Urban Development: Ever growing challenges

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A big challenge ahead! Urban populations are expected to increase by 1.5 billion over the next 20 years, while the number of megacities will double.
In fact in many countries, urbanization is not considered a national development opportunity. In general the overall understanding of cities in national development is also very limited, and so is the appreciation of the structural transformations represented by the dynamics of growth in urban centres. It is often forgotten that framing a national urban policy is the key step for reasserting urban space and territoriality and for providing the needed direction and course of action to support urban development.
An appropriate regional growth strategy sets a vision for how the region can manage growth sustainably for the next decades, aiming at improving livability, protecting the environment and getting the right infrastructure in place. The requirement is to identify priority areas for implementation; refine the classification of centres, business areas and corridors; complete plan changes; develop and trial new approaches to encourage quality residential and business intensification and large-scale urban transformation; coordinate infrastructure planning and investment; improve communication, monitoring and information sharing among others.  The aim is to help our region secure a better quality of life, and at the same time create a sustainable future socially, culturally, economically and environmentally.
In order to be able to plan effectively the need is there to continuously monitor. For example, the growth rates of population and economic growth may change considerably from what is currently predicted which, in turn, could alter the nature and intensity of the region’s sustainability challenges quite radically and would require current responses to be reviewed. Scenarios planning thus come into play in order to identify the circumstances that may trigger a review.
A lot thus depends on how infrastructure requirements are financed. The amount required on this score, needless to say, is a big one. How that is met is definitely a question, but where is the way out? Fund arrangement must be made so that the assets created become extremely useful in future. A number of instances may be shown where the fund invested virtually went a begging in as much as the investment made was on relatively less important arena. Opportunity cost aspect was not adequately studied.
Clearly, successful national urban policies has the ability to yield multiple results: the identification of urban development priorities towards socially and economically equitable and environmentally friendly urban and national development; future development of the national urban system and its spatial configuration concretized through National and spatial Plans for regional development; coordination and guidance of actions by national  functionaries vis-à-vis lower levels of government in all sectors; and, of course,  increased and well coordinated private and public investments in urban development, which, in turn,  lead to consequent improvement of cities’ productivity, inclusiveness, environmental conditions and people’s participation in the development process .
In South Africa, Brazil and China, a clear urban policy has reflected to be a key tool to orient action, address inequality and at the same time energize the development process itself. Mention may be made of UN-Habitat that has supported several urban policy development processes [even in Burundi, Malawi, Sri Lanka and Mongolia]. India, with its well-qualified techno-savvy trained planners [excepting the cultureless corrupt non-performer who misuses the power, misbehaves with the public and reluctant to sit on a discussion table to update the age-old knowledge level], can do the same thing in a better manner on this score.
Whatever is: let us have a look at Africa where overall infrastructure investment needs are estimated to be US$93 billion per year – largest infrastructure deficiency being in the energy sector, whether measured in terms of energy consumption, generation capacity or security of supply.  Most African countries face acute “energy poverty” with lack of access, especially in rural areas; low purchasing power; low energy efficiency and over-dependence on traditional biomass for meeting basic energy needs. A recent report evaluates the role of infrastructure in promoting economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa. Rightly, it argues that strong urban economic development is essential for the provision of adequate housing, infrastructure, education, health, safety, and basic services. According to the report, Africa is the world’s largest consumer of biomass energy [biomass accounts for two-thirds of total African final energy consumption, with 65 percent provided by firewood]. Interestingly, the report noted that the development of renewable energy options could be financed in part by more effective use of the “cap and trade” mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The report also notes that only South Africa, Mauritius and the five North African countries have taken advantage of the CDM-facilitated international carbon trade opportunities, while most Sub-Saharan African countries lack the expertise to do so. The report indicates that capacity building is needed to enable these countries to prepare CDM-eligible projects and to negotiate carbon emissions credit.
Undoubtedly, housing has been the biggest problem and the way it is encountered in some cases goes beyond description.
Globally, a number of different measures have been tried to eliminate or improve areas of substandard housing. One of such result-oriented-methods is to clear out the entire run down section of a city, demolishing the existing housing and replacing it with government or privately funded modern housing. Though this has been done in many parts of the world, yet some countries have issues with “squatter rights,” [which means law enforcement cannot force inhabitants of the slums to move out so that they can clear the area]. In addition to this solution, urban planners are expected to work to locate schools, hospitals, and other socially beneficial and job-producing establishments near the slums in order to improve the economic climate of the area. Urban planners in coordination with other city officials have to work to eliminate or improve existing slums and to ensure that new ones do not develop. This is a challenge, however, as many different social, political, and economic factors are involved not only in the development of such areas, but in their continued existence. Every wing has the responsibility to ensure livable environment and optimal use of funds.
The utmost need is there for integration of urban development in national sustainable development policies. Such policies serve as enabling frameworks for transport corridors, job creation and at the same time development of [within and between] cities. Plus, they can also empower local authorities to work more closely with national government. The importance of developing national urban policies as levers for sustainable development remains beyond any shade of doubt.

 

Published by The Sentinel

Written by Dr B K Mukhopadhyay

http://www.sentinelassam.com

BRICS project: Nanotech to treat cancer

 

BRICS-cancer-644x362Cancer therapy a la paintball? Three teams from BRICS countries, including Russia and India, plan to embark on a project that uses the benefits of nanotechnology to simultaneously bundle both diagnostics and therapy into one package for treating cancer just like paintball activity.
Dubbed nananotheranostics’ (abridged from therapy-diagnostic), this emerging advanced nano-medicine helps customising treatment for the patient and also shorten time between diagnosis and therapy of a disease, all with one pharmaceutical agent.
Like those James Bond-style GPS tracking devices, nanotheranostics allows monitoring drug delivery, movement of drug and therapeutic responses, enabling treatment strategies to be modified according to changing needs of the patient.
As tackling cancer is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, nanotechnology provides the means for more precise and earlier tumour localisation and more efficient treatment with less secondary effects.
Countries such as the US, UK, France and Germany are leading in nanotheranostics for personalised medicine.
To tackle cancer burden in the BRICS bloc, three teams representing Brazil, India and Russia have framed the “Development, Characterisation and Evaluation of Nanoradiopharmaceuticals for Breast and Prostate Cancer Imaging, Diagnostics and Treatment” project (DCEN-4-BRICS).
“Nanotheranostics may help to save millions of lives, ensure earlier diagnosis, cheaper treatment and better quality of life of the patients,” Igor Nabiev, Laboratory of Nano-Bioengineering, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute), the project’s Russian co-ordinator, told IANS here in an interview.
Nabiev said the idea is to develop biodegradable nano-sized vehicles which would be loaded with anti-cancer drugs and/or radioisotopes used for cancer imaging (through SPECT and PET) and treatment.
Imaging techniques “methods of producing pictures of the body” are important element of early detection for many cancers and are also important for determining the stage (telling how advanced the cancer is) and the precise locations of cancer.
In addition to the cargo of drugs and radioisotope, these nano carriers would also be labelled with fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) to make them visible and tagged with single-domain antibodies for cancer specific recognition.
“These nano carriers will recognise and bind specifically to the tumours,” Nabiev said.
Due to the QDs, the tumours can be seen optically and courtesy the radioisotopes, they can be visualised through imaging techniques (SPECT, PET) once these nano scale structures stick to the tumour.
And ultimately, on attaching themselves to the tumours, these drug-loaded nano carriers can release the drug to the tumour site and kick-off treatment.
All in one go.
Nabiev believes scaling of multifunctional carriers production will certainly make them much cheaper than existing drug delivery systems. The three-year long project is in the final stage of submission.
“It has just been submitted in India, it will be submitted on November 28 to BRICS secretariat and Brazilian funding body, and by November 30 deadline to Russian Foundation for Basic Research,” informed Nabiev .
“The total cost for this first stage of the three-year-long project which should demonstrate the proof-of-proposed-principle is nearly 150,000 USD per year.”
The project aims to harness the Brazilian co-ordinator’s expertise in cancer radioisotopes imaging and treatment (Ralph Santos-Oliveira, Nuclear Engineering Institute, Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission), Nabiev’s lab’s prowess in QD development for cancer optical imaging and advanced cancer recognition molecules, and Indian coordinator’s (Umesh Gupta, School of Chemical Science and Pharmacy, Central University of Rajasthan) specialisation in biodegradable polymeric capsules/carriers.
“Furthermore, we expect that the DCEN-4-BRICS project will create not only a solid Brazil-Russia-India collaboration background, but also a synergy for wider collaboration and nano medicine network involving the other BRICS countries,” Nabiev said.
The BRICS bloc has been recognised for its potential to influence global health, with the Director General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, commenting in 2011 that “BRICS represents a block of countries with a great potential to move global public health in the right direction towards reducing the current vast gaps in health outcomes and introducing greater fairness in the way the benefits of medical and scientific progress are distributed”.
Finally, this project will include student exchange programmes for drug delivery system development.
“Doing this, we will promote nanomedicine and nanoradiopharmacy and offer new undergraduate and graduate programs, thus providing unique impetus to the careers of young researchers for all collaborating partners,” he added.

 

Published by The Sentinel

Written by Sahana Ghosh

http://sentinelassam.com/

Development: No narrow interpretation please

Earth with the different elementsAny study / scanning of development is important and at the same time interesting. It is important because in any economy, developed or developing, the scope for further economic and social development is always there through optimal utilisation of resources over a finite time and space. The challenge before the biggies is how to maintain the level of development already reached for ensuring a better life to its citizens and to aid trailers so that the latter can climb upon the development track. For the developing block the challenge is all the more crucial and at the same time difficult especially considering the complexities of the globalization process.
Newer techniques and innovention [innovation plus invention] process call for continuous searching and unearthing. Thus, the arena is interesting, more so because the process of development today is not well defined nor there exists any short cut routes!
Development is more than improvements in people’s well-being: it also describes the capacity of the system to provide the circumstances for that continued well-being.
Development is a characteristic of the system; sustained improvements in individual well-being are a yardstick by which it is judged. This has important implications for development policy, both for developing countries themselves wishing to put their economy and society onto a path of faster development, and for outsiders who want to help that process.
Especially, as of now the change has been so fast that it has become increasingly difficult to adapt quickly to the ever changing processes where one technology is being fast substituted by the next one. The orthodox view – considering development as relating to the process of increasing the relative and absolute wealth of LEDCs [least economically developed countries] usually through notions of increased output of either industrial or agricultural goods – has also been under scanner. The modern age economists contend that development of LDCs [least developed countries] to the wealth levels of the richer OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] nations, using extractive production and trading processes similar to those of OECD nations, is untenable because of the ecological and environmental damage which would ensue. New paradigm of development has no doubt, reasoning and validity considering the reality that has been increasingly there globally.
Who thought that the cheaper flights will be contesting with the railways, sub prime crisis paving the topsy-turvy way to global meltdown, Satyam be under scanner??
In fact development means ‘upward drift of the entire social system’, as rightly opined by Prof. Samuelson. Truly, development studies as an area calls for an inter-disciplinary and  multi-disciplinary approach where the economic factors are equally important as the non-economic factors so that all of the relevant issues of concern to developing economies in particular are addressed in an hole some manner – regional studies, demography, economics, anthropology, management and essentially sociology, pedagogy, social policy, migration, human security, philosophy and ethics, international relations, gender issues.
The crucial need remains: to learn lessons of past development experiences of Western countries. Harry S. Trumann rightly stated that ‘for the first time in history, humanity possess[ed] the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of these people’. Time stays, we go out.
Ecological and environmental damage was not there on tea-time discussion table, whereas the same has now been talk of the town.
It has the especial focus on issues related to social and economic development and the relevance goes to communities and regions beyond the developing world. That is one of the foremost reasons why the area is attached much of importance by the leading global institutions – the World Bank, United Nations, Asian Development Bank and the like. Non-government Organisations as well as the private consultants have also to borrow a lot from this discipline.
Actually, emergence of development studies as a separate discipline started emerging from second half of the last century, mainly emerging out of concern hovering around economic and social prospects for the trailers [ third world] after decolonization when it was largely felt that economic aspects alone could not fully address the development requirements [viz. educational provisions; political effectiveness] and thereafter it could reasonably assume an inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary area of thought. That encompasses variety of social scientific fields.
Again in today’s world the severe shortage is there especially in Asia for skilled personnel who could join the team that shoulders the responsibility of ensuring not only growth but development as well ensuring a balanced regional growth – drifting apart from the incidence of rural exploitation for urban growth! In fact it is the very incidence of regional imbalances that go on keeping the rural counterpart as the depressed corridor. Skilled personnel with a better understanding of the growth-environment can only be the instrument for developing the backward regions and ensure creation of lasting assets as well as the human factor utilization and thus ease social tension, terrorism and destructive politics.
What is more, human security aspects have emerged to be an area where there exists a high degree of correlation between security and development aspects. Clearly, as on this day, inequalities and insecurity in one region have definite direct and indirect bearings on global security and development of the global economy.
Recent happenings – sub-prime crisis, financial crisis, food insecurity, distributional hazards, corruption, and communal disharmonies are hindering the growth process in many ways.
Plan implementation and development financing aspects could be seen from an unconventional angle. Governance aspects, renewed development-oriented-marketing -drive [ in the urban-rural context ], duly taking care of WTO goings, financial biggies’ operational -experience –sharing, could be found to be more useful when the country would be entering into the next phase of development vis-à-vis skill shortage.
Able scan of such an inter-disciplinary area could be put to use effectively in the country’s march towards occupying a leading role in the global context via reflecting optimum utilization of human resources in the workable age group, technology, physical, information and financial resources.
Finally, today we are more and more concerned with sustainable development. The term sustainable development appeared in the late 1970s and was definitely consolidated in 1987 by the aforementioned Brundtland Commission. This commission prepared the most broadly accepted definition of sustainable development: sustainable development is a transformation process in which the exploitation of resources, direction of investments, orientation of technological development and institutional change are reconciled and reinforces present and future potential, in order to attend to needs and future aspirations (…) it is that which attends to present needs without compromising the possibility of future generations attending their own needs (Becker, 1993, p. 49).
It could be said that sustainable is development that provides or allows for the condition of the harmonious maintenance of man’s well-being (economic, social and political) and the environment (ecosystem and space) to be attained.
Very judiciously, Sachs (2004) made some basic principles of this new developmental vision clear: satisfying basic needs; solidarity with future generations; participation by the population involved; preservation of natural resources and the environment in general; and then, preparation of a social system that guarantees employment, social security and respect for other cultures; and education programmes.
The upshot: development is more than improvements in people’s well-being: it also describes the capacity of the system to provide the circumstances for that continued well-being.  Development is a characteristic of the system; sustained improvements in individual well-being are a yardstick by which it is judged. This has important implications for development policy, both for developing countries themselves wishing to put their economy and society onto a path of faster development, and for others who want to help that process.
So, the need has arisen to look at the crucial from different unbiased age-specific angles.

Published by The Sentinel

Written by Dr B K Mukhopadhyay

http://sentinelassam.com/

 

Satellites for Railways

 

Satellite_antenna_on_cabin_roof_largeIn this age of accurate geo-location and real time information through GPS (global positioning system), satellites have become ubiquitous as eyes high up in the sky. Whether for remote sensing of resources or predicting weather, maintaining telecom links or keeping a lookout for enemy planes and missiles, satellites are playing a wide array of roles. And now satellites will warn people near unmanned level crossings of approaching trains. Indian Railways has joined hands with ISRO to adopt a satellite-based system under which integrated circuit (IC) chips are being installed in train locomotives and unmanned level crossing gates. When a train is 500 metres away from such a level crossing, a hooter will begin sounding the alarm and will get progressively louder as the train nears. Surely, this is a safety measure that needs be welcomed, considering that the highest number of rail accidents (40%) occur at such crossings. An RTI query last year revealed that 613 lives were lost in such crossings from 2011-12 to 2015-16. Of course, the number of casualties has been coming down and the Railways have targeted completely eliminating unmanned level crossings in the next 2-3 years. Presently, hooters are being installed at unmanned level crossings on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Guwahati routes. After such crossings are eliminated in due course, the hooters would be shifted to manned level crossings as an added safety alarm. In addition, satellites will also help the Railways keep track of train movements on real-time basis. While bullet trains hog the headlines, it is such incremental tech solutions to improve passenger safety that will help improve the image of the Railways.

Published by The Sentinel

Agri Business: Change the traditional route

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“Agri-business is the sum total of all operations involved in the manufacture  and dis tribution of farm supplies, production activities on the farm, storage, processing and distribution of farm commodities and items made from them” (John David and Gold Berg). Actually, it is of recent origin. Agri-business as a concept was born in Harvard University in 1957 with the publication of a book “A concept of Agri-business”, written by John David and A. Gold Berg. It was introduced in Philippines in early 1966, when the University of the Philippines offered an Agri-business Management (ABM) programme at the under-graduate level.
The contribution of the agri-sector business has been going up in the real sense if the holistic view is taken.
Let us have a quick look at the recent experiences of some of the developing economies.
Asian Experience
Myanmar’s mango is a good example on this score. Mango season runs from April to July and the fruit is mostly exported to China via border trade, with other small shipments also sent to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The most popular variety – sein ta lone (diamond) – is mainly grown in Mandalay Region and southern Shan State and has earned a good reputation internationally.
The market is a tremendous one, but a number of problems inherent stand in the way.  Myanmar can only meet about ten percent of the demand because it doesn’t produce enough high-quality fruit. Not only Myanmar, most of these economies suffer from traditional approach.  Such economies could export significantly more mangoes if it lifted its quality and value-added the product. Markets like Japan only want fruit that has been carefully processed.
Re-exporting is another area by which others reap the benefit. China, Singapore and Malaysia buy mangoes from Myanmar, processes them and then re-exports the finished product.
Transportation problems are very common on this score. Farmers try to save money by overloading mangoes when they transport them, which damages the fruit and reduces their value. Besides, farmers also pick the fruit before they are fully ripe. Farmers sometimes rushed to harvest their crops when they hear a good price was available. Inadequate cold storage facilities have been another bottleneck. Actually, the industry needs capital investment to develop processing factories and better transport networks.
So far Bangladesh is concerned agricultural trade has been an important contributor to improved food security and price stability.  Efforts are on there to expand the scope of international trade in agricultural products. Bangladesh has been successful in exporting cereals and high-value products [e.g. shrimp and fish] in part as a result of preferential trade agreements. Policy reforms backed by investments could further enable Bangladesh to bolster exports in these areas while meeting relevant quality and safety standards, among others.
India’s agro- business has been registering good upward swings too, among other Asian nations.
Africa: Coming Up?
Examples are not difficult to locate so far as Africa is concerned. So far Ghana is concerned cocoa plays the dominant role. World cocoa production was around US$ 10 billion. Ivory Coast, the world’s leading producer of cocoa with 2.4 Mha under cocoa, and Ghana, the second after Ivory Coast (1.5 Mha) between them produce around 53 percent of the world’s cocoa. More than half of the world’s chocolate comes from the cocoa plantations of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers supply lucrative fair-trade markets in developed countries. Ghana produces high-quality cocoa that earns a premium price on the world market. Cocoa is an important cash crop in some such economies – contributing 7.5 percent of GDP in Côte d’Ivoire and 3.4 percent in Ghana in 2008. It accounts for as much as 70-100 percent of household incomes of cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Ghana, though is on track to achieve its one million metric tonnes of cocoa target in the last quarter of the year, yet will face some gloomy days ahead. Increasing temperatures will lead to massive declines in cocoa production by 2030 in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, both in West Africa.
The CIAT’s [Colombia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture] new report – the first of its kind into the likely effects of climate change on cocoa production in the region – anticipated that areas of cocoa suitability will begin to decline by 2030, as average temperatures increase by one degree Celsius. It also disclosed that an expected annual temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will leave not only Ghana, but many of West Africa’s cocoa-producing areas also too hot for chocolate. Warmer conditions mean the heat-sensitive cocoa trees will struggle to get enough water during the growing season, curtailing the development of cocoa pods, containing the prized cocoa bean –the key ingredient in chocolate production, according to the report.
By 2050, a rise of 2.3 degrees Celsius will drastically affect production in lowland regions, including Western and Brong Ahafo. Cocoa trees are expected to struggle as the region’s dry season becomes increasingly intense, saying.
Over a third of Ghana’s economy is agricultural. Products range from bananas, cassava (tapioca), cocoa, coffee, corn and peanuts to timber.Two of Ghana’s major exports, gold and cocoa, enjoyed unprecedented high prices last year. In addition, Ghana experienced a record bumper crop of cocoa. These factors helped increase Ghana’s exports .Ghana now plans to boost its exports by selling cassava, textiles and palm oil in foreign markets. Ghana’s economic and trade health depends on whether it can maintain its robust export growth at a rate that exceeds oil price increases. This is more likely if gold and cocoa prices stay high, and if Ghana can introduce more of its products and services to foreign markets. Cocoa has to continue with its vital contributions.
In a summarized form we can jot down that agri-business involves three sectors: Input sector: It deals with the supply of inputs required by the farmers for raising crops, livestock and other allied enterprises. These include seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, machinery and fuel; Farm sector: It aims at producing crops, livestock and other products and Product sector: It deals with various aspects like storage, processing and marketing the finished products so as to meet the dynamic needs of consumers.
Therefore, Agribusiness is de facto sum total of all operations or activities involved in the business of production and marketing of farm supplies and farm products for achieving the targeted objectives.
FAO rightly opined: ‘the 1990s saw a decline in the growth of world cereal consumption. This was due not to limits in production capacity but rather to slower growth in demand, partly caused by exceptional and largely transient factors.  Growth in consumption will resume, leading to growing dependence on imports in developing countries. The potential exists for traditional and new exporters to fill this gap, but problems of food security and environmental degradation will need to be addressed….. Cereals are still by far the world’s most important sources of food, both for direct human consumption and indirectly, as inputs to livestock production. What happens in the cereal sector is therefore crucial to world food supplies. Since the mid-1960s the world has managed to raise cereal production by almost a billion tonnes. Over the next 30 years it must do so again’.
Published by The Sentinel
Written by Dr B K Mukhopadhyay

Rural development: Updated approach needed

m-a-in-rural-development-250x250As rural innovation becomes increasingly viewed as a complex process that defies simple solutions, it has become more and more difficult to identify the types of investment and policy interventions needed to make developing economies’ rural regions to be more responsive, dynamic, and competitive. So, the requirement is there to identify where the most binding constraints to rural innovation are existing and how better to target interventions to remove such constraints.
The stern reality
More than half of the global population already resides in cities. This number is projected to increase, with 60 percent of the population living in urban areas by 2030. Very recently the U N rightly warned that half of the world’s increase in urban land will occur in Asia over the next 20 years and two of the region’s largest economies, China and India, will see the most extensive changes. In India, the loss of agricultural land to urbanization, aided by insufficient planning for food supply lines, will place a severe constraint on the country’s future food security for its growing population, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) opined in its The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook report.
With the total urban area in the world expected to triple between 2000 and 2030 and urban populations expected to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period, urban expansion, the report observed in its assessment, will put stress on water and other natural resources, and consume prime agricultural land. This report makes a strong argument for greater attention to be paid by urban planners and managers to the nature-based assets within city boundaries. Sustainable urban development that supports valuable ecosystems presents a major opportunity for improving lives and livelihoods, and accelerating the transition to an inclusive green economy.
In fact, in this 21st century the rural regions are facing major challenges which arise mainly from globalisation, demographic change and the rural migration of young, well-trained people? Policies for rural areas desperately call for recognising and making use of strengths and opportunities.
Whither Innovative Approach?
An innovative approach has to be there in as much as tinkering around the existing practises could not enable an economy to reach at higher level of equilibrium. Rural diversification, one way of looking at this, in turn, refers to the process aimed at reducing the risks of farming and is a logical consequence of the policy shift away from direct agricultural price support – a synergy approach to rural development, incorporating both traditional network and institutional analysis, focussing  on working mechanisms and processes. This, no doubt, paves the way for fostering co-operation between public and private actors to achieve sustainable development. Planning is a continuous and spontaneous process indeed.
So far land use planning is concerned – the most important factor to invite innovations – traditional notions still dominate Crop competition, demand from other sectors and the like have put the overall situation in a confusing state and the resultant effect is poor utilization of productive land in the region.
In particular, agricultural lands require lop attention in as much as sectoral competition may lead to diminution of farm land steadily in the absence of proper land use planning. It will be pertinent to refer here some global happenings. This is particularly serious in Egypt, where only 3 percent of the total area of that country is of any use for agriculture, the rest being largely desert. It appears that every year, that country now loses 0.5 percent of what remains of its agricultural land—a trend that cannot go on forever. The situation is similar in China. Indeed, since that country started industrializing it has already lost some 10 percent of its agricultural land. In China urban areas are increasingly encroaching on protected areas of the country. In the Latin American and Caribbean regions, where the number of cities has grown six-fold in the last 50 years, housing for low-income residents often occurs in important areas for biodiversity and ecosystem services such as the wetlands or floodplains. These are mistakenly considered to be of marginal value by planners.
Next, due to interplay of a number of factors the incidence of regional disparity Galore It is definitely a matter of grave concern in as much as not only between the districts, but within the blocks also differences galore – in case of any indicator on this score – irrigation, fertilizer use, water use, productivity, cropping intensity and the like. The trend is to be mitigated.
Further innovations inclusive of drive for optimizing productivity, subject to environment constraint, is the crying need to push the integrated farming system almost to perfection.
Finally, what about access to services and infrastructure that should be available throughout the economy (drinking water supply, sewage treatment, mail, telecommunications, transport, access to broadband in the field of IT and telecommunications)? The quality of these services, however, differs from region to region. One field which urgently needs improvement is sewage treatment where, for economic reasons, the number of decentralised systems is growing. Furthermore, employment opportunities are not at all sufficiently available in rural regions – where are various long lasting assets generating measures to improve the situation?
Green Economy and Rural Development
The analysis will be incomplete if the ongoing trends lose sight of. The ‘green economy’ is: “An economy that results in improved human well-being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities,” according to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2012. There is no single model of the ‘green economy’, but multiple forms of locally specific green-economy activity. The key principle is that the ‘green economy’ is about seeking economic opportunities from socially and environmentally sustainable practices and vice versa. Of course, making the transition to the green economy in rural areas requires political will, technological developments and encouragement from market pressures. In practice, the transition is likely to take place through a sequence of progressive steps.
That is to say: the Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) can be an important vehicle for enabling the transition to a green economy in rural areas – the range includes support for business activities that have ‘green’ credentials and support to improve the environmental performance of farmers and foresters. Obvious enough: nearly every measure in the RDPs can be used to promote a wide mix of economic, environmental and social benefits that lie at the heart of the green economy. This can make the RDPs, if properly implemented, a very versatile instrument for promoting a transition to a green economy: efficiency in water and energy use; the supply and use of renewable sources of energy, by-products, wastes and residues; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and fostering carbon conservation and sequestration in rural areas.
It is crystal clear that cooperation has particular potential to support the transition to the green economy responding to the need to balance multiple interests and objectives. In other words – overcoming any potential or perceived conflicts between different fields of activity can be achieved by bringing stakeholders together in a common cause. Effective use of the Cooperation Measure can therefore be an important element of a shift in rural areas towards greener and more sustainable economies [development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs] helping individuals to achieve more by working together and through these activities developing a greater sense of community and identity.

 

Published by The Sentinel

Written by Dr B K Mukhopadhyay

http://www.sentinelassam.com