Time to alter global mindset towards resources

A congregation of top global leaders, thinkers and policy makers will converge in India this week at the DSDS to delve on how to reduce the impact of businesses on environment.

D Sen/OneWorld South Asia

New Delhi: The greed for more is all pervasive. Any business project that begins today is meant to eventually evolve into a global scale. The ‘economies of scale’ approach no doubt results in producing a product at a low cost. This economic wisdom, however, imposes a severe cost on the environment cutting across geographical borders. In the long run though, the burden would be too heavy for humanity. Unfortunately this mindset runs across most countries and societies, barring a few.

The congregation of top leaders, thinkers and policy makers, who will converge in India for the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit from around the globe will delve on this aspect and share information in an effort to deploy new models of sustainable development.

There is no denying that there is an urgent need for such a shift. Not just in India, but across the world. Entrepreneurs and business houses never really discuss beyond a project’s cost and the anticipated profit. The results of such an attitude are staring in everyone’s face. As the industry expands capacity of its manufacturing units, it requires more land, new machinery and a bigger workforce. The consumption of energy also goes up. The new demands are met by acquiring more land—often by destroying virgin forests and fertile agriculture lands. Emissions of greenhouse gases do their bit in raising global temperature. Together, it disrupts the fragile ecosystem, resulting into either too much or too less of rain; too cold or too warm weather. The production of food drops and eventually, the population living on the margin bear the brunt of reckless industrialisation.

The depletion of forests and agriculture land causes severe strain on food supply. The hidden costs, in many cases, are incalculable.

The production of food, therefore, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Says Vibha Dhawan, Executive Director, Biotechnology & Bioresources, TERI: "Food security has always been a challenge for us and even today 40% of the Indian children remain chronically malnourished. In some areas, the hunger related statistics are even more startling, for instance in Madhya Pradesh, two-thirds of children under five years are malnourished, a rate higher than most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. In recent years, per capita food availability has declined in the region. For example, in 2008, India produced 436 grams of food grains per person per day, a drop from 445.3 in 2006."

Our current style of living on this planet is causing immense harm to soil, water and air, the ill effects of which go beyond the geographical boundary of one nation. The DSDS can, therefore, highlight the lessons from the past to serve as a guide to the future. Climate change has proven that isolated efforts by a few individuals, or for that matter even a few countries, wouldn’t work. It has to be a chorus. The DSDS 2012, which has the power to bring together leaders from across the globe to deliberate towards preserving the global commons, can be that chorus and remedy the current situation. It can be the platform that can aid leaders to find ways of creating a new common approach to protect the global commons.

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