FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

To Johannesburg in Search of Hope

We are in the last stages of preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September this year. Four PrepComs (or preparatory meetings) have examined the critical issues facing the earth and humanity and plans are being prepared to make the earth sustainable. It however became clear at the last Prepcom in Bali, Indonesia, that the ‘stakeholders’, especially from the corporate world would hijack the Summit’s Agenda but for the NGOs and people everywhere protesting against what is now being termed as the ‘corporatisation of the Earth Summit’. Despite the enormous logistics involved in organizing the Summit in which nearly 70,000 people are expected to participate, the outcome depends on how people, governments and the UN will implement the Johannesburg Declaration or the plan of action if its fate is not to be that of the Rio Summit. Our participation in the WSSD is for creating hope.

The new millennium was heralded with love and joy as if the world was in euphoria. But soon as the first year waned, shock and gloom set in worldwide. Following the collapse of the World Trade Centre Towers and the attack on the Pentagon in the United States on 11 September 2001, a historic turn of events happened in the world. The United States, a gargantuan military power with enormous wealth, took over the affairs of the world as an imperial power and all the other 189 member-states of the United Nations submitted to it as vassals. We are going to Johannesburg in the light of a transformed world in which many decisions will be influenced by the new rules of law.

At the ECOSOC meeting during the first week of July, governments emphasized poverty as the central crisis of the human society–1.3 billion people living at the edge of survival–all in the South. It was recognized that the situation is worsening. Then, what about the AIDS epidemic (affecting 40 million people), T. B., Malaria and the curse of illiteracy–one out of six not knowing how to read and write?

Among the environmental issues, increasing greenhouse gasses and resulting climate-change are wreaking havoc in the form of floods and droughts in Africa and Asia, besides about 30 new diseases developed during the last 15 years. Almost 40% of the people in the developing world are victims of insufficient and contaminated water.

Our bag of crises is overflowing–we have 80 million additional people to accommodate annually and 840 million people going to bed hungry everyday. We are not even speaking about the menacing problems of arms, armaments, conflicts and wars consuming more than $800 billion every year in a world deprived of even basic resources.

In India, one out of four people do not have access to safe and clean water and 90% of water sources are polluted. By 2010 a majority of the people will be living on less than 10 gallons per day per person. According to TOE (The Other Economy ), 20% of the elite of India consume 73% of the resources of the country. This is devastating, criminal and not acceptable.

It is in this context that we are going to South Africa with the aim, of challenging the gloomy prophesy that the earth as a living system may collapse within the next few decades unless we take global actions at every level to bring in sustainable development. Our ultimate goal is to bring conservation as a fundamental principle of human living. Water development should be a global priority–protection of ground waters, surface waters, rivers and more.

India does not need more cars; it needs better bullock carts and public transport in rural areas. Mumbai does not need flyovers; it needs improved train and mass public transport systems. For reduction and elimination of poverty, people at the local level should organize to develop agriculture, cottage industries and rural development plan, as we are doing in Dahanu area. We are building eco-villages, in which people grow organic agriculture, protect water resources, plant trees and challenge MNCs. That is the future of India since 700 million people live in rural areas.

The World Bank estimates that an additional $35 to $60 billion is required to reduce poverty to half by 2015. Where will these resources come from? Poverty is the root of many human crises. We must demand that the criminal waste of resources in the warfare system be directed for feeding, providing health-care and education to the people. NGOs and grass-root workers must demand governments to develop a global machinery to resolve international conflicts under the United Nations and bring in global disarmament.

The goals of the UN Millennium Declaration are modest. They should be integrated with the sustainable plans of the WSSD according to the needs, hopes and aspirations of 6.1 billion people. We cannot allow corporations, which control vast amount of wealth, as well as governments to manipulate global finances unethically for their personal enrichment and gains. People of the world do not need a plethora of statistics or profound theories in order to make a difference–assure their survival and improve their quality of life. Our struggle shall continue until we reconstruct a world of equity, global rule of law and sustainability. Rashmi Mayur, Ph. D. is President, Global Futures Network and Director of the International Institute for Sustainable Future. Rashmi may be reached at: rmayur@iisfb.org

New Print Edition of CounterPunch Available Exclusively to Subscribers:

War Talk As White Noise: Anything to Get Harken and Halliburton Out of the Headlines; First Hilliard, Then McKinney: Jewish Groups Target Blacks Brave Enough to Talk About Justice in the Middle East; Intimidation is the Name of the Game; Smearing “Insane” McKinney As Muslims’ Pawn; The Missing Terrorist? Calling Scotland Yard: “Where’s Atif?” They Never Booed Dylan!: Tape Transcript Shows Famed Newport Folkfest Dissing of Electric Dylan Not True. The Catcalls were for Peter Yarrow! New Shame from the Liffey Shrike

Remember, the CounterPunch website is supported exclusively by subscribers to our newsletter. If you find our site useful please: Subscribe Now! Or Call Toll Free 1-800-840-3683

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail