Fourth Citizens Report SOE-4:Dying Wisdom

December 21, 2009

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a public interest research andadvocacy organisation based in New Delhi. CSE researches into, lobbies for andcommunicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.The scenario today demands using knowledge to bring about change. In other words,working India’s democracy. This is what we aim to do.

The challenge, we see, is two-pronged. On the one hand, millions live within a biomassbasedsubsistence economy, at the margins of survival. The environment is their only naturalasset. But a degraded environment means stress on land, water and forest resourcesfor survival. It means increasing destitution and poverty.

Here, opportunity to bring about change is enormous. But it will need a commitment toreform — structural reform — in the way we do business with local communities.

On the other hand, rapid industrialisation is throwing up new problems: growing toxificationand a costly disease burden. The answers will be in reinventing the growth model of theWestern world for ourselves, so that we can leapfrog technology choices and find new waysof building wealth that will not cost us the earth. This is the challenge of the balance.

Our aim is to raise these concerns, participate in seeking answers and — more importantly— in pushing for answers and transforming these into policy and so practice. We do thisthrough our research and by communicating our understanding through our publications.We call this knowledge-based activism. We hope we will make a difference.