Long before he burned out, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain sang that “Nature is whore”. It is doubtful that he ever had the chance of realizing just how true this lyric was. The rise of environmentalism as a fad and the astounding ability of corporations and politicians to pay lip service to the natural world while pillaging it behind the scenes have profoundly changed our relationship with our environment. For a very long time, we have also been stupendously unwilling to recognise the profound impact of our actions on the planet. Will this ever change?
Well, that’s a moot point. Take Mauritius, for example. Our environmental policies have been piecemeal at best. This is largely due to the absence of an overriding vision defi ning our environmental ideology, paradigm or belief system, call it what you will. And until we’re able to erect the sort of political and practical bedrock needed to steer all our actions and designs in the same direction, our environmental policy will continue to be neither here nor there. That’s why the national consultation on Maurice: Ile Durable (MID), which will be launched in the coming weeks, is cause for celebration.
Indeed, this ambitious policy process will attempt to take on board the broadest range of opinions and views of MID “interest groups”, including the civil society (yes, you too) as well as the public and private sectors, via a series of workshops. This “national vision” will be summarized in a green paper. Further down the line, it will then be used to draft a white paper, which will form the foundation of an integrated national policy with regards to sustainable development. Even if this will take a rather long time, it will eventually act as the bedrock we so sorely need.
Osman Mohamed and Francois Odendaal, chairman of the MID steering committee and UNDP consultant on MID, respectively, have given their assurances that the whole process will unfold in perfect transparency. “It’s a way to bring the people and government together”, says the latter. This is very encouraging. Until now, everything related to MID has been shrouded in opacity, which was hardly conducive to sustainable development.
Government seems to have fi nally decided to give the people the possibility to have its say in the sort of development we want for the country.
It’s now up to us to step up to the plate and make sure our voices are heard and our desires understood.
If we don’t, we’ll have only ourselves to blame when everything goes awry.