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Dealing with Environmental Degradation
Anu Singh, Economist & Entrepreneur  Bangalore  01/01/2011 12:55:37 AM

  The purpose of local economic development (LED) is to build up the economic capacity of a local area to improve its economic future and the quality of life for all. It is a process by which public, business and nongovernmental sector partners work collectively to create better conditions for economic growth and employment generation.1 The whole idea of LED is to improve quality of life for all.
Local economic development depends on local initiative, driven by local stakeholders and it involves identifying and using primarily local resources, ideas and skills in an integrated way to stimulate economic growth and development in the locality.
Goals of Local Economic Development
The major goals of local economic developments are:
• Encourage development and redevelopment for increased economic vitality of the districts
• Create and retain employment in the City
• Assist in the rehabilitation of older facilities and/or expansion of existing industrial facilities
• Enhance attractiveness of our community
• Maintain environmental balance in the city and ensure environmental sustainability
• Avail basic necessity to the society like water
and sanitation.
Among the above goal which is on the hot seat of the today’s developing economy is to maintain environmental balance in the society to keep up with health and security of the localities.
Environmental degradation is the major problem not only of the local government but also of the whole world. Industrialization and its subsequent fast population growth and concentration are the chief contributors to environmental troubles in both developed and developing countries. The magnitude of the problem varies from country to country depending on various factors, including stage of industrial development and the degree of enforcement of environmental regulations.
Today environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems of the globe facing mankind. Air, water, and soil are essential to the survival of all living creatures on planet earth, but unfortunately they are debilitated by pollution. Air polluted beyond tolerable levels can cause sickness, and even demise. Pollution damages land, water and air. It can cause contamination of the earth’s environment with materials that interfere with human health, the quality of life, and the natural functioning of ecosystems (living organisms and their physical surroundings).
Pollution is usually caused by actions of human, but can also be the result of natural disasters. Pollution can also occur from disruption or damage to waste-water collection and treatment infrastructure due to severe natural events like hurricanes or flooding. Pollution is caused by the garbage and waste material especially non recycled material that people most often throw on the ground or into oceans, lakes or rivers.
People have always polluted our environment, but pollution was not a major problem in early days when machines were not there. Most of the people lived in rural areas and the pollutants (waste products) they produced were scattered widely. At that time pollution-causing machines such as factories industrial plants or motor vehicles, were not introduced.  The rapid growth of Industrialization and the development of busy cities in the 1700's and the 1800's made pollution a major problem to mankind, plants and animals. Factories and human beings in these urban cities released enormous quantity of pollutants into small areas.

Review of Literature
Local economic development (LED) is a process in which partnerships between local government, the private sector and the communities are established to handle local, and access external, resources that can be used to stimulate the economy of a well defined territory. In its earlier incarnations, the goal of Local Economic Development was mainly restricted to growing the economic and tax base of a location. More recently, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, a new goal has been included in the LED’s objective to combat environmental degradation at local level and give healthy and secure life to the local people and area. In a few countries municipal corporations has already done good job in achieving these goals.
These corporations examines enterprise, location and community from the perspective of economic, ecological and social sustainability, showing how lack of attention to the conditions for sustainability of any one sphere will ultimately undermine the sustainability of the other two. It also demonstrates how creative thinking can turn social and environmental sustainability problems into opportunities for local people. Now we will discuss the environmental issue and its handling by individual and government bodies at local level, the problem they are facing and how to overcome it. After reviewing the various literatures we have found the following important discussion.

Major Environmental Issues
Let us discuss few major issues related with environment to illustrate how environment is affected by life and how it is affecting life.
Unsustainable Development: The landmark report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, entitled "Our Common Future", warned that unless we change many of our lifestyle patterns, the world will face unacceptable levels of environmental damage and human suffering. The Commission, echoing the urgent need for tailoring the pace and the pattern of global economic growth to the planet's carrying capacity, said that: "Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable and to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."2
Affecting Poor: environmental degradation is not all about global warming, desertification or climatic change, ozone layer depletion, but it is also related with the weaker section in marginal areas are generally pretty localized in character, revolving around direct issues related with their life and living conditions, such as the degradation of a particular rangeland or soil erosion on farmland or the progressive reduction of fallow.
Food Problem: Population increases, aging populations, consumption patterns - living beyond means, over consumption affect the poor because they are directly related to household food security. Degradation of the resource base by and large translates into decreases in production or income and thus in the availability of food. Declining soil fertility leads to lower crop yields while rangeland depletion reduces off take, and any deterioration in water quality adversely affects the fish catch.
Vicious Circle: In their quest for food security, the rural poor have sometimes little choice but to overuse the limited resources available to them. The resulting effects of environmental degradation among poor people impose further constraints on their livelihood in what has been called a "downward spiral" or "vicious circle".
Poor Health: A sentry lifestyle combined with health impacts of environmental pollution and emissions, use and abuse of pesticides, anti-biotic etc is affecting the health of the future generations. The environment influences our health in many ways — through exposures to chemical physical, and biological risk factors, and through related changes in our behavior in response to those factors.
Energy: The rate at which energy is being used is affecting the climate; every source of energy has an environmental impact. Energy efficiency is not just technology, but also cutting back the ill effects on environments. Not only this the technology like hydropower are involved in great displacement of people from villages.  
Environmental Issues at Local Level:
1) Lack of Efforts at Individual Level:
 Still in country like India, people are less educated about the environmental damage and its effects on social living. They are totally ignorant about how their small mistakes and carelessness like disposing garbage with full of non recycled products can harm the whole community, its health and its land. There is a need to educate people regarding waste disposal and creating awareness related with harm we people are giving to the society.
2) The Lack of Community Efforts: 
 To address social and environmental problems related to solid waste management in Asian cities that have been initiated by local groups suffer the typical limitations of small volunteer projects. They are facing difficulty getting the support and cooperation of city solid waste departments and cannot directly influence solid waste planning or the industrial causes of waste problems.
3) No Support for Green Consumerism: In a country like India, green consumerism world still exists in books and journals only. People are not at all worried about what they buy and whether it is affecting negatively to the environment. Unlike in developed nation like United States where citizens have adopted green consumerism in their life style.
4) Increasing Polluted Vehicle: We can see the roads of India and can find numbers of vehicle specially cars are emitting CO2 and polluting the city. Driving a car is one of the most polluting acts an average citizen of world commits. Emissions from passenger vehicles are increasing not only in countries like Canada and the US but also in countries like India and other developing nations despite of government efforts to run good quality public transport system.
5) Excessive Use of Paper Material at Offices: When you go and see any office of a developing nation you will see hundreds of file overlapping each other on single desk. The excessive use of paper is one of the major issues which have to be tackled at individual level only. People in developing nation like India are quite ignorant and least bothered about the recycling of paper and using environmental friendly material.

Dealing with Pollution Externalities: Joint Efforts of Government, Individual and Voluntary Sector
There are basically two broad categories of solution to the problem of pollution externalities. The first category is termed as private solutions because they leave it up to the individuals (or firms) involved taking actions to remedy the externality.  The second solution will be called public solutions because action is taken by a public authority. The private solution can be divided into three sub categories
1. Business
2. Individual, and
3. Voluntary sector
The business sector has a central role to play in efforts to bring about sustainable development. Its capability and competence for innovation that can lead to more sustainable production processes and the willingness of businesses to operate in a socially responsible way will ultimately be crucial for achieving central political objectives. In this connection, interaction between international institutions, authorities and the business sector is important.
It is an important task to design policy instruments so that they encourage the business sector to make use of opportunities for growth within the framework of sustainable development in dealing with environmental challenges.
At the individual level, if Consumers start looking for green products only, there will be a clear increase in the demand for green products. With the increase in demand for green products Businesses will have to look into the green process generating corporate environmental profiles, monitoring and evaluating green performance, and improving corporate image as a result.
Individuals can help their city by reducing how much trash they create — at home and at work. They can have a look  on what they throw away and soon they will notice ways to save money and the environment, buying durable, reusable products also saves valuable resources. Avoiding single- or limited-use items such as plastic razors, throwaway cleansing pads and cigarette lighters, non-refillable pens and foil baking pans products like use of disposable diapers, can help in Reducing or eliminating trash which harms the environment which account for approximately two percent of total landfill volume.
Broad-based participation of voluntary sector in policy development is a central tool for sustainable development. The environmental organizations play an important role in focusing attention on environmental problems, stimulating debate and giving environmental protection a higher profile. In order to play this role, the organizations must have good access to information and opportunities to play a part in decision-making processes. These activities help strengthen civil society in developing countries and to ensure input to and support for fighting with pollution externalities from these organizations.
Efforts of NGOs to promote sustainable development through development cooperation in developing countries and efforts to raise awareness of environmental issues can lead to changes in individual people’s consumption patterns which can contribute to sustainable development.
The Role of Government: The Ministry of the Environment should support projects organized by the Local and Regional Authorities to incorporate environmental protection and sustainable development into training for newly elected officials in the municipalities and counties. Support should also be provided for a development programme for green procurement in the municipal sector.
Community mobilization and local responsibility for environmental policy are necessary to ensure better performance in relation to national and international targets and to safeguard environmental qualities that are important for people’s health and well-being.

Suggestion and Recommendations:
To prevent and control domestically, households can learn about the reasons and causes of such pollution and take the appropriate steps to limit overflow and make sure overflow of water stays clean. Household plastics, cleaners, oil, grease, and some food or paper products should not be flushed down drains or washed down the street.
The municipalities should be given more authority to deal with pollution through new regulations relating to local air quality. The Government should pursue an active policy to promote corporate social responsibility. The local authorities should have a wide range of environmental and business policy instruments that can be applied to the business sector.
The Government should strengthen environmental protection at municipal level by giving the municipalities more responsibility, greater freedom and more tools for carrying out local environmental tasks.
Green taxes are one way of pricing the environmental costs involved in the production and consumption of a particular good or service, and help to make products and services that have negative effects on the environment more expensive than those with less impact. In most cases, price is an important criterion when consumers choose between different products. Thus, when green taxes are introduced, more consumers will choose products with less impact on the environment.

Thus, everyone can contribute to sustainable development. Coordinated and effective participation by the business sector, the voluntary sector, central and local authorities and individual people requires a common understanding of the challenges we are facing and opportunities for different groups and people to contribute to sustainable development. To achieve this, the different actors must have the best possible access to all relevant information and there must be a satisfactory dialogue between the authorities and other groups. Sustainable development involves important challenges for private companies and market actors. Many forms of economic activity have an impact on the environment and on social conditions. Those who cause such impacts must also have responsibilities to deal with them. 

1 Local economic development retrieved on 19th November 2009 from
2 Ghana: Combating Environmental Degradation retrieved on 18th November 2009 from

Reference and Additional Thinking
Hill Marquita K. ‘Understanding Environmental Pollution’ retrieved on 18th July 2010 from
http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/20240/excerpt/9780521820240_excerpt.pdf Cambridge university press 
Local economic development retrieved on 19th November 2009 from
Last, Steve. ‘What is pollution?’ Retrieved on 10th July 2010 from http://ezinearticles.com/?What-is-Pollution?&id=776711
Islam Nazrul. ‘The Broader Significance of the Environment Movement in Bangladesh’ Retrieved on 10th July 2010 from
‘Environmental Pollution in India’ Retrieved on 11th March 2010 from 
Ibrahim B. Syed, ‘Pollution’ retrieved on 19th March 2010 from http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_51_100/pollution.htm
Economic Aspects of Sustainable Development in India retrieved on 20th July 2010 from http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/india/eco.htm
Public health and environment India retrieved on 10th July 2010 from http://www.who.int/phe/en/
William Alex (2007) ‘Buying Into the Green Movement’ retrieved on 1st August 2010  from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/fashion/01green.html
Supplement -1 pollution retrieved on 1st August 2010  from http://homepages.strath.ac.uk/~hbs97102/econ101/Docs/Supplement%20I%20Pollution.doc

(Dr. Anu Singh is primarily an economist and now an entrepreneur, running her own restaurants at different locations in Bangalore. She gives lectures on Managerial Economics in different management schools of Bangalore. She also delivers online lectures to the students of Australia, America and United Kingdom.

The views expressed in the write-up are personal and do not re?ect the official policy or position of the organization.)


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