Tichafa Makovere Shumba, Zimbabwean permaculture trainer, living in Ethiopia.
Visions of sustainability
22 June 2012
This year NERC co-hosted a major conference, Planet Under Pressure, which brought together more than 3000 delegates from around the world to discuss the big environmental issues facing our planet.
Three sessions in particular called for a new approach. Bridging the worlds of science, the arts, politics, business, faith and the global South, the BRAVE collaboration challenged participants within and beyond the conference to develop a shared global vision of sustainability and come up with some big ideas for achieving it.
NERC is one of six partners in the BRAVE collaboration - Big Radical Approaches towards a Vision for the Earth. In the first of three debates chaired by the BBC's Quentin Cooper, BRAVE presented interviews with people at the sharp end of unsustainable development. They were asked for their visions of a sustainable world.
Responses to the film were recorded at the conference to be sent to the interviewees, the local film-makers and their communities, to begin a dialogue about the issues they had raised.
This short selection of quotes, abridged from the interviews, gives a flavour of the passion and responsibility felt by people whose voices are not often heard.
Liyu, member of the Ethiopian National Youth Coalition on Climate Change and a British Council climate champion
Liyu, member of the Ethiopian National Youth Coalition on Climate Change and British Council climate champion.
"It is the responsibility of me and everyone to think of the future children. If everyone is taking their own responsibilities it will bring the solution for everybody. Everyone should take an action at this moment of time so that there will be a green hope in the future and a positive hope for tomorrow. In our places people are not even aware of what climate change means. I'm creating awareness so that people will know what is happening, so that they will take action.
I have a message to tell to everyone: whenever we do something for ourselves, think of others which would be affected by your actions. That's my message. Whenever we are getting richer and richer, the poor are getting poorer and poorer."
Tatek Kebede, national coordinator, Ethiopian National Youth Coalition on Climate Change, Addis Ababa and a British Council climate champion
"The very concept of sustainability has inherent complexity. It says you have to feed the current generation without compromising the needs of the coming generation: how? Within an already unjust system, how could you ask people to care for the coming generation when they are living dehumanized, less than what their human dignity requires?
I have a message for the rest of the world, especially for those living in the West, the North, those with good living standards; to make our world a better place for all of us they must also stand in solidarity with the poor without any kind of discrimination.
So if you have the skills, please share it; if you have the knowledge please, again, share it; if you have the resources, of course please share it."
Iasaid Khonjee, teacher in Cherapunjee, India.
Iasaid Khonjee, teacher in Cherapunjee, India, and president of a local NGO giving support to the indigenous Khasi population
"Nowadays we talk so much - start something! Do something concrete. We, the Khasis, have a very strong point from where we can start, our culture is progressive. We do not say what comes from the other parts of the world is bad; no, we look into our own self. Our forefathers gave respect to all the existence of nature - every atom of their being is involved in the earth. Can we the Khasis look back into our own history? Have the courage? Can we afford to be honest, eat honest beef, eat honest pork? These are the things that will give answer to many, many problems.
The trees, they grow in their own way. The birds go their own way from the beginning of the universe. The rivers, they keep on flowing, they follow their own way. We humans, we never follow our own ways."
Bibiana Ranee, farmer and community leader, Nongtraw, India
"The people do not understand much about the value of food, about the food we grow in our own places. According to me, we should try to be independent of food coming from other states.
My personal attempt is to help others understand - the women, the youth, the young ladies. For this reason I try to clean my surroundings and not cut the trees in the compound. We strive to conserve the trees around us and conserve the richness of the soil which comes from these trees themselves.
Especially in this generation people cut ten trees but never produce even a single tree. This is the news I want to give to others: that if they cut one tree they should plant ten new trees."
Wansalan Passam, project coordinator at Meghalaya Rural Development Society, India
"People are chasing after wealth instead of having just enough. As human beings we depend to a great extent on something which life offers freely, like mutual support, affection, generosity - I think that is something we should pay attention to."
Lubna Seal, researcher in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a British Council climate champion.
Lubna Seal, researcher in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a British Council climate champion
"More funds are allocated for issues like climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation or green technology, but we hardly focus on the population-growth issue.
Population control should be the prior goal to start any kind of development activity. If you have a small number of family you can give them proper education, proper food, proper health, everything. But the problem is that most of the illiterate people and people who are living in the rural areas or the very hard to reach, they don't have the knowledge that they should maintain a small family.
So first comes population control, then you control your consumption, then you can lessen the dependency on resources and you will generate less waste."
Dudu Khumalo, community activist, Mzinyath, Durban, South Africa
"We have to unite so that we can save our planet. The obstacles are the money, and the capitalism. The capitalists become very greedy, they want to put money in their own pockets, they don't want to put money where the money is needed. We are not saying give the money to the people - but give the good quality service to the people. If you have had a chance of being educated and have more skills, you have to use that to educate other people as well. Those who have more must share something with those other people. And if we don't share the resources of this world we are not going anywhere."
Tichafa Makovere Shumba, Zimbabwean permaculture trainer, living in Ethiopia
"I believe in the principles of permaculture where we share surplus - surplus knowledge that helps us to care for the people, that also helps us to care for the land. This should be quite free to anybody.
We don't need to spoon feed the people, we don't need to bring gifts to the people. My belief is that care for the people is actually teaching them how to produce their own food; they should be taught how to make their living comfortable by themselves.
We have conferences, yes, but do we really involve community leaders? There are people who are really respected by the grassroots people; these are the people who can help us take action. It is not us in the offices, us in the universities, who will bring change."
Bah Priak Riahtam, teacher and secretary of an NGO for the development of the Khasi people in Meghalaya, India.
"My view of the world as it should be, it should be the green, young, energetic Mother Earth. When we talk of the world it is not the world of one or two individuals but it is a wide and a vast world. It does not mean that in only our place we should make the hills green. In this mission, all must be involved."
BRAVE collaboration partners are: UK Collaborative on Development Sciences, NERC, InsightShare, Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Council and CAFOD.
The main film and some of the interviews are available on BRAVE collaboration's website
There are no keywords associated with this story.
Interesting? Spread the word using the 'share' menu on the top right.