- Biosphere Reserves are evolving as Pockets of Hope
- Virtues of Planning/ Vision India@2047
Biosphere Reserves are Evolving as Pockets of Hope
In the Island of Principe Biosphere Reserve in Sao Tome and Principe, Africa, schoolchildren have been provided with stainless steel water bottles to eliminate the daily production and consumption of single-use plastic bottles. These UNESCO biosphere reserves serve as beacons of hope in the face of the climate crisis, safeguarding biodiversity, reducing pollution, and strengthening climate resilience. They are like precious gems of land, coastal areas, and marine ecosystems scattered across the world, where nature and humans coexist, creating a harmonious symphony of life.
On the second anniversary of World Biosphere Reserve Day on November 3, it is important to reflect on the progress made in conserving and sustainably using these vital ecosystems. Analyse. (10 Marks, 150 words).
Basics of a Biosphere Reserve:
- World Biosphere Reserve Day is celebrated on November 3 each year to raise awareness about the significance of biosphere reserves and promote their conservation and sustainable utilization.
- Within each biosphere reserve, there is a strictly protected core zone that preserves flora, fauna, and the overall ecosystem, including water, soil, air, and biota.
- Surrounding this core zone is a buffer zone where people live and work in harmony with nature, serving as a laboratory for scientific research, training, and education.
- The outermost area is the transition zone where communities engage in socially, culturally, and ecologically sustainable activities.
Significance of a Biosphere Reserve:
- Designated by UNESCO to advance biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, and research, biosphere reserves receive support from various United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- As per UNESCO, there are currently 748 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites that foster cooperation between neighboring nations. These reserves impact the lives of over 250 million people in 134 countries, with 12 such sites located in India alone.
- Biosphere reserves are essential for the future of our planet. They serve as living proof of nature’s resilience, flourishing even amidst human activities.
- These reserves encompass a wide range of ecosystems, from tropical rainforests to alpine deserts, providing habitats for numerous unique and endangered plant and animal species.
- In addition to their crucial role in biodiversity protection and sustainable resource utilization, they offer opportunities for sustainable economic development.
- In recent years, biosphere reserves have become vital in the fight against climate change, as they are home to many of the world’s carbon sinks that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, offering solutions for implementing climate change adaptation strategies.
- At the local level, significant progress has been made in conserving biosphere reserves. For instance, in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve in India, local communities collaborate to manage mangrove forests and protect regional biodiversity.
- In the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, local communities, including women, contribute to conservation efforts through self-help groups, while the youth engage in eco-tourism.
- The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust, recently honored with the UNESCO Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management in 2023, has introduced “plastic checkpoints” where community members inspect vehicles and tourists for plastic waste, which is then collected, recycled, and used for road construction.
- The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program strengthens the relationship between humans and the environment by integrating natural and social sciences to enhance livelihoods, protect ecosystems, and promote sustainable economic development.
- UNESCO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, recently concluded the 10th South and Central Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting (SACAM) in Chennai, India, from November 1 to 3. With the theme “Ridge to Reef,” SACAM provided a platform for sharing knowledge and fostering collaborations in the realm of sustainable environmental practices in the South and Central Asia Region.
Challenges faced by Biosphere Reserves:
Despite being crucial ecosystems for protecting nature and multiple efforts to ensure their conservation, these biosphere reserves face threats such as deforestation, invasive species, and changes in land use, like mining, due to increasing urbanization and population growth. On the second anniversary of World Biosphere Reserve Day, it’s essential to reflect on the progress made in conserving and sustainably utilizing these vital ecosystems.
Virtues of Planning/Vision India@2047
In early 2024, it is anticipated that our Prime Minister will introduce a blueprint to transform the nation into a developed country with a $30 trillion economy by the time it reaches its 100th year of Independence. This plan, officially named Vision India@2047, has been under development for nearly two years, with officials from various ministries collaborating on strategies to elevate the country’s level of development to meet its aspirations.
Blueprint to develop India by 2047 must factor in critical governance reforms. Elucidate. (15 Marks, 250 words).
Progress achieved on the Blueprint:
- The NITI Aayog, in the process of finalizing this vision document, will soon seek feedback on its central ideas and objectives from top experts across different sectors, including World Bank President Ajay Banga, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, and prominent Indian industrialists and thought leaders, to fine-tune the plan and address any potential shortcomings.
- While this plan might be perceived as the government’s policy agenda in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election, its importance extends beyond electoral outcomes.
- Future governments should also prioritize the broad agenda outlined in this plan.
Blueprint should factor in Governance Reforms:
- India’s economic growth, from representing 1.1% of the global economic output in 1991 to its current position as the world’s fifth-largest economy with a 3.5% share, has been achieved through various governments adhering to the reform and liberalization agenda.
- However, there have been occasional setbacks and variations in the pace and intensity of reforms, even in the present coalition-independent government, particularly concerning challenging changes required in factor markets like land and labor.
- The final plan should incorporate innovative ideas to effectively address these challenging reforms and provide a sense of policy stability that will attract international investors interested in India’s growth prospects.
- It is crucial to minimize the government’s role, transitioning it from a micromanager to an enabler.
- This shift is especially critical in light of recent decisions that seem to revive past practices, such as production-linked incentives, import licensing, and overly aggressive taxation.
- One of the stated priorities within the vision document, which segments its action points and goals into two timeframes—2030 and the subsequent 17-year period leading up to 2047—is to prevent India from falling into the middle-income trap in the near future. Achieving this goal requires accelerating the long-pursued transformation of the economy from agriculture to industry and addressing the growing income inequality.
- While the traditional Five-Year Plans have been discarded, the 2047 plan should be periodically reviewed to adjust its objectives in response to evolving global trends and unexpected events, including Black Swan events.
While aiming for an ambitious 9% growth rate between 2030 and 2047 is commendable, it is also advisable to factor in alternative scenarios and be willing to change direction when necessary. The final plan should incorporate strategies to navigate such complex reforms and ensure policy stability to attract global investors interested in India’s growth story.