Another world is possible

Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
MY VIEW - The Sun Daily
January 21, 2015

WHETHER another world is possible or otherwise can be gleaned from statements citing various reports depicting the future.

One example is the Report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015 Development Agenda – Global Impact by 2030, which was commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and released last year.

Co-chaired by the then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, the future in 2030 is described as:

A world where extreme poverty has been eradicated and where the building blocks for sustained prosperity are in place. A world where no one has been left behind, where economies are transformed, and where transparent and representative governments are in charge. A world of peace where sustainable development is the overarching goal. A world with a new spirit of cooperation and partnership.

The statement ended on a very pointed note: This is not wishful thinking, implying that another world is possible.

Indeed some of the suggested potential impact that characterise the world by 2030 include the following lofty goals:

» 1.2 billion fewer people hungry and in extreme poverty

» 100 million more children who would otherwise have died before they were five

» 4.4 million more women who would otherwise have died during pregnancy or childbirth

» 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year saved from going to waste

» 200 million more young people employed with the skills they need to get good work.

» US$30 trillion spent by governments worldwide transparently accounted for

» 220 million fewer people who suffer crippling effects of natural disasters

» Average global temperatures on a path to stabilise at less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels

Daunting as it is given the current urgent pressure asserted on the planet’s widening economic, socio-cultural and ecological divides, the “other” world must be predicated beyond the so-called technology panacea, political manoeuvres and/or financial incentives, as hinted by the Unesco director-general, Irina Bokova.

On the contrary, many of these have instead reinforced the “old world” thinking. There is a need to substantially change the way that we think, behave and act, not just as individuals and societies or countries, but as a species that inhabits the same endangered spaceship named Earth.

In other words, what is desperately needed is a “transformative” and “collaborative” platform that can cater to a holistic inter-generational change as the mainstay in the attempt to restore the imbalances created by the previous callous ways.

In order not to make it an exercise of “wishful thinking”, minimally at least three major shifts, as proposed by Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the Sultan of Perak, must be delivered.

These are namely, the shift from production to preservation that minimises leakages, wastages and over-production; and the shift from maximisation to optimisation that strives in making decisions at an optimised point beyond which it would be counter-productive and excessively risky based on short-term (personal) gain rather than long-term interest.

Lastly, the shift from resource ownership to stewardship, that is, the notion that humans do not “own” resources but are merely trustees to ensure that resources remain undiminished for future generations in a way that the carrying capacity of the planet Earth is not further breached.

The fundamental idea is to take into account long-term inter-generational planning with the main aim of ensuring inter-generational equity for a more comprehensive, balanced and sustainable future.

There is therefore an urgent need to equally shift the overall focus on the responsibility to conserve and preserve, before applying the 3R principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. Indeed the very first ‘R’ is to “refuse” so that finite planetary resources can be more assured to benefit the generations to come.

As we take on the journey towards “the developed nation” status in 2020, in the next five years, it is imperative that all manner of thinking, planning and decision making be mainstreamed and aligned towards realising the inter-generational and transformational shifts.

Malaysia, as a developed country, need not be wasteful, extravagant, and unsustainable, thus maintaining a balanced way extending into as many aspects of the human life as possible. It is only then that dream of another world is possible, and turning it into reality in “our own mould” as stated in the preamble of the Wawasan 2020 Blueprint.

The writer has some four decades of experience in education locally and internationally. Comments: