Why We Need to Build Consciousness of the Place


French architect Didier Prost, an advocate of bioregionalism, calls for a renewed focus on local people and knowledge to innovate for greener solutions. He spoke to Down to Earth (DTH) magazine recently on how bioregional approaches can be adopted to solve India’s environmental problems. Edited Excerpts:

e said: “We have to build new borders—not administrative and political ones, but ecological and cultural ones. We have to build what we call “a consciousness of the place” by analyzing a particular area, its history and the “global archaeology” of that history. This can be done by eliciting the participation of people from all spheres of society—academia, polity, grassroot communities, non-profits and workers.

Using their inputs, we need to develop a plan for that area that will be different from other regular economic development process. Our current development process sucks all the resources and reserves from an area and then dumps the waste in the environment. Bioregionalism, on the other hand, integrated local ecologies in the economy.

India’s Approach?

India should rejuvenate its ecology. It needs to put in place a renewed National Reforestation Program, with special emphasis on native plant life. That’s because climate change is a reality, and it will cause major catastrophes in the next 10-20 years. Unfortunately, neither the government nor its people realize they are sitting on a ticking time bomb.

Governments are completely clueless, and people are too busy indulging in a consumerist lifestyle and do not care about what is happening to the poor. That’s why I believe that social science educational reforms are important, because they can put the larger masses in sync with reality.

Green Party in India?

India still does not have a green political party because in the popular Indian psyche, there is a strong disconnect between poverty and the environment. Poverty and environment are always at work. To have a real green party, you will have to connect the two.

However, I don’t blame Indians for making this distinction. After Independence, and especially since liberalization, India has adopted a model of development influenced by Western values, which are essentially materialist in nature. It is not bad, but it is not sufficient either. In the next five years, the problems of a globalised world will increase, as will the awareness of people. Consequently, they are going to look for alternatives.


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