Regional Overview

South Asia comprises the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan,and Sri Lanka. The region has been the cradle of several great civilizations and is today home to about 1.5 trillion people, more than one-fifth of the world’s population. The region covers an area of approximately 42,916,000 km2, same as that of the continental United States but with four times the population, it is already one of the most densely settled regions of the world.

South Asia is bordered in the south by the Indian Ocean, in the South-east by Bay of Bengal and in the South-west by the Arabian Sea. Occupying a major portion of the Indo-Malayan realm and a smaller portion of the Palaearctic realm, this region is representative of five of the fourteen major ecological regions called biomes, which demonstrate the biodiversity and vegetation patterns of the region as determined by climate, water, geology, soil and diverse topography. South Asia’s topography consists of an amazing variety of mountains, plateaus, dry regions, intervening structural basins, beaches, etc. It varies from world highest point, the Mount Everest to the world lowest, the sea beach.

Population and Development Trend

Record South Asia World
Human Development Trend
Life expectance at birth (years) 2005 63.8 68.1
Adult literacy rate ( % age 15 and above, 2005) 59.5 78.6
GDP per capita (PPP US$ 2005) 3,416 9,543
Human development index ( HDI) value 2005 0.611 0.743
Demographic Trends
Total population (millions) 2005 1,587.4T 6,514.8T
Annual population growth rate 2005 – 15 1.5 1.1
Urban population (% of total) 2005 30.2 48.6
Population under age 15 (% of total) 2005 33.6 28.3
Population age 65 and above (% of total) 2005 4.7 7.3
Total fertility rate (births per women) 2000 – 05 3.2 2.6
Water Sanitation and Nutritional Status
Population using improved sanitation (%) 1990 18 49
Population using improved sanitation (%) 2004 37 59
Population under nourished ( % of total population) 1990/92 25 20
Population under nourished (% of total population) 2000/2004 21 17
Population using an improved water source (%) 1990 72 78
Population using an improved water source (%) 2004 85 83
Energy and the Environment
Electricity consumption per capita (kilowatt-hours, 2004) 628 2,701
Electricity consumption per capita (% change) 1990 – 2004
Electrification rate (%) 2000 – 2005 76
Population without electricity (millions) 2005 1,577.0
Forest area (% of total land area) 2005 14.2 30.3
Total forest area (thousand sq km) 2005 911.8 39,520.3
Forest area – total change (thousand sq km) 1990 – 2005 12.5 -1,252.7
Forest area – average annual change (%) 1990 – 2005 0.1 -0.2
Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Stocks
Total carbon dioxide emissions (Mt CO2) 1990 990.7T 22,702.5T
Total carbon dioxide emissions (Mt CO2) 2004 1,954.6T 28,982.7T
Annual change of carbon dioxide emissions (%) 1990 – 2004 7.0 2.0
Carbon dioxide emissions – share of world total (%) 1990 4.4 100.0
Carbon dioxide emissions – share of world total (%) 2004 6.7 100.0
Carbon dioxide emissions per capita (t CO2) 1990 0.8 4.3
Carbon dioxide emissions per capita (t CO2) 2004 1.3 4.5
Carbon dioxide emissions from forest biomass (Mt CO2/year) 1990 – 2005 -49.3 4,038.1
Carbon stocks in forest biomass (Mt carbon) 3,843.5 282,650.1

Source: UNDP Human Development Report, 2007/2008

Frame Work Laws on Environmental Protection in the Region

Framework law Vision Document Policy Institution Executing Agency Apex National Council
Afghanistan
 

Ministry of Planning

Various Departments

Bangladesh

Environment Conservation Act, 1995

National Conservation Strategy

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Department of Environment

National Environment Committee

Bhutan

National Environment Strategy for Bhutan – “The middle path” 1998

National Environment Commission

National Environment Commission Secretariat

India

Environment Protection Act, 1986

National Conservation Strategy and National Policy on Pollution Abatement, 1992

Environmental Action Plan, 1993

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Central Pollution Control Board and State Departments

Maldives

Environment Protection Preservation Act, 1993

National Environment Action Plan 1999-2005

Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment

Environment Division /MPHRE

National Commission for the Protection of Environment (NCPEC)

Nepal

Environment Protection Act, 1997

National Environment Policy & Action Plan 1993

Ministry of Population & Environment

Environment Protection Council

Pakistan

Environmental Protection Act, 1996

National Conservation Strategy,1992

Ministry of Environment, Local Government and Rural Development

Environmental Protection Council together with Federal/Provincial Environmental Protection Agencies

Environment Protection Council

Sri Lanka

National Environment Act, 1980 (amended in 1988 & 2000)

National Environment Action Plan; 1998-2001

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

Central Environment Authority

International Commitment for Environmental Protection:
Status of participation in major environmental conventions and other agreements

UN Conventions

Convention
Country Status

Afghanistan

B’desh

Bhutan

India

Maldives

Nepal

Pakistan

Sri Lanka

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

20/03/79 (2)

03/08/83 (3)

06/07/89 (3)

15/04/77 (3)

23/07/76 (2)

04/05/82 (3)

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

30/10/85 (3)

28/01/86 (6)

20/11/81 (2)

18/02/82 (6)

15/08/2002 (2)

13/11/2002 (6)

20/07/76 (2)

18/10/76 (6)

18/06/75 (3)

16/09/75 (6)

20/04/76 (3)

19/07/76 (6)

04/05/79 (3)

07/08/79 (6)

Convention on the Law of the Sea

10/12/82 (1)

10/12/82 (1)

26/06/96 (2)

10/12/82 (1)

10/12/82 (1)

26/02/97 (2)

10/12/82 (1)

19/07/94 (2)

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Biosafety Protocol (103)

12/06/92 (1)

05/06/92 (1)

03/05/94 (2)

11/06/92 (1)

25/08/95 (2)

05/06/92 (1)

18/02/94 (2)

23/01/01 (1)

12/06/92 (1)

9/11/92 (2)

12/06/92 (1)

23/11/93 (2)

02/03/01 (1)

25/06/92 (1)

26/07/94 (2)

04/06/01 (1)

10/06/92 (1)

23/03/94 (2)

24/05/01

Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

Agreements

01/11/83 (6)

MoU on Siberian Crane

01/12/87 (6)

MoU on Siberian Crane

01/09/90 (6)

MoU on Marine Turtles

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

21/09/92 (6)

01/02/82 (6)

17/04/88 (6)

23/11/76 (6)

15/10/90 (6)

Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

01/11/95 (3)

14/10/94 (1)

26/10/96 (2)

26/12/96 (6)

14/10/94 (1)

17/12/96 (2)

17/03/97 (6)

12/10/95 (1)

15/10/96 (2)

13/01/97 (6)

15/10/94 (1)

24/02/97 (2)

25/05/97 (6)

09/12/98 (2)

09/03/99 (6)

Basal Convention
Ban Amendment (24)

01/04/93 (3)

24/06/92 (2)

28/04/92 (3)

15/10/96 (3)

26/07/94 (3)

28/08/92 (3)

29/01/99 (2)

Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC)

15/04/94

25/08/95

01/11/93 (2)

09/11/92 (2)

02/05/94

01/06/94

23/11/93 (2)

Kyoto Protocol (84)

16/03/98 (1)

30/12/98 (3)

Status of Ratification on the Protection of the Statospheric Ozone layer

Vienna Convention 02/08/90 (3) 19/03/91 (3) 12/07/88 (1) 06/07/94 (3) 18/12/92 (3) 15/02/89 (3)
Montreal Protocol 02/08/90 (3) 19/06/92 (3) 16/05/89 (2) 06/07/94 (3) 18/12/92 (3) 15/02/89 (3)
London Amendment 08/03/94 (2) 19/06/92 (3) 31/07/91 (2) 06/07/94 (3) 18/12/92 (3) 16/06/93 (3)
Copenhagen Amendment 27/11/00 (At) 17/02/95 (2) 07/07/97 (3)
Montreal Amendment 27/07/01 (At) 02/08/99 (3)

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

09/09/99 (1)

A monsoon climate, characterised by wet summers and dry winters, generally prevails over South Asia. The south-west monsoons (late May to October) bring the maximum rainfall, followed by the north-east monsoons. Precipitation and climate vary significantly from place to place in different countries within the region due to the variations in land forms. Rainfall ranges from 200 mm in the desert areas of the north-west to 4000 mm in the higher Himalayas of Bhutan. The climate also varies from the semi-arid in Pakistan to the tropical monsoon and hot-dry, humid-dry in the rest of the region. The region’s temperature varies ranging from as law as -20 °C in the cold desert to a scorching 48 °C desert areas in some plains.

Some of the world’s largest river systems are in the South Asia. The Indus river originates in China and flows to Pakistan. The Ganga-Brahmaputtra river systems originate partly in China, Nepal and Bhutan, and flow to India and Bangladesh. The Indus river is one of the world’s greatest, measuring 2,800 km from its source to sea. The Ganga stretches to about 2,525 km, and the brahmaputtra, the third great Himalayan river, stretches about 2, 900 km flowing through Tibet, India and Bangladesh. There are many other minor rivers originate from great Himalayan drain into Bangladesh through Nepal and India. There are 103 rivers draining in a radial pattern from central highland of Sri Lanka. The Ganga, Brahmaputtra and Meghna are the major rivers in Bangladesh. The rivers in Bhutan are the Jadalkha, Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, Mao Khola/Aie, and the Manas. Maldives does not have any rivers.

The diversity in the latitude, altitude, climate and topography has resulted in a variety of vegetation in the region, ranging from the temperate and the tropical to the desert vegetation. About 18.6 percent of the total land area of the region still under the forest cover and it account for 2.73 percent of the total forest area in the world. About 5 percent of the region’s land area is being under protection.

South Asia houses approximately 15.5 and 12 percent of the world’s flora and fauna respectively. The faunal diversity of the region comprises of 933 species of mammals, 4,494 birds, 923 reptiles, 332 amphibians and 342 freshwater fishes. The floral diversity accounts for 39,875 species of flowering plants, 66 conifers and cycads, 764 ferns and 6,652 higher plants.

(1) = Date of Signature
(2) = Date of Ratification
(3) = Date of Accession
(4) = Date of Acceptance
(5) = Date of Approval
(6) = Date of Entry in to Force

Other UN Agreements

Regional Seas Programme

The Regional Seas Programme was established by UNEP in 1974 as a global programme, implemented through regional components, for the control of marine pollution and the management of marine and coastal resources.

The programme currently includes 14 functional regions with the participation of over 140 coastal states and territories. In addition there are 3 partner programmes, which is not included in UNEP’s Regional Seas framework.

UNEP works with the concerned governments in the preparation of a Regional Action Plan and each plan is formulated according to the needs of the region as perceived by the states. The Plan outlines activities related to Environmental Assessment, Management, Legislation, Institutional and Financial arrangements.

The South Asian Seas Action Plan, which was adopted in 1995 by the five maritime nations of the South Asian region, is part of this and activities undertaken under the Action Plan is given in project and programmes .

Global Programme of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities

In November 1995, at an Intergovernmental Meeting held in Washington DC , 108 Governments declared their commitment to protect and preserve the marine environment from the harmful effects of land-based activities. The GPA’s main purpose is to identify the sources of land-based pollution or harmful activities and to prepare regional, sub-regional and national priority action programmes on measures to reduce and alleviate them. This is in accordance with Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, which came into force in November 1994.

In the Washington Declaration, the governments declared their intention to co-operate on a regional basis to coordinate GPA implementation efforts. UNEPs Regional Seas Programme has been identified as an appropriate framework for facilitating implementation of the GPA, especially with regard to developing countries and Small Island Developing States. In this context, seven technical workshops of government-designated experts were convened by UNEP, during the period 1996-1998, to identify regional priorities and to develop regional programmes of action.

International Maritime Conventions

Regional Agreements
Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and Its Likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia

The Colombo Declaration on the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP)

.