Converging to save the planet
(from S.Ananthanarayanan, 23rd Oct 2014)

Govt, civil society, business and science need to play by their own strengths, says Adil Najam, Pakistani economist and writer from Boston University, while speaking at the Congress on Sustainability science at Copenhagen on 23rd Oct 2014, the second day of the three-day conclave to decide urgent world reaction to environment degradation. the Congress is organised by the International Alliance of Research Universities, a regrouping of fifty major universities worldwide and the opening session saw the prime minster of Denmark and the EU Commissioner for Climate Change speaking of the priorities that the EU was about to formalize at Brussels on the next day.

The focus of the congress is on the role and need for scientists to communicate with society and politicians and for science, business, society and government to work together. Peter Bakker, President of World Business Council for Sustainable Development , a group of 204 thinking business conglomerates, said in the opening plenary session that responsible business interests were now acting to promote a economic market for sustainable , and waste free products. Business is now aware that there could be no business success in a failed society, Bakker said. WBCSD, under the programme of Action 2020, has set the agenda for business action till 2020 and beyond.

Market forces become effective if the carbon footprint of a product were marked on products, this would allow buyers to choose sustainable production methods – in the way that declaring calorie content has regulated foodstuffs, Bakker said. Businesses could otherwise market sustainable products and could also use their command of advertising to rapidly change market preferences, Bakker said.

On 23 Oct, Adim Najam, Boston University economics thinker and writer from Pakistan said that If planet earth were considered as a country, using the standards used by lending agencies or visa authorities, this would classify county earth as poor, divided, degraded, insecure and misgoverned. The earth is thus a ‘3rd world planet’ but the solutions to its problems are planned as if it were from the first world, he said.

The images used to speak of climate change need to reflect the realities in the 3rd world, which would need to adapt to global warming, Najam said, while displaying an image of the area in Pakistan was inundated in the major flood event of 2010. The outline of the area affected, when placed on a map of USA or Europe, dramatically covered the distance from New York to Florida and from Denmark to Spain.

It is not more science that we need, the problem is already well enough known, he said. What we need is to recognize specific impact on large numbers of people. The failure is one of policy he said. The government should not abdicate its role of regulation and business could stick to making profits, which is the heart of the market, he said. But the world now has the scientific and economic ability to deal with the challenge and govt, business and society need to work as partners, he said.

Over 700 delegates from 56 countries are spending the three days to define priorities which may be used by nations while arriving at international agreements to combat or adapt to climate change, during 2015.

"Ebola cannot be stopped by checks at airports. When I move from the US to Canada, I need a visa . But the emissions from my car do not." - Adil Najam