Movement to reconnect to Mother Earth
The most surprising aspect of the three-decades-old climate change debate and discussion is that all nations – with the exception of tiny Bhutan – have not thought it necessary to transform the way economic growth and development are measured. This perhaps is the reason for failure to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were announced in 2015, designed to be a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.
Ehsan Masood writing in Science magazine talks about the need to reboot GDP in new ways to measure economic growth by elevating other metrics on the economy, health, ecosystems, climate and more. He writes, “The numbers are heading in the wrong direction. If the world continues on its current track, it will fall well short of achieving almost all of the 17 SDGs that the UN set to protect the environment and end poverty and inequality by 2030.”
Hunger is not eliminated, healthy lives for all are not enabled, pollution is on the rise, conservation of forest and ocean resources is not happening. Every climate change meet comes up with new excuses for failure to deliver: This time, it is the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war. But was there ever a time when the world did not face new challenges that were seen as obstacles to getting ahead with making positive lifestyle changes and revamping our vision and goals related to growth and development?
The world is in “a new uncertainty complex”, says economist Pedro Conceição, lead author of the UN Human Development Report. But, when was the world ever a place of certainty? A simpler world is waiting for us to embrace it, if only we can break free of the ridiculous indicators we continue to follow from the industrial revolution era, to gauge our “progress”.
Growth indicators need to include greening of balance sheets, reduced wastage and garbage and increased forest cover, ocean conservation and less pollution of air, water and land. Compassion, kindness and altruism may be non-fungible factors but these are vital to create sustainable lifestyles. To achieve Gross National Happiness that is predicated on holistic wellness factors and good value systems, we need to reactivate our spiritual connection to Earth. The Global Peace Initiative for Women (GPIW) points out that indigenous peoples have long looked after and honoured stories that highlight our spiritual connection to Earth. It says, “We cannot only listen and hope to be inspired but must also commit to restoring a holistic consciousness and reverence for the natural world in our own hearts.”