We all must care for our home
We all must care for our home

By Farah Theodore

Sustainable development is the catch all phrase these days when one aims to address the issue of climate change.

What exactly does it mean?

The concept of sustainable economic development is used as a means of exploring the interface between environmental economics, human ecology, and ethics. (R. Kelly Turner, David W. Pearce The ethical foundations of sustainable economic development March 1990)

The most frequently quoted definition is from 'Our Common Future', also known as the Brundtland report:

'Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'

It is only in the past 40 years that the environment (local to global) became a key focus of national and international institutions. As you all know, we have recently celebrated our 40th year of political independence and during a similar period we have lost 60% of our global wildlife population.

At this moment, COP 24 being the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties is taking place at the International Congress Centre at Katowice, Poland from December 3-15. I have been informed that Mr. Lloyd Pascal and Mr. Edgar Hunter will be representing Dominica.

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, The Katowice Climate Change Conference will include the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC(United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and the third part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1-3).

The conference will also include the 49th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), and the seventh part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-7). The conference is expected to finalize the rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change under the Paris Agreement work programme (PAWP). It will also include many high-level events, mandated events, action events and roundtables.

High-level events that will convene during the conference include: a High-level Global Climate Action Event on 4 December; a high-level part of the stocktake on pre-2020 implementation and ambition on 10 December; the third biennial Ministerial High-level Dialogue on Climate Finance under the theme, 'Translating Climate Finance Needs into Action,' on 10 December; and the political phase of the Talanoa Dialogue, with the opening of the dialogue and ministerial roundtables to be held on 11 December.

Other mandated events that will take place in Katowice include: the sixth facilitative sharing of views (FSV) under the international consultation and analysis (ICA) process; multilateral assessment working group session under the international assessment and review process; review of the work of the improved forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures; a workshop on the Koronivia joint work on agriculture; and the Nairobi work programme (NWP) Focal Point Forum on the theme of 'Economic Diversification.'

In addition, action events on human settlements, industry, transport, water, oceans and coastal zones, energy, and land use will convene. Roundtables will be held on:

 finance and climate action;

 SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and climate;

 SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and climate;

 resilience and climate action;

 land use, water and energy;

 oceans and coastal zones and transport; and

 SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and climate.

Other events will meet on, inter alia: intergenerational inquiry; the fashion industry charter for climate action; sports for climate action; and climate action and tourism. A high-level event on education and the Momentum for Change award ceremony will also take place. In addition to this on November 14th and 15th a United Nations Biodiversity Conference was held in Egypt where the Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration: Investing in Biodiversity for people and planet was signed.

It was reaffirmed that biodiversity and ecosystems are the fundamental infrastructure that supports all forms of life on Earth. They are essential not only for the provision of all natural services, but also for underpinning economic growth and sustainable development.

In Egypt, the commitment was reaffirmed to:

Work at all levels within our governments and across all sectors to mainstream biodiversity, establishing effective institutional, legislative, and regulatory frameworks, tailored to national needs and circumstances, and incorporating an inclusive and transformative economic, social, and cultural approach with full respect for nature and human rights, through the following actions:

Ensure that the multiple values of biodiversity are well integrated in legislative and policy frameworks, development and finance plans and policy processes at all levels;

Apply best practices for timely strategic environmental assessments, and environment impact assessments, including fully utilizing guidance adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, to report on measures taken to avoid or minimize impacts on biodiversity by specific economic sectors, including energy and mining, infrastructure and manufacturing and processing, as well as health, and to improve practices and contribute to ecosystem restoration and sustainability;

Utilize upstream planning tools, such as integrated spatial planning, to consider all available options for achieving sectoral needs, while avoiding or minimizing impacts on biodiversity;

Expand dialogue and exchange experiences and best practices among all actors involved in infrastructure development, particularly urban expansion, to enhance thematic and sectoral cooperation between cities and regions, and to mainstream the principles of healthy cities in urban planning, management, decision making and development; Mainstream biodiversity and health linkages into policies, plans and strategies in line with the objectives for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and regional and national development agendas;

Develop policy and legislative frameworks to create financial and non-financial incentives, including inter alia with regard to public procurement procedures and law enforcement, aimed at mainstreaming biodiversity in development sectors, consistent with international obligations;

Strengthen the development and application of nature-based approaches to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation, while simultaneously contributing to biodiversity objectives;

Urge the business sector, financial institutions and other stakeholders to apply the above actions, as appropriate, and increase and improve best standards and practices for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and use social and environmental safeguards in decisions concerning sustainability measures and investments.

The first ever international conference on the human environment held in Sweden in 1972 where the Stockholm convention was created which was the blueprint that led to RIO 1992 and present day sustainable development goals.

Since Stockholm, we have had many other international meetings notably:

1980 – World conservation strategy of the international union for the conservation of nature

1982 – World commission on Environment and Development was initiated by the General Assembly of the UN – its report…

1987 – Our Common Future report published. It was chaired by the the PM of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland thus earning the name the 'Brundtland Commission' 1992 – UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro a.k.a. Earth Summit issued a declaration of principles, a detailed Agenda 21 of desired actions, international agreements on climate change and bio-diversity and a statement of principles on forests

2000-Millennium development goals

2002 – World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg South Africa. The commitment to sustainable development was reaffirmed.

2005 – Kyoto Protocol comes into force legally binding developed country parties to goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions and establishing the Clean Development Mechanism for developing countries. Emissions reductions obligations expire at the end of 2012.

2007 – Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer. Parties agree to an accelerated phase out schedule for hydrochloroflucarbons HCFCs

2009 – G20 Pittsburgh Summit and Copenhagen climate negotiations

2012 - Rio +20 – 50 years after Silent Spring, 40 years after Stockholm and 20 years after the Earth Summit, the global community reconvenes in an effort to secure agreement on "greening" world economies through a range of smart measures for clean energy, decent jobs and more sustainable and fair use of resources

2015 -sustainable development goals (SDGs)

The "National Resilience Development Strategy Dominica 2030", states that, '[t]his national resilience development strategy 2019-2030 provides an opportune time to mainstream these SDG indicators in national and subnational development frameworks…this new approach to growth which we call a "climate-resilient and sustainable" development approach seeks to respond to climate change in a comprehensive manner, cutting across all sectors and addressing issues of mitigation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustainable development particularly after the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017.(note the national strategy timeframe is 2019-2030).

For clarity,

The 2015 Paris Agreement which is the focal point of this COP 24, states the following points:

The parties to the agreement:

Emphasizing the intrinsic relationship that climate change actions, responses and impacts have with equitable access to sustainable development and eradication of poverty

Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change

Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities

Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities, and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.

Recognizing the importance of conservation and enhancement, as appropriate of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases referred to in the convention

Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity, recognised by some cultures as Mother Earth and noting the importance for some of the concept of 'climate justice' when taking action to address climate change

Affirming the importance of education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and cooperation at all levels on the matters addressed in their agreement

Recognizing the importance of the engagements of all levels of government and various actors, in accordance with respective national legislations of parties, in addressing climate change;

Also recognizing that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production, with developed country parties taking the lead, play an important role in addressing climate change.

At the heart of the Paris Agreement is a commitment by countries to submit nationally determined contributions, setting out their national targets for reducing greenhouse gases and – in some cases – plans for adapting to climate changes.

In case you're wondering Dominica ratified the Paris Agreement on 21 September 2016. Dominica News Online article dated 22 September 2016 noted, 'the next critical step is to ensure that financing is predictable and accessible to small island developing states like Dominica to build resilience and adapt to the impact of climate change.'

It can be deduced that the idea of resilience was hovering over Dominica before Maria.

In an article published by the World bank group on 29 November 2018 – "According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the window to limit global warming to a below 2° pathway is fast closing."

It is unquestionably vital that in our quest to attain the SDGs that a basic determinant will be the quality of governance at all levels, from local to global, and in the private sector as well as gov't.

In addition, an article entitled: from MDGs to SDGs in 2012, Professor Jeffery D Sachs made suggestions as to what the key SDGs should be and this is one of them,

'Governments at all levels will corporate to promote sustainable development worldwide. This target includes a commitment to the rule of law, human rights, transparency, participation, inclusion, and sound economic institutions that support the private, public and civil society sectors in a productive and balanced manner. Power is held in trust to the people, not as a privilege of the state. Governments represent not only today's generation, but also those to come'

He stated further, that 'sustainability requires the leadership and responsibility of the private sector alongside the public sector and civil society. The private sector is the main productive sector of the world economy, and the holder of much of the advanced technologies and management systems that will be crucial for success of the SGDs. Private sector companies should also support the SGDs in practical and measurable ways, in their policies, production processes, and engagement with stakeholders. They should refrain from lobbying and political activities that might endanger the SDGs'

According to professor Sachs, 'the pathways to sustainable development will not be identified through a top-down approach, but through a highly energised era of networked problem solving that engages the world's universities, businesses, NGOs, govt's and especially young people, who should become experts and leaders of a new and profoundly challenging era.

Six years later in December 2018 this suggestion is echoed by Michael Møller, director-general, U.N. Geneva office in an interview with Paula Dupraz-Dobias an award-winning reporter and documentary producer based in Geneva published on 4 December 2018 on the website www.devex.com; insists that multilateralism is all the more vital.

"There isn't a single one of these [global] problems that can be solved by a single actor," he said. "We have to do it together; otherwise, we shall all die together."

"We have to return to a rules-based world with ethics and moral codes that we can agree to. They do not have to be those that were agreed upon 70 years ago, because the world is changing, and we have to change with it."

Here in the presumed Nature Isle and to a global extent, the greatest threat to our shared home, Earth is apathy. It is vital that we acknowledge that each and every one of us has a role and actually are playing a role be it either positive or negative, in affecting our environment. In order for this to be successful, as aforementioned, sharing of knowledge and brainstorming is imperative to tap into our creative and innovative juices. There is no room for primitive small mindedness where there is a resistance to change or alternate ideas. In the words of Haile Selassie,

"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."

We are the generation that holds the balance literally and determine whether the earth will be irrevocably destroyed or salvaged. It is the first time in the known history of the world that the activities of man is causing such a shift not only in climatic conditions but everywhere. There isn't a place on this earth that isn't affected by the indiscriminate, exploitative, and reckless activities of man.

When is enough, enough? Mother Nature has given and is giving all that she can and the evil of man keeps taking and taking in never-ending abuse…the cycle of abuse has to STOP and STOP NOW!

The time is here to give back to nature and give her a chance to thrive again in the name of love.

Look into the mirror and search within…it is the hour to evaluate how you love in regard to the quality of the relationship you have with yourself, your fellow man, the environment and the Almighty.

"We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit larger in outlook.We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community"

-Halie Selassie I, Former Emperor of Ethiopia.

Go Green in 2019 by walking in love.

One Earth, One People, One Love.