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“If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.” ― Confucius

The people of the world share a common destiny as far as the impact of environment is concerned. No one can escape the hazardous effects of environmental degradation until the nations of the world take positive steps, first to hold it and then to switch over to environment-friendly development. The international community, in order to repair the damage done to the environment, discussed ways and means of protecting environment in the form of Stockholm Declaration 1972, Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, Kyoto Protocol of 1997, Johannesburg Summit in 2002, and Gleneagles Meet of 2005; followed by replication of these international declarations by national governments through enactment of laws.

Now, one of the major challenges faced by public policy practitioners in the 21st century is the fragility of environment, unplanned development and injudicious use of resources and it has necessitated the need for ‘Good Environmental Governance’. The problem is not with regulation but with ineffective administration. The administration setups particularly in developing countries have to deal with stable and sustainable economic development with a perpetually stable resource base.

The share of developing countries in carbon emissions is negligible, if compared with the developed ones. Almost half the world’s total carbon emissions come from G-8 countries. However, developing countries, too, are responsible for environmental degradation as is evident from “Asian Brown Cloud”. The developing countries cannot be denied the right to development in the name of environmental protection; however, they can ensure it by adopting a management strategy for good environmental governance which may include:

1. Renewable energy resources

The leading example of the use of renewable energy resources is Sweden as its energy requirements are met from hydro and nuclear electric power while it plans to end its dependency on oil by 2020. Similarly, Iceland and Brazil are planning to switch over to renewable energy resources in the years to come. The developing countries are also required to work for renewable resources of energy generation such as solar, wind, wave and biomass, geothermal and nuclear energy. Though Pakistan lags far behind in the use of renewable resources of energy generation, the commitment by successive governments is evident from the steps taken in the light of Environment Policy 2012 which envisaged promoting investment in renewable energy resources.

2. Clean technologies

There is an urgent need to replace environmentally-inappropriate existing technologies with clean technologies like solar-run cooking utensils, introduction of eco-friendly vehicles. The developed world should help developing countries in transferring technologies so that non-polluting and environment-friendly devices may be installed gradually. It should be sold at cheaper rates.

GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE 3. Municipal solid waste management

The main categories of solid waste are agriculture, industrial, domestic and bio-medical. The bio-degradable waste can be used for making manure which enhances the fertility of soil as the fertilizers gradually turn the soil saline. Energy generation is another way of effective utilization of solid waste. Non-biodegradable solid waste such as metals, sand, plastics can also be used by recycling. There is need to continuously work and find innovative ways to effectively utilize solid waste.

4. Conservation and protection of natural environment

Reforestation, protection of wildlife, prevention and control of water and air pollution, as well as the conservation of soil should be the top priority of environmental management. Awareness campaigns should be launched vigorously so that people come to know about the impact of environmental degradation on their daily life and start thinking to improve their surroundings. The young generation should also be enlightened about the hazards associated with environmental degradation and the subject should be included in educational curricula across the country.

5. Social equity

It demands a fair and equitable distribution of benefits of development. The topmost priority of good environmental governance is to ensure equitable economic progress. Similarly, the protection of environment is the responsibility of present generation but with a link with future generations.

6. Efficient administration

The sine qua non of efficient administration is that it must be accountable, transparent and people-friendly. Moreover, it should find out innovative solutions to the problems by ensuring participation of the people to the maximum extent.

Allah Almighty has gifted humans with abounding abilities to learn and find out solutions to the problems. The administration in 21st century will have to draw up ecological strategy to face the challenges of environmental issues.

SDG 13: Climate Action

  • 13.1 strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • 13.2 integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 13.3 improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • 13.a implement the commitment undertaken by developed country Parties to the UNFCCC to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
  • 13.b Promote mechanisms for raising capacities for effective climate change related planning and management, in LDCs, including focusing on women, youth, local and marginalized communities

What is Environmental Governance?

Environmental governance is the term we use to describe how we, as humans, exercise our authority over natural resources and natural systems. It is about questions concerning how we make environmental decisions and who makes them.

Selected Definitions

  1. The set of regulatory processes, mechanisms and organizations through which political actors influence environmental actions and outcomes. (Lemos & Agrawal 2006: 298)
  2. Environmental governance should be understood broadly so as to include all institutional solutions for resolving conflicts over environmental resources. (Paavola 2007, p. 97)
  3. The interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies toward preventing, mitigating and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation, within the normative context of sustainable development (Biermann et al. 2009, p. 3)

The right to a healthy environment

The right to a healthy environment is now recognized in many national constitutions and regional instruments, with over 90 national constitutions recognizing some form of environmental rights since the mid-1970s. Many subnational governments also recognize such rights in the absence of their lack of recognition through a national constitution. About two thirds of the constitutional rights refer to health; alternative formulations include rights to a clean, safe, favourable or wholesome environment. Some States have included more detailed rights, such as rights to receive information and participate in decision-making about environmental matters.

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