D-Sector for Development Community

   Friday, October 19, 2018
Agriculture - Duties and Rights - Education - Environment - Food - Global - Governance - Health - Indian Economy - Indian Society - Physical Development - Social Welfare - Water and Sanitation
Print | Back
Price-tag for ties with nature?
By Sudhirendar Sharma

By ignoring the cultural dimension of climate change adaptation, the capital centric efforts through economic valuation of nature and people's relations with it, will alter forever peoples' attitude towards it.


Natives of Himalaya feel innate relations with nature

Even at the cost of being refuted, it wouldn't be out of context to prophesise that globalisation of climate change will convert the Himalaya into a new playground for capitalism! Not only will the Himalaya get converted into a repository of Carbon to counter what others have voluntarily emitted but will charge for ecosystem services that it has been gifting to downstream people for several millennia.

Expected to fetch millions of dollars in carbon trade, the Himalaya are steadily being transformed into a market place of economic ideas. With a promise to enrich the lives of local communities, the logic of so-called ‘green economics’ is pitched as a positive sum game for investors too. For once, the snow-peak mountains with their green cover and blue waters would get traded in the stock market.

From carbon sequestration projects under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to cash transfer mechanism for conservation and reforestation under REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), the challenge of confronting the uncertainty of glacial meltdown is being converted into an opportunity by the donor-backed scientific fraternity who is working overtime to sell the idea to politicians and governments alike. It is being accepted and for good reasons too.

However, the flip side of this otherwise promising story is that decisions are being made on behalf of the unsuspecting mountain communities who may not have contributed to the ecological crises but are being made to pay for it by way of adapting to the subtle but significant changes in weather pattern. On their own, mountain communities have rarely altered their life-support systems.

Over several millennia, communities have adapted to immense diversity across the mountains by developing socio-cultural perspectives of ‘belonging’ to the undulating sub-basins. By developing ‘belongingness’ to the mountains, which constitutes affinities, affiliations and attachments, communities could bring about commonality, connectedness and cohesion in its relationship with the mountains.

A farmer who would, as a tradition, protect a tree would most likely get paid for doing so in future. A rich tradition would get reduced to an economic ritual.

For the communities, preserving forests and conserving water sources has been an unwritten obligation not only for their own survival but for returning the favours back to the ecosystem. Simply put, communities are known to belong to the mountain ranges, forests ecosystems and river basins and not the other way round. Curiously, this relationship is under threat of being broken.

A farmer who would, as a tradition, protect a tree would most likely get paid for doing so in future. A rich tradition would get reduced to an economic ritual. Under a CDM or REDD mechanism, the culture of environment protection would be up for grabs. The value of a tree would henceforth be valued in terms of its carbon sequestration potential alone, discounting its cultural and aesthetics value.

The cultural erosion on account of economic valuation of the ecosystem and its services would have far-reaching implications on the manner in which communities have connected with the mountains in the past. Henceforth, communities will cease to ‘belong’ to forests, rivers and land. Conversely, they would ‘own’ the natural assets and bargain them in return for short-term economic gains.

Will reduction in cultural capital have any long-term impact on the mountains? Though cultural dimension of climate change adaptation has yet to merit any serious consideration in climate change research, change in peoples’ attitude towards nature on account of economic valuation of nature and the services would be tough to rule out.

The views expressed above are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of d-sector editorial team.

Sudhirendar Sharma  |  sudhirendarsharma@gmail.com

Dr Sudhirendar Sharma is an environmentalist and development analyst based in New Delhi. Formerly with the World Bank, Dr Sharma is an expert on water, a keen observer on climate change dynamics, and a critic of the contemporary development processes.

Write to the Author  |  Write to d-sector  |  Editor's Note

 Other Articles by Sudhirendar Sharma in
Environment Development  > Conservation > International policies and programmes

Greed eyeing green
Friday, September 16, 2011

Is green capitalism a distraction from the real issues that the world needs to address to realize sustainable development?

Carbon Crunching
Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The World Bank has signed an agreement with the state government of Himachal Pradesh for the largest carbon revenue project. However, the conditions of the agreement indicate that instead of putting the carbon revenue mechanism to the competitive advantage of the stakeholders, such projects continue to serve the interest of the clients.
 Other Articles in Environment Development
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
Member Login
- New Member
- Forgot Password

WoW Gold,Buy WoW Gold,Website Design,Web Design,Health Tips,Health Guides,NFL News,NFL Jerseys,Fashion Design,Home Design,Replica Handbags,Replica Bags,Jewelry Stores,Wedding Jewelry,WOW Gold,Cheap WoW Gold,Wedding Dresses,Evening Dresses,MMORPG Guides,MMORPG Tips,Fashion Jewelry,Fashion Crystal,Sexy Lingerie,Best Sexy Lingerie,Fashion Clothing,Fashion Shoes,Travel News,Travel Guides,Education News,Education Tips