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environment and sustainable development report - may 2017

Dr Anne Morris, Chair of ICJW's Environment & Sustainable Development Committee, reports on recent environmental news and campaigns.

The news is increasingly full of environmental disasters and concerns about climate change on the one hand, and catastrophic inaction from many governments on the other. In a world fast approaching environmental disaster, the main hope comes from the growing global movements of people who, in their numbers and commitment, are creating the main obstacle to the might of multi-nationals promoting fossil fuels and land clearing, and the governments they influence.

As I regularly state as Chair of this portfolio, perhaps our only hope to mitigate environmental disaster (and the massive geopolitical disruption that will result) is to take power into our own hands through joining these grassroots people’s movements. Please encourage your communities to do this!

One of these is the divestment movement for which our committee has strongly advocated. This involves taking one’s personal, business and community funds out of financial institutions that invest in fossil-fuels and putting them into banks that invest in sustainable practices. The divestment movement has become a strong, global movement that is having a major impact on the fossil fuel industry and it is still growing.

We can also influence matters by supporting local smallholders in agriculture – those producers who use sustainable practices instead of depleting our natural resources through toxic substances. These farms also provide more nutritious diets for all, and jobs for their communities. This is in contrast to the global industrial food system which uses monocropping (destroying biodiversity), genetically modified seeds (also destroying biodiversity and crop resilience) pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, and factory farming of animals, all of which degrade soil, water and other vital natural resources (bees and birds are amongst these). Farmers’ markets and other community markets allow us to buy from local producers. Please encourage your communities to become involved with these.

It is clear that taking action on the environment involves responsible and ethical behavior, and requires more awareness and a preparedness to become one of the players. Real environmental action involves cooperative, peace-based, socially just and locally responsive solutions. As well as creating a less toxic and more sustainable world, it also creates good will and local sustainable cultures and communities. None of us can afford to be bystanders any longer – we all need to take responsible action.