Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Out of calamity, conservation

M.S. Swaminathan, UNESCO chair in ecotechnology, suggests that the rich world and the poor world need different strategies to preserve biodiversity

Dr. Swaminatan writes in The World in 2007 (a publication of The Economist):
In September I chaired a meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome to identify ways to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015. The group was asked how the pace could be accelerated, since a 2005 review showed that progress was poor in most developing countries. Almost all members felt that the greatest threats to food security in the future come, first, from climate change (potential adverse changes in temperature, rainfall and sea level) and, second, from biodiversity loss. I was impressed with the consensus on this question among a diverse group, including a farmer from Senegal, leaders of Oxfam and other non-governmental organisations, agricultural scientists and food-security specialists. The suggested ways forward ranged from faithful implementation of the Kyoto protocol to acting on the provisions of biodiversity, climate and desertification conventions.

Let me describe what I consider to be a way out of the enigma of awareness leading not to action, but to indifference. Speaking on “Agriculture in Our Spaceship Earth” in 1973, I proposed a twin strategy to deal with the growing damage to our life-support systems. These were “do ecology” for developing countries, and “don’t ecology” for industrialised countries. The first revolves around activities which will generate an economic stake in conservation and will help to reduce poverty. The “don’t ecology”, by contrast, largely relates to regulations and restrictions in areas such as carbon emissions and the unsustainable consumption of natural resources. Two recent examples of “do ecology” show its great potential.

No comments: