5 Nov Environmental Forum on BBC
As a person living a life more in the flow, I ask the universe, higher intelligence for guidance. I was considering clowning today. My thought was if I feel energy I will clown if not I will do something else. Well my day kicked off with me sleeping in. Environment was top of the list and I felt strongly inspired around this. I watched a forum on BBC and also ended up doing an analysis on a Framework document on Sustainability. I have pasted the notes in the next blog as I felt ideas flowing as I gave feedback. My friend Cristobell is a policy analyst in Environmental Sustainability. Whilst I am not keen on the analytics any more, he encouraged me to read it and I said I will put on my analytical cap.
So around lunchtime I then felt to turn on BBC, haven´t seen news in 6 months, environmental issues all over the news. Then there was a forum on resources. I didn´t get all the names of the participants, I recognised Kevin Rudd Former PM of Australia (now Foreign Minister didn´t know that). There was James Cameron an Environmental lawyer, Louise Arbour from International Crisis Group, another woman who´s name I didn´t get, a social marketer on the board of BHP Billiton and there was the Chinese Ambassador. I noted no community activists or average people. These are people engaged in business or government. So this is the voice I was listening to. Here are some exerpts from the notes I took. I have written some reflections on this. It is free flowing as I have to go very soon. Have a quick scan.
• 40% more energy demand
Do we have enough natural resources? (facilitator)
• Crisis in food security, water security etc.
• Resources should be managed, competition increases demand and decreases supply
• Equitable distribution of resources
• There is a difference between crisis in supply and crisis management
• China rep – urbanisation-industrialisation, increased wealth, price was environmental degradation, decrease in natural resources. We have reached critical moment. Manage what we have
• Kevin Rudd pointed out it is a challenge not a crisis. Numbers are scarey
o 1. 70% increase in food production (required)
o 2. 36% primary energy generation
o 3. Water shortage (put to the side)
o 1 plus 2 require properly functioning markets, market failures are there. Crisis suggests beyond reach, food security over time has been on and off
o Requires political will nationally and internationally
• Stressing crisis is in the present on resources that we depend upon
• Atmosphere is a scarce resource, limited, certain resources you can manage
• Assume absolute limits
• Behave different
• Crisis is use the word only challenge, urgency not conveyed unless use the word crisis, oceans capacity to absorb CO2, acidification, forests capacity to absorb CO2
• Food and water crisis – population at present is 6 billion rises to 9 billion in 2050, increased food production 70%, we are at a crisis point
• Crisis or challenge is a global interconnected problem, for LCD countries (Least Developed Countries) it is serious.
• Ghana had a representative for the Chamber of Mines who said we have to learn to manage, to synergise.
• Andrew Wales, the Head of Sustainable Develop at SAB Miller said it was a shared risk, we are interconnected, a challenge, to work together, we lose if we compete for resources
• Cut water use, CO2 use, takes time to work through systems
• Interlocking crisis of energy, food and water. Issue is availability and access to resources, 45% of children (I think in India) are malnourished, we are the largest exporter of dairy, root problem inequitable distribution (or corruption)
• International Crisis Group (ICG) – look at inequities within and between States, sustaining life, nor clear if harder to solve internationally, difficult internally. People think the problem is massive movement of population, that is the fear, yet the problem is scarcity of resources from displacement.
• Political will and imagination is needed.
• At a point of crisis – food prices increase, then riots, the danger is triggering repression, there are protests and repression. Transforms issues into conflict.
• Unpleasant risk
• Perception of resource scarcity, simplicity, solutions
• Nationalist movements attracted to resource scarcity as opportunity ,
• Use market instruments
• Water disclosure
• Rational way to respond
• Kevin Rudd in response to the question on political will. Contemporary western countries, tough to find electoral terms, complex messages, population don´t get it, put in language so they can understand.
• Make institutions work – Cancun conference
• Unfinished business G20 development – market failure, 2 billion out of 9 billion suffering hunger
• Price of water and price of carbon (market)
• Public good government makes sure trading systems are working. People engage in agriculture. 200 billion OECD subsidies distortion at the heart of food security
• Increased critique against governments, quality of governance. 120 Heads of State in Copenhagen, political focus, politicians failed. Glass half full
• Governance in the early 21st century, there is a governance gap
• Political will domestically focussed, less political will to contribute integrated to make the world safe and not the short term electoral cycle happening.
• National-regional-international efforts required
• 5 year plan in China – plan ready in 2011, the Chinese economy can´t be dependent on consumption. Raw material are imported, mostly from Australia.
• Scarcity access to resources is not sole trigger for conflict, disputes are territorial, there are grievances and greed.
• Lack of governance national and regional and inadequate global governance.
• The market commodity cannot work off matrix about resources, for example the soil quality, hydrology, proxy maintenance of ecosystem to grow food.
• Mispricing of markets
• Core question Kevin Rudd – our friends in China are looking at Long Term Strategy worldwide, Self Sufficiency Paradigm or Global Trading System
Question – Australia hostage to China´s need for resources.
• The region is stable. Kevin Rudd says we don´t feel vulnerability, large diversity of exports in volatile region, unresolved territorial disputes. Challenge to manage in a way not to rise to crisis. Doing ok.
• Chinese Ambassador – China-Australia interdependence win-win, steady supply – globalisation, China goes to Africa. Africa is a trader, China is the most preferred customer.
• Sierra Leone wise to develop axis (China), Africa is the quarry, financed the first Industrial Revolution with resources. There is a concern ‘ national capital, increase in oil, iron ore, bauxite, will Africa benefit like Australia, we are not sure. Voiceless Africans not seeing clearly, is Investment productive.
• Ecological footprint, increased demand on eco system, our people are worried, there is over fishing.
• Global – everyone mining in Africa, diversification, transparency, deals must be strictly sustainable
• China zeroing on countries to buy resources, distorting the resource market
• Chinese Ambassador – Build railway in Tanzania and Zambia provided infrastructure. Oil exports to China 16%, Europe 36% and US 32%. Investment in oil and gas in Africa, China states it is 1/16th of total investment. Our investment brings great benefits, we employed over 300,000 people, built218km of roads, win/win. Transparent.
• China played an enormous role. Trade with Africa 10 billion in 2003 to 100 billion last year 2009. Enormous investment in infrastructure. Incidents extractive sector and human rights problems. Grass roots movement, people not benefited.
• Chinese Ambassador – Concerns legitimate not unique to China in Africa. We encourage companies on human rights and social responsibility. Accidents happen ‘ taking care. Encourage all companies, responsible stakeholders
• ETEA Initiatives Extractive Industries Initiative, public domain, should be informed
• Australian mining industry 5-6 mining companies, good initiative transparency reduces corruption, return to communities, large and vicious campaign in Australia due to increasing mining super tax. They opposed as they were worried about a global precedence.
• US Trade Rep (audience) Greenburg Travig, talked about China hording natural resources. Import resources at same time violations of WTO rules, barriers to resources, how can china import resources and impose export barriers on own resources
• Chinese ambassador – hunger – china´s need for resources, products produced, environmental degradation, restriction on exports, deposits 30% of world. Supply 80-90% world need, protecting environment in China (key point there).
• No country is self sufficient
What is playing by the rules (facilitator)
• Lawyer – Effort to build multilateral organisations, major disappointment, rational Coherent solution haven´t got it, can´t delay domestication in hope of multi lateral will give answer. Unattractive piecemeal interventions in multi lateral process (conversation=, regional groups, WTO – free trade, liberalise. Can´t hand it over to multi lateral process not delivering, built in bits and pieces.
• Urgency ICG. Supply side of debate, 2030 there will be 8 billion population. Not looking at that, consumerism, worldwide prohibition on the reproductive freedom of women. Barriers exercising choice balance our efforts supply side (resources) not demand side (population)
• Decrease consumption, also restricting number of people on earth Immediate challenge, consumption meat, consumerism. Political power of women in reproductive freedom. Education of women.
• Unsustainable consumption, all countries challenged, not demonise companies it is counterproductive, focus on good practice
• World economic Forum can’t deal with volatility of resource prices.
• Change in consumption
• Media has a responsibility (asserted by Kevin Rudd)
Just a few thoughts about this as I have to catch a plane. I would like to add the crisis is a challenge. I also feel domino effect. Not just independent issues, all interconnected, one falls the system starts to knock on with one thing failing after another. It is a holistic system. Some were talking about it as a management issue, I see it as a unity issue. Moving from self interest to shared global commons as best interest. Leadership is not being seen to be, it is actually becoming responsible, in this way we are all leaders, the responsibility rests with all people on the planet to become informed. The issue of population is a key issue. Just note that if we look at consumption 1 developed country person consumes equivalent to 70 developing world persons. So consumption is a key issue. Therefore the issue of over consumption is the central issue that drives to the heart of our filling gaps that have been created, advertising enticing desires by marketing companies to compensate for the unhappiness generated by the way we organise society. Most people in my experience are not happy working. This is where the gap begins. They also are disempowered because organisational structures are not democratic, they are not asked their opinions or informed adequately to make informed decisions. Therefore if the community is not getting it, they are poorly educated and the media has mislead the public as Al Gore stated in an Inconvenient Truth. The misinformation was sponsored by corporations with a vested interest in business-as-usual. I found the information from China interesting particularly the protection of their resources yet the exploitation of others, that struck me as an environmental crime and not based on the notion of Comparative Advantage which is an economic principles that states countries provide what they are abundant in, as some countries don´t have it, the notion of trade is for those who do have to trade with those who don´t, roughly that is the idea. Corporate Social Responsibility is a metaphor for winning the hearts and minds so that you are able to gain influence over politicians to leverage what you want. In other words if China is employing 300,000 people in an African country it is hard for the government of that country to say no to resource extraction. I found it interesting how Kevin Rudd referred to China as our friends, it seems no-one wants to challenge the Chinese for fear of losing markets. I think real friends must be honest to each other. I remember interviewing a Falun Gong representative whose husband had been detained and killed. I might add that Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese practice not unlike Tai Chi aimed at improving health and peacefulness. Their philosophy is truth, compassion and tolerance. She said the Australian Foreign Minister Downer (during John Howard years) tried to legislate to ban Falun Gong protesting outside the Chinese Embassy in Canberra (see http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2005/s1389732.htm). I was shocked at the undermining of democracy and human rights in favour of relations with China and beyond that for trade. This is similar to the announcement of Clinton, which I never forgot, the decoupling of human rights from trade. My gut feeling was that this is a major problem for the people around the world. Also the serous human rights violations in China do not make it a country qualified for responsible leadership. Oppression and control is not leadership it is totalitarianism which says ´my way or the highway´. What if your way is wrong, then what? Listening deeply to diverse views particularly when they oppose you and encouraging civil empowerment is true leadership, being open to criticism and not censoring critics because of fear of loss of power. The power will remain when peoples grievances are heard and needs met and responded to. That is why many countries are starting to become more democratic, although we still have a long way to go. So money, power and dependency creates leverage and a playing field that is not level or equal or indeed distributing resources evenly. The question of leadership is centred on the principle of recoupling human rights to trade. Real leadership can see the problem without ignoring human rights. The trading system is supposed to serve human needs not repress their expression, that is politics and is a power issue in truth.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created out of World War II to try and lead the world to harmony, peace and security. Yet these values are not integrated which is the central problem, I feel.
The last thought on this piece is about the greatness of China. When I first started to awaken I found myself drawn to philosophy. It was the great philosopher Lao Tzu. Here is a taste of the Tao Te Ching one of the greatest books I have read and I feel a message to humanity.
A Tao that can be tao-ed is not lasting Tao.
A name that can be named is not lasting name.
Name-less — the beginning of Heaven and Earth.
Named — the mother of all things.
So, we must be always without desires to see the mystery:
If we always have desires we will see its limits:
These two are the same; once there is out-going, then there is difference of name.
As the same they are called obscure. The obscure of the obscure is the gate of all mysteries.
The Tao Te Ching praises self-gained knowledge with emphasis on that knowledge being gained with humility. When what one person has experienced is put into words and transmitted to others, so doing risks giving unwarranted status to what inevitably must have had a subjective tinge. Moreover, it will be subjected to another layer of interpretation and subjectivity when read and learned by others. This kind of knowledge (or “book learning”), like desire, should be diminished. “It was when intelligence and knowledge appeared that the Great Artifice began.” (chap. 18, tr. Waley) And so, “The pursuit of learning is to increase day after day. The pursuit of Tao is to decrease day after day.” (chap. 48, tr. W.T. Chan)
When we master our true nature then we realise we are one with the natural world and it is this truth that is sustainable.