International Cooperation

The Ministry of Environment and Forests is the nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP), Colombo, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Annual financial contributions are made to these organisations. The Ministry also functions as the nodal agency for participation in international agreements relating to environment, such as the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance, especially as waterfowl habitat, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change and the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Substances.

The Ministry and its agencies receive assistance from various countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia and UK on a bilateral basis and from several UN and other multilateral agencies, such as UNDP, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, OECF (Japan) and ODA (UK) for environmental and forestry projects. Given below are some of the multilateral and bilateral programmes of the Ministry:

World Bank assists India: Environment Management Capacity Building Technical Assistance Project

In pursuance of the Environment Action Programme, 1993 the World Bank has initiated a project proposal entitled "India: Environment Management Capacity Building Technical Assistance Project". The project will be implemented through the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Department of Ocean Development Gujarat state. The main components of the project are environmental awareness, mining, strengthening of regional offices of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, strengthening of Pollution Control Board and Gujarat Ecology Commission in Gujarat. The basic focus is to build capacity in these areas for better/informed decision making and monitoring and enforcement of environmental legislations.

The project involves a total outlay of US $61.48 million, comprising of IDA credit of US $11.48 million. Special emphasis is being placed on the state of Gujarat as an area specific programme as the state is not only one of the fastest growing industrial regions of the country, but also as the nature of the industries being set up in the state involves high levels of pollution.

Delhi-Surat World Bank assisted Urban Management Project

In 1993, the Ministry of Environment and Forests drew up an "Environment Action Programme: India" identifying seven areas of critical importance for sustainable environment management in the country. These are conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiverrIty, afforestation, control of pollution, access to clean technologies, understanding and awareness of environmental issues, alternative energy and urban environmental issues.

On urban environment management, a dialogue with the World Bank had been initiated to formulate a project specifically to address the areas of air and water quality and solid waste management. During the discussions, it was felt that two cities, Delhi and Surat, may be specifically focused on under the project. The objective would be to prepare an action plan for re-engineering the institutional structures governing urban environmental management and identifying cost effective technology-options to improve the delivery of environmental services, also by integration of the existing studies for the two cities.

The Japanese Government has undertaken to provide an outright grant of Yen 109,200,000 for carrying out a study in respect of the two cities. The grant works out to approximately Rs.3.5 crores.

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Objectives and scope of GEF

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a financial mechanism that provides grants and low interest loans to developing countries to help them carry out programmes to relieve pressures on global ecosystems. The billion dollar plus fund supports international environment management and the transfer of environmentally benign technologies. The Facility is a cooperative venture among national governments, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

To qualify for funding from the Facility, a project must relate to at least one of its specific areas of concern. A further qualification is that a project would not be economically viable in the particular country without support from the Facility.

So far, only seven projects for GEF funding have been approved for India in the areas of bio-diversity conservation, alternate and renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.Recognising that there are many diverse pathways to reach the goal of global sustainability and that much can be gained from exploring as many of those pathways as possible, the GEF Council approved procedures to expedite the processing and implementation of medium-sized projects which require no more than US $ 1 million in GEF financing.

In this context and in order to involve the private sector in the protection of environment and to seek proposals under this new initiative of GEF, a meeting was convened on September 23, 1997 at Paryavaran Bhawan under the chairmanship of Shri Vishwanath Anand, Secretary, Environment and Forests, with the representatives of FICCI and CII. After the presentations on this subject by the MoEF officials and the UNDP, there was a question answer session where several queries raised by the industry representatives were addressed and clarified. Following this meeting, several serious enquiries and discussions have been made by industries, including the Cement Manufacturers' Association and Fertiliser Association of India, sugar and sugarcane related industries.

The Ministry has received five proposals from the Fertiliser Association of India, New Delhi, and one from Vam Organic Chemical Ltd, New Delhi, which are being processed.

The project proposal for GEF assistance should be sent to the Director, International Cooperation, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Paryavaran Bhavan, Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110 003.

India - Canada Environment Facility (ICEF)

The India - Canada Environment Facility was set up on the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed between the Government of India and Canada to support related ministries in assuming increased responsibility for the management and implementation of environmental projects. The Canadian government. will provide Canadian $ 72 millions for this by way of commodities, such as steel rails etc. The ICEF will fund those projects within these priority areas :-

  1. Enhancing the capacity of Indian private and public sector institutions and organisations to undertake environmentally sustainable development and management of energy, land and water resources.
  2. Providing support for programmes which specifically address the interrelationship between poverty and environmental degradation, especially as it affects women, energy, land and water management activities at the community and village level.
  3. Providing support for public awareness of environmental issues, community participation and community based management of energy, land and water resources. Institutional support may be provided in the priority areas to key institutions and organisations within Government, the NGOs or community sector and private sector.

So far, ICEF has approved the following projects for funding:-

  1. Indian Farm Forestry Development Co-operative project (IFFCO) to reclaim wastelands by establishing sustainable profit oriented village based co-operative structures.
  2. Nagaland Environment Protection & ECO Development for developing an alternative approach to shifting cultivation in the northeast while increasing the income of the people and institution Building.
  3. M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation Project for management of mangroves wetlands along the east coast of India. Vinod Vaish, Additional Secretary has been nominated to represent Government of India in the steering committee for this project.
  4. Indian Potash Limited project for environment improvement in rainfed areas of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  5. Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) for Management of Environmental Resources by Communities.
  6. BAIF Development Research Foundation for Water Resources Development and Energy Conservation for Sustainable Management of the Environment.

For any information please contact:

India-Canada Environment Facility,
D1/56, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi - 110 057.

UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme

The Small Grants Programme (SGP) was conceived as a concession to NGOs who were critical of the overwhelming reliance of the Facility on government sponsored programmes. The accent of the SGP is on encouraging the involvement of people and communities in global environment issues by funding small projects which can be replicated. India is one of the 33 countries who are participating in the programme being co-ordinated by the UNDP. The project duration is 1994-1997. An amount of US$ 400,000 has been earmarked for these activities in India and depending on the progress made, additional allotments are likely to be made particularly during the Phase-II of the programme. Approximately 30 projects would be supported during the first phase of the UNDP/GEF - SGP in India with financial support ranging from Rs.25,000 to Rs. 4,00,000.

The project would promote innovative local response while building the capacities of people, particularly women and tribals. It would support the projects identified to demonstrate the effectiveness and wide application of small scale decentralised community based initiatives. The programme would supplement other sources of funding while creating sustainable livelihoods. The project is not meant for expenditure of capital nature.

The Small Grants Programme is monitored and guided by the National Steering Committee (NSC) which reviews and approves project proposals after consideration, and recommends ways for evaluation and assessment for proper implementation of the programme. Presently the NSC has nine members and is headed by Secretary (E&F) or his representative as chairperson. Development Alternatives, an eminent NGO, is administering the programme in India within the policy framework and guidance laid down by the NSC through a secretariat under the control of a national co-ordinator.

So far, 22 projects have been approved by NSC. Meetings of the NSCs are being held at an interval of two-three months.