The National Environment Policy 2006
- The National Environment Policy builds on the existing policies (e.g. National Forest Policy, 1988; National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development, 1992; and the Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution,1992; National Agriculture Policy, 2000; National Population Policy, 2000; National Water Policy, 2002 etc).
- It is intended to be a guide to action: in regulatory reform; programmes and projects for environmental conservation; review and enactment of legislations by Central, State and Local Government.
- The dominant theme of this policy is that while conservation of environmental resources is necessary to secure livelihoods and well-being of all, the most secure basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the fact of conservation, than from degradation of the resource.
- The policy also seeks to stimulate partnerships of different stakeholders, i.e. public agencies, local communities, academic and scientific institutions, the investment community, and international development partners, in harnessing their respective resources and strengths for environmental management.
These objectives relate to current perceptions of key environmental challenges
- Conservation of Critical Environmental Resources:
To protect and conserve critical ecological systems and resources, and invaluable natural and man-made heritage, which are essential for life-support, livelihoods, economic growth, and a broad conception of human well-being.
- Intra-generational Equity: Livelihood Security for the Poor:
To ensure equitable access to environmental resources and quality for all sections of society, and in particular, to ensure that poor communities, which are most dependent on environmental resources for their livelihoods, are assured secure access to these resources.
- Inter-generational Equity:
To ensure judicious use of environmental resources to meet the needs and aspirations of the present and future generations.
- Integration of Environmental Concerns in Economic and Social Development:
To integrate environmental concerns into policies, plans, programmes, and projects for economic and social development.
- Efficiency in Environmental Resource Use:
To ensure efficient use of environmental resources in the sense of reduction in their use per unit of economic output, to minimize adverse environmental impacts.
- Environmental Governance:
To apply the principles of good governance (transparency, rationality, accountability, reduction in time and costs, participation, and regulatory independence) to the management and regulation of use of environmental resources.
- Enhancement of Resources for Environmental Conservation:
To ensure higher resource flows, comprising finance, technology, management skills, traditional knowledge, and social capital, for environmental conservation through mutually beneficial multi-stakeholder partnerships between local communities, public agencies, the academic and research community, investors, and multilateral and bilateral development partners.
This policy has evolved from the recognition that only such development is sustainable, which respects ecological constraints, and the imperatives of justice. The Objectives stated above are to be realized through various strategic interventions by different public authorities at Central, State, and Local Government levels. They would also be the basis of diverse partnerships. These strategic interventions, besides legislation and the evolution of legal doctrines for realization of the Objectives, may be premised on a set of unambiguously stated Principles depending upon their relevance, feasibility in relation to costs, and technical and administrative aspects of their application.
The following principles, may accordingly, guide the activities of different actors in relation to this policy:
- Human Beings are at the Centre of Sustainable Development Concerns:
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
- The Right to Development:
The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
- Environmental Protection is an Integral part of the Development Process:
In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.
- The Precautionary Approach:
Where there are credible threats of serious or irreversible damage to key environmental resources, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
- Economic Efficiency:
In various public actions for environmental conservation, economic efficiency would be sought to be realized. This Principle requires that the services of environmental resources be given economic value, and such value to count equally with the economic values of other goods and services, in analysis of alternative courses of action
- Entities with “Incomparable” Values:
Significant risks to human health, life, and environmental life-support systems, besides certain other unique natural and man-made entities, which may impact the well-being, broadly conceived, of large numbers of persons, may be considered as ”Incomparable” in that individuals or societies would not accept these risks for compensation in money or conventional goods and services.
The cardinal principle of equity or justice requires that human beings cannot be treated differently based on irrelevant differences between them. Equity norms must be distinguished according to context, i.e. “procedural equity”, relating to fair rules for allocation of entitlements and obligations, and “end-result equity”.
- Legal Liability:
The present environmental redressal mechanism is predominantly based on doctrines of criminal liability, which have not proved sufficiently effective, and need to be supplemented
- Public Trust Doctrine:
The State is not an absolute owner, but a trustee of all natural resources, which are by nature meant for public use and enjoyment, subject to reasonable conditions, necessary to protect the legitimate interest of a large number of people, or for matters of strategic national interest.
Decentralization involves ceding or transfer of power from a Central Authority to State and Local Authorities, in order to empower public authorities having jurisdiction at the spatial level at which particular environmental issues are salient, to address these issues.
Integration refers to the inclusion of environmental considerations in sectoral policy making, the integration of the social and natural sciences in environment related policy research, and the strengthening of relevant linkages among various agencies at the Central, State, and Local Self-Government levels, charged with the implementation of environmental policies.
- Environmental Standard Setting:
Environmental standards must reflect the economic and social development situation in which they apply. Standards adopted in one society or context may have unacceptable economic and social costs if applied without discrimination in another society or context.
- Preventive Action:
It is preferable to prevent environmental damage from occurring in the first place, rather than attempting to restore degraded environmental resources after the fact.
- Environmental Offsetting:
There is a general obligation to protect threatened or endangered species and natural systems that are of special importance to sustaining life, providing livelihoods, or general well-being.
Strategies and Actions:
Action plans would need to be prepared on identified themes by the concerned agencies at all levels of Government Central, State/UT, and Local. In particular, the State and Local Governments would be encouraged to formulate their own strategies or action plans consistent with the National Environment Policy. Empowerment of Panchayats and the Urban Local Bodies, particularly, in terms of functions, functionaries, funds, and corresponding capacities, will require greater attention for operationalising some of the major provisions of this policy.
For more information visit NEP 2006(1.4MB)
Source: Portal Content Team
- Ministry of Environment and Forests