India has much to learn from Sweden when it comes to taking care of industrial hazardous waste. For example courses have been conducted in Sweden with visits to industries, water treatment plants and recycling facilities.
Environmental improvements in India have impacts in Sweden
“India has strong environmental legislation. But the laws are not enforced and the environmental inspectors lack the adequate knowledge to implement them,” says Sunita Narain, director of the Indian Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a respected independent research institution working on environmental issues in India.
After petitioning the Indian Ministry of Environment, the institute was commissioned to train environmental inspectors. They realized the value of outside help and asked the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be part of the training.
“Sweden is at the forefront of environmental work and we have a lot to learn from them,” says Narain.
EPA’s task is to make sure that Sweden achieves its environmental goals without adding to environmental concerns in other countries.
“Many commodities that Sweden import are manufactured in countries like India, and therefore we have a responsibility. Environmental problems are global,” says Ylva Reinhard at EPA.
Sweden and India have had an agreement to cooperate on environmental issues since 2009, with the exchange of knowledge and implementation of legislation as prioritized issues. The courses arranged by EPA and CSE fit well with this ambition.
The project also benefits those living in poverty as they are most affected by environmental problems, such as contaminated drinking water. They also often work under bad conditions and may be exposed to toxins. Because of this, Sida decided to fund the collaboration between the two partners.
By May 2013 approximately 110 people had completed the training. The plan is to have another hundred participants throughout the year. The courses are between one to four weeks. EPA is responsible for one week during the four week-course.
This EPA course focuses on everything from waste disposal and recycling to industry emissions and wastewater treatment. It also discusses legislation and voluntary instruments such as eco-labeling and economic instruments such as tolls and taxes.
“We also look at how an environmental inspection of a factory can be performed. Additionally, we discuss the meaning of proper management and control, the importance of equality before the law, transparency and how the whole system collapses if you can bribe your way through an inspection,” says Ylva Reinhard.
One course was conducted in Sweden with visits to industries, water treatment plants and recycling facilities. Sunita Narain says that India has a lot to learn about handling hazardous industrial waste and recycling. Transforming waste into biogas is another area in which Sweden is at the forefront.
“This would be useful in India, where there are huge problems with fumes”, says Sunita Narain.
Both EPA and CSE regard their collaboration as fruitful.
“Our evaluations show that students believe they will use their new skills. But it’s difficult to create change alone. We want to see more people completing the courses,” says Ylva Reinhard.
“So far, the level of knowledge has increased. Give the participants two or three years, then we will definitely see a change,” says Sunita Narain.
Partners: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).