Human use of earth's natural resources is placing unmatched pressure on the capacities of local and global ecosystems. Countries in South Asia face a double challenge. The subsistence needs of a large rural population and the demands of a growing industrial sector and consumer class on forests, water resources and agricultural lands are generating both resource degradation and conflict. At the same time, the conventional development paradigm of rapid industrialization and urbanization, supposedly leading to poverty alleviation, is generating air, water and solid waste pollution and affecting human lives and ecosystem health at multiple scales.
The brunt of both resource degradation and pollution is most heavily felt by the urban and rural poor. How the process of development - economic, technological, socio-cultural and political - can lead to sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and containment of the pollution burden, and how sustainable resource management can contribute to poverty alleviation and human wellbeing are the broad questions that drive the work of the Centre for Environment and Development. Currently, most of the research and policy outreach activities of the Centre are focused on two sectors - Forests and Land-and-Water systems. We have also begun to engage the challenge of containing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while meeting developmental needs. We will also critically address the changes needed in environmental governance across sectors.