Important Data and Facts for Mains-October 2021

Facts and Figures for UPSC Mains

Important Data and Facts for Mains-September 2021


IMPORTANT FACTS & FIGURES

GEOGRAPHY /RESOURCES

  • Terrestrial water storage (TWS) dropped at a rate of 1 cm per year in 20 years (2002-2021) according to new report 2021 State of Climate Services recently released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  • Five of the 21 river basins in India are ‘absolute water scarce’ (per capita water availability below 500 cubic metres) according to the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator.
  • Arid areas in north western India spread over parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab, covering nearly 12% of the total geographical area of the country and are home to more than 80 million people. With an annual rainfall in the range of less than 100 to 400 mm, these areas face acute shortage of water throughout the year.
  • The UN World Water development Report 2020 emphasises that water is the ‘climate connector’ that allows for greater collaboration and coordination across the majority of targets for climate change (Paris Agreement), sustainable development (2030 Agenda and its SDGs) and disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework).

COAL CRISIS

  • India has the world’s fifth-largest coal reserves.
  • Coal production also releases methane (CH4), a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
  • It accounts for 35 per cent of CH4 emitted by all fossil fuel-related sources, says IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), the first part of which was published in August 2021.
    • The countries occupying the majority of the world’s remaining coal pipeline are China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh — predominately Asian countries.
    • China alone contributed 50 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions from coal in 2019 and runs over half of the world’s operating fleet.
    • Coal still accounts for 34 per cent of the world’s power production in 2020. 

SOCIAL ISSUES

  • Out of its 21.9% population living under the poverty line, nearly 275 million people including local tribals depend on the forest for subsistence.
  • Africa’s semi-arid Sahel region, which lies between the Sahara Desert and the humid savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa, has the highest rate of child marriage in the world, according to a new report by non-profit ‘Save the Children’.
  • At least 10 million more girls are at a risk of being forced into marriage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
  • Odisha reported the highest number of human trafficking cases for forced labour in the country, according to the National Crime Record’s Bureau 2020 data.

MIGRATION /DISPLACEMENT

  • Around 1.26 billion people across 30 countries are suffering from both extreme ecological risk and low levels of resilience, according to Ecological Threat Report (ETR) 2021 released by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP).

HEALTH

  • Around 16% of deaths in children occur due to pneumonia in India.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (ABHIM), announced recently, links these elements. It will support infrastructure development of 17,788 rural health and wellness centres (HWCs) in seven high-focus States and three north-eastern States.
  • India’s child mortality rate has been lower compared to Sub-Saharan African countries despite it having higher levels of stunting. This implies that though India was not able to ensure better nutritional security for all children under five years, it was able to save many lives due to the availability of and access to better health facilities.
  • Child stunting in India declined from 54.2% in 1998–2002 to 34.7% in 2016-2020, whereas child wasting remains around 17% throughout the two decades of the 21st century.
  • Only one in 10 people who need palliative care are receiving it, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By 2060, the need for palliative care is expected to nearly double. Each year, it is estimated over 56.8 million people, including 25.7 million in the last year of life, need palliative care. Around 78% of those people live in low and middle-income countries. 
  • According to the “Assessment report of District Hospitals” by NITI Aayog, a district hospital in India has 24 beds per 1 lakh population, on an average.
  • As per study, Bihar is having the lowest average of number of six beds per 1 lakh population.
  • Puducherry is having the highest number of 222 beds per one lakh population.
  • The annual loss in human capital arising from mental health conditions in children aged 0-19 is $387.2 billion, according to a new UNICEF report report The State of the World’s Children 2021 – In My Mind: Promoting, Protecting and Caring for Children’s Mental Health.

EDUCATION

  • Close to 40% of school students in India are in private schools. Most of them are in ‘low-cost’ schools for the poor, which have been buffeted by the crisis.
  • Over 60% of government and private school principals in India stated that their schools suffered from dropouts and face financial challenges, according to a recent survey (Global School Leaders and Alokit, report forthcoming).
  • The School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) survey covering 15 States and Union Territories, conducted in August 2021, revealed that over 25% of children who had previously been enrolled in private schools had switched to government schools.
  • The SCHOOL survey showed that 42% of students in grades 3-5 in villages and urban bastis could only read a few letters. Only 55% of students in grades 6-8 could fluently read a simple conversational sentence.

GOVERNANCE

  • Only 47% urban households have individual water connections. Urban areas produce 62,000 million litres of sewage every day. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the installed capacity to treat this sewage is only 37% and just 30% is actually treated.
  • According to a World Bank report (2021), road accidents globally injure more than 3000 persons every day.
  • India tops the world in road crash deaths (WHO, 2018), with more than 400 fatalities per day.
  • According to MoRTH, Road accidents in India kill almost 5 lakh people annually. India has 1% of the world’s vehicles but accounts for 11% of all road accident deaths.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

INDIA AND ASEAN

  • India is currently witnessing exponential growth in imports from the ASEAN region, while our exports have been impeded by non-reciprocity in FTA concessions, non-tariff barriers, import restrictions, quotas and export taxes from ASEAN countries. Such a review will enable alignment with contemporary trade practices, procedures and regulatory harmonisation.
  • India’s bilateral trade with ASEAN could rise to $200 billion, from $80 billion, with a collective effort.
  • ASEAN-India trade had declined 14% in 2020 to $65.6 billion, but India remained one of ASEAN’s largest trading partners, as well as FDI investors with fresh investments of $2.1 billion in 2020.

INDIA AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • On average, India provides development assistance of $6.48 billion and receives assistance of $6.09 billion annually from key partners as Official Development Assistance (ODA).

INDIA AND CHINA

  • China shares its 22,457-km land boundary with 14 countries including India, the third-longest after the borders with Mongolia and Russia.
  • The only other country with which China has disputed land borders is Bhutan (477 km).

ECONOMY /GROWTH /INFRASTRUCTURE/ENERGY

  • India now has the highest ratio of unlisted to listed companies with a $1 billion valuation.
  • Estimates suggest India’s startup ecosystem valuation will explode from $315 billion today to $1 trillion by 2025.
  • A recent Deloitte report has forecasted that India could gain U.S.$11 trillion in economic value over the next 50 years by limiting rising global temperatures and realising its potential to ‘export decarbonization’.
  • India’s nuclear power generation capacity of 6,780 MW may increase to 22,480 MW by 2031, contributing to the country’s efforts to turn to green energy.
  • India needs approximately U.S.$500 billion of investments in wind and solar infrastructure, grid expansion, and storage to reach the 450 GW capacity target by 2030. 
  • Coal-fired thermal power plant (TPP) generation contributed 71% of the 1,382 billion units (BU) of electricity generated by utilities in India during FY 2020-21 though they accounted for only 55% of the total installed generation capacity of 382 GW (as of March 2021). 
  • While variable renewable energy (VRE) sources (primarily, wind and solar) account for 24.7% of the total installed generation capacity, as of March 2021, they contributed 10.7% of the electricity generated by utilities during FY 2020-21.
  • According to the WTO, from 2015 to 2019, India initiated 233 anti-dumping investigations, which is a sharp increase from 82 initiations between 2011 and 2014 (June).
  • The anti-dumping initiations by India from 1995 (when the WTO was established) till 2020 stand at 1,071. This is higher than the anti-dumping initiations by the US (817), the EU (533), and China (292), despite India’s share in the global merchandise exports being far less than these countries.
  • India, the world’s second largest coal importer with the world’s fourth largest reserves, must also compete for supplies with China.
  • India is second only to China (34-35 mt) in terms of consumption of edible oil.
  • A 2017 UNCTAD report on inclusive growth and e-commerce deems China’s e-commerce-driven growth as inclusive. That means China has successfully empowered micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to compete with large companies on the same stage, with no geographic boundaries.
  • Recently, government raised foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in telecom sector through the
    automatic route to 100% from 49% earlier.

EMPLOYMENT

  • As many as 37666 (24.6%) of the 1.53 lakh people who died by suicide in 2020 were daily-wage earners according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.
  • According to CSO, only about 17% of India’s workers are regular wage earners and less than 23% of Indian households have a regular wage earner.
  • According to the data available with the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the total number of employed people in the Indian economy as of May-August 2021 was 394 million — 11 million below the level set in May-August 2019.
  • As per estimates compiled by the Institute of Conflict Management, the government of India (GOI) has about 364 government servants for every 1,00,000 residents, with 45 per cent in the railways alone.
  • An estimated 55.80 million MSMEs employ close to 130 million people; of this, 14 per cent are women-led enterprises and 59.5 per cent are rural.

WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP /EMPOWERMENT

  • Women made up 24 per cent of the workforce before the pandemic, yet accounted for 28 per cent of all job losses as the pandemic took hold.
  • India has the lowest female labour force participation in South Asia at 20.3 per cent and current outcomes of skilling for them are highly inadequate. Out of every 100 women enrolled in skilling programmes, only about 10 stay in post-skilling jobs for 3 months or more.

WOMEN AND ENVIRONMENT

  • Representation of women stood at 40 per cent or more in 6 of the 16 constituted bodies under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, equivalent to that reported in 2020, according to a recent report by UNFCC published August 2021
  • On average, women occupied 33 per cent of all constituted body positions in 2021, as was the case in 2020.
  • Similarly, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2015 data showed that only 12 per cent of 881 national environmental ministries across 193 countries were led by women. In 2020, the figure was 15 per cent, according to IUCN new data. 

AGRICULTURE

  • The number of agricultural labourers who died by suicide in 2020 was 18% higher than the previous year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.
  • Overall, 10,677 people engaged in the farm sector died by suicide in 2020, slightly higher than the 10,281 who died in 2019. They made up 7% of all suicides in the country.
  • The worst among States continues to be Maharashtra, with 4,006 suicides in the farm sector, including a 15% increase in farm worker suicides. Other States with a poor record include Karnataka (2016), Andhra Pradesh (889) and Madhya Pradesh (735). Karnataka saw a dismal 43% increase in the number of farm worker suicides in 2020.
  • As per the latestSituation Assessment Survey (SAS) of agricultural households conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO), an average Indian farmer earned Rs 10,218 per month in 2018-19 (July-June).
  • Across states, the highest income was received by a farming household in Meghalaya (Rs 29,348) followed by Punjab (Rs 26,701), Haryana (Rs 22,841), Arunachal Pradesh (19,225) and Jammu and Kashmir (Rs 18,918) while the lowest income levels were in West Bengal (Rs 6,762), Odisha (Rs 5,112) and Jharkhand (Rs 4,895).
  • Agriculture contributes about 16.5% to India’s GDP and employs 42.3% of the workforce (2019-20).
  • India produces sufficient food, feed and fibre to sustain about 18% of the world’s population (as of 2020). 
  • 11 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) out of 17 are directly related to the food system.
  • The National Statistical Office’s Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households (SAAH) report for 2018-19 pegs the country’s “agricultural households” at 93.09 million.
  • Today, more than 90% of pulses are produced in the 10 states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.

LIVESTOCK

  • Approximately 200 million Indians are involved in livestock farming, including around 100 million dairy farmers. Roughly 80% bovines in the country are low on productivity and are reared by small and marginal farmers.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • India’s per GB internet data costs are just 3 per cent of those in the US.

BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

  • India is responsible for no more than 4.37% cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide since the pre-industrial era, even though it is home to more than a sixth of humanity.
  • India’s per capita emissions are less than half the world average, less than one-eighth of the U.S.’s, and have shown no dramatic increase like China’s post 2000.
  • The agriculture sector, the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions for India after energy.
  • The 2016 Adaptation Gap Report of the UN Environment Programme had noted that the annual costs of adaptation in developing countries could range from $140 to $300 billion annually by 2030 and rise to $500 billion by 2050. 
  • According to the Global Carbon Atlas, India ranks third in total greenhouse gas emissions by emitting annually around 2.6 billion tonnes (Bt) CO2eq, preceded by China (10 Bt CO2eq) and the United States (5.4 Bt CO2eq), and followed by Russia (1.7Bt) and Japan (1.2 Bt).
  • Recently, the report ‘Sixth status of the Corals of the World’ by Global Coral Reef Monitoring
    Network (GCRMN) stated that 14% of Coral reefs are lost since 2010
    .
  • Healthy corals are expected to deliver additional economic benefits amounting to $34.6 billion and $36.7 billion in the Mesoamerica Reef and the Coral Triangle, respectively, between 2017 and 2030, according to United Nations Environment Programme.
  • India ranked seventh on the list of countries most affected due to extreme weather events, incurring losses of $69 billion (in PPP) in 2019 (Germanwatch, 2021).
  • The fact that 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India is a major cause of concern.
  • Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital as per the World Air Quality Report, 2020.
  • India’s per capita emissions is just 1.8 tonnes, significantly lower than the world average of 4.4 tonnes per capita.
  • Sector-wise global emissions show that electricity and heat production and agriculture, forestry and other land use make up 50 per cent of the emissions.
  • Agricultural soils are the largest single source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in the national inventory.
  • Nitrous oxide emissions from use of nitrogen-fertiliser increased by approximately 358 per cent during 1980-81 to 2014-15, growing at a statistically significant rate of 5,100 tonnes per year. 
  • The State of the World’s Forests report 2020, says that since 1990, around 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through deforestation, conversion and land degradation.
  • Nearly 178 million hectares have decreased globally due to deforestation (1990-2020).
  • India lost 4.69 MHA of its forests for various land uses between 1951 to 1995.
  • Over the past 20 years, World Heritage sites lost 3.5 million hectares of forest (an area larger than Belgium) and forests in 10 World Heritage sites emitted more carbon than they absorbed.
  • UNESCO World Heritage forests, which cover 69 million hectares, or roughly twice the size of Germany, hold 13 billion tonnes of carbon (Gt C) in vegetation and soils.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa had losses of over $520 million in direct economic damages annually as a result of climate change since the beginning of this century, according to the International Monetary Fund estimates.
  • An average of 70 per cent of the population under 18 in G20 countries felt that climate change is a global emergency, compared to 65 per cent of adults, the report by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) showed.
  • At least five out of the top 10 countries most affected by climate disasters in 2019 were LDCs, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021.

NET ZERO

  • By 2021, Bhutan and Suriname are the only two countries that have achieved net zero — meaning, they sequester more carbon in their forests than they emit.
  • Uruguay has set an ambitious net zero target for 2030 and the rest of the countries have said that they will get there by 2050. China has set a target of 2060.
  • In fact, 21 per cent of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies have also announced net zero targets as of March 2021.

AIR POLLUTION

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 24 per cent of all global deaths, roughly 13.7 million deaths a year, are linked to the environment due to risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure. 
  • South Asia suffers the most among all regions of the world in terms of loss of human capital due to air pollution, according to the latest The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021report published by the World Bank.

PLASTIC POLLUTION

  • According to UNEP Report
  • Plastic pollution in aquatic systems may triple by 2040.
  • Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated so far, an estimated 10 per cent was recycled, 14 per cent incinerated and the remaining 76 per cent went into landfills, dumps and littered in the natural environment.
  • The estimated annual loss in the value of plastic packaging waste during sorting and processing alone is $80-120 billion.

SECURITY CHALLENGES

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2019 report, a total of 104 CAPF personnel had lost their lives in various accidents and 36 died by suicide.

REPORTS AND INDICES

GLOBAL TB REPORT 2021

Context

  • Recently, the Global TB report was released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Key Findings of Global TB Report 2021

  • WHO estimates that some 4.1 million people currently suffer from TB but have not been diagnosed with the disease or have not officially reported to national authorities. This figure is up from 2.9 million in 2019.
  • Worse, India (41%) was on the list of countries which topped those that contributed most to the global reduction in TB notifications between 2019 and 2020. India along with Indonesia (14%), the Philippines (12%), China (8%) and 12 other countries accounted for 93% of the total global drop in notifications.
  • The number of people treated for drug-resistant TB fell by 15%, from 1,77,000 in 2019 to 1,50,000 in 2020, equivalent to only about 1 in 3 of those in need.
  • In 2020, more people died from TB, with far fewer people being diagnosed and treated or provided with TB preventive treatment compared with 2019, and overall spending on essential TB services falling.

Associated Challenges 

  • The first challenge was a disruption in access to TB services and a reduction in resources
  • In many countries, human, financial and other resources had been reallocated from tackling TB to the COVID-19 response, limiting the availability of essential services
  • Many people with TB were not diagnosed in 2020
    • The number of people newly diagnosed with TB and those reported to national governments fell from 7.1 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020.
  • Global investment for TB fell and the funding in the low- and middle-income countries that account for 98% of reported TB cases remained a challenge. 
  • less willingness and ability to seek care in the context of lockdowns and associated restrictions on movement.
  • The stigma is associated with similarities in the symptoms related to TB and COVID-19. 

Key Suggestions

  • investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis,
  • treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease.
  • need to increase the proportion of cases that are confirmed bacteriologically either through bacteria culture or rapid tests.
  • The share of rapid tests especially needs to go up as only 33 percent of total cases were diagnosed through it.

Back to Basics

About Tuberculosis

  • It is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (bacteria) and it most often affects the lungs.
  • Transmission is spread through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit. 
    • A person needs to inhale only a few germs to become infected.
    • With TB infection, a person gets infected with TB bacteria that lie inactive in the body. This infection can develop into TB disease if their immune system weakens. 
  • Symptoms:
    • Prolonged cough, chest pain, weakness/fatigue, weight loss, fever, etc.
    • Often, these symptoms will be mild for many months, thus leading to delays in seeking care and increasing the risk of spreading the infection to others.
  • Diagnosis:
    • In the case of suspected lung TB disease, a sputum sample is collected for testing for TB bacteria.
    • For non-lung TB disease, samples of affected body fluids and tissue can be tested.
    • WHO recommends rapid molecular diagnostic tests as initial tests for people showing signs and symptoms of TB.
    • Other diagnostic tools can include sputum smear microscopy and chest X-rays.
  • Treatment:
    • Both TB infection and disease are curable using antibiotics.
  • Global Efforts:
    • Global Tuberculosis Programme and Report, 1+1 initiative & Multisectoral Accountability Framework for TB by WHO.
    • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 under UN SDG target 3.3.
    • Moscow Declaration, 2017 to End TB. 
    • World Tuberculosis Day, observed on 24 March each year, is designed to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease.
      • The theme of World TB Day 2021, ‘The Clock is Ticking’, conveys the sense that the world is running out of time to act on the commitments to end TB made by global leaders.
  • Indian Efforts:
    • The government aims to have a TB-free India by 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030.
    • National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme: National Strategic Plan to end TB by 2025 under pillars of Detect-Treat-Prevent-Build (DTPB).
    • Universal Immunisation Programme.
    • Revised National TB Control Programme under the National Health Mission.
    • NIKSHAY portal and TB Sample Transport Network.
    • Development of National Framework for Gender-Responsive approach to TB.

GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX 2021

Context

  • Recently, Global Hunger Index 2021 prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, mentioned the level of hunger in India as “alarming”.

Key Findings of Global Hunger Index 2021

Indian Scenario

  • India’s GHI score decelerating from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8 – 27.5 between 2012 and 2021.
  • India has slipped to the 101st position among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 from its 2020 ranking (94), to be placed behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. 
  • Only 15 countries fare worse than India. These include Papua New Guinea (102), Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), Mozambique (106), Sierra Leone (106), Timor-Leste (108), Haiti (109), Liberia (110), Madagascar (111), Democratic Republic of Congo (112), Chad (113), Central African Republic (114), Yemen (115) and Somalia (116).
  • The share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016-2020
  • Neighbouring countries like Nepal (76), Bangladesh (76), Myanmar (71) and Pakistan (92), which are still ahead of India at feeding its citizens, are also in the ‘alarming’ hunger category.
  • However, India has shown improvement in indicators like the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.

Global Scenario

  • A total of 18 countries, including China, Kuwait and Brazil, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five.
  • Current projections based on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) show that the world as a whole — and 47 countries in particular — will fail to achieve even low hunger by 2030.
  • Somalia has the highest level of hunger according to the 2021 GHI ranking.
  • Although GHI scores show that global hunger has been on the decline since 2000, progress is slowing.

Back to Basics

  • The GHI score is calculated on four indicators
    • undernourishment;
    • child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);
    • child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition);
    • child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).
  • The GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale, where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.
  • Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.

Criticisms against GHI methodology

  • GHI suffers from inherent data limitations such as outdated sources, discrepancies etc.
  • GHI is largely children-oriented with a higher emphasis on undernutrition than on hunger and its hidden forms, including micronutrient deficiencies.
  • The lower calorie intake, which does not necessarily mean deficiency, may also stem from reduced physical activity, better social infrastructure (road, transport and healthcare) and access to energy-saving appliances at home, among others. 
  • Regional Imbalances
    • A large proportion of the population in Kerala and Tamil Nadu may get counted as calorie deficient despite them being better in nutritional outcome indicators. So, prevalence of calorie deficiency in these States may be overestimated.
    • Conversely, there are States that have a higher average level of calorie intake, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but their needs may even be higher than the earmarked level of required calories for India as a whole because these States have high prevalence of communicable diseases and low level of mechanisation in the economy. 

Continuing Poverty and Hunger Problem

  • Child stunting in India declined from 54.2% in 1998–2002 to 34.7% in 2016-2020, whereas child wasting remains around 17% throughout the two decades of the 21st century.
  • During pandemic, Integrated Child Development Scheme services were either non-functional or severely disrupted, partly because the staff and services were utilised to attend to COVID-19 emergency.
  • National Sample Survey Office, leaked report of 2019 indicated that consumption expenditure in India declined between 2011-12 and 2017-18 by 4%. In rural India, it was worse at about 10% per annum.

Tackling wasting and stunting

  • Stunting is a chronic, long-term measure of undernutrition, while wasting is an acute, short-term measure.
    • Child wasting can manifest as a result of an immediate lack of nutritional intake and sudden exposure to an infectious atmosphere.
  • However, a higher order of priority was accorded to stunting, both in research and policy, for the right reasons as it is a stable indicator and does not oscillate with minor changes in circumstances, while wasting does. 
  • Effectively countering episodes of wasting resulting from such sporadic adversities is key to making sustained and quick progress in child nutrition.
  • If India can tackle wasting by effectively monitoring regions that are more vulnerable to socioeconomic and environmental crises, it can possibly improve wasting and stunting simultaneously. There seems to be no short-cut way of improving stunting without addressing wasting.

Conclusion

  • This ranking should prompt us to look at our policy focus and interventions and ensure that they can effectively address the concerns raised by the GHI, especially against pandemic-induced nutrition insecurity.

GLOBAL MULTIDIMENSIONAL POVERTY INDEX 2021

Context

  • Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021 was recently released by “United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)” and “Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI)”.

Key findings of Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021

Worldwide, across 109 countries and 5.9 billion people:

  • 1.3 billion people are multidimensionally poor.
  • About half (644 million) are children under age 18.
  • Nearly 85 percent live in Sub-Saharan Africa (556 million) or South Asia (532 million).
  • More than 67 percent live in middle-income countries.

But what is the day-to-day reality of life for multidimensionally poor people? The data paint a grim picture:

  • 1 billion each are exposed to solid cooking fuels, inadequate sanitation and substandard housing.
  • 788 million live in a household with at least one undernourished person.
  • 568 million lack improved drinking water within a 30-minute roundtrip walk.

Indian Scenario

  • Scheduled Tribe group in India, which accounts for 9.4 percent of the population, is poorest. Out of 129 million people, 65 million are living in multidimensional poverty.
  • Out of 283 million scheduled caste group people, 94 million are living in multidimensional poverty.
  • In all, five out of six multidimensionally poor people live in households whose head is from a Scheduled Tribe, a Scheduled Caste or Other Backward Class (OBCs).

Back to basics

About Global Multidimensional Poverty Index:

  • MPI is produced /released annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.
  • The index shows the proportion of poor people and the average number of deprivations each poor person experiences at the same time.

MPI uses three dimensions and ten indicators:

  • Education: Years of schooling and child enrollment (1/6 weightage each, total 2/6)
  • Health: Child mortality and nutrition (1/6 weightage each, total 2/6)
  • Standard of living: Electricity, flooring, drinking water, sanitation, cooking fuel and assets (1/18 weightage each, total 2/6)
  • A person is multidimensionally poor if she/he is deprived in one third or more (means 33% or more) of the weighted indicators (out of the ten indicators).
  • Those who are deprived in one half or more of the weighted indicators are considered living in extreme multidimensional poverty.

Comparison with Human De­vel­op­ment Index (HDI)

  • HDI, the Human De­vel­op­ment Index, was de­vel­oped by Mah­bub ul Haq and Amartya Sen, in 1990, and was also de­vel­oped by the UNDP.
  • It is cal­cu­lated as the geo­met­ric mean of the nor­mal­ized in­dices of the three di­men­sions of human de­vel­op­ment; it takes into ac­count: health, ed­u­ca­tion and stan­dard of liv­ing. UNDP has a sep­a­rate ver­sion of the HDI named the IHDI (In­equal­ity-ad­justed HDI).
  • While both the HDI and the MPI use the 3 broad di­men­sions health, ed­u­ca­tion and stan­dard of living, the HDI uses in­di­ca­tors at the ag­gre­gate level while MPI uses micro data and all in­di­ca­tors must come from the same sur­vey. This, amongst other rea­sons, has led to the MPI only being cal­cu­lated for just over 100 coun­tries, where data is avail­able for all these di­verse in­di­ca­tors, while HDI is cal­cu­lated for al­most all coun­tries.
  • How­ever, though HDI is thus more uni­ver­sally ap­plic­a­ble, its rel­a­tive spar­sity of in­di­ca­tors also makes it more sus­cep­ti­ble to bias. In­deed, some stud­ies have found it to be some­what bi­ased to­wards GDP per capita, as demon­strated by a high cor­re­la­tion be­tween HDI and the log of GDPpc. Hence, HDI has been crit­i­cized for ig­nor­ing other de­vel­op­ment pa­ra­me­ters.

WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Context

  • The IMF unveiled its 2nd World Economic Outlook (WEO).
  • The IMO comes out with the report twice every year April and October and also provides regular “updates” to it on other occasions.
  • The WEO reports are significant because they are based on a wide set of assumptions about a host of parameters — such as the international price of crude oil — and set the benchmark for all economies to compare one another with.

What were the main takeaways from the WEO in October?

  • The global economic recovery momentum had weakened due to the pandemic-induced supply disruptions
  • Increasing inequality among nations
  • The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries remains a major concern.
  • There are two key reasons for the economic divergences:
    • large disparities in vaccine access, and
    • differences in policy support.

Employment growth

  • Employment growth is likely to lag the output recovery.
  • Employment around the world remains below its pre-pandemic levels, reflecting the following –
    1. negative output gaps
    2. worker fears of on-the-job infection in contact-intensive occupations
    3. childcare constraints
    4. labour demand changes as automation picks up in some sectors
    5. replacement income through furlough schemes or unemployment benefits helping to cushion income losses
    6. frictions in job searches and matching
  • What is particularly worrisome is that this gap between recovery in output and employment is likely to be larger in emerging markets and developing economies than in advanced economies.
  • Further, young and low-skilled workers are likely to be worse off than prime-age and high-skilled workers, respectively.

What does this mean for India?

  • As far as GDP is concerned, India’s growth rate hasn’t been tweaked for the worse, and India’s economic recovery is gaining ground.
  • However, the IMF projection that the recovery in unemployment is lagging the recovery in output (or GDP) is a concern for India.
  • This could mean large population being excluded from the GDP growth and its benefits.
  • Lack of adequate employment levels would affect overall demand and thus impede India’s growth momentum.

Why could employment lag output growth in India?

  • India already had a massive unemployment crisis.
  • India is witnessing a K-shaped recovery – Different sectors are recovering at significantly different rates.
  • This holds true for both between the organised sector and unorganised sector, and within the organised sector.
  • Another reason is that the bulk of India’s employment is in the informal or unorganised sectors.
  • So, a weak recovery for the informal/ unorganised sectors implies a drag on the economy’s ability to create new jobs or revive old ones.

WORLD INEQUALITY REPORT 2022

Context

  • World Inequality Report 2022 was recently published by the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics.

Key Findings of World Inequality Report 2022

  • It measures income and wealth inequality in a systematic and transparent manner.
  • This report showcases inequality across the world, providing a comparative perspective across countries.
  • Global minimum corporate tax rate is progressing but is still below the statutory rate.
  • Tax ranging from 1% of wealth owned over $1 million to 3 % for global billionaires can generate 1.6 per cent of global income.
  • Average increase in the wealth of billionaires is over 9 % per year.
  • 15 % minimum corporate tax deal is very low as compared to the statutory tax rate paid by low-end and middle-size companies/corporations.
    • Recently, at a meeting under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finalized that Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) will be subject to a minimum 15% global tax rate from 2023.
    • It aims to make it harder to avoid taxation by MNEs.
  • 15 % minimum corporate tax would lead to revenue gains
    • €83.3 billion in EU,
    • €57.0 billion in US,
    • €6.1 billion in China
    • €0.5 billion in India.
  • Women make just a 3rd of global labour incomes.
    • The share of female incomes in global labour incomes was 31 per cent in 1990 and nears 34 per cent in 2015-2020 and males make the remaining 66 per cent.
  • In terms of global carbon emissions, the bottom 50 % of the population is responsible for 12 % of world emissions
  • The 10 % highest emitters are responsible for half of world individual emissions.
  • The global bottom 50 per cent income share remains historically low despite growth in the emerging world in the past decades. The share of global income going to top 10 per cent highest incomes at the world level has fluctuated around 50-60 per cent between 1820 and 2020 (50 per cent in 1820, 60 per cent in 1910, 56 per cent in 1980, 61 per cent in 2000, 55 per cent in 2020), while the share going to the bottom 50 per cent lowest incomes has generally been around or below 10 per cent (14 per cent in 1820, 7 per cent in 1910, 5 per cent in 1980, 6 per cent in 2000, 7 per cent in 2020).
  • The top 0.1 per cent of the global population captures more income than the entire bottom 50 per cent.
  • The average annual wealth growth rates among the poorest half of the population were between 3 per cent and 4 per cent per year between 1995 and 2021. The poorest half of the world population only captured 2.3 per cent of overall wealth growth since 1995.
  • The top 1 per cent benefited from high growth rates (3 per cent to 9 per cent per year).
    • This group captured 38 per cent of total wealth growth between 1995 and 2021. The share of wealth detained by the world’s billionaires rose from 1 per cent of total household wealth in 1995 to nearly 3.5 per cent today.

GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY REPORT 2021 (GAP REPORT)

Context

  • According to Global Agricultural Productivity Report 2021, Global agricultural productivity is not growing as fast as the demand for food, amid the impact of climate change.
  • The report was released in conjunction with the World Food Prize Foundation’s annual conference. It primarily made use of data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Key Findings of Global Agricultural Productivity Report 2021

  • Total factor productivity (TFP) is growing at an annual rate of 1.36 per cent (2020-2019).
    • This is below the Global Agricultural Productivity Index that has set an annual target of 1.73 per cent growth to sustainably meet the needs of consumers for food and bioenergy in 2050.
  • Climate change has already reduced productivity growth globally by 21 per cent since 1961.
  • In the drier regions of Africa and Latin America, climate change has slowed productivity growth by as much as 34 per cent.
  • Middle-income countries including India, China, Brazil and erstwhile Soviet republics continued to have strong TFP growth rates.
  • India has seen strong TFP and output growth this century. The most recent data shows an average annual TFP growth rate of 2.81 per cent and output growth of 3.17 per cent (2010–2019).
  • In low-income countries, nearly all agricultural output growth comes from land-use change and forest and grassland destruction for cultivation and grazing. As a result, TFP in low-income countries was contracting by an average of 0.31 per cent per year.
  • Policy reforms in the 1980s and 1990s generated respectable TFP growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • But the region had been unable to sustain or improve TFP growth due to minimal investments in agricultural research and development (R&D).
  • High-income countries, including those in North America and Europe, showed modest TFP growth.
  • In the US, agricultural output had increased 36 per cent since 1982 due to the widespread adoption of efficient irrigation and precision agriculture.

Key Suggestions of Global Agricultural Productivity Report 2021

  • Invest in agricultural research and development
  • Embrace science-and-information-based technologies
  • Improve infrastructure for transportation, information and finance
  • Cultivate partnerships for sustainable agriculture, economic growth and improved nutrition
  • Expand and improve local, regional and global trade
  • Reduce post-harvest loss and food waste

About Total factor productivity (TFP)

  • TFP tracks changes in how efficiently agricultural inputs such as land, labour, fertiliser, feed, machinery and livestock are transformed into outputs like crops, livestock and aquaculture products.
  • TFP growth is influenced by climate change, weather events, changes in fiscal policy, market conditions, investments in infrastructure and agricultural research and development.

GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY (GFS) INDEX 2021

Context

  • Recently, Global Food Security (GFS) Index 2021 was released by Economist Impact and Corteva Agriscience.

Key Rankings

  • India is ranked at 71st position.
  • Ireland, Australia, the UK, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, France and the US shared the top rank with the overall GFS score in the range of 77.8 and 80 points on the index.
  • India held 71st position with an overall score of 57.2 points on the GFS Index 2021 of 113 countries, fared better than Pakistan (75th position), Sri Lanka (77th Position), Nepal (79th position) and Bangladesh (84th position). But the country was way behind China (34th position).

Key Findings

  • Food Affordability: Pakistan and Sri Lanka are ahead of India. However, Sri Lanka at 77th position and Pakistan’s 75th.
  • Food Availability: India scored fared better than Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Venezuela scored the lowest
  • Quality & Safety: India scored well as compared to Pakistan and Sri Lanka
  • Natural Resource and Resilience: India did fairly better compare to the other countries in the category

Countries With Excelling Overall Scores

  • Ireland topped the list, followed by Austria and the United Kingdom, which stood at second and third positions.
  • Finland, Netherlands, Japan were at the top of the list, with an overall GFS score in the range of 77.8 and 80.
  • India’s overall score improved only by 2.7 points to 57.2 in 2021 from 54.5 in 2012, compared to other countries which saw a massive improvement in these years.

Conclusion

  • Action is imperative at all levels–local, national, and global–to end hunger and malnourishment and ensure food security for all.

Back to Basics

About GFS Index

  • The GFS Index was designed and constructed by London-based Economist Impact and is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.
  • The GFS Index measures the underlying drivers of food security in 113 countries, based on the factors of affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.
  • It considers 58 unique food security indicators including income and economic inequality – calling attention to systemic gaps and actions needed to accelerate progress toward United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.

THE CHANGING WEALTH OF NATIONS 2021

Context

  • Recently, the World Bank has published the Changing Wealth of Nations 2021 report.

Key Findings

South-Asia

  • South Asia suffers the most among all regions of the world in terms of loss of human capital due to air pollution.
  • Human capital was “the largest source of worldwide wealth, comprising 64 per cent of total global wealth in 2018.
  • Human capital in south Asia accounts for 50 per cent of the region’s wealth. This did not change during the survey period —1995-2018.
  • South Asia has increased its wealth since 1995. But still, its per capita wealth is among the lowest in the world, comparable to sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Due to population growth in the same time period, per capita wealth remains among the lowest in the world.
  • Over 80 per cent of the region’s wealth was attributed to men, indicating a huge gender disparity in human capital and its contribution to national wealth.
  • However, growing prosperity has been accompanied by unsustainable management of some natural assets.

Low- and middle-income countries

  • Middle-income countries increased their investment in human capital and in turn, saw significant increases in their share of global human capital wealth.
  • Low- and middle-income countries saw their forest wealth per capita decline eight per cent from 1995 to 2018, reflecting significant deforestation.
  • Low-income countries’ share in global wealth is below 1 per cent, a level which has remained the same for decades. These countries account for 8 per cent of the world’s population.
  • Over a third of low-income countries saw declining wealth per capita. Countries with declining wealth also tend to be degrading their base of renewable natural assets. For low-income countries, appropriately managing renewable natural capital, which accounts for 23 per cent of their wealth, remains crucial.

WORLD HERITAGE FORESTS: CARBON SINKS UNDER PRESSURE

Context

  • Recently, UNESCO, World Resources Institute (WRI) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released World Heritage forests: Carbon sinks under pressure. It provides the first global scientific assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration by forests in UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • It is combining satellite-derived data with monitoring information at the site level. 

Key Findings

  • Over the past 20 years, World Heritage sites lost 3.5 million hectares of forest (an area larger than Belgium) and forests in 10 World Heritage sites emitted more carbon than they absorbed.
  • The new analysis estimates that UNESCO World Heritage forests, which cover 69 million hectares, or roughly twice the size of Germany, hold 13 billion tonnes of carbon (Gt C) in vegetation and soils. This exceeds the amount of carbon in Kuwait’s 101 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. The majority of the World Heritage forest carbon is stored in tropical sites. 
  • The new report estimates that forests across World Heritage sites removed approximately 190 million tonnes of CO2 per year between 2001 and 2020 from the atmosphere.
    • This is equivalent to roughly half of the United Kingdom’s carbon emissions from fossil fuels in 2019.
  • Ten large sites were responsible for half of the World Heritage network’s total net carbon sink, but even sites that are smaller total sinks (absorbing less carbon dioxide overall) can play a considerable role in regional and local climate regulation.
  • In fact, an average hectare of World Heritage forest at 55 sites can absorb in one year the same amount of carbon that a passenger vehicle emits.
  • As some of the world’s best protected forests, it is alarming that World Heritage sites lost 3.5 million hectares of forest (more than the area of Belgium) between 2001 and 2020 and that forests in 10 World Heritage sites emitted more carbon than they absorbed.

Pathways to Protect

  • Rapid and effective responses can help prevent devastation from climate-related events
  • Support mechanisms that maximize intactness and connectivity of forests
  • Integrate World Heritage sites into climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development agendas

Conclusion

  • UNESCO World Heritage forests can continue to be reliable carbon sinks if they are effectively protected from local and global threats. The high profile, global reach, and inspirational power of World Heritage sites underpin a strong case for action.
  • The successful implementation of actions to protect these forests requires the mobilization of key stakeholders (e.g., governments, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and the private sector) to develop sustainable financing and investments and promote interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing for decision-making.

CLIMATE VULNERABILITY INDEX (CVI)

Context

  • Recently, Environmental think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water has carried a first-of-its-kind district-level climate vulnerability assessment, or Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI), in which it has analysed 640 districts in India to assess their vulnerability to extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, heatwaves, droughts, etc.

How is the Climate Vulnerability Index assessed?

  • The CVI maps exposure (that is whether the district is prone to extreme weather events), sensitivity (the likelihood of an impact on the district by the weather event), and adaptive capacity (what the response or coping mechanism of the district is).
  • It helps map critical vulnerabilities and plan strategies to enhance resilience and adapt by climate-proofing communities, economies and infrastructure.
  • Instead of looking at climate extremes in isolation, the study looks at the combined risk of hydro-met disasters, which is floods, cyclones and droughts, and their impact.
  • The study does not take into consideration other natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Why does India need a climate vulnerability index?

  • According to Germanwatch’s 2020 findings, India is the seventh-most vulnerable country with respect to climate extremes. Extreme weather events have been increasing in the country such as supercyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal, which is now the strongest cyclone to be recorded in the country.
  • Recent events such as the landslides and floods in Uttarakhand and Kerala, have also increased in the past decade.
  • Another CEEW study has found that three out of four districts in India are extreme event hotspots, with 40 per cent of the districts exhibiting a swapping trend, that is – traditionally flood-prone areas are witnessing more frequent and intense droughts and vice-versa.
  • Further, the IPCC states that every degree rise in temperature will lead to a three per cent increase in precipitation, causing increased intensification of cyclones and floods.

What are the findings of the climate vulnerability index?

  • According to CVI, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar are most vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and cyclones in India.
  • While 27 Indian states and union territories are vulnerable to extreme climate events, 463 districts out of 640 are vulnerable to extreme weather events.
  • Dhemaji and Nagaon in Assam, Khammam in Telangana, Gajapati in Odisha, Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh, Sangli in Maharashtra, and Chennai in Tamil Nadu are among India’s most climate vulnerable districts.
  • More than 80% Indians live in districts vulnerable to climate risks – that is 17 of 20 people in India are vulnerable to climate risks, out of which every five Indians live in areas that are extremely vulnerable.
  • More than 45% of these districts have undergone “unsustainable landscape and infrastructure changes’’.
  • 183 hotspot districts are highly vulnerable to more than one extreme climate events
  • 60% of Indian districts have medium to low adaptive capacity in handing extreme weather events – these districts don’t have robust plans in place to mitigate impact
  • North-eastern states are more vulnerable to floods
  • South and central are most vulnerable to extreme droughts
  • 59 and 41 per cent of the total districts in the eastern and western states, respectively, are highly vulnerable to extreme cyclones.

Which are the best performing states and why?

  • The CVI has ranked 20 states out of which Assam and Andhra Pradesh are the most vulnerable to extreme weather events, and Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal are the least vulnerable.
  • The study points out that the difference in the vulnerability of states ranked is marginal, making all states vulnerable.
  • But Kerala and West Bengal have performed well comparatively, despite both being coastal states and dealing with the threat of cyclones and floods annually. They have stepped up their climate action plans as well as preparedness to handle an extreme weather event.
  • The Index takes into account certain indicators when assessing the preparedness of a state or district.
    • These include availability of critical infrastructure like cyclone and flood shelters, government mechanisms in place including updating of disaster management plans, mitigation strategies, standard operating procedures before, during and after an extreme weather event such as how people and livestock are being evacuated or how food is being mobilised and how the administration prevents loss of lives and livelihoods.

What has compounded the impact of weather events?

  • Apart from the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events which have increased in the country, the report finds that “land disruptions’’ have increased the impact of these events.
  • Land disruptions primarily point to anthropogenic activity including change of land use, increased construction, reclaiming of land for development – resulting in the disappearance of forests, wetlands, mangroves and other such habitats.
  • These ecosystems have traditionally acted as natural buffers against such extreme weather, reducing the impact.
  • With their disappearance, the impact of the weather events have increased and are being felt more across the country.

What are the recommendations that have been made?

  • Develop a high-resolution Climate Risk Atlas (CRA) to map critical vulnerabilities at the district level. A CRA can also support coastal monitoring and forecasting, which are indispensable given the rapid intensification of cyclones and other extreme events.
  • Establish a centralised climate-risk commission to coordinate the environmental de-risking mission.
  • Undertake climate-sensitivity-led landscape restoration focused on rehabilitating, restoring, and reintegrating natural ecosystems as part of the developmental process.
  • Integrate climate risk profiling with infrastructure planning to increase adaptive capacity.
  • Provide for climate risk-interlinked adaptation financing by creating innovative CVI-based financing instruments that integrate climate risks for an effective risk transfer mechanism.

UNEP PRODUCTION GAP REPORT 2021

Context

  • Recently, Production Gap Report 2021 was flagged by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Key Findings of Production Gap Report 2021

  • The climate crisis has become clearer than ever, but it has not been able to compel major emitters to improve action on the ground so far.
  • Governments across the world are still planning to produce more than double the fossil fuels than what the world requires to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • The production gap to achieve the climate goal is the widest for coal: Production plans and projections by governments would lead to around 240 per cent more coal, 57 per cent more oil, and 71 per cent more gas in 2030 than global levels consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
  • The modelling analysis has considered carbon dioxides removal (CDR) technologies to be deployed widely and methane emissions and leakages to be arrested.
    • These assumptions are yet to be proven workable in practice and any deviation from the assumptions will lead to further widening of the gap.
  • The most worrying factor is that almost all major coal, oil and gas producers are planning to increase their production till at least 2030 or beyond.
  • This has been fuelled by incremental capital flow towards fossil fuels in comparison to clean energy in the post novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) recovery phase.
  • The Group of 20 countries has channelised $300 billion to fossil fuels since the beginning of the pandemic, and the sector is still enjoying significant fiscal incentives.
  • The world does not have any more time to alter its trajectory of energy use from fossil to clean energy, and a slight deviation in the coming decade will have a substantial burden of adversaries to our future generations, as we will be locked into long-term human-induced global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius.
  • The report has underlined massive gaps between our pledges and actions, which need to be rectified with a real policy plan and finance.

India’s Position

  • India’s first NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution), issued in 2016, pledged a 33%-35% reduction in the “emissions intensity” of its economy by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
  • The report quotes a 2020 Government of India press release, to shine a light on India’s plans to raise coal production.
  • The government seeks to “unleash the power of coal” and become self-reliant by 2023-24; it also wants to bring about “a paradigm shift in approach from being oriented to maximum revenue from coal to maximum coal available in the market at the earliest.”
  • India plans to augment coal production from 730 million tonnes in 2019 to 1,149 million tonnes in 2024.
  • India also aims to increase total oil and gas production by over 40% in the same period through measures such as accelerated exploration licensing, faster monetization of discoveries, and gas marketing reforms.

THE EARTHSHOT PRIZE 2021

Context

  • Dubbed as the “Eco Oscars”, The Earthshot Prize 2021 is an award set up by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, the charity founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and historian David Attenborough to honour five finalists between 2021 and 2030 for developing solutions to fight the climate crisis.

About The Earthshot Prize 2021

  • Vidyut Mohan’s technology that recycles agricultural waste to create fuel was named among the winners of the coveted prize.
  • Established in 2020, 2021 was the first year when awards were handed out to finalists for their contributions towards the five UN Sustainable Development Goals:
    • restoration and protection of nature,
    • air cleanliness,
    • ocean revival,
    • waste-free living and
    • climate action.
  • Inspired by former US President John F Kennedy’s Moonshot — when the president had set a goal of reaching the Moon in less than a decade — the Earthshot Prize hopes to encourage and support the development of solutions for Earth’s environmental problems.
  • Five individuals or organisations that have come up with impactful solutions to problems plaguing the planet will be awarded one million euros. Each year five winners will be selected, one for each of the UN SDG goal categories, with a total of 50 million euros being awarded by 2030.
  • The winners will be chosen from 15 finalists, three for each category, by the Earthshot Prize Council.
  • The council comprises global spokespersons who are striving to bring impactful action in various capabilities.
    • Companies like Arup, Bloomberg LP, Deloitte, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hitachi, the INGKA Group, Microsoft, MultiChoice, Natura & Co, Safaricom, Salesforce, Unilever, Vodacom, and Walmart make up the Earthshot Global Alliance that will be involved in scaling up the solutions.
  • Aga Khan Development Network, Bloomberg Philanthropies, DP World in partnership with Dubai Expo 2020, the Jack Ma Foundation, Marc and Lynne Benioff, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the WWF, the Green Belt Movement, Greenpeace, and Conservation International are some of the organisations and philanthropic institutes that are helping to fund the prizes.

The winners of this year Earthshot Prize

  • Protect and Restore Nature
    • The Republic of Costa Rica: Costa Rica was a country that once cleared most of its forests, but it has now doubled the number of trees and is seen as a role model for others to follow. The winning project is a scheme paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems that has led to a revival of the rainforest.
  • Clean our Air
    • Takachar, India: A portable machine created to turn agricultural waste into fertiliser so that farmers do not burn their fields and cause air pollution.
  • Revive our Oceans
    • Coral Vita, Bahamas: A project run by two best friends who are growing coral in the Bahamas, designed to restore the world’s dying coral reefs. Using special tanks, they have developed a way to grow coral up to 50 times faster than they normally take in nature.
  • Build a Waste-Free World
    • The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs, Italy: Another challenge is waste – and the city of Milan in Italy wins a prize for collecting unused food and giving it to people who need it most. The initiative has dramatically cut waste while tackling hunger.
  • Fix our Climate
    • AEM Electrolyser, Thailand/Germany/Italy: A clever design in Thailand using renewable energy to make hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is a clean gas but it is usually produced by burning fossil fuels.

ECOLOGICAL THREAT REPORT 2021

Context

  • Recently, the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), an international think tank released the Ecological Threat Report 2021: Understanding ecological threats, resilience and peace.

Key Findings of Ecological Threat Report 2021

  • Around 1.26 billion people across 30 countries are suffering from both extreme ecological risk and low levels of resilience.
  • Of the 178 countries in the ETR, 30 were identified as hotspots for having low levels of resilience and a medium to extremely high catastrophic threat score. As many as 13 faced extremely high and 34 others faced high ecological threats. 
  • The most vulnerable countries are clustered in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to the report. 
  • Of the 15 countries most threatened, nine are in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by three in south Asia. 
  • As a region, south Asia is the worst-placed, with water and food risks driving the average ETR score in the region. 
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the score is influenced by high levels of population growth, which will place increased pressure on existing food and water scarcity. 
  • The region has the highest proportion (66 per cent) of its population suffering from food insecurity, highlighting its severity of water and food risks. 
  • Population growth and resource scarcity are intrinsically linked with conflict in sub-Saharan Africa, said the report. 

Other key findings of the Ecological Threat Report 2021 are:

  • Eleven of 15 countries with the worst environmental threat scores are currently classified as being in conflict. Another four are classified as at high risk of substantial falls in peace, highlighting the relationship between resource degradation and conflict
  • Global food insecurity has increased by 44 per cent since 2014, affecting 30.4 per cent of the world’s population in 2020, and is likely to rise further.
  • From 1990 to 2020, a total of 10,320 natural disasters occurred globally. Flooding has been the most common natural disasters, accounting for 42 per cent of the total disaster count.
  • In 2020, 177 countries and territories recorded a warmer average temperature compared to their historical average temperatures.
  • Eleven countries are projected to double their population between 2021 and 2050. They are all in sub-Saharan Africa. The three countries with the largest projected 
  • increases in population are Niger, Angola and Somalia, where the populations will increase by 161, 128 and 113 per cent, respectively.

Conclusion

  • The report recommended a policy to combine health, food, water, refugee relief, finance, agricultural and business development into one integrated agency in high-risk areas and empowering local communities.

GLOBAL CORAL REEF MONITORING NETWORK (GCRMN)

Context

  • In the last decade, the world lost about 14 per cent of its coral reefs, according to a Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network report. 

Key Findings

  • There has been a steady decrease in hard coral cover in the last four decades since 1978 when the world lost nine per cent of its corals. 
  • The worst-hit are the corals in South Asia, Australia, the Pacific, East Asia, the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.
  • The decrease is disconcerting because live hard coral cover is an indicator of coral reef health.
  • The analysis found that since 2010, the amount of algae on the world’s coral reefs has increased by about 20 per cent.
  • Algal bloom on coral ridges is a sign of stress on the structures. 

Significance

  • Corals occupy less than one per cent of the ocean floor but over one billion people benefit directly from the reefs
  • The value of goods and services provided by coral reefs is estimated to be $2.7 trillion per year, accordion to the report. This includes $36 billion in coral reef tourism. 
  • Healthy corals are expected to deliver additional economic benefits amounting to $34.6 billion and $36.7 billion in the Mesoamerica Reef and the Coral Triangle, respectively, between 2017 and 2030, according to United Nations Environment Programme.

Silver lining 

  • Coral reefs in east Asia’s Coral Triangle accounts for more than 30 per cent of the world’s reefs but has been less impacted by rising sea surface temperatures. 
  • Despite a decline in hard coral cover during the last decade, on average, these reefs have more coral today than in 1983, when the first data from this region were collected, the scientists noted.  
  • In 2019, the world regained two per cent of its coral cover in spite of a short interval between mass coral bleaching events in the last decade.  

Combined Threat

  • Ocean-acidification, warmer sea temperatures and local stressors such as overfishing, pollution, unsustainable tourism and poor coastal management pose a combined threat to the coral ecosystems.
  • Coral reefs across the world are under relentless stress from warming caused by climate change.
  • Coral bleaching events caused by rise in elevated sea surface temperatures (SST) were responsible for coral loss.

Way Forward

  • Identifying the context-appropriate interventions and management regimes to achieved desired ecological and social outcomes.
  • Action needs to be taken long before an ecosystem or species is lost; indeed, we need targets to inspire proactive interventions to keep coral reefs from dropping below key thresholds (see below).

Conclusion

  • In reality, ecosystems are highly complex in their health and functioning, and their conservation status can be measured in different ways.

GREENHOUSE GAS BULLETIN

Context

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, recently.

Key Findings

  • All three major GHGs — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) — recorded an increase in concentration in 2020 compared to previous years.
  • The average global warming would exceed Paris Agreement’s target of global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (measured as before 1750, when global industrialisation began) — if emissions continue at the current pace.
  • This increase in GHG is despite the global economic shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years.
  • The rising GHGs mean a subsequent rise in global temperatures as these gases trap Sun’s heat in the atmosphere for decades (CH4) to centuries (CO2).
  • Most of the warming comes from CO2 (66 per cent) followed by CH4 (16 per cent) and N2O (7 per cent).
  • Roughly half of all CO2 emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere.
    • The other half is absorbed by land and oceans. In the oceans, the CO2 increases sea surface temperatures and acidity levels.

Way Forward

  • Many countries are now setting carbon neutral targets and it is hoped that COP26 will see a dramatic increase in commitments.
  • We need to transform our commitment into action that will have an impact on the gases that drive climate change.
  • We need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life.
  • The needed changes are economically affordable and technically possible. There is no time to lose.

2021 STATE OF CLIMATE SERVICES

Context

  • A new report 2021 State of Climate Services was recently released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Key Findings

  • Terrestrial water storage (TWS) dropped at a rate of 1 cm per year in 20 years (2002-2021).
  • The biggest losses have occurred in Antarctica and Greenland. 
  • But many highly populated, lower latitude locations have also experienced TWS losses.

Indian Scenario

  • In India, where the TWS has been lost at a rate of at least 3 cm per year.
  • In some regions, the loss has been over 4 cm per year too. India has recorded the highest loss in terrestrial water storage if the loss of water storage in Antarctica and Greenland is excluded. 
  • India is, therefore, the ‘topmost hotspot of TWS loss’
  • The northern part of India has experienced the maximum loss within the country.
  • In India, per capita water availability is reducing due to an increase in population.
  • The average annual per capita water availability has been consistently decreasing. It reduced to 1,545 cubic metres in 2011, from 1,816 cubic metres in 2001.
  • It is projected to further decrease to 1,367 cubic metres in 2031, according to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Five of the 21 river basins in India are ‘absolute water scarce’ (per capita water availability below 500 cubic metres) according to the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator.
  • Five are ‘water scarce’ (per capita water availability below 1,000 cubic metres) and three are ‘water stressed’ (per capita water availability below 1,700 cubic metres).
  • By 2050, six will become absolute water scarce, six will become water scarce and four will become water stressed, according to the State of India’s Environment in figures, 2020.

About Terrestrial water storage (TWS)

  • TWS is the sum of all water on the land surface and in the subsurface, ie surface water, soil moisture, snow and ice and ground water.
  • Water is a key prerequisite for human development.
  • But only 0.5 per cent of water on Earth is usable and available as freshwater.

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