Mr Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, Centre for Science and Environment was invited to deliver lecture on 5th Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture series being organised by Micro Business College, Ambo, Ethiopia on 17th March 2015. The lecture series was initiated on Nelson Mandela Day (December 5th 2014) and will conclude on World Environment Day (June 5th 2015).
Mr. Abera Tilahun, President of Micro Business College made the opening remarks. In his speech, he emphasised on the need for getting right guidance regarding sustainable development methods which would be very essential for Ethiopia's economy. Mr. Sivakumar K.P., Coordinator for Research, Development and Communication, welcomed the participants for being a part of this series.
Mr Bhushan gave his presentation on the topic: 'Challenge of the Balance: A 21st Century Perspective on Environment and Development for Developing Countries.’ He addressed the participants on the twin challenges faced by developing countries- Climate Change which is exacerbated by environmental degradation and the other is the Challenge of Development. He said that, “A large number of people in the world are still poor, undernourished, and with no adequate health care facility. They don't have access to clean water, and die of preventable diseases. Both environmental and development challenges are coming together to hurt the poor of the world. Therefore we need a new economic and environmental model to tackle both climate change and development challenges of the world.”
Mr Bhushan emphasized that the current economic model which is just copied from the American and European model could neither solve the developmental nor the environmental challenges. Therefore, he said, developing countries need a new economic model which not only serves the poor and vulnerable but also ensures that the environment is protected. Such model could resolve the challenges of climate change and development.
At one point in time, Ethiopia's forest coverage was 40 per cent; Today it is about 10 per cent. This shows that the forest coverage has been lost because of destruction caused in order to utilize the forest resources, mainly for fuel purposes. According to Mr Bhushan, two kinds of forestry development approaches can be followed by Ethiopia - One is conservation of forest for environmental reasons and the other is community forests” Chandra further explained, “We all need trees. We need wood for cooking foods, making furniture, and for various other purposes. So, Ethiopia should have a programme of social forestry where the people grow their own trees and for their demand”.
Mr Bhushan raised the question on how Ethiopia can scale up in development- a sustainable one. “I believe the solution is very simple. Ethiopia has a great hydropower potential. Recently, it has been building many small, medium and large dams. This could help the country harness its resources and provide electricity for its people. Ethiopia is also rich in sunshine and wind. Today, wind turbines, wind technology and wind energy is cheaper than hydropower.” he said.
Mr Bhushan also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Micro Business College, Ambo University, Ethiopia on March 17, 2015. The MoU was signed with an objective to support environmental activities of Micro Business College. The MoU envisages a collaboration with the College for five years regarding research, training and capacity building aspects related to environment and society.