Feb 02, 2012
At a discussion on preserving the global environment at the DSDS on Thursday, leaders from provincial governments agreed about creating local solutions for some of the earth's problems.
New Delhi: A dialogue with leaders of states and provinces at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) called for vision of leadership to take on the challenges posed due to the pressures on the global commons posed by human activities and technology.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, two-term Governor of California was the star attraction – but far from talking about his movies, the governor spoke of the urgency in addressing the issues. "Don't wait for big international agreements," he said, alluding to the tendency of governments waiting for decisions to happen at global meets. He said that this was the reason why he was able to take up his passion for helping everyone avail clean, green energy.
"We started at the grassroots. That is how successful movements have been. Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela – they all succeeded because they started at the grassroots."
While the session brought to the fore the differences in the ways the developed countries perceived matters, it also brought about how similar their approaches were. For instance, Marie-Helene Aubert, advisor to the French presidential candidate spoke of sustainable development in the same breath as democracy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, took the political plane of sustainable development to explore how "making people independent of the grid with the ability to generate clean electricity at their local levels" contributed to the discourse on democracy. "Independence from the grid means freedom for the people," he said, furthering a broader understanding of the concept of freedom.
On the other hand, Sheila Dixit, two-time Chief Minister of the city state of Delhi, spoke of sustainable development being beyond the issues of climate change and conservation of natural resources. "The human and cultural aspects of treating natural resources around us also contribute to sustainable development," she opined.
Providing the debate a gender tilt, both the women on the panel, Dixit and Aubert, spoke of the issues of education, the role of women and social justice. Aubert advocated for combining social justice and ecology in the discussions on sustainable development. The issue of social justice was forcefully argued by Aubert who pointed out that 39 per cent of the world’s waste comes from just 0.9 per cent of its people.
Dixit took this argument further with her statistics on Delhi – 17 million people and seven million cars, all this besides the metro and the bus service.
Terry Tamminen, Founder President of Seventh Generation Advisor, USA, put together the complexity of the issues voiced by the speakers. "We have to have vision, have good planning and use technology," said Tamminen.
But Tarun Gagoi, the Chief Minister of India’s north-eastern state of Assam implored for not globalising the issues related to sustainable development. “The discussion on clean energy has to be juxtaposed with the man-animal conflict. Poverty and unemployment are resulting in deforestation, he said, pointing to a diversity of issues besides a diversity of problems. "Therefore, you can't go for globalisation, but localisation. Globalisation of technology may sound fancy," he said, and queried, "What about localising it?"
Tamminen explained about the need for creative thinking that comes with a vision. He cited the example of a LED bulb manufactured in India that uses 85 per cent less electricity than the incandescent bulbs. "This is the globalisation of solutions and it is done here in India and it is the sign of the R20 initiative authored by Arnold Schwarzenegger," he said.
Dr R.K. Pachauri concluded the session with an urgent need for a show of vision that can impact the environment and the lives of the poor. "We need a new set of technologies for access to clean technology," he said.
Others who participated in the dialogue were Dr Yves Bolduc, the minister of health of the government of Qubec who spoke of the important role of information in ensuring sustainable development. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Mike Rann, Former Premier of South Australia and Capt. Ajay Singh, Power Minister of the government of Haryana.