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Environmental degradation and sustainable development

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

By Amjad Saeed,

Multan, Pakistan

Environmental degradation is the depletion of natural resources of the environment which includes air, water and soil destruction. It causes unsustainability to the environment which leads to many health issues and loss of species of animals, plants and microorganisms. Human activities like over production and consumption of the goods by using modern technologies create disturbance to the environment. These environmental issues are very common in developing countries. I live in Pakistan which is a developing country and facing many problems related to the environment.

Following are the consequences of the environmental degradation and their effects on sustainability.

Water pollution:

Water pollution is a major environmental issue in Pakistan. Pakistan ranks at number 80 among 122 nations regarding drinking water quality. Water contaminates due to poor sewage system through which dirty water mix with the clean water and cause many health problems. Water pollution also caused by harmful chemicals of industries, Water pollution is also caused by harmful chemicals of industries because industrial chemicals throw away into the canals, rivers, and sea. Use of fertilizers in agriculture also cause water pollution when polluted water wash off to the canal and rivers, which destroy algae and increases bacterial growth in the water due to phosphorus present in fertilizers. Bacteria use dissolved oxygen in the water which affects the marine life, and leads to the loss of many species of animals, plants and micro-organisms living in water. Pakistan is an agricultural country, therefore, this problem is common in Pakistan due to the excessive use of fertilizers. Water degradation also occurs through wasting during bathing and by poor management in many household tasks.

Air Pollution:

Air pollution occurs due to transportation and industrialization. Smoking of vehicles and industries pollute the air and cause many health problems which increases death rate. It is evaluated that there is 24% worldwide burden of disease including respiratory infections, heart disease, lung and skin cancer and death rate estimated 23% due to the environmental issues. It is fifteen times higher in developing countries because of environmental hazards and poor health care.

Other consequences of air pollution include, depletion of ozone layer, the acid rain and global warming. Ozone layer protecting the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. It is depleting due to the presence of chlorofluorocarbons and hydro- chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere and it emitting harmful radiation back to the earth. Global warming is the climate change which contribute to the increased temperature of the surface. It causes dryness of the surface and soil infertility which affect the agricultural system.

Soil degradation:

Deforestation is a major problem of the whole world which cause environmental degradation. Humans destructing the forests by using woods to fulfill their needs and the other reason of deforestation is over population. In Pakistan forests have been decreased from 14.2% to 5.2 % over the past 75 years.

The other major issue in developing countries is the waste management. There is no proper system to reduce Trash and garbage. People throw their household waste anywhere which cause pollution. Lack of recycling techniques also leads to over production of goods.

Natural disasters:

There are some natural causes of environmental degradation like storm, floods, volcanic eruptions and earth quakes etc. the lives of Humans and animals both disturb due to these environmental disasters.

How we can overcome environmental degradation to improve sustainable development:

Environmental degradation is a worldwide problem and it affects all the countries of the world. To improve the environmental sustainability, environmental degradation should be controlled to save the lives of present and future generations. Government should make proper policies and strategies to overcome these problems. Increased population and the use of modern technologies are the main reason of deterioration of the resources. People moves from rural areas to the urban areas rapidly which increase urbanization. Therefore, over urbanization should be controlled. There should be proper drainage system and also proper system where the industrial chemicals should throw away to remain canals, rivers and sea clean. The agricultural system should also be improved by using fertilizers in effective way to avoid the water pollution.

Reforestation and afforestation is very important to implement because trees play vital role to decrease the environmental degradation because they reduce air pollution and create clean environment. Waste management also contribute to the healthy environment. Recycling of trash and garbage decrease the pollution. Overconsumption and production of goods should be controlled to reduce waste. Things which could not recycled e.g. plastic bags and plastic bottled should not be banned. Education is very important to manage all the problems related to the environment. People should be aware of the environmental- friendly behavior. Education helps to use the minimum natural resources to get maximum benefits. There is also a relationship between poverty and environmental degradation because poor people survive on natural resources and they cannot afford technologies to protect and maintain these resources which leads to environmental degradation. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce poverty.

There are many worldwide agencies e.g. OECD (Organization for Economic Co-ordination and Development), UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development), WHO (World Health Organization) and EAP Task Force etc. working on environmental sustainability which analyze social, economic and environmental factors at national and international level.

In Pakistan for the cleanliness and protection of the environment Prime Minister Imran khan launched CGP (Clean Green Pakistan Movement) on 8th October, 2018. This campaign based on five motives which include safe drinking water, management of solid waste, improvement of sanitation and hygiene, management of liquid waste and tree plantation.

The government of Pakistan is also working on many policies and strategies for the environmental protection which includes NEP National Environment Policy of Pakistan, EPA (Environmental protection agencies), NEQS (National Environmental Quality Standards), PEPA (Pakistan Environmental Protection Act) etc. These agencies are working on environmental sustainability by improving agricultural system, water and air pollution control, poverty reduction and improvement in education system.

Thank you for reading!


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2007). Policies for a better environment: progress in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Tyagi, S., Garg, N., & Paudel, R. (2014). Environmental degradation: Causes and consequences. European Researcher, 81(8-2), 1491.

Choudhary, M. P., Chauhan, G. S., & Kushwah, Y. K. (2015). Environmental degradation: causes, impacts and mitigation. In National Seminar on Recent Advancements in Protection of Environment and Its Management Issues (NSRAPEM-2015).

Asian Development Bank [ADB]. (2008). Islamic Republic of Pakistan Country Environment Analysis.

Mustafa, K., Shah, M., Khan, N., Khan, R., & Khan, I. (2007). Resource Degradation and Environmental Concerns in Pakistans' Agriculture. SARHAD JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURE, 23(4), 1159.

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1 Comment

Blaine F
Blaine F
May 30, 2022

Great blog I enjoyeed reading

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