Development crisis: Humans as solutions

Why is America pulling out of the Paris agreement? It’s because of fear that they are losing jobs and economy   and the Trump administration is fueled by greed and an indifference to the impact of oil and gas upon our shared planet

The global leaders, finally on October 5, 2016, endorsed the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The Paris Agreement builds upon the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and — for the first time — brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. The world was excited thereafter until the United States of America, under President Donald Trump’s administration, decided to pull out itself from the Paris Agreement earlier this year.

Meanwhile, in the autumn of 2016, the world’s governments came together to agree on 17 ambitious sustainable development goals, which promised to overcome a vast array of problems — from poverty and hunger to health and gender equality — by 2030. But if history is a guide and a similar path is followed, these goals may be overly ambitious. An earlier set of Millennium Development Goals included one on education and stated that by 2015 all boys and girls should complete a full course of primary education. Yet fifteen years after 164 countries agreed to work towards education for all, just one-third achieved the six goals set.

Climate change, poverty, hunger, water-shortages, lack of education, lack of health-care, gender inequity, human rights violations, war, refugee crisis, migration etc. appear to be  problems but they are actually not the problem in itself, rather they are the results caused by the root problems known as ‘fear’. Fear makes people with resources and power violent. Fear is caused by insecurity, greed, hatred and delusions. All these three greatest human defilement are caused by ‘ignorance’.

All these, setting targets after targets, have no meaning until we tackle the root cause of the problem. Otherwise these targets just add another bullet point to the CV of such particular leaders and give them reason to celebrate during the launch of such targets. Why is America pulling out of the Paris agreement? It’s because of fear that they are losing jobs and economy — and the Trump administration is fueled by greed and an indifference to the impact of oil, gas upon our shared planet.

Why does China want to champion the Paris Agreement? In part, because they want to replace the American domination in the world stage and become the major dominant player. It is the fear of losing domination over others and fear of being dominated by others that pushes countries to increase their defense spending incrementally every year.

And again, these are only the problems we are thinking about humans and human interests only. But humans cannot survive and ignore the ecosystem, environment, other species, trees and plants, rivers, mountains, valleys, forests, lakes, deserts, sea and air. Can we really think about them independent from our needs and greed? Have we seriously looked at how much forest the world has lost over the past 100 years, how much bio-diversity the world has lost and the consequences of that? How much populations of other animals, birds, fishes and other living beings have declined and shrunk to extinction over the last 100 years, so many that some scientists refer to this as the Sixth Great Extinction event. Yet the human population is exploding disproportionately.

As a dominant species and a being that can think when do we learn to think in ways free from fear? When do we learn to think how to overcome our fear and think about not controlling others but empowering them to be free, think about not hating others but learn how to embrace each other, think about not only ‘me’. When do we start treating our very world, our only home, with the respect and love that is essential if our species is to survive?

All the development approaches and setting ambitious targets have failed to recognize an important human trait that is ‘imagination’. We always “imagine” a world that is selfish and horrible until we can outgrow our ‘fear’. A sustainable development is definitely not about higher GDP growth which can be easily achieved by exploiting the poor and natural resources, using all kind of policies, techniques and technologies. A sustainable development must also not be about just human needs in a solely human-centric way, it is about the entire world and every living and non-living being-centric.

All these values are diluted and contaminated by corporate approaches and companies which just want to make money.

Before setting up further targets and development goals, may we, as the UN and world leaders and every human being develop a universal program that empowers us to overcome our “fear” as a particular individual, as a particular society, as a particular nationality, as a particular ethnicity, race, religion or geography and as a human who is perceived, accurately or not, as “superior” beings than the rest. Both fear and love are universal. How many schools, communities across the world really teaches how to overcome “fear” and how to ‘love and let love’ unconditionally.

We often do not acknowledge that “I too have to die, sooner or later”, so why become greedy and obsessed to amass wealth beyond our needs? Why not meditate and self-reflect so we can deal with existential fear.

Think about the whole environment, other species and fellow humans before you attempt to make even a single rupee.