Join The Global Suicide Pact? Thanks, I'll Pass.

As I read through the speech delivered by UN Secretary General Ban Ki -Moon at the World Economic Forum session on sustainable development at Davos, Switzerland, I was shocked to come across the words, “a global suicide pact”. This is what he said,

”For most of the last century, economic growth was fueled by what seemed to be a certain truth: the abundance of natural resources. We mined our way to growth. We burned our way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences.”

“Those days are gone. In the twenty-first century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high. Climate change is also showing us that the old model is more than obsolete. It has rendered it extremely dangerous. Over time, that model is a recipe for national disaster. It is a global suicide pact.”

This is not the type of language one normally hears from risk-averse bureaucrats speaking at a global forum. Such a bold statement made my own description of sustainable use of wildlife seem rather, well, wimpy.

There are those in the world of conservation who claim, and try to get others to believe, that the only way to save wildlife for future generations is to hunt it, kill it, or use it in some commercially viable way. This is described as “sustainable” or “wise” use of wildlife and is promoted around the word as the solution to our wildlife conservation problems. I had always described the idea as “bankrupt” but am embarrassed to admit that the word “bankrupt” hardly compares to a “global suicide pact”! So much for courage.

I won’t debate the merits of the sustainable development argument here but basically I would say that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. There have to be compromises somewhere and I often wind up wondering if the basic question in conservation circles should primarily be whether or not people are willing to share the earth. If not, then I guess the camp belonging to the global suicide pact will continue to grow; if people are willing to share the earth with wildlife, then there is some hope for the future.

There are no easy solutions to protecting wildlife and the people that live with the wildest of wild life. In the age of the economist we have allowed the debate on wildlife conservation to be too-often dominated by economic arguments, i.e. wild life has to pay for itself or it is not worth having. The truth is that we need to reach deep inside our complex selves and draw upon our humanity to find the answers.

At the International Fund for Animal Welfare, we seek solutions that are based on good science but we don’t accept that conservation must simply be about numbers. We insist on applying good animal welfare principles so that we look at quality of life as well as the size of a population. We take into consideration the religious and cultural attitudes of local people when proposing solutions to human-wildlife conflicts. The one thing we don’t do: we don’t join global suicide pacts and neither should you. Join IFAW instead.

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Comments: 4

6 years ago

charifs dad is amazing.

7 years ago

your right the politicians and goverment dont care they only care about money not the lives of the beautful wildlife and the beautful lands they destroy our lands and take the homes of our wild life we need to save them for now and our ffurture there already killing the ozone there slowly going to kill us all too it makes me mad as hell to see them getting away with it

7 years ago

At a time when wildlife is bring traded legally or illegally on a very massive scale, forests are being destroyed at a frantic pace and we appear bent upon utilizing remaining natural resources within our own lifetime, the views expressed by Ban Ki-Moon offer a ray of hope. The politicians and decision-makers should carefully consider the concern expressed by Moon and act to save Earth, which has already become an inhospitable planet due to our greed and thoughtlessness.

7 years ago

[...] by Azzedine Downes for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s AnimalWire Blog [...]

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