I have previously written about a similar topic over at the Ethnic Supplies blog . I had attended a panel discussion in Woking Surrey as part of Fairtrade fortnight and some “experts” had this question to discuss
Is there a time to be Fair? Is climate change more urgent than global poverty or human rights?
2 weeks ago , different country/setting, different panel of experts (and in my mind the real experts), same dilemma POVERTY VS THE ENVIRONMENT
I attended the VILLAGES IN ACTION conference on behalf of Zahid Torres- Rahman the CEO of Business Fights Poverty who could not be there on the day. He requested that i seek out the village entrepreneurs in order that we can understand how enterprise impacts development in Kikuube village. You can read about those stories on my post at Business fights Poverty
On the day I made an audio recording of the entire conference and as we speak I am still listening to aspects of it. Whilst lsitening to a panel discussion made up of village entrepreneurs, farmers and an environmentalist, I discovered that I missed an aspect of the the discussion that is guaranteed to give Policy makers several sleepless nights!
ENDING POVERTY VS PRESERVING THE ENVIRONMENT
In her speech Mrs Businge Local Councillor lamented the loss of a once lush village as well as the disappearance of woodlands in order to make way for sugarcane growing as well as brick making. She called on environmental experts to come and share their skills as to how they (in the village) can safeguard their environment.
But Sugarcane growing has brought more money in the village and has had an impact on ending of extreme poverty one of the millennium development goals, folk have been able to move out of semi permanent houses into permanent ones amongst other things.
This in turn has led to growth in brick making as a business in the village so much so that the group is made up 50 bricklayers and continues to grow. This has produced a whole set of consumers of services and products as their disposable income has grown.
But brick making here is dependent on taking up land that could used for agriculture, cutting down of woodlands to get firewood to burn the bricks (and who knows what gets released into the atmosphere as a result) as well as water resources.
I guess you get the picture already!
So if you are a Policy Maker what would you prioritise?
The day before the conference I overheard a conversation between two men in the village in which one said to the other
what choice have we got? In order to earn a living we have to damage/destroy our environment
at the time I didn’t pay too much attention to what he had said but it all makes a whole lot of sense now
I don’t know what the solutions are to this dilemma that is if the solutions exist at all, but I know this for a fact, the VILLAGES IN ACTION conference provided vital feedback to Policy Makers and World leaders, a real opportunity to inform decisions based on feedback from the grassroots, the questions is
WERE THEY LISTENING?
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