Changing Track on Climate Change
According to a study of the conservation group WWF, biodiversity has decreased by an average of 28 percent globally since 1970 and the world would have to be 50 percent bigger to have enough land and forests to provide for current levels of consumption and carbon emissions. The study goes on to state that unless the world addresses the problem, by 2030 even two planet Earths would not be enough to sustain human activity. While pointing to such concern over Mother Nature and the adverse impact on sustainable life, the study also laments that governments are not on track to reach an agreement at next month's sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro. With the failure of the international community despite summit after summit to tackle the grave situation, one is left wondering if we need to change track from big global programmes to community initiative. For instance, the Rio+20 meeting on June 20-22 is expected to attract more than 50,000 participants, with politicians under pressure from environmentalists to agree goals for sustainable development, in the spirit of the Rio Earth Summit that spawned the Kyoto Protocol 20 years ago. The politics over the climate change talks since the last more than one decade is taking us nowhere and we need to just get out of this wrangling and move on even if it means making small footprints at the community level. The other thing that perhaps countries and governments ought to be doing is to take their own unilateral initiative instead of wasting time wrangling over differences. Protecting nature and life on earth is too important an agenda to be held hostage to international power struggle.
While no doubt it is important for governments to frame policies that help protect the environment, yet we need to start moving beyond high sounding targets or programmes and instead start to focus on action in the ground. And the best way to do this is to involve the community by educating and enabling them to take initiative towards sustainable living. Even though land and people come under a country or government, yet logic will tell us that the community which inhabits a particular area has sovereign power over the land and its resources and ultimately they are the major stakeholder. So we need to go back to the community—tap into their social capital and use their traditional knowledge and wisdom in order to better adapt to climate change. For instance there are already success stories from Africa where Community-Based Natural Resource Management, a name for systems developed over the past three decades is enabling communities to control and benefit from local wildlife, forests, water and other resources. Through this community system, local people have been able to tackle challenges such as droughts, floods, extreme temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns. Such kind of novel approach is people centric, directly benefiting the communities and there is greater focus and attention on the agenda as people themselves take charge of their own development. Given the right guidance, awareness along with necessary government support one can assume that communities will manage and conserve their natural resources better. Perhaps this grass root approach is a better way to address even something as big a global issue as climate change.
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