Special on World Environment Education Day
The world is celebrating ‘Environment Education Day’ on 25th January. Environment education propels a sustainable social understanding of ecosystem services & value addition without deteriorating ecological biodiversity for achieving development within the framework of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’. United Nations Agenda for 2030 has broadly stratified diverse environmental issues as a substantial segment in Sustainable Development Goals. SDGs6 specifically assigns ‘Clean Water & Sanitation’ whereas SDGs7 assigns ‘Afforestation & Clean Energy. SDGs11 deals with ‘Sustainable Cities & Communities’ whereas SDGs13 assigns the significant ‘Climate Action’ strategy. SDGs14 includes ‘Life Below Water’ whereas SDGs15 talks of ‘Life on Land’. India plays a core leadership role in a unanimous climate agreement in Paris. India is a signatory to Paris Climate Agreement & the Government has ratified the agreement which shall be legally binding by 2020.India is a signatory to Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which is operating from 2015 to 2015.
Prominent question arises here whether India has a concrete structure of environment education at school & university level which could develop a knowledgeable human resource countering different environmental issues through a well-equipped policy & significant management strategy or we have failed to facilitate a sustainable infrastructure of environment education so far. I have been dealing with this subject of environment education & environment degree holders in India since last 2 years. Being an environment professional I have met thousands of environment degree holders from almost all over India. Every year thousands of students are getting enrolled in diverse streams of environmental subjects in Under Graduation, Post-Graduation, M.Phil & PhD courses. Despite having inadequate structure & severe scarcity of specialized teaching & technical staffs these students hold their degrees in respective courses. Most of teaching & technical staffs have no background of environment science & they mostly belong to life sciences, Zoology, Botany, Chemistry & other subjects like economics, management & laws. Thousands of Masters, M.Phils & PhD environment degree holders are sitting jobless in India & University is facing severe scarcity of professors.
When we observe the basic structure of environment studies in our schools, we conclude a state of hopelessness. An ill-structure of environment education can only create an indiscipline human resource which is destructive to nature & biodiversity. Environment Degree Holders are jobless in large numbers & inexpert teachers are dealing with this subject in schools.
This trend is continuing to prevail in Government’s employment where most of the specialized positions dealing with environmental policies, laws & management lack specialized officials having sound environmental background. Since environmental feasibility & environment impact assessment have been two prominent paradigms of a project clearance whereas Governments have been amending environmental laws to weaken their basic spirit & integrity leading to precarious implications of clearance procedures. This isn’t a healthy sign & we aren’t moving in the right direction of fulfilling our ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ to the Paris Climate Agreement.
10th Environment Performance Index report ranks India at 177 in 180 Countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 categories covering environmental health & ecosystem vitality. This is a blow to policies dealing with environment health & pollution abatement. This is a shameful state of affair for such an emerging economy & a climate leader.
Such worsening degree of policy disaster continues to prevail when Governments fail to protect Ramsar Designated Wetlands for International Importance. Out of 26 Ramsar Designated Wetlands 90% are facing anthropogenic intervention, encroachment & policy paralysis. Officials are unaware of the rising risk of degradation such precious ecosystems are going through. They have no idea about the ecosystem services these wetlands are offering in terms provisioning, regulating, cultural & supporting services to the surrounding habitat for their life & livelihood. These wetlands are acting to reduce water related disaster risks.
Hardly officials know that the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands approved “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future” as the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2018. If Governments aren’t protecting Ramsar sites we can understand the state of wetland governance in India & the state of other wetlands too.
When India’s overall Environment Performance Index is such a record low because of policy impediments & failure of imposing environmental laws Current Government in the Union has brought dynamic legislative amendments to weaken green laws where ecosystem attributes could easily be unsettled to grant clearance for a project. Government of India has amended Indian Forest Act, Wetland (Conservation & Protection) Rules, and Wildlife Protection Act etc.
Governments have collapsed the infrastructure of environment education in India. Governments allow environment studies to be taught in schools but they have failed to recruit specialized teachers for the subject. Schools lack a healthy ecosystem of education. Universities & research institutions ignore appointing teaching resource persons holding environment degree. Environment education is facing critical policy threat which isn’t good for our international commitments & we will continue to be placed bottom down in our gross environment performance standards. Hopefully Governments adore providing better recognition to thousands of environment degree holders sitting jobless & harassed by some private consultancies those hire them on the most minimum emoluments which are an embarrassment to our whole education system.