Friday, 28 September 2007

Uchita speaks at the "Sustainability of the Planet Conference" in Stockholm

Uchita de Zoysa of CED was invited to speak to a group of 108 experts from 36 different countries gathered in Stockholm, Sweden from 3-7th September 2007 to take part in the Sustainability of the Planet Program Conference 2007. The Conference is part of the Sustainability of the Planet Program’s role in acting as a catalyst, a project assessor, and a broker between projects and financiers. The aims are to mobilize global supply chain for a sustainable planet through the powerful objectives, namely to fight climate change and prevent pollution by efficient use of resources. This will be achieved by identifying and encouraging entreprenuers to develop projects for merging sustainable development with the operation of SMEs, and in assisting the projects to find funding.

Following is a summary of the presentation on “How to create synergies with the help of the SoP Program between key actors for a Global Program: The Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption & Production” by Uchita de Zoysa

UN Marrakech Process which is a response to the 2002 WSSD in Johannesburg and attempts to formulate a 10 year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) has been a slow to draw attention of global governments and stakeholders equally, Uchita de Zoysa explained. New additions of such as the cooperation dialogue and stakeholder panel discussion provides some hope for a greater dialogue within the process. He expressed the view that there is criticism that the Marrakech Process has limited itself to a smaller group of expert consultations leaving out a majority of governments and their stakeholders as much as the key UN processes that deals with issues directly relevant to SCP such as poverty eradication, climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation , etc.

Uchita presented the idea of a large and dynamic networking model with an emphasis on a Global Stakeholder Dialogue on SCP. The stakeholder model proposes to create an open/participatory mechanism for the Marrakech Process to dialogue and promote the true SCP objectives such as ensuring wellbeing of all, promoting happiness, eradicating poverty, enabling sufficiency economies, promoting green consumption, eco innovation, green procurement and sustainable markets, etc..

In the Marrakech process, the SoP could choose between the roles of being a parallel program; being part of the core of the Stakeholder Dialogue; and acting as a player from the outside. Uchita said he would prefer SoP to join the Global Stakeholder Dialogue immediately. Uchita believes that the SoP can play a critical role as a stakeholder and investor broker within the global stakeholder forum on SCP in its efforts toward unifying global sustainability efforts. In Uchita’s opinion SoP should take on an aggressive approach and place itself in the centre of the sustainability movements. People should be invited – not of convenience or friendships, but open to all who have something to contribute critically. The programmes do not have to be competitive, but can become effectively complimentary to each other in a wholistic programme.

Uchita suggested that SoP has the capacity to become a strong player on a global stakeholder dialogue, but that there must be a stop in discussing only within comfort groups. The globe is too small to remain within a single constituency and we all must meet together and dialogue for a better world, Uchita emphasized, adding that 80% of the people in the world are not represented, yet their future is being decided for them by a smaller group with power and money. He also underlined the fact that there are innovators with great ideas who do not get in touch with those with people with decades of experience of how to realise those great ideas practically, because of a lack of a processes of collective stakeholder dialogue.

Answering the question of “What are the Opportunities and obstacles being involved in sustainability projects?” Uchita proposed two scenarios for opportunities;

Fist scenario for opportunities are;
1. Global warming leads to climate change mitigation projects
2. More than half of humanity remaining on poverty conditions openness projects for poverty eradication
3. Deletion of natural resources and ecosystems presets project opportunities for biodiversity conservation
4. Scarcity of clean water brings opportunities to generate clean water supply projects
5. Desertification and non-productive agricultural land demand projects to develop new technologies and methods for food supply.

Second scenario for opportunities can be from a different view;
1. Resource scarcity calls for alternative sources such as renewable energy development projects
2. Emergence of strict legislation and regulations call for more corporate social responsibility projects
3. Imbalanced global opportunities and economies calls for different negotiations and power leverages such as in carbon emissions trading.

Uchita presented the following obstacles to being involved in sustainability projects;
1. Lack of a global agreement on how to produce and consume sustainably
2. Back tracking of the past forty years of global environmental agreements (eg: Agenda 21, Kyoto protocol, etc.)
3. Issue of corporate accountability being marginalized for corporate social responsibility as a white washing and image building exercise.
4. Global sustainability interests are different between the establishment and the people/peoples representatives
5. Good ideas often gets lost in lack of capacity, funds and support within the existing model of donor/investment interest and criteria
6. Lack of collective effort dilutes the “BIG” impact (eg; all the small projects needs to be linked together for a collective impact)

Uchita ended by proposing set of visionary challenges for sustainability projects;
1. Achieving quality of life and happiness for all
2. Reducing global ecological footprint
3. Poverty eradication (not merely halving poverty but eliminating it)
4. Creating sufficiency economies
5. Providing equal opportunities for sustainable consumption and production
6. Ensuring global commitments by government and other stakeholders are honoured.

Uchita completely rejected the notion that stakeholder interest low in contributing towards sustainability projects. In fact he argued that they are marginalized and not provided adequate opportunity for engagement in the global sustainability programmes. He pointed out that stakeholder participation has been continuously used by governments and international organizations to justify participatory process to funders and the constituencies, but in reality they only bring in organizations and individuals from stakeholders who they can build convenient and comfort zone partnerships. Uchita showed examples from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit days when he was steering committee member of he first Global Forum which resulted in the “Alternative Treaties on Environment and Development”. He proposed the creation of a dynamic stakeholder networking model called the “Global Stakeholder Dialogue” particularly for the Marrakech process on sustainable consumption and production. He stated that linier discussions amongst a small group in the world is totally unacceptable and fruitless, and if any process wishes to achieve sustainability of the planet they should essentially evolve on an equitable stakeholder participatory mechanism