What do we think when we hear, read or talk about the word “Environment”? The picture we paint of the environment is of lush green forests, clean and flowing rivers, hills and mountains free from plastic and other waste, pollution free oceans and clean air. However, we conveniently ignore that all parts of the earth are not supposed to be covered with lush green forests. Some might be barren with fine sand and scattered thorny shrubs, or vast grasslands without any sight of large trees for acres and acres. The landforms and the flora-fauna they support come in a variety of packages. These are governed by the geo-climatic conditions of the region. Let’s look at the components of the environment.
Environment is a pretty large umbrella term. It comprises all the natural features which we can observe on the earth, under rivers and oceans and other water bodies, in the atmosphere surrounding the Earth. It also comes with some underground features like ground water, fossil fuels and other mineral deposits. But, this is an incomplete list of environmental components. We always tend to forget that humans are very much a component of this environment. Thankfully, the time of denial has passed. Now globally we are ready to at least recognize the adverse impacts of our actions which are leading to increased rates of global warming.
Few steps are being taken to reduce these impacts. Some frameworks have been established to monitor or amend some wrong doings. The United Nations Development Programme has come up with 13 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India is a signatory nation to SDGs. Similarly, State Governments have drafted policies and decided the goals to achieve.
For urban areas in India, all the local governments have to prepare and table the annual Environmental Status Report (ESR) as per the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.
This report should act as the base for the city’s policy to take a step towards sustainability. But if we look at the reports, we can observe that the granularity of data and the scope of environmental indicators keep on varying from city to city. Very rarely we get any actionable suggestion or plan in these reports. Almost every city has ignored the data about one common parameter the Built Environment is ignored.
What is a Built Environment?
Built Environment is a major component of urban areas. It covers all the buildings, amenities, services and infrastructure created to have a good quality of life in urban areas. ESR should be certainly prepared incorporating indicators about the built environment. Centre for Development Studies and Activities (CDSA), Pune has created a framework data ecosystem which enables the recording and analysis of the data on the indicators of the built environment in urban areas and strongly advocates the significance of the “Built” component of the Environment umbrella. One cannot ignore this component when the aim is to achieve Sustainability
In many ways, the built environment is the manifestation of our good and bad practices. It represents unsustainable and polluting materials that might be used for construction but also natural, environmentally safe materials.Tweet
CDSA has initiated a movement for public participation called “Alliance for Resilient Cities”. The movement engages us in observing and safeguarding urban quality of life. Movement works as a catalyst in spreading awareness about various aspects of quality of life and environment. Please do join the movement and understand our environment better and in a holistic way.
Originally published on Adi’s Journal on 12th February 2021.