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Breaking the vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation.

"The link between poverty and environment cannot be denied and poverty alleviation is one policy instrument being employed by the government in ensuring environment protection". This was stated by Federal Minister for Defence Production, Engg. Illahi Buksh Soomro in his deliberation at a seminar on "Breaking the vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation, "held under the auspices of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Environment and Urban Affairs Division (EUAD) in collaboration. The Seminar was held as a part of the celebrations of the World Environment Day at Islamabad. The others who spoke on the occasion included Imtiaz Ahmed Sahibzada, Secretary EUAD, V.A. Jaffrey of Chairman SDPI, Dr. Amir Mohammad from Asiatics, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji from IUCN, Dr. Jamil Jalibi of Muqtadra Qaumi Zaban and Farhad Zaidi, Chief Executive of The Muslim. The minister for defence production was the chief guest.

Dr. Amir Mohammad said the issue of environmental degradation should not end as motherhood statements as in the past but must be supported with implementation. He said in its enthusiasm for economic reforms, the government had neglected the agricultural sector which forms the backbone of the country's economy. He expressed concern that the good quality land is being usurped by motorways, city expansions and rapid industrialisation. "We are running out of additional resources for water consumption," he added.

Aban Marker spoke about the importance of effective network of information on toxic materials and collective civic action. She said lack of knowledge and information has caused many deaths, while dealing with the poisonous waste and material. Access to proper information and collective action by the citizens, NGOs and the government agencies can solve problem more effectively.

Dr. Jamil Jalibi supported the concept of equitable distribution of wealth among people and said it is the exploitation of human and natural resources which causes wars and destruction. Spitting the enhancement of education in masses, he said change is needed in all system. Farhad Zaidi said environment issue is related to literacy and education and with literacy rate as low as 25 per cent, it was very difficult to raise awareness among people.

As you are aware the concern for the environment has increased dramatically in the last few years. At the global level, it has found expression in the prolonged discussions and negotiations in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) process, Pakistan played a highly constructive and important role, as the leader of the Group of 77. At the national level due to the untiring efforts of some very dedicated people environment awareness is increasing among everyone. For example the Environment and Urban Affairs Division in a very short period has been able to draw up various national programmes on environmental conservation and start rolling the process of environmental protection. It is evident that agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy accounting for over 25 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employing about 50 per cent labour. It provides livelihood to over 70 per cent of the rural population. Whereas owing to developments in this sector there has been improvement in the quality and quantity of food supplied, there have also been some associated degradation problems due to lack of environmental considerations. Salinity, waterlogging, denudation of mountains, deforestation, desertification are some of the examples. Shift towards sustainable development in this single sector for providing food and fibre can have far reaching effects. The government of Pakistan is not oblivious of its obligations in this connection, and is giving top priority to the augmentation of agricultural productivity and the enhancement of the standard of living of its people. At the same time, it is also pursuing people-oriented plans that are aimed at raising the income of people, especially the rural poor, and thereby strengthening their capacity to care for themselves. The media is not far behind. It is heartening to note that our newspapers, radio, and television carry messages on the environment and their frequency is increasing day by day. In the last week they rendered full support to creating awareness of environmental problems. The awareness is noticeable in our younger generation which is an encouraging sign as todays efforts are meant for the betterment of their future.

The link between poverty and environment cannot be denied and has already been emphasized by some of the previous speakers. Poverty alleviation is one policy instrument being employed by the government in ensuring environment protection. Poverty alleviation is useful in not only protecting the environment, but also in raising national pride and self-esteem of the people. A number of Government schemes on self employment are already in action, such as the Prime Minister's scheme on loan for small businesses, transportation, and agricultural machinery. Along with these short term programs for poverty alleviation, the government has also embarked on long term development programs with due consideration to the environment. The Environment and Urban Affairs Division (EUAD) in partnership with other government institutions, non-government organizations and international agencies has prepared the National Conservation Strategy (NCS).

The NCS is not merely the policy framework for our environment programme, or simply a symbol of our dedication to the goal of environmental conservation, but has played a vital role in increasing environmental awareness. More importantly the NCS has begun to reshape our very approach to government decision making. The Strategy was approved by the federal cabinet on March 1, 1992 and is being implemented through a cabinet coordinating committee. The first phase of the implementing plan, i.e. the Plan of Action (1993-98), with a proposed outlay of about Rs. 20 billion, has already been put into action. The constructive cooperation and partnership developed while preparing the Strategy needs to be maintained in the implementation and further strengthening of the strategy. A number of projects have been initiated by various NGOs, led by IUCN-Pakistan. Steps have already been taken for institutional development as recommended in the NCS. These include the NCS Unit in the Environment and Urban Affairs Division, the Environment Section in the Planning and Development Division, and in the NGO sector, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute to provide advice to government agencies as well as NGOs on sustainable development. In addition the federal and provincial Environmental Protection Agencies are already functioning as regulatory arms of the respective governments.

Sustainable development requires taking longer-term perspectives, integrating local and regional effects of global change into the development process, by combining the best scientific and traditional knowledge available. Scientific knowledge needs to be applied to articulate and support the goals of sustainable development, through scientific assessments of the current conditions and future prospects for the Earth system. Such assessments, based on existing and emerging innovations within the sciences, should be used in the decisionmaking process and in the interactive processes between the sciences and policy making. There needs to be an increased output from the sciences in order to enhance understanding and facilitate interaction between science and society. The sciences are playing an important role in linking the fundamental significance of Earth System as life support to appropriate strategies for development which build on its continued functioning. The sciences should continue to play an increasing role in providing for an improvement in the efficiency of resource utilization and in finding new development practices, resources and alternatives. There is need for the sciences to constantly reassess the intensity of resource use and to endeavour to reduce this intensity in the utilization of energy in industry, agriculture and transportation. Good environmental and developmental management policies must be scientifically robust, seeking to keep open a range of options to ensure flexibility of response. The precautionary approach is important. Often, there is a communication gap among scientists, policy makers, and the public at large, whose interests are articulated by both governmental and non-governmental organizations. Better communication is required among scientists, decision makers, and the general public.

The role of Science and Technology in the alleviation of poverty must not be underestimated. By using technology which is appropriate for our local needs, it is possible to solve problems such as the provision of clean water and rural transportation and the prevention of soil erosion, which the adoption of large scale energy intensive technologies of the industrialized countries not only is unable to address, but often tends to aggravate the situation. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST)in this regard is encouraging research on pollution free energy resources. It has established a large program to utilize solar energy. The National Institute for Silicon Technology is making some significant contribution in this regard. Moreover MOST is running different programmes on environment through universities and its programme on human resource development is placing an equally important emphasis on training our scientist in the environmental sciences. A number of Pakistani students are receiving higher education in foreign universities and on their return will be equipped with necessary knowledge and expertise to help solve the country's problems.

For the sustainable use of natural resources the government has prepared a National Forestry Master Plan which envisages 15 programmes, with the proposed budget of Rs. 38 billion, to be executed between 1993 and 2018. For improving the lot of the common man programmes like Social Action Programme (SAP) and National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) have already been launched at an allocation of Rs. 53 billion and Rs. 1 billion respectively. Moreover, Rs. 1 billion have already been spent and Rs. 1.5 billion are further allocated to the Productivity Enhancement Programmes in the agriculture sectors in addition to a number of incentives given to farmers to enhance yields and help break the poverty circle.

This paper was read at the seminar on "Poverty and Environment" arranged by the Environment and Urban Affairs Division and Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Ever since the 1972 United Nations Conference on Human Environment, June 5th has been observed as World Environment Day. This day, celebrated throughout the world, is dedicated to the examination of our natural environment. This year the World Environment Day focuses on the issue of Poverty and Environment. Last year, the nations of the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Stockholm meeting and by issuing the Rio Declaration, a statement of principles on this issue, in addition to signing convention to prevent climate change and protect biodiversity and designing an ambitious programme.

The eradication of poverty has long been recognised as among the most central challenges before human society. Yet today there are more human beings suffering from chronic deprivation than ever before in history. The total global population below the poverty line is now estimated to be more than one billion, of which about 939 million are in the rural areas. The bulk of these, i.e. 633 million, live in Asia, mainly in South Asia.

Before defining the relationship between poverty and environmental degradation, it may also be useful to examine their influence on the Pakistani society. The poverty line i.e., the estimated rupee value of a food basket which will deliver the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for an adult equivalent in Pakistan (2550 calories) is defined as the dividing line between the rich and the poor. The poor is that proportion of the population that falls below this poverty line. In Pakistan, although the incidence of poverty is still unacceptably high, there is some cause of optimism and indeed some cause for pessimism. First the good news. All surveys suggest that the proportion as well as the number of people below the poverty line has been declining consistently. Latest estimates, made by Suhail Malik, on the basis of the 1987-88 Household Income and Expenditure Survey suggest that only 16 per cent of the rural and 7 per cent of the urban population falls below this level. This compares with an average of 30 per cent reported by the Human Development Report for the decade of 1980s. Even this high estimate compares favourably with those for India (48 percent) and Bangladesh (86 per cent). However, while poverty has been declining since the late 1960's, income distribution has been getting worse.

The studies indicate that the level of poverty in the urban areas has declined compared to the rural areas. Reasons generally advanced for this disparate trend are the labour saving nature, introduction of new agriculture technology and the consequent displacement of rural labour force. In the urban areas, on the other hand, these may have been rise in the wage rate due to immigration, growth of services and construction sectors, and receipts of remittances, and these may have played a major role in lowering the poverty level.

Poverty in Pakistan is linked directly to the gender structure of income, though not to the size and the number of dependents in a household. The poor have smaller family size compared to middle and upper income groups. The dependency ratio for the poor is the lowest at 3.3 per earner while middle and higher income groups have dependency ratios close to 4. This may be due to the fact that the poor have almost have as many earners as the middle or upper income groups. Given a bias against female employment, households reliant on women's income especially female-headed households, are more likely to fall into poverty. The result is that the poor have much higher proportion of female headed households. 4 per cent in rural and 10 per cent in urban areas compared to less than 1 per cent for middle and upper income groups.

Government policies in the form of taxation and public expenditure on social services do not have pronounced redistributive impact. These policies also do not appear to be based on a full understanding of the composition and needs of the poor.

Until now I have tried to highlight the dimensions of poverty and income distribution in Pakistan. Let me turn to a more disturbing dimension of Pakistan experience, namely, the poor record on human resource development. The concept of human development views basic objective of development to be the enlargement of the range of people's choice by making development more democratic and participatory. These choices include access to income and employment opportunities, education and health, and a clean and safe physical environment. Ensuring political and civil rights is an even broader development goal.

The literacy rate estimated by UNESCO in Pakistan is 35 per cent, life expectancy is 100., 0 (1990), infant mortality rate per 1000 live births is 106, and the maternal mortality rate for every 100,000 births is 500. All these figures are very distressing and are the result of the very poor performance in the area of human resource development. A major reason for this is the low level of public expenditures on health and education.

In Pakistan human resources development has been the most neglected area in the process of economic development. Despite an increase in the allocation of resources to social sectors in the late 1980's, public expenditures on social sectors even now do not exceed 4 per cent of GNP. It is, therefore, no wonder, that the quality of life indicators for Pakistan rank 36th from the bottom. Lack of commitment, inadequate resources and poor utilization of the limited resources have been responsible for the failure of the population welfare programmes and inadequate development of human resources. The Sixth Plan allocated only 6.0 and 2.4 of public investment to education and health; and the actual expenditure were even lower. Only 72 per cent of the allocation for the education sector and 80 per cent of that for the health sector was utilized. Between 1986-87 and 1990-91 the share of the public expenditures on the social. sectors as a proportion of total expenditures declined from 10.1 to 9.3 per cent and their share in GDP from 2.7 to 2.3 per cent. This distressing trend, however, gets reversed with the start of the Social Action Programme this year. However, a number of doubts remain with regard to the direction and efficiency of this programme.

A number of factors are responsible for the neglect of human resource development in Pakistan, but the foremost amongst them is the inadequacy of public resources. The decline in the relative allocation of the social sector has been accompanied by a fall in the ratio of public revenues to GDP from 18.1 to 17.7 per cent. On the other hand, the increase in public revenue from 16.4 to 18.1 of the GDP was accompanied by an increase in the social expenditure from 2.2 to 2.7 per cent of the GDP. In other words, the public revenues are directly proportional to the social sector expenditure, an increase in the public revenues would automatically increase the share of the social sector in the total expenditure.

Pakistan started with a handicap in the education sector given a literacy rate at the time of independence of only 13.2 per cent. Partly because of the low priority accorded to education, especially primary education, literacy rate increased only to 26.2 per cent by 1981. Even by 1990, according to UNESCO estimates the literacy rate in Pakistan is only 34.9 per cent. It compares very unfavourably with the average literacy rate of 56 and 74 per cent for the low and middle income economies respectively.

As I mentioned earlier, a major cause of this phenomenon is the low level of participation at the Primary education level. This is both inefficient and inadequate, since the poor would benefit the most from the expansion of primary education. Although they may participate in secondary education, they hardly benefit from university education because of its high opportunity cost. The poor also suffer disproportionately from the pathetic quality of education in government schools. I need not be labour the fact before you that most teachers of these schools are over-burdened, poorly motivated, badly educated, ill-paid, and inadequately trained or supervised.

One of the reasons for the decay of the societal institutions must be the alienation of the supposed beneficiaries from their functioning and direction. The situation is not much better in the health sector. Although according to the Human Development Report, the coverage of curative health facilities, at 55 per cent of the country's population, compares favourably with other South Countries, life expectancy at birth has risen only from 33.8 years in 1951 to 60 years in 1990, and is still one of the lowest in the world (7.4 years below industrialized countries). While the figures are uncertain, it is likely that infant mortality still exceeds 100 per thousand in comparison with 72 per thousand in low income and 52 per thousand in middle income countries. Health facilities show marked differences across the urban and rural areas, gender and income classes. While public health facilities have increased, most remain over burdened and badly managed, giving rise to various forms of inequalities. The poor have to suffer disproportionately from long queues with less than 3-4 minutes with the doctor, and the high costs medicine. Moreover, these facilities are particularly bad in the rural areas, where there are hardly any doctors, nurses, health centers or hospitals. On average public expenditure on health in urban is six times more than that in the rural areas.

Lastly there is the issue of environment health. Most of the diseases in Pakistan are waterborne. It is estimated that 80 per cent of all sickness and diseases in Pakistan are due to the inadequate supply of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. Therefore, the provision of safe drinking water and sewerage facilities is likely to produce a major favourable effect on the health conditions in the country. Although 52 per cent of the population has access to piped drinking water i.e., 80 per cent urban and 45 per cent rural, surveys indicate that the water in these pipes is much below acceptable standards. Only 22 per cent i.e., 55 per cent urban and 10 per cent rural of the total have access to sewerage and sanitation facilities.

The upshoot of this discussion is that while overall income growth, and even poverty reduction in a statistical sense, has been quite commendable, there are many areas of concern such as poor access to education and health facilities. In the past, a major cause of this has been government neglect, but awareness and concern has been increasing over the years. Another cause is poor management and organization, and insufficient accountability towards the users of services. This too is not sustainable.

Let me now turn to the second pillar of the issue before us, namely environmental degradation. The environmental crisis has now become one of the most pressing preoccupation of policy maker and opinion leaders, the world over. The reasons are simple and apparent. Tropical rainforests, which supply much of the world's oxygen, are being depleted at a rate of 5 million hectares per year. The ozone layer, vital for our survival, is thinning out not only at the South pole, but over the North Pole and in the Northern Hemisphere generally. Acid rain is destroying huge areas of forests and thousands of lakes. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased by 13 per cent since 1950 and is likely to lead to a temperate rise of 1.5-4.5 Celsius between 2030 and 2050. In less than a hundred years it could be 8 Celsius warmer. With bleak figures such as these, it comes as no surprise as to why environmental awareness has increased over the years.

In Pakistan, the environmental problems faced are enormous. Pakistan is not a resource rich country-although once it may have been so. Whatever little resources we had, have been squandered partly through misuse, partly through overpopulation. As a result, we have started to run out of cultivable land, forests, irrigation water, and clean urban air. The key economic resources in the agricultural sector are close to maximum utilization. Our historic growth in agriculture was made possible in part by the increase in cultivated area from 13 million to 20 million hectares, and increase in water use from 52 million acre feet to over 100 million acre feet since independence. Neither are likely to increase noticeably from now on, leave alone the hopes of growth rates matching the past records.

The situation in forests is even more bleak. Pakistan has one of the lowest endowments in the world and it is being depleted at a very fast rate. Although the precise figures are of forests cover are only now being estimated by the Energy Wing of the Planning Commission, the Forestry Sector Master Plan, and the office of the Inspector General Forests; yet the broad impression of most observers is that of a steady erosion of forest cover since independence. Pollution is also on the rise. The waste and contamination of the ground water at the hands of the agricultural runoffs, industry effluent, human excrement and hospital waste is increasing daily. The air in the urban areas is being polluted at a rapid pace by vehicular and industrial emissions. An average Pakistani vehicle emits 25 times as much carbon monoxide, 20 times as much hydro carbons and 3.6 times as much nitrous oxide is grams per kilometer as the average vehicle in the US.

After all these gloomy statistics, I am happy to say that there is some ground for optimism. the most significant of this is the emerging bipartisan consensus over the need for sustainable development. As part of this consensus, we have seen the development of and on March 1, 1992 the approval of the National Conservation Strategy (NCS). The NCS took the approach that degradation is caused by the pressure of economic and demographic increase on finite natural resources and that the solution is to reduce pressure, improve management of resources and where possible to increase their availability.

High fertility and morbidity derives to a great extent from very complex socioeconomic and cultural factors. Illiteracy and women's low status combine to sustain the high levels of population growth and poverty in Pakistan. Pakistan's literacy levels are the lowest in the region at 26 per cent with rural women's literacy a poor 7.3 per cent. It has been established beyond doubt that women's education and health and income not only directly impact upon their children's education, health but also affect fertility levels. This is one of the central determinants of the vicious circle of population and poverty. While the inadequate resources have been the major constraint on the development of human resources and alleviation of poverty, such socio-economic factors have added and abetted in the decline produced by official neglect.

It is because of these and other factors that over the last few years the links between poverty and environment have become evident. The Brundtland Commission stated in 1987 that "Poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems". To combat poverty it is thus necessary to address environmental issues efficiently and vice versa. However, though poverty and degradation of the environment are mutually reinforcing, their relationship is far from simple. I would begin by identifying the kinds of links: First, the poor are far more likely to be the victims of environmental degradation than the rich. Second, it may be that the poor are so concerned with subsistence that their actions might be harmful to the environment. Third, often the poor may lack the institutions and organization to protect even their individual rights, let alone collective property rights.

Let me begin with the issue of poor as victims of environmental degradation. Poverty is characterized not only by the lack of income and of wealth, but also by physical weakness, isolation, vulnerability and powerlessness. Isolation is not only physical but also lack of education, ignorance, lack of access to services, information and technology. Vulnerability means external and internal stress, high exposure to risk, and the continual danger of becoming poorer. Powerlessness is the inability to adapt and to cope, and constant weakness in the face of exploitation and demands by the powerful. The poor lack access to influence and are ill represented at the seat of government. They usually have poor access to land and water resources, many are landless or cultivate poor soils in marginal areas with inadequate rainfall. Also the institutions that enable them to cooperate with each other and other groups in the society in the pursuit of collective ends are absent. It is always the poor. As a result, they will generally not be in a position to protect themselves against the anticipated changes of a global nature.

This is true at both the national and international levels. Poor countries have low levels of education, the poorest health, the least access to safe water and sanitation and the most impoverished natural resource base. These countries have to provide for basic human necessities, stabilize populations and stimulate economic development that can alleviate poverty, all while conserving natural resources essential to economic growth. On the other the modern economies are not faced with such enormous challenges and can better manage their resources. As a result, it is likely that the later will be better able to protect themselves from the degradation of environmentals deterioration. This means that one method of protecting the poor is to prevent environmentally harmful changes. The second question, namely the casual link from poverty to environmental degradation, is far more controversial. For example, at the global level it is quite clear that environmental degradation and even the crisis has been produced by the rich and not by the poor.

The contribution of poor countries to global environmental problems, on the whole, is small or negligible. For example, Pakistan has 2.15 per cent of the worlds population, but contributes only 0.79 per cent to the global carbon dioxide emissions. The situation is substantively the same for all poor countries. The rich one-fifth of the world population consume four-fifth or more of the world resources and have almost single-handedly presented us with a crisis situation. This does not mean that poor are entirely blameless, but their problems are more localized and have been caused not by excessive consumption or waste but by mismanagement and neglect.

In general, environmental degradation in poor countries is characterized by a reduction in the productivity of natural resources, principally because of overuse. Inadequate human and financial resources combined with low yielding and environmentally dirty technologies, poor governance, as manifested through policy failure, suggest that the vicious circle of poverty and environment continues unabated in many local contexts.

Population growth clearly accelerates the process of poverty-induced degradation of the environment. The linkage between poverty, population and environment is described as a vicious circle. Poverty is associated with high rates of population growth and low yielding farm technology, causing the rural poor to use available natural resources, principally land, unsustainably for short-term gain in order to secure their livelihood. Socio-economic factors leading to an otherwise rational decision as to appropriate household size to provide necessary farm labour can easily lead to cumulative and unsustainable pressure on a limited and often fragile resource base. Population pressure can also result from the expansionist movements of better-off groups in the poor population; the poor are forced out of their land into even more marginal areas which are inappropriate for agriculture or they move to cities. Those who stay feed their livestock on land where vegetation is sparse and the soils or shrubs are easily damaged. As more and more people exploit open-access resources in an often desperate struggle to provide for themselves and their families, they further degrade their environment. With the increasing degradation of land and other natural resources poverty is continued. It is mostly in the rural areas that poverty and localized environmental degradation come together more acutely. In countries that are highly dependent on natural resources this degradation will contribute to economic stagnation and poverty.

This suggests that rather than poverty being the cause of environmental degradation, environmental degradation is the cause of poverty. The rapid degradation of the natural resource base of the poor significantly worsens its poverty. Secondly, the impact of poverty on degradation comes not from the behaviour of the poor peruse, but from the inability of the poor to protect the resources that provide them subsistence and livelihood.

A major cause of such inability is the lack of security of private as well as collective rights. Insecurity of land ownership and tenure is a major factor that discourages the farmer to invest in better management and operations. Such insecurity of collective rights is even more damaging. The environment often refers to common property (res communis) over which societies generally have fairly elaborate customary rules of usufruct. Insecurity, however, transforms common property into open access property (res nullis), over which no rights are recognized. Open access (res nullis) resources are often mismanaged when the traditional mechanisms of control with in the community breakdown. Occasionally the initial catalyst for the breakdown is e.g., that even though effective communal arrangements exist but are not acknowledged by the government, which prefers other types of ownerships.

Yet another dimension to this problem is the breakdown of societal rules in urban areas, particularly in slums. Southern countries are becoming increasingly urbanized, with accompanying deterioration in urban environmental quality. As the growing number of the poor people migrate to the cities in search of livelihoods, huge shanty towns emerge where poor live in unhealthy environments in ramshackle dwellings with inadequate water supply, minimal sewage and household waste collection, and increasing air pollution from traffic and industry.

Besides the rapid growth of the urban areas and the weak regulatory frameworks provided by governments, there are many other symptoms of a worsening urban environment. A classic example in Pakistan is the poor enforcement record of legislation to regulate air, noise and industrial pollution in urban areas.

How is this vicious circle to be broken. In my opinion, in order to improve this situation we need to make some investments in human development including human health and education. The urgent priority is to provide these basic services to the majority of the people. These would in turn have positive effects on other factors including the growth of population. This is not such an impossible task as may appear at first blush. One of the bright lights of our development experience is the localized success of participatory and community-based programmes. We need to begin to think through the problem of imivesalising the programmes. This means providing support to local initiative, through appropriate infrastructure investments. Such investment is needed both at the local level, through programmes like AKRSP and OPD, and at the macro level or national level, in the form of legal and administrative reform, investment in management and information and improvement or training and supervision.

We know that the deterioration of the environment is a major threat to human well-being even to human survival in the long run. In the rich countries the problems concern primarily the quality of life. In the poor countries, the crisis has acquired such proportions that it could seriously undermine the very livelihood of the most vulnerable member of the society. Therefore, the most important actions to conserve natural resources are those that are aimed at stabilizing populations and alleviating poverty. Slower population growth increases the opportunities available to the current population which in turn increases the peoples capacity for responding to opportunities and incentives that protect the environment and remote economic development. Specific efforts to maintain as much as possible of the country's natural and modified ecosystem, to halt deforestation and to conserve biological diversity are badly needed. The spiral of poverty, population growth and environmental degradation that characterizes many poor countries is frequently aggravated by policies that actively encourage waste and resource degradation, particularly in agriculture, forestry and energy. Building the institutional capacity of societies to monitor and correct environmental abuses is an important long-term strategy. A reliable legal framework, in which the judiciary has the capacity to enforce laws, can allow the people themselves to play an enforcement role.

In the end I would like to say that the challenge posed to us is great and will require political commitment and policies to enhance equity, participation and resource conservation. This may be difficult but necessary. The alternative may well be increased ecological disaster and increased poverty. We have to make sure we choose the right path.
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Title Annotation:Special Section: Environment; sustainable development in Pakistan
Author:Jaffery, V.A.
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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