Friday, February 20, 2009

Celebrating the Local Dimension

What kind of lifestyles, particularly urban, needs to be adopted? How can economic growth goals be reconciled with environmental ones? Who plays the key roles in this case - the manufacturers? The national government? The local government? Or the citizens? What kinds of participation and partnership structures can we put in place for this purpose? Indeed, there can be no 'one policy' to achieve reduction goals - and a comprehensive mixture of policies need to be developed. What would these look like? Who does what, when and where? And indeed why? What are the motivations?

Global environmental problems and the solutions to mitigate them can find their legitimacy for dialogue only if a local dimension is kept in mind - indeed, the local human dimensions in finding solutions for environmental problems is by far the way forward in this respect. Decision-makers, using buzzwords such as 'public choice,' 'informed consent,' and 'community participation,' have now come to realize that it is critical to understand the relevance and implication of global problems from the man-on-the-street perspective, even in order to start defining the problem. How can the focus on the man-on-the-street be built? Who has to do this? What indeed are the 'human dimensions' of environmental development and management?

Scientists have striven to remain independent and rational so that their work would not be influenced by outside pressures. But with an increasing realization of the interlinkages between problems, solutions and the 'humans' who are part of both, scientific research will have to find partners and partnerships in unlikely places to find and justify the solutions that they will suggest … Increased globalization of the economy, with decision-making processes far removed from the local levels, has had a negative and deteriorative impact on the environment. This highlights the old ying and yang debate of quantitative growth of the local economy, and the qualitative improvement of the local environment. Which comes first? Both have their priorities and their advocates … is there a 'good' and a 'bad'? In the final analysis, it is the community that can actually decide on things that affect their lives and what is best for them. How can such thought-processes and leadership be fostered? Paternalism not-with-standing, how can local governments and other bureaucracies be made to 'listen' to the community? What kind of future vision of symbiosis be built ground-up? How can local desires and wishes be reconciled with national priorities? Indeed, how can the middle ground be identified and fostered??

And so the debate goes on ...