India has been active in international forums relating to environmental protection: Ansari(Update/Ansari)

Jaipur, May 4 (ANI): Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Saturday said India has been active in international forums relating to environmental protection, and is party to 94 multilaterals environmental agreements such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), among many others. "We have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002," he added. Vice President Ansari, who inaugurated the 'International Centre for Environment Audit and Sustainable Development' here said 'despite not having binding mitigation commitments as per the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), India has communicated its voluntary mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 20-25 per cent, over 2005 levels, by 2020'. "Thus while much has been done, the need for doing more is compelling. Cognizant of the challenges that lie ahead, Government has spelt out the following vision for the future in the Twelfth Five Year Plan, which will be factored in all social and economic programmes and projects," he added. Vice President Ansari opined that the importance of environment audit has been compounded by the ever increasing expenditure on protection and conservation of environment; growing international commitments made by India as state party to various global treaties and conventions; introduction of laws and regulations aimed at controlling degradation of environment; and the increasing environmental awareness as corroborated by various grassroots green movements across India. He expressed his concern that the impact of indiscriminate human action and insatiable consumption on global environment has manifested itself in what is widely accepted as the phenomenon of climate change. "This has been coupled with rapid depletion or pollution of natural resources. The high social, economic and political cost of environmental degradation and climate change is clear to all, even though the international community continues to debate on how to tackle climate change and who should foot the bill for ensuring sustainable development," he said. Vice President Ansari emphasized that it is now universally recognized that the conventional measure of the Gross Domestic Product is insufficient to measure the true well-being of nations. "This does not take into account the environmental damage caused by production and consumption of goods and services. This has to be factored in to arrive at a true measure of the increase in total production in the economy. It is equally true that sustainability of economic development critically hinges on the protection of environment," said Vice President Ansari. "It is, therefore, imperative that we preserve and protect the environment while pursuing the essential goal of growth and development," he added. Vice President Ansari said that the CAG has a very important role to play in this regard - not only to comment on effectiveness of rules, regulations and programmes for conserving the environment but also has to offer concrete recommendations to the executive for improving environmental governance. "Some of environment reports of the CAG such as Management of Waste in India and Water Pollution in India have given new insight to the executive in improving environmental governance in these areas. I am confident this good work will be continued," he added. Vice President Ansari said that the CAG is already an important member of the Steering Committee of the International Organization of Supreme Audit institutions, and of its Working Group on Environment Audit. "The creation of this Centre here, and its emphasis on research to upgrade knowledge and skills, will further strengthen India's role in this important body," he added. Vice President Ansari, who released a Special Cover on International Centre for Environment Audit and Sustainable Development (ICED) brought out by Department of Posts and visited an exhibition on ICED on the occasion, congratulated the Comptroller and Auditor General for this timely initiative. "I wish ICED all success and hope it will become a global centre for audit of environment and sustainable development. I compliment the CPWD for constructing this eco-friendly facility," he said. (ANI)