Rio Conventions Pavilion TV, CBD COP11 (12/10/2012) – Manoj Kumar, CEO of the Naandi Foundation, discusses the intersection between lifting people out of poverty and preventing environmental degradation.
Kumar details the work of the Naandi Foundation, the largest multi-sectoral non-profit in India, working with 5 million people on issues including child nutrition, agroforestry in indigenous communities, maternal health and improving drinking water supplies.
Kumar states that his organisation effectively replaces poorly run government programmes, citing their success in feeding 1.5 million children every day.
When asked if he agreed with Indira Gandhi’s now famous quotation that “poverty is the biggest polluter”, Kumar chose to augment it, arguing that both poverty and prosperity are the greatest polluters. He caricatured the situation, describing how the average American consumes as if there are four planets available to him in contrast to those in poverty who consume thinking that there is only a quarter of a planet left and that somebody else owns it.
He emphasises the seriousness of the environmental challenges facing the poor in India, describing them as issues of survival. He argues that unless conservation can be done in a way that creates livelihoods for the rural poor, the problem will not be solved.
Kumar also shares his concerns about India’s growing middle class, who he thinks are not as conscious of environmental issues as the poor. He argues that the answer is not just better awareness: stronger regulation is also needed to curb consumerist expansion.