Global problems – Local solutions

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Awareness about the need of living with ecological wisdom is not lacking, going by what we see in the papers and the TV, almost everyday. Most educated people have heard of climate change and the importance of reducing our carbon foot print. (Most ‘uneducated’ people would anyway be living with a low carbon foot print)

Where we need more awareness is that global problems like climate change actually need zillions of local solutions all over the world. Problems of waste disposal, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, water shortage, nutrition, food insecurity etc are local problems as well which need local solutions.

But the global problem of climate change and pollution of our land, waters and air have their source in our entire socio-economic system which has become a juggernaut hungering for endless growth. We can well say these issues may need global solutions – but the best thinkers on sustainability are saying the same thing: they need local solutions as well. We do need advocacy and activism to persuade governments to do more and there are many movements against mining, social injustice, privatisation of commons and so on. But equally, if not more important is bottomup awakening which can play a big role in bringing sense to politicians and corporates who make global decisions at international climate and economic summits. If we do neither, we will need calamities to wake up our leaders.

Amid the gloom and doom of ecological crises, it is heartening to note that ever so many people, organisations and schools are beginning to act with commitment and verve to work on local solutions. This issue is a celebrations of schools in particular, who care to be ‘green schools’. From the early 1990s to now – in about 25 years, there seem to be at least a 100,000 schools in the world who call themselves eco-schools, or have joined a major green school programme. Innumerable websites today exist to support and document the work of green schools with stories, ideas and resources.

Certainly this kind of growth deserves to be called a movement. The ‘Eco-Schools’ organization alone, supported by the UNEP and UNESCO have over 50,000 member schools with over 11 million children enrolled in 83 countries in the world. In India too, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has been a pioneer in this movement with over 21,000 schools participating in its green schools programme.

But several people, NGOs and schools are clear that they want to be part of the solution rather than be helplessly a part of the problem. What if they can do nothing about the politician-corporates nexus, what if they are caught up in a systemic deadlock, they can still engage in doing what they can. This is the spirit which we celebrate in this issue of the Bhoomi magazine. Green Schools can bring hope to a sadly self-destructive civilization.