Preparing for COP III
BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 29 October 2012
by Vithal Rajan – TRANSCEND Media Service
The last plane-load carrying participants from the COP II meeting of the international Convention on Bio-Diversity has flown out of Hyderabad, much to the relief of its citizens who were all inconvenienced for two weeks by the razzmatazz. One wonders if the 111th Conference of the Parties, when it occurs sometime in the future, will continue to parade the same sort of brave resolutions masking firmly-held governmental and corporate resolution not to implement any. Last week in Hyderabad, the World Future Council gave a special award to the small Pacific Island Republic of Palau for its laws protecting its coastlines, but its 20,000 citizens are unlikely to withstand the industrial greed of the USA, Russia, China and the EU, and the island itself along with many others may disappear altogether before more deliberations take place on protecting biodiversity.
This is not a far-fetched pessimistic conclusion, for such conventions of the rich and the elite continually differentiate between the desperate needs of the poor of the world, and the immediate need for the protection of the environment they inhabit. No spot on the earth, other than the Antarctic, has been without human habitations since pre-historic times. It is not these poor and often small scattered tribes that have brought about an alarming and rapid loss of bio-diversity, the extinction of species, the degradation of lands, the loss of forests, and the pollution of land, water and air. It is the rapacity of the rich that has brought about such destruction, though the elite blame the poor and use them as hapless tools.
For example, the ancient tribal communities of India, which by belief and culture lived in harmony with Nature, are now being evicted from their homelands in the name of saving the tiger, and the forests. The tiger, and the forests, with all their living wealth, can only be saved if tribals are given rights over their own homelands so that they can act as the first guardians of the environment. Corrupt officials and their contractors cannot do so, and we will soon see the extinction of the tiger in its natural forests. The real reason for the eviction of the tribal is not the misguided idea of creating an American-style ‘national park,’ totally inapplicable though that is for India, but the real sinister reason for such a genocidal move is to seize the resources of forest lands and the mineral wealth lying underneath.
If scam-ridden governments of third world countries, like India, continue their environmentally destructive polices in the real interests of their own ruling elites, the leaders of the West, and their corporate movers and shakers deliberately collude in the process of creating regional instability and concomitant dependency on themselves. For example, since the early days of liberalization in India, we have seen many peace missions, with Clinton bringing us 123 Nuclear Power deals, the Russians bringing us an old aircraft carrier, the French and the English selling fighter planes. Such peace efforts have made us and our neighbours bulge with armaments, and undoubtedly the arms dealers sow regional dissension in the interest of profit. Cash-strapped countries then have no money or attention to spare on long-term remedial efforts for environmental regeneration. Western bio-diversity initiatives are similarly beginning to inundate us with genetically modified products in the name of food security, and other expensive technologies controlled by their corporates.
Poor countries like India do not need expensive technologies, nor do they need to spend vast sums of money to help the poor or protect their environment. The alternative strategy to rapid peeking growth at the top of their income pyramids, is slow, almost ‘latent,’ growth at the bottom, so that the vast masses are benefited by steadily improving sustainable livelihoods year by year. Such a slow growth process must necessarily involve the improvement of their resources from their lived-in environments as well, whether on the coast-line, or in the forest, whether in urban fringes or in the rural depths. The slowly but steadily developing multi-various life-supporting needs of local people, if they are to be sustainable and at affordable cost, must surely be based on an equally steadily enriching local environment, in bio-diversity, in animal life, and quality of land, water, and air.
All this requires foresight and perseverance in the long haul, and even more crucially it requires sharing power with people at the grassroots. But politicians depending on populist manipulative measures wish to ‘clean up’ what money they can get, as quickly as they can, while still in power. Their own needs drive them to choose centralized expensive large-scale projects, like nuclear power or dirty thermal stations, strip mining, trawler fleet fishing, huge dams, highway and skyscraper building, none of which will alleviate poverty, and all of which will be environmentally fatal. Western leaders while mouthing ecological platitudes quietly support such apocalyptic policies in the interests of their corporate houses which purvey the technology towards greater ruination.
The first priority of Indians should be to save themselves. They should insist on deep going democratic reform of the processes of governance, corruption being only a superficial symptom of a much more fatal malaise. The tools for such insistence already exist in the Constitution and laws of India. If the political will is absent in the political parties, people must fill the empty chambers created by the 73rd and 74th amendments in the Constitution which created village-level legislative bodies. The Indian people must seize their indisputable rights, and conduct the business of governance at the village level were it really belongs, making the traditionalists of the state capitals and the modernists of New Delhi bend to their democratic will.
Vithal Rajan, Ph.D.[L.S.E.], worked as a mediator for the church in Belfast; as faculty at The School of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, and as Executive Director, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation. He has founded several Indian NGOs, is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.