New Delhi, Apr 19: Warning that diseases like AIDS and avian flu and disasters like tsunami and Katrina were the result of the degradation of the ecosystem due to unbalanced economic growth, environment expert Prof Jeffrey Sachs has urged India to pay attention to sustainability while expediting developmental process.
The disasters are expected to intensify with countries focussing only on economic growth, said Prof Sach, Director, Earth Institute&Queteled Professor of Sustainable Development, Columbia University, USA.
He was speaking at the National Conference&Annual Session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.
Prof Sach said growth of population and per capita income has tendency to lead to degradation of every ecosystem.
Though the growth rate of population has declined but increasing population still posed a major challenge to the environment, so there was a need to control the population growth further by encouraging family planning, girls' education and empowerment of women.
He also said that there was going to be tremendous increase in the use of energy in future. While population by 2050 will increase by one and half, the use of energy will increase by three folds. In view of the tremendous pressure on existing oil supply, there is the increasing pressure on the use of coal as a source of energy.
This will increase the rate of erosion of environment. There is hence a need for controlling carbon emissions by developing an appropriate technology.
Prof Sach noted that by 2050 India in terms of GDP could be at par with China and by the end of this century, the country could well surpass both the US and China. However, high growth path also poses severe challenges to the ecosystem and hence India was required to play a central role in the world for this cause. The US and Europe should come forward to support India in this initiative, he suggested.
''Even if we spend less than one per cent of the GDP on maintaining the eco system, this should be sufficient. Efforts should be made to ensure sustainability of energy, food supply and health, ''he said.
Economic growth affects the ecosystem by leading to earth transformation, concentration of carbon and nitrogen, extinction of flora and fauna, stress on water etc, he observed.
He said eco degradation leads to increasing temperature, which in turn affects food supply, health, habitats, sea level, ocean chemistry, extreme weather conditions and water stress.
Prof Sach expressed dissatisfaction with the degree of importance the sustainability of ecosystem has attained in India as well as abroad.
Prof Sach said growth and devolvement were necessary to help the poorest of the poor and this could happen without damaging the ecosystem.
He said India has to play a leadership role in, scientific and technical development, and also in developing a sustainable energy system, helping the deprived sections across the world.