An agreement with the Planning Commission of India will tie the measurement of the country’s GDP to losses or gains to natural resources, biodiversity and overall environmental health starting in 2015. If economic growth is deemed to have risen 9 percent, but loss to biodiversity is factored at three percent, then the overall growth would be adjusted to six percent. However, if growth in the economy is coupled with growth in biodiversity, then the numbers would be compounded.
This practical change to GDP monitoring that makes the connection between the economy and the environment has been an ongoing campaign by the Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh and was announced at the ‘Stakeholder Consultations on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in India’, which concluded in New Delhi on Friday of last week. The minister cited the examples of Australia, Norway and Mexico where “integrated natural resource” are accounted for in economic outlooks.
The Ministry will soon launch a Green India Mission to spread the word and train economists and scholars about this approach. This mission to restore degraded forest lands is one of eight missions of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
The role of monitoring becomes crucial with this direct link to the economy. In the draft Green India Mission booklet (PDF) there are four levels of monitoring proposed.
- On ground self-monitoring of the region by the local community, with community capacity to monitor carbon and other services
- Field review by an external agency of both random and selected sites
- Close collaboration with Forest Survey of India and Indian Institute of Remote Sensing to develop a country wide mosaic of high resolution satellite imagery and the development of a centralized spatial GIS database
- Pilot areas will be intensely monitored to gauge the impact and efficacy of old versus new land management practices
The role of integrated geospatial technologies is central in this new eco-social approach.