ELIMINATING greed and focusing instead on a return to an "earth democracy" of eco-friendly values was the message delivered by a noted Indian environmentalist at a lecture held yesterday at the Bahrain Society of Engineers in Juffair.
Green activist and anti-globalisation author Dr Vandana Shiva, in her talk 'Ekta (Together) - in Harmony with Nature', said the world needed to apply the Hindu concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world as one single family) to contemporary life.
"I have termed the concept 'earth democracy'," said Dr Shiva, who was in Bahrain as a guest of the Indian Ladies Association (ILA).
"The current representations of democracy are not delivering to the people.
"We need to reinvent democracy to include all life on earth - as Mahatma Gandhi said, to include every last person and every last child."
This reinvention must also include a rethinking of the earth's economies, according to Dr Shiva - as consumerism is pushing the planet to tipping point.
"There is greed on all levels - be it the super-profit dreams of corporations, the Gross Domestic Product-orientation of governments or the consumerism of people.
"Our human species - a very recent arrival on the planet - has a narrow niche for survival, which has been targeted in a systematic fashion.
The illusion bubbles that we live in have become bigger than the reality.
"Everything we measure as reality is an illusion, which is replacing the reality."
Dr Shiva pointed to the fact that the sole indicator of the health of an economy was its finances, at the expense of any indicator representing the health of the people.
"Somehow, we trashed the true definition of economy - as the science of home," she said.
"What we have today is false management of a false home where we give importance to the digital financials in terms of trillions.
"We are not looking at the real economy, which includes the drying-up of water resources, biodiversity crises, and climate instability - these are the real indicators of the health of the economy."
The world is on the verge of an ecological tipping point, the 64-year-old scientist warned, where over-exploitation of resources could lead to mass migration and, eventually, ethnic clashes.
"The future of humanity and the planet lies in social tipping points," she said.
"According to a UN study two years ago, 11 out of 20 major natural ecosystems are on the verge of collapse.
"Over time, what we see is a total erosion of values, without which societies are anchorless," she added.
"Driven by the greed economy, we have lost our bearing and anchor and, in turn, fail to put ourselves in the bigger picture of deep human and planetary well-being."
Many social definitions needed to be changed for the world to start to recover - including the concepts that women should not work and that economy and ecology must be in direct competition.
Dr Shiva spoke at the Leela Jashanmal lecture, part of a series that has been running since 2008 in honour of ILA founding member Leela Jashanmal. The event was patronised by Minister of State for Electricity and Water Affairs Dr Abdulhussain Mirza.