Opinion & Editorial – The Jakarta Post, 3 May 2002
Fighting the world order to save the earth
,Researcher & General SecretaryUni Sosial Demokrat, Jakartayanuarfirstname.lastname@example.org Next month Indonesia will host an international conference in Bali. "The Government of the Republicof Indonesia has the honor and great privilege to host the Preparatory Committee meeting at theministerial level leading to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in Balifrom May 27 to June 7, 2002." That is the message we can find at WSSD's website, welcoming theFourth Preparatory Committee (PrepComIV) meeting which is aimed at concluding discussions on far-reaching actions to propel the sustainable development agenda forward.Around 6.000 people will join and gather in the meeting, draw upon the agreed result from theprevious PrepCom to prepare a concise and focused document that will aim to emphasize the needfor a global partnership to achieve the objectives of sustainable development. It is also there toreconfirm the need for an integrated and strategically focused approach to the implementation of the-so-called "Agenda 21" and to address the main challenges and opportunities faced by theinternational community in this regard.The outcome of PrepCom IV will then be submitted for further consideration and adoption at the 2002Summit meeting at Johannesburg, evaluating the progress achieved since the first World Summit atRio de Janeiro, 1992. How far have we been stepping ahead? Or, oppositely, stepping back?Globalization has been the major issue during the past decades. Ceaseless repetition of jargons andslogans "inevitable change" and "necessary restructuring" have everywhere accompanied this rapidprying-open of national economies and cultures for foreign exploitation "free of trade and investmentbarriers". It seems however, that faith in economic growth to signify the change and development asthe key to progress comes into question as the Earth's life-support systems fray and indicators ofecological collapse multiply.Another side of global economic systems has shown the inescapable fact that development geared tospur rapid growth through greater resource consumption is straining the environment and wideningthe gaps between the rich and poor. And opposite from the proponents of neo-liberal economicsstandard prescription to cure, privatization, tax cuts and foreign investment, have proved ineffective.We do not have to look far for the proof that growth-centered economics is pushing the regenerativecapacities of the planet's ecosystems to the brink. The worry is not the only one raised in the Limits ToGrowth more than 20 years ago. Obviously, there is no immediate shortage of non-renewableresources. Even at current consumption rates, there will not be enough copper, iron and nickel to ourgrand-grandsons and daughters in the next centuries.More pressing will soon cause the disintegration of the basic life-support systems that we take forgranted. This will include the composition of atmosphere, the water cycle, the pollination of crops, theassimilation of waste and recycling of nutrients, the delicate interplay of species -- all of these are inserious danger. "Agenda 21", the most important outcome of the Rio Word Summit -- a blue-print andthe basis of the strategy for sustainable development -- has been challenged badly by the profit-drivenlogic of business power which drives the global economic significantly and wipes out everything on itsway to accumulate gains, including the environment.The power of business looks immense in this neo liberal economic order where "growth" becomes thehighest value of social life. And this is the starting point of the problem. It involves the following line oflogic: If we start from the premise that the highest value of social life is "growth", and then malpracticeor non-malpractice is irrelevant. If growth can only be achieved by letting the mal-exercise of powerhappen, so be it. In this case, such values as "sustainable" or "democracy" are irrelevant, for any typeof power exercise that (even if unintentionally) seems to bring about growth will then be justifiable(self-legitimating).