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Sustainable Development Goals
vs.
Radical Well-being Alternatives
Ashish Kothari
Kalpavriksh
Sustainable Development Goals
Agenda 2030
Major improvement over Millennium Development
Goals
• Sustainability as cross-cu...
But unlikely to achieve this
vision…
Fundamentally flawed on many counts
… violence against
nature, cultures,
communities, and
individuals!
‘Development’ =
economic growth
at all costs
Eradicating poverty, tackling
inequality?
• ‘Economic growth’ will take >100 years
to ‘lift’ 2 billion people out of pover...
Better governance?
• SDGs: more accountable governments,
public participation … good, but
• No radical redistribution of p...
False or partial solutions:
Technofixes, market solutions,
green growth, REDD/REDD+,
CDM, geoengineering,
climate-start ag...
Need radical alternatives …
India: alternative initiatives for well-being
Water
Crafts
Shelter
Food
Energy
Governance
Livelihoods
Conservation
Village...
www.alternativesindia.org
www.vikalpsangam.org
Eco-swaraj:
Radical ecological democracy
(Radical = going to the roots, challenging the conventional)
• achieving human we...
Worldviews from elsewhere …
• Indigenous peoples’ territorial struggles and notions of
well-being
– buen vivir: sumak kaws...
• Diversity and pluralism (of ideas, knowledge, ecologies,
economies, polities, cultures…)
• Self-reliance for basics (swa...
Towards a sustainable and
equitable society … 5 pillars
•Ecological sustainability
–Conservation of nature, sustainable us...
So what to do with SDGs?
Use positive goals / targets to push
policy changes / hold govts
accountable … but
Continue commu...
• www.kalpavriksh.org
• www.vikalpsangam.org
• chikikothari@gmail.com
For more information….
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Sustainable Development Goals vs. radical alternatives

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Brief critical analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda just signed by all countries, the reasons it will fail, and the need for radical alternatives building on what people are already doing. Presentation made at Indigenous Terra Madre 2015, at Shillong, Meghalaya, India.

Published in: Economy & Finance
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Sustainable Development Goals vs. radical alternatives

  1. 1. Sustainable Development Goals vs. Radical Well-being Alternatives Ashish Kothari Kalpavriksh
  2. 2. Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 Major improvement over Millennium Development Goals • Sustainability as cross-cutting • Urgent need to tackle inequality Preamble: “We envisage a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination … A world in which consumption and production patterns and use of all natural resources are sustainable. One in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which
  3. 3. But unlikely to achieve this vision… Fundamentally flawed on many counts
  4. 4. … violence against nature, cultures, communities, and individuals! ‘Development’ = economic growth at all costs
  5. 5. Eradicating poverty, tackling inequality? • ‘Economic growth’ will take >100 years to ‘lift’ 2 billion people out of poverty • With 12-fold increase in size of global economy … sustainability out of the window! • No radical redistribution of resources, no target to reduce wealth/consumption by super-rich
  6. 6. Better governance? • SDGs: more accountable governments, public participation … good, but • No radical redistribution of power towards people / communities • Continued reliance on nation-states • No space for governance by indigenous peoples / local communities
  7. 7. False or partial solutions: Technofixes, market solutions, green growth, REDD/REDD+, CDM, geoengineering, climate-start agriculture … green economy
  8. 8. Need radical alternatives …
  9. 9. India: alternative initiatives for well-being Water Crafts Shelter Food Energy Governance Livelihoods Conservation Village revitalisation Urban sustainability Learning Health Producer companies
  10. 10. www.alternativesindia.org www.vikalpsangam.org
  11. 11. Eco-swaraj: Radical ecological democracy (Radical = going to the roots, challenging the conventional) • achieving human well-being, through: – empowering all citizens & communities to participate in decision-making – ensuring socio-economic equity & justice – respecting the limits of the earth Community (at various levels) as basic unit of organisation, not state or private corporation
  12. 12. Worldviews from elsewhere … • Indigenous peoples’ territorial struggles and notions of well-being – buen vivir: sumak kawsay (Andes), suma qamana (Bolivia), kume mongen (Chile) – ubuntu (S. Africa), umuntu (Uganda), ukama (Zimbabwe), eti uwem (W. Africa) • Europe’s degrowth movement
  13. 13. • Diversity and pluralism (of ideas, knowledge, ecologies, economies, polities, cultures…) • Self-reliance for basics (swavalamban) • Cooperation, collectivity, and ‘commons’ • Rights with responsibilities/duties • Dignity of labour • Respect for subsistence • Qualitative pursuit of happiness • Equity / equality (gender, caste, class, ethnic, generational) • Simplicity, enoughness, sufficiency (aparigraha) • Decision-making access to all • Respect for all life forms • Ecological sustainability Many radical pathways, common values & principles?
  14. 14. Towards a sustainable and equitable society … 5 pillars •Ecological sustainability –Conservation of nature, sustainable use of resources •Social well-being & justice –Equality between men/women, classes, castes, etc •Direct / radical democracy –Decision-making by citizens, accountable govt •Economic democracy –Means of production in hands of producers, localised self- sufficiency, economy of caring/sharing •Cultural and knowledge diversity –Knowledge as public resource, respecting cultural/ethnic diversity
  15. 15. So what to do with SDGs? Use positive goals / targets to push policy changes / hold govts accountable … but Continue community level resistance and reconstruction, indigenous visions and practices to build a future we want ‘when people lead, the leaders follow’
  16. 16. • www.kalpavriksh.org • www.vikalpsangam.org • chikikothari@gmail.com For more information….

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