Our expectation from Rio+20
NEXT month, heads of state, world leaders, academics, researchers, non-governmental organisations, activists and indigenous groups will gather in Brazil for the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development. Two decades after the Rio Earth summit, the first UN conference to address issues relating to development and the environment together, Rio+20 is billed as providing a ‘historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.’ But which paths should we be heading down, and which ones should we be avoiding?
Rio+20 has seven priority areas — decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness — covering the commonly held pillars of sustainable development (economic development, social development and environmental protection).
Why is sustainable development failing? Try asking those who feel the fallout. Two decades after the groundbreaking earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders will gather in June for the sequel: Rio+20. Establishing a set of sustainable development goals and bringing together the interests of fragile communities and fragile environments will be on the table. Food insecurity is a symptom of both dire poverty and overstretched ecosystems, and will doubtless be central. But how will fresh targets succeed in stemming hunger where sustainable development efforts — not least the millennium development goals — have hitherto failed?
Now from Mali to Mozambique, Cambodia to Kazakhstan, and Paraguay to Papua New Guinea are usually seeking out unfenced ‘customary’ land to grow grains, sugar, vegetable oils and bio-fuel for sale on the world’s booming commodity markets. This unprecedented corporate privatisation and enclosure of the world’s common lands — its pastures, fields and forests — is being done in the name of development. But much of it will destroy development and impoverish the poorest.
The second lesson is that accountability is the key. What are framed as development policies often end up doing very little to help the most marginalised communities, and sometimes end up harming them. Meanwhile, the effects of genuine development policies can easily be overridden by industrial and infrastructural projects, trade agreements, and other external factors that tip the balance against small-scale farmers and fishers. It is therefore essential to be able to cry foul when missing policies, misguided policies, or the sum total of policies, work against sustainable development.
All of we know that Bangladesh is the worst victim of climate change. Southern part of the country is becoming inundated day by day and farmers are losing their land. Apart from this, salinity intrusion is a great threat to the coastal belt agricultural sector. The marginal farmers who are only dependent on their farm land are severe victims in numerous ways like cray-fish cultivation by influential land owners.
Other part (northern side) of the country is drought-prone due to Farakka Barrage. If the Tipaimukh dam is built, north-eastern region will dry out and saline water will reach up to Feni, Faridpur.
Another problem is infrastructure development which does not maintain proper building code. As we are earthquake prone areas, buildings collapse will be another big problem.
The new sustainability goals must be calibrated to remedy the global, regional and local socio-environmental trends that lead to identified deficiencies in the people’s right to food, water, sanitation and development.
Md Mahiul Kadir
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