Viewpoint: India Can Be a Global Leader in Building a Nature-Positive Economy
We are at an inflexion point in human history. Healthy and resilient ecosystems—the foundation of all life on land and below water—are threatened like never before. Human activities such as pollution, unsustainable use of land and sea, the exploitation of organisms, climate change, and the invasion of alien species, are leading to the decline and degradation of natural ecosystems at an unprecedented scale. A recent World Meteorological Organisation study predicts a 70 percent likelihood of the planet reaching 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels as early as in the next five years.
The transmission of diseases like Covid-19 between animals and humans threatens economic development, human and animal well-being, and ecosystem integrity. The current pandemic, which is currently hitting India hardest, reflects our connectedness to one another, and how actions and events in one part of the world affect us all. These connections make up the fabric of nature—weakening or removing one form of life impacts the entire biodiverse ecosystem, making species vulnerable to extinction and natural systems less resilient.
India at the climate crossroads
Cyclone Tauktae, the fifth strongest tropic cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea, is a harsh and grim reminder of India’s vulnerability to extreme climate events. In the last decade, the cyclonic disturbances over the Northern Indian Ocean (NIO) and particularly over the Bay of Bengal have affected more than 250 districts. Its associated hazards – floods and droughts are causing catastrophic damage to livelihoods and infrastructure. India now ranks first as one of the global flood hotspots, followed by China and the US. In 2019 alone, the country registered 16 extreme flood events, which affected almost 150 districts. Increased precipitation levels, storm surges and sea levels are a severe threat to infrastructure, amongst other fatalities. More than 200 minor and major Indian ports, handling 95 percent of the country’s trade by volume and 70 percent by value, are at credible risk from climate disturbances.
Photo courtesy of CDG.