Sunday, August 5, 2012

Editorial, "Whither Sustainable Development?" in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 30 June 2012, Vol. 8, Part 1, No. 12 issue


 Is it the ‘Future we want’ – as the final document passed in the Rio+20 Earth Summit attended by about 100 Heads of State and Government and others in the largest ever organized environmental conference, emphasizing the goal of sustainable development asserts – that matters, or does it amount only to the ‘Future we bought’ as lampooned and torn to pieces by protesting social activists outside the main conference on 22 June 2012, and deserves to be condemned by all protagonists of equitable eco-friendly development. We too are not happy with the progress in inches projected by this document while people need to swiftly traverse miles and miles for effective remedy of ages-old injustices and injuries against the ‘commons’. Truly, the outcome of this much vaunted conference is “nothing but a political surrender to the forces of ecological destruction that now put human civilization as we know it at stake.” Talking about ‘Green economy’ involving capitalist corporations, absence of emphasis on non-capitalist development models and allusions to ‘unsustainable consumption and production patterns’ etc. only aggravate further the current globalized capitalist depredations. Perhaps the real clue lies, as one astute eco-critic (Rikard Warlenius) contends, in recognizing the ‘ecological debt’ owed by the affluent North to the deprived South. As he rightly says, “From colonial days until today, raw materials and energy from the South and the global commons, as well as their sink capacities, have been expropriated for the social metabolism of the North without properly compensating material losses, ecological degradation, labor and lost development opportunities. This has been crucial for the North's ability to secure world dominance as well as welfare and prosperity for most of its citizens, while the South's efforts to catch up constantly have been undermined. The ecological debt is hard to measure in full extent, but attempts at quantifying one important part of it, the climate debt, show that most African countries are creditors rather than a debtors, while all Northern countries have a huge debt not only to the South, but also to future generations everywhere... This debt should be acknowledged and compensated for… While repayment of the ecological debt could and should enable (sustainable) development for those who need it most, it is also clear that the capitalist economic growth in both North and South has a very high social cost and is environmentally disastrous. In the end, a new development model is needed.” Also, “Rio de Janeiro also hosted a parallel People's Summit… [where] "green economy" was rejected for a localized economy in harmony with nature and ideals of consumerism and growth abandoned for the adoption of liberated time and basic income as a prerequisite for "good life – buen vivir" for all” – and we do approve this course. §§§


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