Wfs Conference Martin De Wit

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Martin de Wit on SA Sustainability

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Wfs Conference Martin De Wit

  1. 1. Factoring sustainability into South Africa’s future Martin de Wit Address delivered to World Future Society, 6 May 2010, BMW Pavillion, Cape Town.
  2. 2. Sustainability • Sustainability in its shortest definition is the capacity to endure • To endure one does not only need material goods, but also a mental and spiritual resilience and set of skills on how to cope.
  3. 3. Biophysical stress Indicator Result for SA Key aspects Outcome Ecological Footprint 2.8 ha/pp/yr vs. target Carbon Ecologically of 1.8 ha/pp/yr Crop land unsustainable Grazing land 91st out of 134 countries (2009) Environmental 0.508/1.0 Environmental burden Environmentally Performance Index of disease unsustainable 115th of 163 countries Climate change (2010) Air pollution on ecosystems
  4. 4. Serious stress on human wellbeing Indicator Result for SA Key aspects Outcome Corruption 55th out of 180 Increase in perceived corruption in Moderately sustainable Perceptions countries (2008) last 2 years Index Subjective Well 41st out of 79 Happiness, life satisfaction Moderately sustainable Being countries Human 129th out of 182 Life expectancy Humanely Unsustainable Development countries (2007) Literacy index Education Quality of Life 92nd out of 111 Material well-being, life expectancy, Humanely and politically Index countries (2005) political stability, divorce rate, unsustainable community life, climates, unemployment, political freedom, gender equality Happy Planet 118th out of 143 Human well-being and Humanely Unsustainable Index countries (2009) environmental impact
  5. 5. Recent progress in material wellbeing Figure 1: Gross National Income per capita (constant 2005 prices, Rand per annum) Figure 2: GDP per capita (PPP, constant, 2000$) $10500 $9900 $9300 $8700 $8100 $7500 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 Source: SA Reserve Bank Source: Nationmaster.com based on World Development Indicators
  6. 6. Insufficient savings Figure 3: Adjusted net savings, % 0.40 0.25 South Africa China 0.10 Brazil Russia India AVG World -0.05 -0.20 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Source: Based on World Bank data
  7. 7. -20% -15% -10% -5% 0% 5% 10% 15% 1990/02 1990/04 1991/02 1991/04 1992/02 1992/04 1993/02 1993/04 1994/02 1994/04 1995/02 1995/04 1996/02 1996/04 1997/02 1997/04 1998/02 1998/04 1999/02 1999/04 2000/02 2000/04 2001/02 2001/04 2002/02 2002/04 2003/02 2003/04 2004/02 2004/04 2005/02 2005/04 2006/02 2006/04 2007/02 2007/04 2008/02 2008/04 2009/02 Declining exchange rate Figure 4: Nominal effective exchange rate of the rand: Average for 15 trading partners (quarterly % change) 2009/04
  8. 8. Comparative optimism Figure 5: Figure 6: Source: Pew Global Attitudes Source: BBC World Service Poll, 2004. Project Survey
  9. 9. Recent optimism Table IV: South Africans believe the country is going in the right direction Nov 09 May 09 May 08 Country is going Male 60% 45% 47% in right direction Female 53% 41% 44% Source: IPSOR Markinor, Pulse of the People Public Opinion Series
  10. 10. Hope and the future Once you choose hope, anything is possible - Christopher Reeve We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars - Oscar Wilde To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death - Pearl S. Buck Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently - Apostle Paul in letter to Romans (Rom 8:24-25, NIV)
  11. 11. From hope towards an ethics of sustainability • Factoring sustainability into South Africa’s future is in the first place to start acting on the individual and collective hope we have as a nation. • This hope can translate into deep changes in attitude and behaviour.
  12. 12. Wedges for change • material wedges to start bending the trends of material and resource use as well as the generation of pollution and waste. • lifestyle wedges, such as pressures on conspicuous consumption • behavioural wedge to change attitudes and behaviour
  13. 13. Time will tell whether that optimism (quoting Václav Havel) is... not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

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