoring collaborative and integrated rangeland resources planning range resource rehabilitation and management Increase forage availability on other land use.
Promotion of rangeland enterprises. Management of rangelands for regulating sustainable water flow and reduced sediment production. Ecosystem rehabilitation for biodiversity conservation. Mitigation of the impact of global warming and climate change. Awareness raising about the significance and management of rangelands. Skill enhancement of the farmers and capacity building of the related stakeholders. Applied range research and technology development and transfer financial resource generation coordination and linkages development.
Being a development student I suggest this government should make such policies, which are more effective, environmental friendly and useful of sustainable economic development.
For example government could gradually decreased taxes on income, savings, and investments and increasing them on energy and resource use and on products with a high environmental impacts. A tax on the carbon content of fuels would give consumers incentives to switch to fuels that produce less pollution.
Humans are the rational choice makers who make choices, based on experienced costs and benefits, about all kinds of things. Typically, appeals are made in terms of sacrifice, selflessness and moral shame do not work.
A more effective strategy is to tap a durable human propensity for thinking mainly of short term self interest. Cooperation is more likely when people can learn from tit-for-tat incentive structures. In economic production cycle more policy attention has been given to the upstream (producers) to make production more environmentally or to reduce waste in production process. Engineering of more energy efficient products. Introducing regulatory policies that control the behaviour across a broad spectrum of constituent groups, industries and economic processes.
Community management of common resources policies introducing in which common peoples participate in making policies those are environmental friendly and beneficial for the future generations.
Introducing behavioural fixes by changing the people’s minds and implement the legal fixes that mandate change through law regulation rather than incentives, subsidies, or persuasion. These policies are environmental friendly and increasing the economic productivity if they implemented.
At the end I would like to say in past a lot of environmental policies introduced, but they were not implemented properly that’s way the environmental conditions in Pakistan are still very bad even the least developed countries have a high environmental status then Pakistan.
If policies implemented in the real meaning the development is guaranteed, environment became friendly and beneficial economically, socially and culturally.
The writer is a student of MSC Development Studies in Punjab University.