Challenges to green politics in South Asia
Green politics is considered as one of the emerging trends in the world politics stressing on the social, political and economic aspects of development through the sustainable development. Green politics is mainly about environmentalism whose principal objective is to get the more effective legislation by keeping in mind to combat the pollution, to protect the country’s environment, stop deforestation and encourage recycling at all the levels. Green politics basically focuses on the fact that the country needs to achieve goals of sustainability for getting environmental friendly progress for its people. With the advancement in technology, the concerns for the environment is increasing by the day due to which green politics have been emerged as a new way of world politics where the concerns related to the environment stands above all. The economic system along with the human values becomes the top priority as green politics safeguards the environment and comes up with such policies for the healthy living of the individuals in the particular state.
The concept of Green politics was emerged from the Green party of England and Wales which was founded by the group of people in 1973. They were basically concerned by the global environmental degradation resulting from human activity. They propagated the campaign related to environmentalism. The political scenarios were later revolutionized in 1980’s with the actual discovery of Ozone Hole. Moreover, different summits took place for environment protection such as Montreal summit in 1987 and later Koyoto protocol in 1997. They were considered as the building blocks for the environmental sustainability and development and also set up various targets for the clean environment. The actual politics on environment started from the point when various environmental challenges started taking over the world. Various political parties’ slogans were based on the climate change. Since then the topic of environmentalism has been an essential part internationally in the state’s policy. The early proponents of Green politics such as Gandhi and Spinoza etc considered the concept of green politics more than the political ideology. They shared many ideas related to conservation of natural resources, peace movements and gross root democracy etc. At that time, the conservation of environment and the non-renewable natural resources were the basic goal of green politics at that time. Moreover, Green politics also focuses on the fact the gross root democracy should be encouraged because it gives opportunity to every individual to actively take part in the decision making of the state for the purpose of protecting their lives and environment. It also emphasis on eliminating the nuclear weapons completely from the earth because it becomes the source of destruction for human beings.
The developed countries of the world are working on protecting the environment through different ways and means. Green politics is famous in advanced countries like Germany, France, UK, Netherlands, and Spain. They are setting an example of adding the agenda of environment protecting policies in their political campaigns and state’s policies. The region of South Asia which covers half of the earth’s population is tackling the other issues like food, shelter, inflation, health and education issues and keep environment related concerns as their primary motive. South Asia portrays a bleak picture on eco politics because they haven’t fulfilled the actual goals of sustainability which could approve the environment of the region. South Asia includes the countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka etc. This region is prone to rapid climate change and global warming which is putting an impact on the population residing in the region. Eco-politics is somehow an illusion for the region because environment is not being prioritized by many of the countries of South Asia.
India is the biggest state in South Asia with the population of more than 1.3 billion. There are more than 1300 working political organizations in India but not even one is green party. Every political party has their own agenda but none of them have ever focused on environment and well-being of people. Apart from all the socioeconomic crisis, India is still saturated with different environmental issues like water shortage to population explosion, issue of noise and air pollution, deforestation, desertification etc. According to World Economic Forum report published in 2018, most polluted cities of the world belong to India which includes Gwalior, Allahabad, Raipur, Delhi, Ludhiana, and Khanna. For such crisis management, still the country lacks in having a green agenda for solving the environment related concerns of the region. Though many of the groups are on green and environmental concerns in India such as Sadhana forests, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Save Silent Valley, Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna, Clean Dilli, Green Dilli etc. But unfortunately the problem reside within these green groups that they have no political backing. Moreover the People of India consider these environmental organizations as activists without any political agenda. This is where the green activists in South Asia lag behind developed world as they don’t organize them politically.
In the same way, Maldives is considered as a tourist hub of South Asia. Which attracts number of tourists from throughout the world due to its natural beauty. Though it’s a smallest country of the region and is located in Indian Ocean comprising of almost 1200 islands but unfortunately due to the increase in temperature and rising sea level, Maldives is one of the most endangered countries of the world. According to the Maldivian Government reports, if the sea level kept on rising due to pollution and rising temperatures, Maldives will be under water by the year 2020. Other environmental issues in this country includes the decreasing amount of fresh water supply, lowering of water table, a lot of deforestation, and rapid increase in population which is somehow putting pressure on other natural resources of the country as well. It is always said that where there is a green government so the government altogether makes certain provisions for the environment protection but in case of Maldives the sea pollution is rising day by day and the green politics is somehow missing in the country. The lack of growing awareness of green movement throughout the society is simply a hindrance towards achieving the friendly and healthy environment. The actual roots of the green politics are mostly based on democracy or political representation which somehow lacks in the country. Moreover, in a current timeframe Maldives is facing difficulty in balancing the economic pursuits of country and its environment. Since it’s the hub of tourism and its economy is all dependent on it which is impacting the environment of the country in many different ways. As green politics plays a major role in protecting the environment of the country but with reference to Maldives which is an Island country located in South Asia, the green politics is somehow missing in the political structure of the country.
Similarly, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are other two notable countries located in South Asian region. Though both are small geographically but they are enormous in population. Just like the other countries of South Asia, both of these countries are facing the similar environmental related problems ranging from deforestation, water contamination, floods, sea water contamination, and urbanization etc. With the reference to green politics, the idea of politics is overall face the hatred in these states. Unfortunately, there is no party seen in Sri Lanka or Bangladesh which actually keeps environment a primary agenda of their politics. Moreover, despite of the fact that the both countries lose billions of dollars in flooding and other environmental related issues every year still green politics is missing in these countries. Even though Dhaka, and Colombo are among the biggest cities of this region but they have no proper management.
With reference to Pakistan which has been listed as the 7th most vulnerable country affected by climate change, is now among those countries of South Asia which is now seriously tackling the vagaries of weather, both at the official as well as non-official level. The current PTI government has taken an initiative to think seriously about climate change. Though the country’s extreme vulnerability from climate change is understandable owing to its geographic, demographic, and diverse climatic conditions. PTI has come forward with particular environmental agenda in their political policies. PTI government in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took the first major step to deal with climate change by launching the billion tree Tsunami Project for the purpose of conservation and reforestation. The national campaign of protecting the environment came forward as a result of green politics in the country. Since its main focus was on addressing the five components: plantation, solid waste management, liquid waste management/ hygiene, total sanitation, and safe drinking water. With the help of this project, government wanted to empower the citizens of the country and making themselves equally accountable and responsible for Clean Green Pakistan in all the ways and means. The recent positive move taken by PTI government is the largest tree plantation drive in the country which is itself an effort for making Pakistan green. The nationwide plantation drive is Pakistan’s positive step towards clean green environment which is important for the future generations of Pakistan.
Political leaders in all the ways and means plays a major role in setting the course for their nations. Unfortunately, political leadership of South Asia do not consider environment as of due importance. Politics is being done on the basis of giving jobs, raising wages and salaries, tax cut, prioritizing education and health sectors and fulfilling their own interests. No political leader has given a due attention to the environment despite of having environmental issues in their countries on its peak. Though the current government in Pakistan has taken an initiative in the form of Clean Green Pakistan which is a positive step for environment protection. For rest of the countries of South Asia, there is a dire need to implement environmental laws by the political leaders who are themselves responsible for the well-being of every individual living in their states. Above all, the politics on environment can only be done when political leaders are concerned with the environment in actual means.