As the final plenary session of the conference ends, some key issues emerged for us to contemplate on and incorporate in our everyday lives.
Power of the individual : Across academics and politicians, the general consensus is the need for not only systemic change but also transformative change. As Marilyn Mehlman says, there is a great need to face our fear of being one small entity in the society and doubt our potential as change agents. But we should think of ourselves as having the dexterity of a spoonful of yogurt has in transforming a bucket of milk to yogurt. It is time for us to bridge our differences and work as one planet. The planet is not just our’s but it belongs to our children and their children. Educating and empowering women becomes all the more important for women shape perspectives, construct values and contexts of our lives and give direction to future generations.
Power of governments and supranational organizations : What I see in the conference is the latent power that governments and supranational bodies have in transforming our planet. National governments should transcend national boundaries and national interests and build in their psyche that resources are not just for their development but to even have a future we need to protect, preserve and utilize them intelligently. Over the last hundred years we have seen an increase in resource use more so after the oil crisis of the 1970’s and though prices of resources have been growing steadily but not in the same level as labour prices. Therefore, if resource prices are raised then it might lead to high resource utilization.Policy should decide resource prices and not leave it to the whims and frailties of the market. The tax burden should be shifted from labour to resources for people to enjoy a better quality of life and at the same time preserve resources.
Road map for developing countries: Another issue which everyone seems to agree is the path of development which should be followed by developing countries. Developing countries have to follow a path of absolute decoupling,have small ecological footprints combined with high Human Development Index and at the same time upgrade their capacities to take care of themselves and not look at the developed world for help.
What I walk away with is a mixture of hope, skepticism and a promise. Hoping that this conference does not turn out to be one of the run of the mill conferences – all talk and no outcomes; hope that the future is not as bleak as it is going to be if we don’t change. But the skeptic in me questions the practicality of execution of the policy orientations and I can not imagine a world where countries are not driven by national interests. And I walk away with a promise that I will do my part!