Globalisation is evolving as an inevitable phenomenon. The coronavirus has proved it beyond doubt. But that does not mean the world stands to benefit from it. That too the pandemic has shown. At normal times, the developed countries benefit from it more than the developing countries. There is no doubt that there is growing cohesiveness in many human values due to globalisation. But there are increasing areas of conflicts of interests among the nations – between the developed and developing countries, among the developed countries and similarly among the developing countries. Globalisation should be encouraged in areas that can strengthen peace and security, diminish the gulf between the rich and poor countries and promote conservation of environment for sustainable development. At times of emergency like the present one, the world needs to stand together. On the other hand, localisation should be encouraged in areas for preserving and promoting diversity in civilisations, cultures, and natural and biological wealth.
Knowing oneself Humans should, therefore, transcend themself from petty material chains and look from an elevated spiritual pedestal. Human has to observe from a distant angle as the space traveler does on the earth. It makes him/her aware of his/her strength and weakness. It is an introspection to let the people know themselves. The nearer s/he approaches knowing oneself the better s/he starts appreciating his/her fellow beings, the other creatures and the world at large. The second essential factor for sustainable development and environmental conservation is durable peace and security in the country. For this, we need a system that must be based on equity, equality and justice. Irrespective of the nature of the government, the governance must be geared and also appear to be moving toward these goals. Under a democratic system, the governance may appear committed to them but may not pursue them in actuality whereas an authoritarian system might be attaining them without outwardly appearing so. The ultimate test lies in the feelings of the people. If the people feel that they have been deprived of equity, equality and justice in socio-economic, cultural and even in political fields, such a country is most likely to lose peace and stability. Without them, the possibility of conservation of environment is remote rather impossible. The international scenario is not encouraging for environmental conservation. Some consider environmental crisis serious whereas others take it easy. People predicted that the end of Cold War would help save billions of dollars from armament to be diverted to development and environment. The Cold War ended but the money is nowhere to be seen. The Rio Summit estimated the need of 40 billion dollars for setting global environment on the right track. What the world saw was a commitment of hardly two billion rupees that too not fully paid. Needless to say, moderation is key to sustainability of individual life and happiness. For human wellbeing, doctors prescribe moderation in individual habits of drinks, food and physical exercise. Similarly, the health of nature can sustain if it is treated with moderation. It is possible to do so if human beings cultivate a habit of moderate living. Love for moderation can spring forth from spirituality. It is not only Buddhism that advocates harmonisation with nature but other religions also stress the spiritual values in man and harmony with nature. Hinduism preaches an attitude of indifference to worldly pleasures and pains to achieve spiritual emancipation and harmonious living with nature. Islam strongly advocates the principle of equity and equality and sharing of wealth with those who don’t possess it. Christianity upholds love for mankind and all living creatures highest among its values. They are conducive for developing a culture of moderation in life. It is necessary, therefore, to look at environment from a holistic viewpoint. So long, we understood it basically as a physical phenomenon. It is referred to denote generally air, water and soil. It is thus treated as science that studies their elements, composition, distortion and use to mankind. But if one goes a step further in analysing the causes behind the physical changes like the global warming and its consequences, environment tends to emerge as a social science.
Community values In the beginning of the 21st century we have come to realise that environment is an inter-disciplinary issue that needs a holistic approach to take care of it. We realise that these problems cannot be considered in isolation. They are closely tied up with economic development, standard of living, jobs, equity, social justice and many other issues. All these problems are getting mixed with human survival, security and terrorism. The development agenda often dominates the environmental agenda at national and international levels. However, we have to focus on individual and community values and activities to deal with environmental crisis like at present time.
(Shrestha is a senior journalist, researcher and author.)