2016 Annual Conference

Coherence in policies and actions for healthy ecosystems

Day 1: Conference Highlights

Key introductory remarks

Shri Ranjit Barthakur:

  • Recollection of the achievements of the Club of Rome (CoR) over the last two conferences, with the need to fill the government in on the CoR's outputs on policy congruence.
  • The need for the conference to address key emerging issues - food and water and their interlinkages - through a practical and workable approach.
  • This involves looking at the entire 'value-chain', starting right with basic education on nature.
  • Evolving an approach for the 'appreciation of nature' by combining all elements of natural resources together, citing the example of Netherland' Nature policy.
  • From the transition from industrialization to Artificial Intelligence, there is a need to make Science and Technology harmonized with nature, so that longevity of life can proceed simultaneously with longevity of natural resources.

Shri S. Ramadorai:

  • Need for inclusive growth where both the productivity of nature and the economy must be driven by our traditional respect for forests, plants and trees, water, land and soil.
  • Idea of forests deeply embedded in Indian civilisation, in Sanskrit texts and Ayurvedic tradition, with our ancients having insights into landscape ecology, which even pre-date Vedic times, going back to the cultural context of Tamil Nadu.
  • Scientists need to heed this knowledge and existing indigenous resources.

Dr. Ashok Khosla:

  • Envisioning an India where every citizen can live a healthy and fulfilling life.
  • Emphasis on Mahatma Gandhi's idea of 'Antyodaya' which looks at every last person.
  • Need to debate and partner in applying thinking to policy coherence required for safeguarding ecosystems.
  • Formulation of key messages that should be communicated to policy-makers.
  • Need to bridge the divide between ecological footprint and biocapacity.

Shri Anil Madhav Dave:

  • Raised the question about separation between land and soil.
  • Our approach to Nature is inbuilt in our DNA. We don't need to understand forestry from the world and its educational prescriptions, and adopt a Gandhian approach to sustainability.
  • We are independent, but not decolonized. We have the same colonial rules, laws and institutions governing the environment.
  • We must stop blaming the forest dwellers for the loss of forests. That capability rests with mafia and politicians.
  • Need to make regeneration of forests and soil a 'Jan Andolan' - a people's movement.

Sessions Highlights

Issues/challenges facing us:

  1. Consumption:
    • Planetary emergency due to an ecological overdraft, where our biocapacity has been transgressed.
    • Disposability instead of durability has become the nature of consumption today.
    • Consumption of pesticides and chemicals due to highly subsidized policy regime for them, and lower policy preference for organic farming.
    • Increasing demands to practices like monoculture due to clever cost-benefit analysis by the growers.
  2. Production:
    • We are following an extractive growth strategy instead of a re-cyclical one. Thus, in a linear production process, nothing comes back into the cycle, leading to waste.
    • We have a skewed pattern of development, which does not balance the social, economic and environmental aspects, and privileges capital over labour.
    • Green revolution technologies have had a destructive effect. Our soils have been entirely compromised.

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  3. Emergent norms or principles:
    • There can be no trade-offs between development and ecological sustainability.
    • There can be no future livelihoods without ecological sustainability.
    • There is a need for evocation of the earth as our Mother - and idea projected by India - who nurtures us, and, the need to recover relevant knowledge from ancient and indigenous sources.
    • Seeing the seed as a unit of infrastructure and as belonging to the land, and seeing the farmer as an architect.
    • Right to the seed and people's right to natural resources.
  4. Natural resource conservation:
    • Need to emphasize the value of a living tree versus a cut tree, since trees provide an all-round support system to us.
    • Conservation of natural resources should not be seen in isolation, but should be integrated with the imperative of equity.
    • Integrated soil and water management approach by restoring soil carbon through a carbon-shed approach instead of a watershed approach.
    • Principles of farming - crop protection, water, soil, habitat, quality and decent work.
    • Promote agro-forestry and utilise wastelands.
    • Conservation of forests not in isolation not in isolation; involves the agricultural community as well.
  5. Policy perspectives:
    • Policy congruence and convergence needed for optimization for food and natural resources, and overcome policy silos.
    • We need alternative, inexpensive policies with better Return on Investment.
    • Current accounting techniques for forests sometimes lead to incorrect data.
    • Organic farming was a recurrent theme. It deserves much more policy attention.
    • Design new approaches to promote restoration of soil health.
    • Failure of forestry policies and subversion of National Forest Policy; missing gaps in geo-climatic variations in the latter.
    • Political problems with compensatory afforestation and conflict in North-east states, which overshadows development work.
    • Goods and services should reflect the real cost and give choice to consumers.
    • Encourage local management strategies, and local and youth leadership.
    • Agriculture extension workers needed to bridge the gap between farmers and scientists.
  6. Business and environment:
    • There is a need to look at conservation projects not as an act of charity, but as a sustainable business model benefitting people, nature and species.
    • Align IPR policies to reduce the overarching preference for MNCs who patent indigenous seed varieties.
    • Harmonizing a regime of financial schemes in giving payoffs for financial instruments and investing the return in nature conservation and a part of it in paying the investors.
    • Need to have interest-free loans for green economy, and not brown economy.

Day 2: Conference Highlights

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