Comfort in Foolishness
By Farah Theodore
There is a crisis in the world that is worse than any pandemic or natural disaster though it has led to our current era of Anthropocene. It is the global deficiency in the ability to reason. Mankind has been considered a higher being yet the masses have continually demonstrated a gullibility that is reckless and dangerous to other life on the planet. Many are bewitched by eloquent speeches, crafty agreements that are as strong as a paper tiger and tear jerking poems yet promises are not enough to evolve into a sustainable future. 2020 ended as another decade of failure to protect the environment. It is lamentable that the 2010 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed to in Japan were not fulfilled by 2020. In other news, thanks to Mexico and Argentina the Escazú Agreement will finally enter into force on the most appropriate day 22 April 2021 - International Mother Earth Day.
Funny how many influential heads claim that we are the first generation to have the responsibility to address climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, etc thrust upon us. This is misleading for wiser minds have reasoned that "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children". This Native American proverb isn't recent and spotlights the value of indigenous culture, and how pivotal it is to empower our indigenous peoples whose lifestyle can teach us how to better interact and relate to nature. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "what we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another…".
The time has arrived where sugar-coated rhetoric and greenwashing will be exposed. A fundamental aspect of sustainability is making life economically viable. There is a shift towards sustainable financing where asset management corporations, investors, insurance companies, bankers etc NOW acknowledge that 'climate risk is investment risk'. The Strategic Investors Initiative, Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, Global Futures Initiative, the Climate Finance Partnership, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures are all indicative of attempts to write the wrongs (or at least attempt to) of the oligarchic nature of capitalism and imperialism of more developed nations. The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is an organisation that works to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision-making. Sounds good? Considering it was created by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2005 and the principles launched in 2006 at the New York Stock Exchange. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink recently wrote, '…one of the most important questions we will face is the scale and scope of government action on climate change, which will generally define the speed with which we move to a low-carbon economy. This challenge cannot be solved without a coordinated international response from governments, aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement'.
Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) Inger Andersen succinctly stated, "There is no vaccine for climate change". Her comment is timely as the coronavirus pandemic has spotlighted the collective hypocrisy and duplicitous nature of governing bodies who have continually kicked-the-can down the road where sustainable development, climate and environmental issues matter yet there's a no holds barred approach to the pandemic that is a major cash-cow of big pharma. Such display of ingenuity, decisiveness and collaboration across borders where significant pledges of financial commitments are made, can only arouse disappointment for the exact opposite for Nature. It should be known, noted and meditated on that pandemics WILL persist relative to the degree of biodiversity loss generated. UNLESS and UNTIL we make Nature a priority it will all be in vain. Andersen stated further that, "human health and prosperity depends on nature" and "nature has to enter financial and economic decision-making".
The intergenerational responsibility that underpins sustainable development is undermined by the manner in which young voices are snuffed out of the political arena. At present the persecution of Uganda's Bobi Wine is infuriating in a nation where an estimated 75% are under the age of 30 making it the one of the most youthful nations on earth, and old heads are abdicating their duty to their people and country by using force to silence the youth - it's own future. This mirrors the global practice of unadulterated greed that left to its own devises will be the ruination of all. The universe groans in dispiritedness. How on earth can some men claim to be human when they exist void of humanity and love!
At this juncture it is imperative that we empower ourselves with knowledge, there's enough information out there and implore governing bodies to honour agreements signed on our behalf and facilitate access to justice, information and participation in decision-making. We live here too. The earth is our shared home. After all, "plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man" - Stewart Udall.