By Allison Wilson, PhD – Independent Science News, 18 February 2018
Mountain ecosystems are homes of rich biodiversity and cultural diversity, and resilient communities.
Mountain ecosystems and mountain communities are particularly vulnerable to major threats emerging from fossil fuel based economic development and economic globalisation. Fossil fuel led development is contributing to Climate Change. Globalisation based on uniformity and monocultures is marginalising mountain communities and their biodiversity based rural local economies, contributing to economic vulnerability.
However, in mountain regions communities are evolving creative strategies for sustainability and resilience based on biodiversity, agroecology and organic farming, traditional crafts, and indigenous knowledge .
For 30 years Navdanya has worked with local communities in Uttarakhand and across the Himalaya to protect local biodiversity and seeds, promote and practise ecological agriculture and fair trade, enhance livelihoods based on traditional knowledge and crafts, and promotion of eco tourism based on sustainable communities .
Non sustainability is based on a world view which sees humans as outside and above nature. Nature is merely seen as a supply of raw material and a site of waste disposal. Non sustainability is also based on an economic paradigm which limits development to growth, and measures growth merely as GDP, gross domestic product. GDP fails to measure ecological functions of ecosystems and the externalities of limitless extraction and exploitation of nature. Non sustainable agriculture based on fossil fuels and fossil fuel based external inputs promotes monoculture production of commodities , destroying both diversity and quality of food systems .
The new paradigm emerging from the mountains is leading to a shift from anthropocentrism to recognition that we are part of nature and nature has Rights. It is leading to a shift from Gross Domestic Product GDP, and Gross National Product, GNP as a measure of wealth and prosperity to Gross National Happiness and Well Being, GNH , and a shift from fossil fuel intensive, monoculture and commodity based industrial agriculture to biodiversity based ecological agriculture.
These shifts in paradigms, shaping an emerging paradigm of living sustainably and peacefully with the Earth include the Rights of Nature introduced in the Constitution of Ecuador, and the draft Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth introduced by Bolivia to the UN, as well as initiatives in other parts of the parts of the world on Rights of Nature.
Recently , the High Court of Uttarakhand in India ruled that Himalayan mountain ranges, glaciers, rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, jungles, air, forests, meadows, dales, wetlands, grasslands and springs are living beings and legal entities with rights.
These juridical paradigm shifts that are taking place create new possibilities to create sustainable societies
The GDP is a recent measure of the economy, and dominates all other considerations. But GDP only measures the expansion of the linear, extractive economy that destroys local economies and local ecosystems. GDP fails to count the destruction. For example, in India, non sustainable industrial agriculture has hidden costs of more than $1.2 trillion which is double the GDP .
There is a need to shift from GDP to the well being of ecosystems, communities and individuals.
The GNH measure of Happiness and Wellbeing that has been gifted to the world by Bhutan and was introduced to the UN through the conference on redefining the Economic Paradigm.
In Uttarakhand and the mountain regions of the Himalaya , Navdanya has been promoting biodiversity based ecological agriculture and new productivity measures “Health per Acre” and “Wealth per Acre” that go beyond the one dimensional commodity production which externalises social and ecological costs, increasing the burden on nature and society . Health per Acre measures Nutrition per Acre . On this indicator diversified mountain farming systems are not unproductive . They produce more quality and health and nutrition .
Wealth per Acre both includes the true cost of external input intensive industrial systems by internalising the hidden costs and the externalities.
Navdanya is working with Bhutan to make a transition to a 100% organic Bhutan , as well as transition from GDP to Gross National Happiness as a measure of socio economic well being.Navdanya has also worked with the Government of Bhutan to develop a programme for “Organic Himalaya”.
Navdanya’s annual Earth Festival Bhoomi will focus on “Listening to the Mountains” in 2017 to highlight the creative innovations in ideas and actions emerging from mountain regions and countries.
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Webpage with more details: http://www.navdanya.org/site/events/608-bhoomi-2017-listening-to-the-mountains
More info: http://www.navdanya.org/site/latest-news-at-navdanya/625-press-invite-bhoomi-2017