6 Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Where we are?

India has made some progress towards the Seventh Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. Forest cover has increased to 21.02 percent and protected areas cover to about 4.83 percent of the country’s total land area. Reducing the energy intensity of GDP growth through higher energy efficiency will be the key to achieving energy security.

India is on-track in achieving the MDG target for sustainable access to safe drinking water. The overall proportion of households having access to improved water sources increased from 68.2 percent in 1992-93 to 84.4 percent in 2007-08.

However India, which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, has not recorded similar progress in improving sanitation facilities over the last decade. The proportion of households without toilet facilities declined from 70 percent in 1992-93 to about 51 percent in 2007-08. At current progress, the country is unlikely to achieve the target of reducing the proportion of households having no access to sanitation to 38 percent by 2015. The rural urban gap in access and use of sanitation facility continues to be very high. Sixty-six percent of rural households do not have toilet facilities as against 19 percent of urban households in 2007-08.

The Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12) has set several targets to further India’s progress in achieving MDG VII. These include:

  • Increase forest and tree cover by 5 percentage points
  • Attain WHO standards of air quality in all major cities by 2011–12
  • Treat all urban waste water by 2011–12 to clean river waters
  • Clean drinking water to be available for all by 2009, ensuring that there are no slip-backs by the end of the Eleventh Plan
  • Increase energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2016–17
  • Ensure electricity connection to all villages and Below Poverty Line households by 2009 and reliable power by the end of the Plan
  • Ensure all-weather road connections to all habitations with population of 1000 and above (500 and above in hilly and tribal areas) by 2009, and all significant habitations by 2015
  • Connect every village by telephone and provide broadband connectivity to all villages by 2012
  • Provide homestead sites to all by 2012 and step up the pace of house construction for rural poor to cover all the poor by 2016–17

Several government schemes also focus on this Goal. They include:

  • National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP)
  • Total Sanitation Campaign
  • Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP), a component of the Bharat Nirman Programme and Nirmal Gram Puraskar
  • Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM)

UNDP's work in India

Ongoing projects

Enabling Activities for preparation of India’s second National Communication to UNFCCC

The objective of this project is to support the preparation and submission of India’s SNC (Second National Communication) to UNFCCC in order to meet its national commitments. more

Biodiversity conservation: a community approach

Seventy-four percent of India’s rural population depends on natural resources for subsistence. Yet. as India’s biodiversity comes under increasing pressure, this dynamic is also undergoing change. Community-based national resource management is a critical strategy to conserve both India’s rich biodiversity and support local livelihoods. UNDP works with tribal communities in Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa to ensure national and state policies are more responsive to these strong linkages and to enhance the capacities of communities to support sustainable, biodiversity-based livelihoods. more

Achieving the MDGs by 2015: Policy Action for Human Freedoms

With a few years left to achieve the MDGs, this document provides a quick snapshot of India’s progress towards the MDGs and highlights key recommendations made during a roundtable discussion 'Achieving the MDGs by 2015: Policy Action for Human Freedoms.'

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Millennium Development Goals: India Country Report 2011

This report by the Government of India assesses the country’s progress towards achieving the MDGs. It focuses on performance against measured outcomes and assesses where the country is likely to be by 2015. In doing so, it attempts to provide a roadmap for future action.

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Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums