Sustainable Development Is Survival: Bhutan PM At Rio+20

Jul 5th, 2012 | By | Category: Advocacy, Bhutan, Development and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Government Policies, News, Opinion, Rio+20

Bhutan Observer: Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley on Thursday urged some 100 heads of states and governments to work towards treading on a saner, safer and more sustainable path of development for the sake of humanity’s future at the opening session of Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Sustainability, wellbeing and happiness are still within our reach, he said, calling upon world leaders to seize the opportunity here and now. For in another 20 years, humanity will have crossed the point of no return, he warned.

Rio+20 first convened 20 years ago in 1992, when countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.

Despite agreeing to make a turn, however, the world accelerated onward, Lyonchhen informed the leaders. Those countries that lagged behind hoped to catch up, while those ahead spurred on to keep their lead in the race to extract, produce, sell and consume more in a world with limited resources.

He said, “The costs of reckless speeding along the highway of development have been devastating. Society is crumbling, climate is changing, ecosystems are collapsing, resources are depleting, and civilization is clearly headed backward to the primordial state of the ‘survival of the fittest’. As species die in quick succession, mankind’s own extinction draws nearer.”

Expressing his regret about the failure of the international community to agree on most of the conference’s subscribed outcome document, Lyonchhen called upon the member states to do much more in their own countries and assist the weaker ones for the sake of their own national well-being in a globalized and ecologically borderless world.

“Yet, we speak not of the harsh reality of life or death that stares at us. Choosing gentler language, we argue about sustainability and green economy, words with enough ambiguity to divide us on the very issue of our survival that should unite us,” Lyonchhen told the leaders at the summit. “In being euphemistic, let us not underplay the dire state of humanity.”

Sustainable development, Lyonchhen said, means survival. It is about how humans as species must live within the bounds of what nature can provide. It is not a choice. It is an absolute necessity. It is neither an ideal beyond the reach of the poor nor a threat to the rich and affluent.

He said, “And we have no time to waste over arguments of who must bear the guilt for our predicament. When we have, in varying degrees and with growing efficiency, stripped earth of its remaining capacity to support life, there will be no judge or jury to separate the rich from poor, the north from the south, or the more guilty from the less.”

Civilization has reached the time and moment to acknowledge the primacy of this innermost human yearning – happiness – and to make the purpose of development the creation of enabling conditions for its pursuit, he told the leaders.

“It is with this conviction that, for four decades, Bhutan has made happiness, this quest of every citizen, the object of public policy and resources.”

Lyonchhen told the leaders that His Majesty the King, as urged by the high-level meeting, is now establishing an international working group of experts to elaborate the architecture of the new development paradigm that was agreed upon by the meeting. The group will work closely with the high-level panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

“It is our hope that these might help the world pave a new path toward well-being and happiness,” he said.

On the sidelines of the conference, Lyonchhen met with the presidents, prime ministers and other leaders of the delegations to campaign for Bhutan’s non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and seek their support in Bhutan’s initiative to elaborate the new development paradigm based on sustainable well-being and happiness.

By Jigme Wangchuk 

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