When natural resources like timber, water and mineral deposits can be extracted from ecosystems, they become assets with dollar values that can be bought and sold internationally and enable developing countries to grow and participate in the global economy. If growth is the key to emerging from poverty, then this might seem like a good thing. But what if these same resources being sold to richer nations come from an ecosystem that people depend on for their livelihood? What if new growth is actually proportional to the creation of new poverty?
The cult of ‘growth’ has dictated policy for decades. But if well-being, not growth, is our goal, selling resources that bring long term wellbeing to communities for short term gain is a very bad deal. Hard as it may be for the West to understand, protecting the ecological resources of communities might be more important than GDP figures.
Vandana Shiva holds a PhD in physics, but is best known as an environmental, and anti-globalisation activist and as a leading figure of ‘ecofeminism.’ Shiva is based in India and is the author of over twenty books, including Staying Alive and Biopiracy. She is a former recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize.
Chair: Simran Sethi is an award-winning Indian American journalist. She is currently undergoing a research fellowship at the University of Melbourne in Australia on the loss of agricultural biodiversity in our food system.