by Sera Tolgay:
This Tuesday in the Ezra Stiles Fellows lounge, the World Fellows Dinner Panel on Global Environmental Governance brought together three distinct perspectives from three different continents. Negusu Aklilu, Director of the Forum for the Environment in Ethiopia, Carl Mossfeldt, Managing Director of the Tällberg Foundation in Sweden, and Marcelo Furtado, Executive Director of Brazilian Greenpeace, led the panel discussion on the complexities and difficulties of environmental leadership.
Aklilu, who co-founded the Ethiopian Civil Society Network on Climate Change, initiated the conversation by drawing on the hardships faced by developing countries in forming a comprehensive agenda to address environmental issues. He emphasized that “the lack of coordination in protocols and arguments” poses a main problem to environmental governance in countries like Ethiopia. Although the Ethiopian government is the first of its kind in Africa to launch a plan of action for green growth and making its economy carbon free by 2020, the weakness of implementation and enforcement, according to Aklilu, are still typical symptoms that developing countries face in dealing with environmental governance on a domestic level.
Similar to Aklilu’s work in environmental governance, Mossfeldt leads the Tällberg Foundation, a not-for-profit that organizes award-wining forums and supports leaders in their efforts towards a more sustainable world. Mossfeldt pointed out that by focusing on carbon emission issues we are approaching the problem from the wrong perspective. He drew attention to the fact that overlooked issues related to the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorus cycle, biodiversity and land use belly problems inherent in the way we live.
“The world is simply not enough to facilitate the logic of our lives,” Mossfeldt said. “Domestic policies are hijacked by vested interests.”
Holding companies accountable for environmental damage, in Mossfeldt’s perspective, is a crucial course of action that isn’t emphasized enough in global environmental governance.
In addition to these perspectives from Ethiopia and Sweden, Furtado brought in his standpoint as the leader of Greenpeace Brazil and 20 years of experience as an activist. He talked about the emerging role of countries like Brazil who are “willing to make commitments” despite the lack of a comprehensive international framework of environmental law. However, he also underlined the importance of “leadership, vision and responsibility,” which he believes is currently lacking in the global scale of diplomatic processes.
Students, who were drawn to the conversation as the dinner drew to a close, pushed their plates aside and referred to various solutions including start-ups, social corporate responsibility, carbon trade and reinforcing the role of the UN. All three speakers, expressed that they saw the merits of these solutions, but also emphasized the fact that we are in need of a “new style of governance” to initiate the radical changes necessary to address climate change.
“We can always find someone else to blame,” Furtado said. “This conversation is to encourage you to take on the responsibility.”
Tags: environmental governance