In the build-up to Indian general elections, a survey found that clean drinking water and agriculture-related governance were high on Indian voters’ list of priorities. High levels of water and air pollution, plaguing Indian cities in recent years, were a bigger concern for voters in urban areas.
India “has the capacity to clean up, but not the political will”. This piece from the Economist’s Asia edition cites political apathy towards pollution and failures to listen to middle classes as two of the most significant factors in India’s continuing struggle with environmental protection. The country also shows mixed responses to their climate change commitments, as data shows a significant preference for coal power generation over cleaner gas-fired plants.
The World Economic Forum recently published research suggesting consumers in a few key emerging market producer countries (Indonesia and Brazil) and importing countries (China and India) together account for 40% of global consumption of the four commodities most associated with tropical deforestation—soy, beef, palm, and wood products. The authors project that by 2025 demand for these commodities within these four countries could increase by 43%, resulting in forest areas equivalent to the size of Nigeria being cut down every. Increasing demand for meat and calorie-rich foods, regulatory changes, and shifts in constraints for domestic production will all be key factors in fueling demand in these emerging market economies.
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to two separate reports published by Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in garment supply chains. More than 540 female workers at factories that supply the Gap and H&M have described incidents of threats and abuse. The reports claim that these allegations recorded between January and May this year in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are a direct result of pressure for quick turnarounds and low overheads. Gap and H&M are going to investigate the allegations and they welcome initiatives to tackle violence, including an ILO convention.
A RM1.2 billion takeover has saved about 1,500 workers’ jobs at ailing India-owned pulp and paper mill Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd, which was owned by India-based Ballarpur Industries Ltd previously. The takeover by Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd entails the transfer of all SFI assets, land titles and timber licenses and is made possible by strong support of the Sabah state government. The takeover is targeted to be completed by end of this year. Pelangi Prestasi committed to retain all SFI workforce and undertake workers’ back-wages, providing training and support as well as enhance access to basic amenities. For the next five years, it will focus on sustainable development of the forest concession area to maximise value through integrated processing and diversification of products.
The Draft National Forest Policy 2018 is now open for public comments, and will replace the older 1988 policy once it comes into force. Critics are apprehensive about how the draft policy deals with community participation and industrial forestry. The current draft is bereft of knowledge-driven solutions, some experts say.
Luxury fashion retailer Hugo Boss said it has found cases of forced labour, a form of modern slavery, in its supply chain. Young female workers have been held captive behind the walls of garment factories in southern India and prevented from leaving the premises at any time.
Major fashion brands are sourcing viscose from factories in China, Indonesia and India which are polluting and damaging health, according to new report. The report cites evidence that carbon disulphide exposure is harming both factory workers and people living near viscose plants. Residential areas nearby the factory are polluted with carbon disulphide levels three times higher than the permitted limit. The report is calling for carbon disulphide to be completely eradicated from the viscose production process, and for all viscose production to occur in a closed loop system which eradicates chemical discharge and prevents harm to workers and the environment. Spokespeople from those brands said they will work continuously with its suppliers to improve conditions and ensure that they adhere to sustainable practices.
A major fire broke out at a printing ink manufacturing factory in Athipet near Ambattur Industrial Estate in India on 23 April. As the factory contained a large stock of chemicals, the raw material for manufacturing ink, the fire and rescue services personnel found it difficult to immediately douse the fire. The fire was brought under control after more than three hours of struggle.
India, through their national scheme the Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), is the latest country to join PEFC. It is the fifth Asian country to join and can now continue the process of fully developing a national certification scheme and then receiving PEFC endorsement.
A new study of 14 nations by WWF and think tank Climate Advisors shows that only 4 (Indonesia, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru) have set targets to succeed by 2020. WWF say that if zero net deforestation by 2010 was achieved in these 14 countries, three gigatonnes in annual carbon dioxide could be saved by 2020 – more than the annual emissions of India and Germany combined.
An expert from the Forest Survey of India (FSI) claims that recent surveys overestimate the extent of India’s remaining forests. The Ministry of Environment and Forests reports biennially on the state of India’s forests but the FSI who are involved in the process are openly critical of the satellite imagery technology used which they say does not have the required resolution to identify small-scale deforestation. Furthermore, the technology is unable to tell the difference between native forests and bamboo grown on cleared forests. It is thought that there are particular problems with deforestation and a lack of response from the state government in Meghalaya state in northeast India.
Washington-based NGO Rights and Resources Initiative have published a report claiming that there is a vital link between forest dwellers having rights over their land and preventing deforestation. It points to examples in China, India and Brazil where locals have had a say over how their forests are managed. Conservation groups are hoping to get land rights firmly on the agenda at the Rio 20+. The summit takes place on 20-22 June and will discuss poverty reduction, advancement of social equity and environmental protection.