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“Sand and Sustainability: 10 Strategic Recommendations to Avert a Crisis”: UNEP

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“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

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