Book Launched in Copenhagen at the UN Climate Summit On 3 December 2009, the people's preparations for the UN Climate Summit, COP15, came to life at the Øksnehallen in Copenhagen, with the launching of the hard-hitting book "It has to be CLIMATE SUSTAINABILITY" by the internationally acclaimed sustainability Campaigner Uchita de Zoysa. The launch of the book was organised by the Climate sustainability PLATFORM and was ceremoniously presented to a large international gathering at the Copenhagen Climate Exchange.
The Author of the book, Uchita de Zoysa says: "Climate change is a destiny determining phenomenon and all people need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities. But, half of the world's population remains under poverty and is being deprived of their rights towards the basic human needs. Meanwhile, the wasteful lifestyles and irresponsible behaviour of the rich and powerful continues to endanger the life of all humans on earth. A small privileged group continues to negotiate for a climate deal and they separately talk about the sustainability of the planet. By marginalising rest of the population in determining their own destinies, they have left us in destitution. A new world order is emerging, but the people are not involved in designing of it as well. A better world order needs to be created upon the mindful aspirations of the people; and should essentially be based on equitable opportunities for all to find peace, prosperity, sustainability, wellbeing and happiness. Then, it has to be climate sustainability!”
A dialogue on the topic of the book was followed with a panel discussion that included international sustainability experts Jeffrey Barber (USA), Souleymane Bassoum (Senegal), Gopal Jain (India), Victor Ricco (Argentina) and Indrani Thuraisingham (Malaysia). The invited participants of the dialogue also included renowned scientists, civil society leaders and sustainable entrepreneurs from all continents of the world. The dialogue also marked the launching of the Climate Sustainability PLATFORM, which demanded a binding 'International Agreement on Climate Sustainability' to be initiated by the world leaders meeting in Copenhagen for the UNFCCC COP15.
Uchita de Zoysa is a free thinker, outspoken orator, branded radical, sustainable enterprise promoter and a committed campaigner who has dedicated his life towards creating a sustainable world. He has travelled across the globe during the past two decades to attend the largest global summits and to speak at over a hundred international meetings.
Bas de Leeuw (former Head of Sustainable Consumption at UNEP, Paris)
"With his book, ‘It has to be CLIMATE SUSTAINABILITY’, Uchita de Zoysa has managed to open up for those who are wondering where his passion comes from, and has shared his dreams, and his disappointments, in a very personal way. The title as such shows his mindset; there is no doubt, there is no other way. It shows where he is coming from, and I hope it shows where he is going too: leading the sustainability movement, leading a diverse group of people who realize that there is no such thing as ‘who is doing what’, but that we are in it all together and only can get out of it all together. Over the last decade I have known Uchita as a thinker, a writer, a do-er and an activist, who is deeply committed to a better planet where poverty will no longer exist, and where quality of life is enjoyed by all. He speaks with great emotion and does not hesitate to give his anger a – loud – voice, and inviting him to your conference to ‘get a voice from the South’ is a clear winner. Uchita’s participation to a conference normally generates a discussion more sharp than it was before his intervention, more about the ‘real thing’, and less talking within the comfort zone, where so many speakers and participants are feeling so well at ease. In his book, Uchita demonstrates his power to inspire people to come together and plan joint activities, workshops, declarations, all geared towards this greater goal: sustainability. No matter what background, nationality or institution they are coming from - governments, researchers, NGO’s, and, even, business - they enjoy the opportunity to work in a different setting and with other people then they are used to. The Climate Sustainability Platform convened by Uchita is such a place where people can freely think, talk and express themselves, as I have witnessed and experienced myself at the occasion of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, in December 2009. I hope to keep walking with him on that path."
Flora Ijjas (Sustainable Consumption Researcher, Hungary)
"Most of the books written on sustainability, or climate change are dealing with the outer effects of the processes. They can not really reach the causes, as they mostly stay in the outer world. Uchita de Zoysa tries it in a different and risky way. He goes beyond and examines the inner forces as well, that are driving humanity and individuals. The specialty of this book is its honesty. Sometimes it may sound too fundamental and „fiery” as its aim was to wake up the people. But it’s about more than that. Uchita de Zoysa shows us relations according to environmental and human right issues we haven’t been thinking of and proposes revolutionary new ideas, we haven’t heard of before. For a western person it is inspiring how different the issue of climate change and environmental problems in general rises in the mind of a person who has experienced deep suffering of the poor. But he also tells us, that sometimes rich people are those who suffer more. What Uchita de Zoysa is really good at is that he writes using both of his right and left brain at the same time. It enables him to see the connection between the outer and the inner world, to see the outer and inner causes of the problems. With his words: the mind is, that governs the cravings of the physical body...And its the mind that creates sustainable choices. In the chapter „In search of mindfulness” he shares with us an integral way of how to get into balance again as one whole living system and community. It is a very inspiring and holistic proposal focusing on wellbeing of all, on sufficiency, on sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods, on ensuring equity, on happiness and mindfulness."
Jeffrey Barber (Integrative Strategies Forum, USA)
"This book is not an academic study or formal analysis of climate change and politics, but rather a passionate plea for dialogue "to engage more people and processes toward a better world." It is a story of personal experience in growing awareness and engagement in the challenge of a world faced with catastrophe and suffering and the obligation for each person to do their part in changing this. As a journalist, de Zoysa immediately acknowledges one of the main barriers to such a dialogue being the very field of media where he was encourged to be "brutally honest and objective." Yet when he reaslied that "the advertising dependent business owners of the media organiztions had different ideas of what ideals should be promoted," he switched from journalist to campaigner. "some American media do not believe in climate change," he notes, lamenting that despite the evidence of scientists and political leaders like Al Gore many Americans remain skeptical. This is certainly one of the most serious challenges facing Americans today, as the ocean temperatures rise and the corals die, while we watch the BP oil spill continue to spread across the Gulf of Mexico. In the latest news an ice island four times the size of Manhattan just broke away from one of Greenland's main glaciers." (see http://citnet.org/blog/It+Has+Be+Climate+Sustainability+A+book+review)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Uchita de Zoysa commenced his professional life as an investigative environmental journalist, and then moved on to creating a large civil society alliance in Sri Lanka. This gave him the opportunity to conduct a nationwide public hearing process and formulate the country's first 'Citizens’ Report that was presented to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. He also was a member of the International NGO Steering Committee of the UNCED and subsequently served on the NGO Steering Committee of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. He has authored several international and national reports including the 'Asian Review on Sustainable Consumption', contributed to many books on the environment and sustainability, and has played a leading role in the formulation of global independent sector collective agreements such as the 'The NGO Alternative Treaties' and the “Oslo Declaration on Sustainable Consumption”. Currently, he serves on several organizations and committees to further the cause of sustainability on earth; he is the Chairman of 'Global Sustainability Solutions', Executive Director of the 'Centre for Environment and Development', Convener of the 'Climate Sustainability PLATFORM', Managing Director of D&D Strategic Solutions and is a member of the 'National Advisory Committee on Climate Change' in Sri Lanka. During the past two decades he has travelled widely across the world, participating in the largest UN world summits and has presented papers at more than a hundred meetings as a strong advocate of sustainability. Born in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, he lives in Sri Lanka and works towards creating a sustainable world!
(from pg 09) ..... "The past twenty years has taken me across the world meeting people in six continents from all walks of life. All the dialogues I have held with these people have helped me build a story on climate sustainability that has motivated me to publish this book. In presenting a new thought on ‘Climate Sustainability’, I have been enriched by the people, processes and publications that I have come across. Some relevant information and views of other thinkers were found during the research and these too have been incorporated within the chapters to enhance the dialogue; and it fits well into the notion of a dialogue rather than a monologue. This book is not an end of a dialogue, but essentially the beginning of a new one that aspires to engage more people and processes towards a better world.
(from pg 13) ..... "For anyone who wants to find arguments against the prevailing system on earth, the chapters provide volumes of contemporary critique. Then for the more investigative and research minded people, this is a book that unveils issues which require deeper investigation and applied research. If business wishes to engage in the green economy based transition world and would like to ascertain their role in sustainable enterprises, this book provides some value added propositions as well. Finally, for the climate negotiators, this book will mean a greater challenge than they already have had. It challenges their limits and boundaries in engaging people and their true issues before determining the destinies of humanity on earth."
(from pg 17) ..... "Climate change is happening! While a few sceptics are still questioning the reality of this phenomenon, the frequency of disasters and changes in the weather patterns are making people think more about climate change on earth. Many of us want to find answers as to how much change has already taken place in the climate, and how much can we control through modified action. The scientists predict that these changes could be drastic, and corrective measures need to be taken now. If not, are we then waiting for the 'Pandora's Box' to be opened by itself?" ................
(from pg 19) ..... "This book is not about defining climate sustainability, but to evoke a broader dialogue on issues surrounding the human challenge of facing climate change. I also challenge the climate negotiation process at the intergovernmental level that continues to ignore the greater realities and demands of the common people on earth. Therefore, I wish to bring to focus many issues that create climate change, and also critically highlight those processes that prevent humans from successfully facing the climate challenge. ...."
CHAPTER 01: Earth is on Fire! But Not Hot Enough to Act!
In chapter one, I discuss that the earth is on fire and that climate change is inevitable. But, it appears as if it is not hot enough for the establishment to get away from 'business as usual'. It is not that all on earth are blind to the truth and that we are living in an age of the stupid. It is more that we live in times of greed and grief. The enormous greed of a small group of rich and powerful continue to drag the rest of us through great grief and their action will have devastating long term consequences on all of us.
(from pg 30) ..... " In 1995 I had to travel to New Delhi in India to speak at a conference called ‘Large Dams and Sustainable Development’. The conference was organized in protest against the construction of the Tehri Dam and in support of the peoples’ movement campaigning against it. When I arrived at the Arabindo Ashram guest house around midnight, the weather was unusually hot. The room did not have any air-conditioning and the fan did not help cool the room at all. When I opened the tap and down came a shower of hot water which could not in any way cool my body. Then when I got into bed, it felt as if I was lying on a hot plate. I felt I had walked into an oven, and it was a terrible feeling. The only place that could provide some comfort was out on the balcony, and that was where I finally spent the night. I soon came to realize that I was experiencing a heat wave, and the temperature was well over 40°C, having come down from around 50°C. I was advised to take lot of liquids to keep my body cool and avoid dehydration. I was experiencing a heat wave that had killed over five hundred people in Delhi. It was also an experience to see how the poor people survived the heat wave without any or much assistance from the government. They were already accustomed to the extreme weather conditions in Delhi and adapted to the high temperatures themselves as usual. Life for them has very little choices; in any case, the heat wave was only another suffering to live with. The Indian experience was not an isolated incident. During the same time a heat wave struck Chicago which led to approximately 600 deaths over a period of five days. That was the time when climate change had begun to announce its emergence, or at least when the world started accepting it as a phenomenon. ....."
(from pg 33) ..... "Mind power is sadly used today by many across the society for the wrong reasons or for non-worthy causes. The corporate trainers or the so called human potential development guru’s now provide attractive step by step recipes for business executives and companies to conquer both natural and human resources. These recipes are a way to achieve what they call success, winning or achievement. Sadly the idea of these exercises is to enhance the human potential for exploitation required to increase the bottom-line performance or profit."
(from pg 39) .... Today media has become one of the biggest obstacles to get people in the rich and developed societies to change their over consuming and environmentally destructive consumerist lifestyles. They in fact have taken over the role as catalyst for promoting consumerism in the developing countries where the emerging consumerist markets are the most profitable. Media has also helped their governments to keep away from making commitments towards saving an ailing earth and a suffering society.
(from pg 41) ..... "Even though the earth’s surface, atmosphere and the oceans have started warming, it appears that it is not hot enough for the establishment to get away from ‘business as usual’. It is not that all on earth are blind to the truth and that we are living in an ‘age of the stupid’. It is more that we live in times of the greedy wanting to be in power. A small group of rich and powerful countries, companies and people continue to drag the rest of us through great grief and a dangerous destiny that would have devastating long term consequences for all. But, the establishment is still convinced that growth, capital accumulation and development could provide answers for the survival of the people who really matter on earth. People who matter are a very few and they control the earth. They consume most of the resources, control the trade and capital, and decide what is best for all of us on earth. The rest of us, especially the half of the world that lives in poverty, is insignificant in the global decision making."
(from pg 41) .... "Yes, it is a scary thought! And that is why poverty is maintained on earth. The rich wants to keep the poor, as poor; then they can continue their lives of mindless and limitless consumption. But the consumer power shift realities on earth are warming-up, as much as global warming. Will the warming of the globe make us to act with more responsibility? If the crashing of the global economic structures, increasing heat waves across the world, high frequency of flash floods and other natural disasters, and the violent wars across the regions cannot instil an adequate urgency for us to act, then obviously we are waiting for a real hot enough disaster to hit earth and mankind. Are we waiting for such a global natural disaster to wake us up to create a world of truly united nations? ..."
CHPATER 02: Treading Dangerously on a Compromised Pathway
Chapter two presents the current scientific evidence and shows that we cannot afford to continue this fossil fuel dependent development process on earth. A 2°C emergency pathway is proposed to achieve at least a liveable world. But, international climate change negotiations are failing because they are not based on such foundations that offer equity, wellbeing and happiness of all. With all the hype and drama that is created over climate change, how realistic are we in our efforts to achieve this target?
(from pg 45) ..... "On the 17th October 2009, the President and Cabinet of Maldives physically went twenty feet undersea in an attempt to draw the world’s attention to their climate plight. The archipelago is believed to go under water by the end of the century due to the rising sea levels. The government of Maldives has made an open appeal to the international community to adopt their nation. Emergency calls have been made to countries as well. But, no global authority or nation has responded positively to this heart rendering call of a nation that fears an ultimate destitution of disappearing from the face of the earth. No human or animal would want to die without a struggle, and so would the Maldivians. "
(from pg 49) ..... "Climate change in the meantime may help my Swedish friends derive more happiness by the fact that it will help them have longer summers. In addition, Stockholm and their other beautiful cities be will be overjoyed by an arrival of a greater number of tourists, but it may be a fact that Swedish agriculture sector may prosper quite significantly as well. "
(from pg 50) ..... "While, I am happy for my Swedish friends who always encourage me to relax, my thoughts are also with my climate destitute friends in Bangladesh. In the year 2004, my planned visit to Bangladesh had to be postponed several times until the dangerous floods that hit the country eased off. After the floods were controlled, I visited Dhaka to conduct the ‘Asian Review on Sustainable Consumption’ and had the opportunity to witness the plight of millions of suffering people. I only had to look out from my hotel room window to see how people live in areas partly succumbing to water. It was just a matter of the flood to come and take away their belonging and lives." (from pg 55) ..... "International climate change negotiations are failing because they are not based on such foundations that offer equity, wellbeing and happiness of all. These negotiations at the United Nations are designed as a process of bargaining led by short sighted political leadership and their representatives. It is a bargaining place for the managers of the prevailing erroneous global governance and economic system. UN negotiations are not places where the countries congregate with mutual trust or confidence. Each of them tries to bargain for their own best share rather than for the betterment of the planet. Therefore, these negotiations can hardly provide hope of a radical change in the approach or attitude towards creating a different system for a better world. If the international climate negotiations continue to fail in reaching an implementable agreement very soon, we would be allowing our global leadership to design for us an ultimate destiny to perish."
(from pg 56) ..... "The failures of our times can only provide news makers a grand opportunity to narrate stories of dramatic proportions. Natural disasters are now becoming major news business for commercially driven media which already thrives on the sufferings of a society, through war and violence. Reporting of events in a sense of cruelty seems to attract worldwide audiences, but falls short of creating the sensitivity required to act. International media are champions of investigating in detail the corruption and undemocratic governance in the South. They do not leave a single stone unturned when it comes to reporting the injustices in the developing countries. Yet, the same media demonstrates its own interpretations of events which sadly lacks the commitment to reveal the actual reasons for such natural calamity on earth."
(from pg 58) .... "People around the world also cannot continue to provide the media the numbers for animated news presentations. It is high time that they too stand-up and become significant on earth in the rightful and mindful ways. The need of the day is for human mindfulness to prevail. But it would be lying to say that we are close to prevailing in such mindfulness. It is also a lie that we are going to seal the deal on a climate agreement. The only deals prevailing are to keep the poor being poor, and make the rich become richer. The fact is that scientific evidence is now available on the need of an emergency 2°C pathway to prevent the emergence of an un-inhabitable world of us humans. The fact also is that the establishment has found a convenient exit point in the economic downturn to distract attention away from their climate responsibilities. The reality is that the climate negotiations are on a cat and mouse game for the developed and developing country groupings of the world. We need to wait and see who becomes the cat and who becomes the mouse, because the world order too is changing. Cat or mouse, climate change is a big reality and we must not allow stupidity to prevail on earth! ...."
Chapter three a critical analysis on the failure to address issues of the world are discussed. The journey to sustainability has been disrupted because the intergovernmental system has dismantled the train taking us towards that destination. Today we have climate change, poverty eradication, economic prosperity and social wellbeing discussed separately. So we may as well be prepared to repeatedly negotiate for new destinations and 'in-between stops' for the next many years and decades to come.
(from pg 61)..... "Eighteen years ago I boarded a train at the 'Palais des Nations' in Geneva which announced that it was travelling towards the destination of sustainability. A handful of us from the independent sectors of different continents were invited to join this train ride organised by the United Nations. Within the first few minutes of the ride, it was obvious to some of us that the train was not taking us on a journey we envisaged. We realised that we were on the wrong track and were worried about losing sight of the destination as well. Since then many of us continued to demand that this train needs to be placed on the correct track, and that we should proceed towards sustainability through a clear path to avoid being stranded. Today, we are dangerously stranded with possibilities of no return."
(from pg 62) ... I see the whole United Nations effort on sustainability as a disjointed train ride; it like dismantling the train’s engine and compartments and getting the different units to run separately on different tracks, to find sustainability. While the engine is parked on one track, compartments seem to be running on different tracks and at different speeds with the railway staff trying to steer as many journeys as possible towards sustainability. This has left us passengers stranded not knowing which path leads to sustainability or which train takes us on that journey. The stations too have changed and different roadmaps drawn up since. We now have to figure out which map provides better direction; which one would direct us to the correct station to board the correct train towards sustainability. Amidst all the confusion, the train company has survived and continues to profit by having multiple maps, stations, trains, and destination points directed towards sustainability.
(from pg 64) .... "The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was one of those compartments founded at the UNCED in 1992, and therefore became the mandated organization to save humanity from climate change. For the past fifteen years the UNFCCC have spent billions of dollars, burned thousands of tons of fossil fuel in the process of negotiations, and created nightmares in the minds of billions of people about the destitution facing humans on earth. Meanwhile the overall situation for us, the ordinary people, continues to deteriorate, and a new destination called ‘a liveable environment’ is being proposed. The UNFCCC is lost in a journey without a clear destination, ........"
(from pg 70) ..... "With or without the name of Kyoto, did the Bali Road Map at COP13 climate talks provide UNFCCC adequate ground to succeed in the negotiations? The current international reactions do not suggest so. Developing countries express their strong opposition to proposals by developed countries to renegotiate the UNFCCC. They claim that such proposals are aimed at generating new commitments for developing countries and also to diminish the commitments of developed countries. "
(from pg 74) ..... "With no inclusive dialogue to engage all people and stakeholders of the world, a deal between the affluent and powerful cannot be any more effective than the previous UN deals. Ironically, after the earth summit in 1992 the Secretary General of the UNCED, Mr. Maurice Strong, organised the ‘Earth Council’ as an independent international organization to carry forward the mission entrusted upon the UN agencies to implement the findings of the Earth Summit. While many talented people join the UN with great expectations of making a difference through the powers bestowed in those jobs and positions, many senior bureaucrats retire or leave the institution to create or join independent organizations and to force the same issues. A friend, who recently left a UN agency based in France and joined a non-governmental organization in the USA sent me an email saying “now we can work together freely on those world issues and have great dialogue like in the good old days.” He is now looking for a different deal with the independent people’s movements and not between agencies of the UN and multinational companies he was brokering deals for years. ....."
(from pg 74) ..... "We need to get the train back on track towards sustainability. The Southern country compartments are firmly stationed, and demand that the negotiations should consider a route through poverty eradication and climate justice. But, the developed countries do not want to pay anything extra and have held back their due commitments wishing to extend their profits of the current world order. It is a stalemate, and no journey seems possible. The UNO may well need to rethink their role and responsibilities before the climate negotiations can agree upon sustainability as the logical destination that was found many decades ago. With this destination in mind, getting the train back together to run on a single track may be more important than finding new engines, placing new tracks, setting up new stations and designing new roadmaps. Once the destination is clear, the train is assembled, and the tracks are laid on the mapped pathway, getting to climate sustainability will be better understood. Bon Voyage! ..."
Chapter four takes us through four decades of multi-lateral negotiations which have been apparently 'talk-shops' for sustainability. The talks and actual implementation do not appear to be connected, because the earth's climate is changing and the poor are still trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. The negotiators will continue to talk, but can we afford to wait without acting for our own future?
(from pg 76) ..... "In the run-up to the 1992 Earth Summit, Mr. Maurice Strong, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), declared that it was the “last chance to save the earth”. 15 years later, the findings of the fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) caution the world that human survival on earth is seriously endangered. The chairman of IPCC Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri recently challenged anyone who says ‘what is the point and why take action?” He says that if we start today, we can really make a difference in the next two to three decades. Who should I believe? Or what should I believe? Should I ask myself “when is the last chance to save the earth”? ....."
(from pg 77) ..... "International environmental conferences are widely believed to be 'talk shops'. For nearly four decades the UN intergovernmental talk shops have deliberated on saving the earth and implementing sustainable development. But, since then the climate has further deteriorated, hunger in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia has risen, and the global economy has crashed. 'Talking sustainability' has become one of the best practised actions by the multilateral system and has spread to other sectors as well. People now allege that talking sustainability has become a profitable business for many in civil society, research, government and even industry." ...... (from pg 83) ..... "In response towards creating a better world, some researchers and designers, particularly in Europe, have started talking about sustainability every day; and it sounds like a compromise by western societies to what we in the South traditionally call sustainable lifestyles. Living in a sustainable manner throughout life is not considered a compromise or bargain in most eastern societies, but a meaningful and right livelihood. If it is hard to imagine living in sustainability during an entire life time, it is better that the western consumer learns to deal with such challenges on a daily basis." from pg 86) ..... "Contentment is a missing link in the Western lifestyle. People in the West have been eternally in search of material comfort and possessions. The growing talk on sustainable design kept me engaged with designers and innovation researchers in Europe during the last few years. I held sustainability dialogues with lifestyle designers across different cities in Sweden in the year 2007. At one dialogue, where the emotions started running riot I saw some young designers shouting slogans that the world needs to be changed. Very radical ideas were flowing from one end of the room to the other."
Chapter five the dialogue engages the reader in the problems of half of the humanity. Hunger is rising in parts of the world while the Millennium Development Goals had promised to eradicate global poverty in half by 2015. Poverty is a result of a hypocritical global governance system. If people are trapped in poverty and cannot find adequate food and other needs to fulfil their basic livelihood requirements, then the success of facing the climate challenge will be beyond human ability. Also, this would increase the frequency of wars on earth and humanity may finally perish in a combination of climate and poverty related violence.
(from pg 95) ..... "One young Canadian undergraduate student, that I met recently, wrote on her ‘Facebook’ page that “loneliness is the worst of poverties in the world”. Loneliness which is more common in the rich countries may be a psychological entry point to find alignment with poverty for her. To be born and living in a country like Canada where quality of life is supposed to be in the highest world rankings, imagining poverty may be the closest way to relate to it. If anyone has ever missed a meal, they may have the ability to imagine what hunger could be. ......"
(from pg 99) ..... "In poverty ridden communities where access to food or income to purchase food is hard to come by, waste dumps are their greatest consolation. Not only do they seek for any form of edible leftovers, but in some African communities people have found a livelihood as hunters of rats living in the urban waste mountains. These rats are caught and placed in small cages and fed with more waste. The rat grows up fat and heavy, trapped tightly in the small cage without any possibility of moving for months. Once the rat is grown into the size of the cage, they are slaughtered and sold in the market place. In communities where a meal is a struggle, a rat on a plate is a luxury. ...."
(from pg 101)..... "Cheap labour is a primary reason why production for the rich societies takes place in poor countries. The cost of a car, a shirt or a banana remains affordable to the rich consumers, simply because cheap labour is available in poor countries. An eight hour job pays a man in a developed country tens or even hundred times more than an identical job done by a man in a poor country. How did the world come to value human labour so differently? ..... "
(From pg 102) ..... "Poverty is a result of a hypocritical global governance system. This is a system that has promoted unsustainable production regimes and over-consuming societies to grow further. This is a system that rewards exploitation by a few and obstructs access to resources by the majority. This is a system which continues to debate on who is responsible for climate change and who should pay for mitigation and adaptation. This is a system where the unconcerned and non-compassionate continue to decide the destinies of humanity. ......."
Chapter six challenges the consumerist trends of the west and warns of the effects it has had in the South as well. The search of such fortunes in cities also has increased the consumption of resources on earth. The generic claim is that twenty percent of the world consumes nearly eighty percent of global products and services. The growing consumer classes, in the countries with rapid economic development, add more pressure on our resources. A whole new value system on consumption is needed.
(from pg 108) ..... "An hour with Noble laureate Dr. Mohamad Yunus at the Grameen Bank during my visit to Bangladesh in 2004 helped me narrate a story about the growing consumerist trends in the developing countries. While discussing the status of sustainable consumption in a country stricken by poverty and constant natural disasters, Dr. Yunus highlighted the impact of industrial development on the lifestyles of young rural women. ......"
(from pg 111) ..... "The prevailing unsustainable consumption and production system is the largest contributory factor to both climate change and poverty on earth and thus requires greater emphasis and focus at the levels of international regulation. If anthropogenic climate change is to be controlled, then developing a regulatory framework for sustainable consumption and production must be a priority as well. In very simple terms, unsustainable consumption and production needs to be regulated on earth parallel to emission cuts as a solution to both problems of climate change and poverty." ......
(from pg 112) ..... "The prevailing unsustainable consumption and production system is the largest contributory factor to both climate change and poverty on earth and thus requires greater emphasis and focus at the levels of international regulation. If anthropogenic climate change is to be controlled, then developing a regulatory framework for sustainable consumption and production must be a priority as well. In very simple terms, unsustainable consumption and production needs to be regulated on earth parallel to emission cuts as a solution to both problems of climate change and poverty. ..."
(from pg 113) ..... "The western consumerist and wasteful culture has already infected the south. The mega malls in south Asia and in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are living examples of how the market induces consumers into feverishly purchase ‘wants’ more than their ‘needs’. These malls are parasites within the society that attracts us in a subconscious process of buying. The hyper-malls and supermarkets have an amazing power over the human mind, and can induce us into spending on things we do not need and tricks us to consume in a way the market system wants. A Malaysian consumer activist explained to me the reasons why supermarkets place their carry -carts at the entrance. ..... "
Chapter seven describes the dangers of a new emerging global economic power in the South. The growing consumer classes in the developing countries will create a greater demand on their resources. Then, consumers in the North will not have it easy to over-consume global resources as cheaply as in the past. Suffering from hunger, malnutrition, poverty is generally associated with the Black, Brown or Yellow parts of the world population. A new world order is emerging and poverty may shift to the western world creating a serious human challenge.
(from pg 119) ....."We are not accustomed to seeing white skeletons of living men, women or children. But the picture of the white skeleton-man does demonstrate the fact that different circumstances can create white suffering as well. The threat of climate change may well shift the zones of suffering in the world. The emerging consumer classes in the South have already started to enjoy the power over their own resources, technological advancement, market dominance and power in global governance. An emerging world order suggests that the resources for over consumption in the developed nations are becoming harder to come by the day.....
(from pg 120) ..... "I grew up reading Gandhi’s life and work in India and witnessing voluntary service movements like Sarvodaya working to empower the poor. Before I became the chief advisor to Sarvodaya for a short period, I had listened to its leader Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne speaking to school children and very correctly saying that there is enough food for everyone on earth and it is only a matter of sharing. I keep asking why anyone in India should ever be hungry as it produces a surplus of grain? Ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva says “more grain from two or three commodities arrived on national and international markets, but less food was eaten by farm families in the third world”. Then the problem must lie within the economic development driven governance system that refuses to distribute the grain amongst its own people. "
(from pg 122) ..... "Just like the climate, the world order too is definitely changing. The psychological warfare games are now better understood by smaller and poorer nations who are forging new alliances creating new balances in global power politics. Developing countries no longer fear the technological secretiveness and possessiveness of the developed countries. ..... " (from pg 123) ..... A changing world order needs a vision of greater equity in global wellbeing. The dream for a better world is not about a change of hands in power and dominance in the world. What difference would it make to poverty or climate change if the black skeleton-man scenario shifts to a white skeleton-man? It is not just a nightmare, but a very wicked dream to have. No man, woman, child or animal should be in the state of a living skeleton. No one should ever suffer from poverty. No one should ever have to worry about the next meal or how to pay the doctor’s bill. No one should have to search high and low for clean drinking water. No one should be made to steal from the other to survive or prosper. A better world may sound a myopic or mythical illusion in the context of the prevailing world order. But the mind of the changing world order cannot be without such thoughts of an equitable and better world for all."
(from pg 129)..... "I would like to see Mr. Obama and his administration succeeding in changing the prevalent system in the USA. But, I would not want to place my world order to succeed only on his strengths and weaknesses. I would appreciate if Mr. Obama and his fellow Americans work towards a shared world order and cohabit with the rest of us in equity....."
Chapter eight challenges that the economic growth based development model has not succeeded because the design has not inbuilt distribution. We have inherited not only a world of false ideals, but we also pass them on to our future generations. We have been told that capacity building in life is for higher income and acquisitions and that development would mean commitment to such materialistic achievements. More than two thirds of the world does not understand what development means. People are looking for happiness that can come through wellbeing and prosperity to all.
(from pg 129) ..... "The former president of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam left the president’s house on the 25th July 2007, at the end of his tenure, carrying just two suitcases of his own books and personal items. This eminent scientist and visionary was approached for an autograph by a little girl, after a talk he delivered. Kalam asked the little girl “what is your ambition” and she answered “I want to live in a developed India”.
(from pg 130) ....."We have inherited not only a world of false ideals, but keep passing them to our future generations. We have been told that capacity building in life is for higher income and acquisitions, and that development would mean commitment to achieve such materialistic targets. More than two thirds of the world does not understand what development means. For the past many decades we have been told that some countries are developed and that some are developing. I have waited over four decades to understand 'development' as it has never reached my country - Sri Lanka. Then I meet so many people from the branded developing countries, while travelling across the world and at conferences, and they too do not seem to have a clear idea and do appear to struggle as much as I do. I also associate a lot of people from the categorized developed countries, and they do not seem to have found contentment or happiness. While they have already had their higher incomes and acquisitions, it is puzzling to see why they are not content and happy in life." .....
(from pg 132) ... "Triggered by the fall of the USA stock market in late 2008, the economies of the capital rich USA and European countries collapsed. In the process of crashing their economies, and through the cascading effect it had on the global economy, they also dragged the developing countries into an economic depression suffocating the livelihoods of billions of people. The fall of the might of the capitalist system was attributed to the greed of wealth accumulating and higher income pursuing corporations and their ruling executives. All that growth and capital accumulation in the rich and mighty countries had not been able to withstand the lapses made by their financial management empires. .... "
(from pg 134) ..... "During my discussions with senior officers at the Chinese ministry of environment in 2004, I was told that the dream of a Beijing man is to own one large American car for himself and have a smaller one for his family. The World Watch Institute warns that the growing use of oil for China’s burgeoning vehicle fleet is adding greatly to concerns about energy security." (from pg 134) ..... "Greening the existing industrial production system will not help green the economy. It will not take us towards a carbon neutral society and drive us away from the wasteful lifestyles. A new green world order has to be more authentic than making mountains of the green labelling and green procurement business. Such a new world order will have to make sufficiency based considerations more pertinent. Sufficiency can firstly reduce greed and want for over- consumption through a state of adequacy and contentment. It can also innovate on indigenous knowledge systems to produce without waste, more efficiently, become more self-reliant, and less dependent on external resources. The national economic crisis in 1997, led the King of Thailand to officially pronounce a ‘philosophy of the sufficiency economy’ as the way forward. Subsequently the Ninth National Economic and Social Development Plan from 2002 to 2006 in the county, adopted sufficiency economy as their economic policy and explained that its goals are to achieve sustainable development and proper well-being for Thai people. It is a balanced development which took into account the economy, society, politics, and environment, aiming to make people in the society happy, self-reliant, and abreast with the world, while still preserving the Thai national identity."
(from pg 138) ..... "Happiness is a state of mind that may be found through wellbeing, prosperity, belongingness, and contentment in life, and not proved to be through economic growth and economic development. One of the world’s least-developed countries, Bhutan has been worried about what globalization may bring to its country, and has been determined to protect its unique culture....."
CHAPTER 09: Dressed in a Bottle, Eating Under a Tree, with a Laptop in My Hand!
Chapter nine envisions a transition towards a better world. A new generation of sustainable enterprises is needed to make the green markets and zero carbon economies work. Then, is it about design and innovation for consumption and production systems? Such a transition world is full of traps and pitfalls. A green economy is not about a sustainable world order. It is a transition or a temporary alternative to buy us some extra time on earth. It may prolong our existence on earth, but cannot assure a better world for the future generations.
(from pg 141) ..... "My father, born and nurtured in a village called Balapitiya, migrated to the city to become a successful civil servant in the public administration. He died dreaming of getting back to his village and succeeded in doing so only during the last years of his life where he served the people of his birth place. ..................................... (from pg 142) ......I am suffering the opposite destiny of my father. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, which is the commercial capital of Brazil, when my father was posted on a diplomatic mission. At the age of eleven months I returned with my family to live in the city of Colombo and its suburbs in Sri Lanka. I am a city man, always admiring the village life and dreaming to get there, but trapped in the city comforts. Like many city people, I too want to escape into the wild; but I am trapped rather conveniently. Perhaps I am somewhat different because I am out here to change the world and the others are there to enjoy the race and excitement it provides. ..."
(from pg 143) ..... "Any opinion different to the existing system or the norm, is branded as radical or extreme. Living in the middle path or simple lifestyle away from materialism too is an extreme approach according to the people living within the system. So to talk about the values of living closer to nature or campaigning for sustainable lifestyles would make me a radical in the society. The USA President Barack Obama is also branded as a radical because he is black and wants to change the system of bias governance in a still white dominant country. The former South African President Nelson Mandela was a radical because he disagreed that black people should be servants of the white imperialists. Mahatma Gandhi from India was a radical because he professed and practiced non-violence and civil disobedience. Sustainability is radical because it does not comply well with the existing world order of inequity, exploitation, suppression, consumerism, accumulation and greed." .....
Pg 143-146 …. “To make sustainability non-radical, the facilitators of the system have toned down the rhetoric and simplified it to more manageable compromises. One such compromise is to redesign structures and other utilities that are low resource consuming and greening the surrounding, while creating a demand for ecologically produced goods and services. My recent adventures with Scandinavian designers, European and more sophisticated Asian innovators, multilateral agency bureaucrats, and the green market exploring business executives have all shown me how they have accepted the compromise on sustainability through sustainable enterprise solutions. While we are delaying the ultimate commitment, a sustainable enterprise approach may be a complementary pathway towards a liveable world. Even for this approach to succeed, the future enterprises will have to sacrifice their wasteful and exploitative habits and embrace a ‘Triple-Bottom-Line (TBL) business ethic; an ethic that integrates environmental, economic and social considerations at all times of business.
We are very aptly warned by the celebrated concept of ‘Cradle to Cradle’, and by its authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart, that being less bad is not good. But the book itself appears to have been used as an alternative path for a transition world, and has been adopted by the business sectors to redesign for less ecological impact than to change the unbalanced system of production and consumption. The concept which rejects the idea of waste, and proposes that waste is food, is used by the western industrial and lifestyle designers to promote a new generation of eco-business. They are using these concepts to prolong the consumerist lifestyle, which they call efficient consumption. By continuing to re-brand efficiency, these designers are promoting larger than required volumes of production for over-consumption by their societies. Just like Gandhian khâdî is used by the Indian corporate executives to dress themselves for an Indian way of business exploitation, ‘cradle to cradle’ too seems to be prostituted by the shrewd industrialists to promote a cleaner and greener production for the prolonging of an over-consumption world order.
Mahatma Gandhi may not be fully in agreement with the concept of ‘cradle to cradle’ when he prescribes simple lifestyles that in the first place reject large scale production, with or without waste. The foundation of Gandhi’s philosophy and the spinning wheel for khâdî is about minimalism, and it goes against mass production for merely greening the consumerist lifestyles.”
Pg 146 –148 ... “Left to find myself that path towards a better world, my adventures have also taken me to interact with European designers and Asian innovators for a transition world. One such meeting with a Taiwanese eco-businessman took place in the Milan design streets, where we planned a sustainable design event. Calling himself and such people ‘Green Robin Hoods’, this tradesman is convinced that the future market is full of opportunities for green products and services. Hence, he travels all over the world searching for innovative technologies to promote in the Greater China Region and to find markets for his green products. One such innovation currently gaining popularity is ‘RPET’ garments or cloths made out of textile from ‘recycled polyethylene terephthalate’ bottles. In a modern day world, where even water is bottled and sold, these mountains of waste plastic are now being transformed into quality textile. Not yet well known and accepted by consumers, this could become a very eco-fashionable approach to the environmentally conscious consumer mostly in the western part of the world.
This self claimed Green Robin Hood, recently sent me a range of sample textiles to be tested out by the Sri Lankan garment industry experts and designers. The quality of the textile has been inspected and admired by my garment industry friends in Sri Lanka, who believe that this could have a revolutionary market in the future. While Sri Lanka currently does not possess the technological capacity to produce the rpet yarn, Taiwan as a leader in this innovative industry wishes us to join as partners, as they know that Sri Lanka has one of the best garment industry capabilities and infrastructure. If the project can prove to be a worthwhile alternative in the transition world, and bottles can be recycled at home, I will be dressed in a hundred percent rpet fleece material jacket at the next climate change conference.
But, then what about the organic and fair trade cotton garments that I am supposed wear in this transition world? My dialogues with Swedish designers brought me to meet such an organic and fair trade cotton brand produced in Sri Lanka. The Swedish owner of this new ethical-wear brand met her profitable fate while spending her internship scholarship in Sri Lanka. Her fate was influenced by the ill-fate of a neighboring garment factory worker who had lost her job. The young Swedish intern and the jobless Sri Lankan garment worker entered into a new cottage industry. Today the Swedish entrepreneur imports organic cotton textile procured from India, sews T-shirts in Sri Lanka, obtains organic and fair trade certification from Europe, and sells at US$ 50-100 apiece to exclusive buyers across the world. For that price I can buy myself a wardrobe in Sri Lanka. So, organic and fair trade cotton shirts are not yet affordable in my transition lifestyle. But, I am now contemplating a cheaper certification process which has eluded us through modernization, and that is to test the power and trust of word-of-mouth branding.”
(from pg 150) ..... "The transition world too is full of traps and pitfalls. A green economy is not about a sustainable world order. It is a transition or a temporary alternative to buy us some extra time on earth. It may prolong my existence on earth, but cannot assure a safe life for my daughter or for the children she may produce. ......"
Chapter ten proposes the need of a world order of mindfulness. Within the emerging new world order, the growth of more consumerism is evident. This will lead towards accelerating climate change. Why are we spending so much of energy, resources and time making candy while half of the world is in poverty and in great need of basic food to survive? So do we close the candy shop? To answer that question, mindfulness needs to prevail amongst humans. We need to be on a more conscious process of living and behaving on earth. (from pg 154) ..... "I quickly realised that the United Nations Organization (UNO) situated in the ‘Palais des Nations’ was not the place where one should be in pursuit of happiness. On the contrary, it is a place where the entire world’s unhappiness congregates. All the problems of the world are brought to the door steps of the United Nations and are negotiated till a majority is agreeable or have agreed upon. Some go happy, and many leave unhappy. This never stops or ends, and continues from one unhappiness to another. It is like a factory which produces expensive candy using the various natural resources and synthetic sweeteners. ....." (from pg 157) ..... "In a recent email exchange on the UN Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), a university professor and consumer researcher in Norway posed this same question to me. She asked me; “if the UN Marrakech process and the UNCSD process in general are failing or at least floundering acutely, where should people go for guidance? My answer was “To start with, the Marrakech process has become in many ways irrelevant because it is not yet officially recognised by governments and it lacks a mechanism to involve them adequately. Only a few European governments have engaged in this process which has marginalised most of the developing countries in the consultations. Perhaps the UN CSD is giving it more attention, and that too is because the reign of power held by a small group may be challenged at the own gates of the UN. A movement is definitely needed for sustainability on earth, and not a change of hands in the management of the sustainable consumption and production processes on earth. It is not about replacing the Marrakech process or any other. But to include the world’s people in this process, we need movements for sustainability so badly and need to try harder in empowering those that we already have. The UN in fact has lost its significance on earth and most governments lack faith in it. It continues to hold a global stage, only because an alternative has not been found. In any case, the real power blocks in the world had been the big industrialised countries of the G8 and they have been facilitated by the UN. These G8 countries derive their powers from the global corporations who have dictated terms even to their own governments for decades. Meanwhile, the G77 and China group of developing countries has been searching for a power-balance as well. The new BRIC group consisting of the emerging giants – Brazil, Russia, India and China – is now displaying a new wave of power in global politics. But, I still believe in people’s power; the Gandhian type of non-violent movement that lives on forever. The UN has a critical role to play in a transition world; but we are yet to see and believe that they can act in equality of all nations and people to ensure the wellbeing and happiness. It may sound utopian in the current context, but a climate sustainability platform can become a reality if collective willpower can be unearthed.” (from pg 159) ..... "The first act in such a mindfulness pathway should be to find ways of ensuring the wellbeing of all on earth. When extreme poverty is keeping a large portion of Indian population suffering, why would India spend money in sending a rocket to the moon and wasting more on publicity? A senior Indian ecologist friend of mine says “it is for the vote”. ...... (from pg 160) ..... A second act in the mindfulness pathway could be in sufficiency. Economic growth and development no longer is a valid argument for wellbeing. Wealth accumulated through economic growth has not reached a majority on earth and has not been distributed through the so called development programmes. To me sufficiency is a process that has two central elements. The first is self-reliance and the second contentment. Self-reliance does not mean that a nation closes its doors to external collaborations or stop trading goods and services on the global market. In a system of self-reliance, each community or nation plans for prosperity within the limits of their own resources and do not plan to rob from the others. Of course any in excess is traded and anything missing is sourced as well. But the first attempt is to live within our own means and become a lesser burden to rest of the world. Then the second element of contentment is to be satisfied with what is achieved. If going to the moon satisfies India, then it should be for reasons that satisfy all Indians. They should not send a rocket to the moon just because America has done so, and they need to prove their scientific advancement to the world; they should send a rocket to the moon only if scientific research knowledge could help India and the rest of the world become a better place. But by sending a rocket to the moon the Indian government should not compromise the noted aspirations of people to live in a developed India; and a developed India for the citizens or countrymen according the former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is that all people should have a secure and enjoyable present and also be in a position to look forward to a better future." (from pg 163) ..... "A sixth act in the mindfulness pathway is obviously to develop mindfulness. Being aware of your thought and actions, being content with your wellbeing and acquisitions, being thoughtful and sincere in your behaviour, being responsible of the impact of your actions on others, becoming compassionate towards the others in your doings, and making an effort to do the right things always may bring us into a state of mindfulness. ..... "
(from pg 164) ..... "Now that the American President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, rest of the world assumes that mindfulness will prevail within him and his nation. It is also expected that the Norwegian Nobel committee who several times rejected the nominations of Mahatma Gandhi who is the strongest symbol of non-violence in the 20th century, can also prevail in mindfulness. We also assume that the international leadership and representatives at the climate change negotiations will prevail under mindfulness, and a 2°C pathway will be realised at the least. ...."
(from pg 167) ..... "Discovering a way to survive in a liveable world cannot and should not be the aspiration and determination of humankind. That is a compromise that we, as a generation, are trying to make on the lives of all future generations. While enjoying the offerings on earth today, we are planning a world of lesser enjoyment for the future humans. If we are only negotiating for a liveable world for our children and their children, then we are demonstrating intrinsically our selfish nature as a generation and it is simply fighting to get the best share for ourselves. ...."
(from pg 167) ..... "The focus of our challenge on earth should not be diluted or diverted towards merely adapting to a liveable world. Even in a world with increased temperature, the future human generations should be able to find wellbeing and happiness. 'Adaptation' involves taking actions to minimise the effects of climate change; the need then is not to compromise on a liveable world but to take necessary action to create prosperity. The danger of the compromised approach suggests that we humans will suffer in a 2°C temperature rise. Humans have shown their resilience throughout history and should be able to make a warmer world into a happy planet.".....
(from pg 171) ..... "Just as the Web2.0 had helped the world community to share global knowledge, a technology 2.0 world on a general approach has not happened. ......................" (from pg 172) ..... "An ‘Earth 3.0’ for me is not about all the connectivity or simplifications of digital lifestyles of humans. It should be a concept of sharing with compassion enabled by systems and processes. By the year 2050 we may require an ‘Earth 5.0" approach and it cannot be a constant technological advancement and sharing dialogue, but essentially a mindfulness platform enabling process. ...."
(from pg 174) ..... "We are utterly lost in destiny and continue to allow the same people, processes, institutions and systems who guided us to this destitution to redesign our futures. If we allow this to happen, then we would be responsible for the sufferings of our children as well. Climate change has also provided the humans a historical opportunity to act as one species, and the act needs to be mindful this time. ....."
(from pg 177) ..... " This book shares the sufferings of billions of people and the frustrations of many sustainability campaigners in an ailing world. With all the talk about sustainable development for the past four decades, the opportunity and space for an inclusive public dialogue still do not exist in the official processes. The international climate change process is no different; and the dialogues are limited to small groups of international citizens while the rest of the world is an audience. ...."
(from pg 178) ..... "Climate justice is a critically important aspect in lobbying for the rights of a majority of people who are the potential victims of climate change. It helps to keep the global negotiations in a balance, and also provides a window of hope that the poor and powerless will not be allowed to suffer without a fight. But, then how do we break the impasse between the developed and developing countries that are entangled in a deadlock of climate talks. While the movements for climate justice effectively strengthen the bargaining power of the global south to demand for more benefits from a global climate agreement, I also wish to see the climate justice movements driving a more active stance than talking to create a better bargain for the poor." .....
(from pg 181) ..... "It is also meaningless just to engage in climate dialogues if the participants lack mindfulness. Therefore, the need is to engage all people, different groups, sectors, communities and individuals in a mindfulness dialogue on climate sustainability. Such mindfulness can only help us see through the issues clearly and face them respectfully keeping all aspects and effects in mind. Therefore, while we talk about climate mitigation, climate adaptation, climate financing and climate technology transfer, we need to discuss a pathway that can bring us to a shared vision. ....."