A different viewpoint on sustainability and development

By Professor Sir Brian Hoskins

Last week the sustainability group of my village and a neighbouring one organised a workshop for local schools. A few of us gave talks, but much of the morning was given to the young people themselves. Each school shared with the group what it is doing on sustainability. The other major activity for them was a debate on whether sustainability and development are compatible. Each school was given two countries that they had to represent in this debate.

Through a contact in Ethiopia and the amazing commitment of a university teacher there, we also had a video to show the young people of a debate on this subject in a class in the University of Mekelle. This video made a deep impression on me. In the western world the focus is often on whether concerns and action on sustainability should be allowed to hold back development. The Ethiopian students turned the topic completely around. They took it as read that they must have sustainability. The debate for them was whether it was possible to also have development!

Perhaps we should be a bit more humble in our discussions of this and similar issues, particularly in a week when we are seeing rich countries blocking effective action to reduce climate risks that will disproportionately affect the less developed.

One thought on “A different viewpoint on sustainability and development

  1. If so . .. why haven’ the Ethiopians acted accordingly ? The noble professo may lack understanding of politics and geograpy. The argument he reports could be the natural position of elites threatened by change, and loss of their dominance.

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