“Sand and Sustainability: 10 Strategic Recommendations to Avert a Crisis”: UNEP
Recently, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has released the report titled “Sand and Sustainability: 10 Strategic Recommendations to Avoid a Crisis”.
In which the United Nations Environment Program has advised to reconsider the use of sand and adopt a circular economy.
This report has the following goals:
- Raising worldwide awareness of sand mining and its uses and side effects,
- Urging policy makers to consider and adopt policies related to sand mining,
- To consider common objectives across all sectors, which can help in achieving the goal of equitable and responsible sand mining system etc.
Key findings of the report-
Sand plays a strategic role in the following:
- Providing ecosystem services, maintaining biodiversity, supporting economic development and providing livelihoods to communities, and is directly or indirectly linked to all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Presently the rate of sand mining is higher than the rate of formation of sand naturally. For this reason the vacancies are not being filled.
- Sand is mined from river and coastal or marine ecosystems. Its mining here harms the environment in many ways.
Impacts of sand mining-
- This encourages erosion. It poses a threat to both communities and livelihoods.
- This pollutes the groundwater.
- It changes the river bed. This changes the course of rivers. It damages the embankments and then causes floods.
- It destroys the habitat of aquatic organisms and micro-organisms. It also affects the recharge of groundwater.
- It also damages fertile land and property.
- In India, sand is classified as a minor mineral under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
- The Act of 1957 empowered the State Governments to make rules to prevent illegal mining, transportation and storage of minerals.
Key recommendations of the report-
- Given the diverse roles of sand in the environment, it should be recognized as a strategic resource.
- The ownership and access to sand resources through mineral rights and consent should be framed.
- Mapping, monitoring and reporting of sand resources should be done to promote transparency in decisions.
- The ecosystem must be restored and the remaining losses must be compensated by promoting nature-based solutions.
- Resource efficiency and cyclic system should be promoted by minimizing the use of sand.
Source – The Hindu