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BW Businessworld

Fighting The Triple Planetary Crisis Of Our Times

People’s participation in triggering the ‘3R’ approach coupled with effective environmental governance will remain the key in fighting this crisis

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In December 2019, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) made a few observations on the state of global climate. It stated that 2010-2019 marked the end of the warmest decade on record. Similarly, a few days back the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) noted that 2021 was the fifth warmest year in India since 1901. Various such reports every year highlight the incidence of climate change which has emerged as one of the greatest environmental challenges of contemporary times. 

Climate change has a significant impact on our nature and ecology. Forest degradation and forest fires, land degradation, coral bleaching are some prominent examples. At the same time, human greed for rapid economic development has led to a disregard for the environment. Human activities are generating wastes at an accelerated pace, far outpacing the ability of our ecosystems to assimilate them, causing environmental pollution. These three, the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and the crisis of pollution, together constitute the ‘Triple Planetary Crisis’ of our times.

Atul Bagai, Head, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Country Office, India while speaking at BW Businessworld’s ‘Recycling for Greener Tomorrow Conclave, 2022’, highlighted the severity of this ‘Triple Planetary Crisis’ and laid out an action plan that India needs to adopt to fight and make the world a better place for our future generations.

“This three-pronged crisis which we are facing is certainly not making the world a better place to live in. We are waging a war against nature and this war needs to stop. We need to make peace with nature,” said Bagai.

One of the key focuses for Bagai to tackle this crisis was recycling wherein he stated that segregation and recycling at the household level is an important aspect that is often neglected. “Our whole culture has been towards landfills. We’ve been moving towards creating landfills everywhere which have become major disasters. Household segregation is one such solution to move away from that culture,” he said.

He further highlighted that in recent years, environmental governance has come to the forefront with different waste management rules but stated that the industry has to become an active stakeholder to make these rules successful and have a collaborative approach with the government.

He lauded NITI Aayog for setting up 11 specialised committees to focus on end-of-life products and their recyclability. He added that such committees will address recycling issues associated with sectors such as manufacturing, supply chain, the steel industry among others.

On UNEP’s efforts, he said that the body is working very closely with the central and state governments as well as industry leaders to scale up its efforts and outreach. He suggested a comprehensive action plan towards environment mitigation for India and stressed people’s participation in triggering the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) approach to facilitate a robust circular economy framework.

He advised the government to use the pandemic recovery to shift gears toward circularity in the coming year and ensure a smooth and faster influx of renewable energy options in power and industrial sectors to meet the climate targets by 2030. He also urged the policymakers to think beyond 2024 for the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as the pressing issue of air pollution, especially in North India, would require a decade long focused intervention with high investments to address it adequately.