A web talk series to imagine new pathways for humanity in a post-COVID world
ESG invites you to participate in the final session of the Global Web Talk series on 10th July 2020. Come join us!!
Environment Support Group invites your participation in a 90 minutes conversation with a thought leader exploring various imaginaries that will assist our living amicably with each other, and with nature, on this living planet.
When: Every Friday, 5 pm (IST)
Where: Hosted on Zoom and Facebook Live
2020: An Existential Hindsight for a Better Tomorrow
A 73-year old India is very young with an immense potential. Early nation builders who understood existential crises fought vehemently to gain their Fabergé (freedom) from the British colonial rule. This Fabergé that evolved since 1947 has an astonishingly rich and unique past. Now COVID-19 demands that we remove India’s blindfolds to examine at a much deeper level. Let’s peel those layers to reveal roots of a different nature that I think is stemming from learned helplessness. Through dialogue, let us step beyond band aid, as we have all experienced cost of band aid solutions.
For a river (a vibrant and diverse democracy) that runs through India to be healthy requires a collectively shared concrete and simple goal and an inclusive vision! Many early architects were reflective, emotionally agile and astute, shaping an ethos and narrative around Utopian values reflective of a growth mindset; an appreciation for India’s rich diversity both metaphorically and figuratively; tolerance for wider inclusiveness; and an empathic acknowledgement of suffering.
Did the economic policy advances of 1990’s also foster basic health care and education to bring India to it’s adolescent phase that Japan, South Korea, Taiwan focused after their existential crises? Here I explore roots and solutions to understand this existential crises and “how to” Utopian ideas.
About Dr.Manju Reddy – Speaker, Week 11
Dr. Manju Reddy is a 2020 LIWP Fellow (Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology), one among 24 nationally selected to American Psychological Association. As a Fellow she is exploring paths to effective leadership and women’s role in promoting positive changes in institutional and organizational settings. Having trained in Neurosciences and working in academic clinical settings, Manju is now focused on improving learning in K-10 school years, addressing factors that influence early cognitive development and unequal outcomes facing underserved children. She addresses these topics through Arodhum International, a social enterprise/ nonprofit that she founded, based in Los Angeles with program activities both in the United States and India. Using an upstream approach, Arodhum programs implement language and STEM learning tools and wellness care toward school preparedness in rural schools for children from rural and low income communities.
The case for Ecosocialism
Any serious plan to take even basic steps to deal with the climate emergency — let alone the broader social and ecological crisis — requires the removal of significant resources from corporate hands and placed
under community control. It requires the democratisation of the economy. This is why the solutions have to be ecosocialist, rather than an imagined “greener capitalism”.
Community control over these collective resources — and ensuring that society works with nature instead of robbing it — would require a power shift and the building of new democratic institutions.It will also require
participatory democracy that involves the majority of people in deciding how society is run.
About Peter Boyle – Speaker, Week 10
Peter Boyle from Australia is a political activist and correspondent for Green Left Weekly. Boyle is active in social justice and environmental struggles since the early 1970s. His consciousness was fundamentally shaped by anti-racist struggles, particularly in defense of the rights of First Nations people in Australia.
Race, Prejudice & Justice – How Citizens Can Utilize Advocacy To Address Systemic Oppression.
Race and prejudice in America can be explosive and divisive topics. Many countries face issues with racial, economic and cultural intolerance. Yet there is something unique to America’s consistent unrest. In recent years,
the beginning of the “Black Lives Matter” started in connection to multiple officer-involved shootings of African- American people. Even with the entrenched problems it faces, America has also been a place for multicultural and interfaith coalitions and movements to address its seismic social issues. What are ways to address intolerance? What lessons are applicable to nations grappling with systemic racism and oppression? This talk will focus on this troubling history and examples of tolerance, mobilization and the power of advocacy to make change.
About Aaron Jenkins – Speaker, Week 9
Aaron Jenkins is an advocate, activist, Christian minister and public speaker. He is the Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at The Expectations Project, a US based non-profit advocacy organisation that educates and trains faith-motivated advocates to address education inequalities in public schools in the United States. He is the former Executive Director of Operation Understanding DC (OUDC), a non-profit which has the mission “to build a generation of African American and Jewish community leaders who promote respect, understanding and cooperation while working to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms
of discrimination.” His career includes work in local, state, and federal government in the United States. He is the president-elect for the Abramson Scholarship Foundation, a US based, education non-profit that assists students to attain post secondary education.
Love (And Health) In The Time Of Corona: The Evolving Shape Of State, Market And Society Triumvirate, As Seen From Latin America.
Latin America is at once showing some of the worst impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic (Brazil, Ecuador, Peru) andalso the most successful approaches to tackling the pandemic (Costa Rica, Cuba, Uruguay). What factors shape this difference?
In this talk, Roberto Bissio explores how inequalities, social security systems, care policies and women are shaping such divergent outcomes of the pandemic. He will trace the history of real neoliberalism which started in Latin America, when radical theoretical reformulation of the roles of State and Market were forcefully applied in Chile by the Pinochet regime. He will explain why countries that followed that path are suffering the most from Covid-19 pandemic, while those that adopted a very different pathway seem to be doing very well, despite the most challenging circumstances.He will enquire if these contrasting developments indicate that the end of neoliberalism is in sight? Bissio will argue the COVID pandemic forces the public into a leading role, even if reluctantly.
Will a new social contract between State, Market, and Society be drafted as a consequence?
About Roberto Bissio – Speaker, Week 8
Roberto Bissio, from Uruguay, coordinates the secretariat of SocialWatch, an international network of citizen organizations that reportsregularly on how governments and international organizationsimplement their commitments. He is co-editor of Global PolicyWatch and a member of the Civil Society Reflection Group on Sustainable Development. Bissio is a founding member of the ThirdWorld Institute, a non-profit research and advocacy organization
Web talk Series Overview
Imaginaries for a Resilient and Inclusive New World
Over a third of human population is under the corona pandemic influenced ‘lockdown’ – a prison term now widely used. People world over are grappling with an unprecedented situation in human history, suffering an unprecedented conditioning of human behavior forcing massive populations to stay indoors wherever they are. This conditioning has been made possible because the modern State is equipped with enormous police powers (in some instances draconian authoritarianism and military power as well). Besides, it has control over communication capabilities that can potentially speak to every individual and with that has come an enormous capacity to surveil and enforce a speicific form of public order.
To organise public behaviour in this manner would be unthinkable in the 1970s, 1980s, or even in the past decade. The pandemic has created such a strong feeling of personal vulnerability, that it appears as though that very fear is now used to reinvent the idea of the person. This is assisted, sometimes willingly by the individual ceding personal spaces and fundamental freedoms out of a perceived responsibility for others, and our common good. This is now changing the notion of the public, and of public spaces.
Never before have we witnessed thousands of kilometres of streets emptying of people and their myriad activities, as we are experiencing through this pandemic. Diverse identities are invisibilised as the individual and the community have but one goal to meet – defeating a highly contagious virus by denying it its very habitat.
This is a point in human history when there are deeper interrogations with paradigms of development that has brought this pandemic to afflict us all with such severity. There are multiple conversations in the mass media and elsewhere about what this shift in individual and public behaviour would entail for our many worlds, now and into the future. This when the State is reinventing itself in ways unimaginable just weeks ago, having gained enormous power over sovereignty of the person, and over the idea of sovereignty itself.
In recent decades, the world has come together in multiple ways to work for common prospects and against common threats. The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the annual Climate Change talks are but two major events where peoples movements, nation-states and mega corporations have constructed spaces for negotiation of imaginaries of a sustainable future. The kind of responses that have now resulted in tackling the nature of this pandemic, has essentially stepped away from all such ideas of decision making that favor harmonious inter-dependencies.
This series of talks by leading academicians, researchers and activists from around the world is organised to benefit from their understanding of the imaginaries needed for our common and healthy futures.
Week 7 Summary: A One Health Approach to Build Resilient Public Health Systems in Realization of the Right to Health for All.
Countries around the world have been pushed to liberalise their economies and privatise key public services since the 1980s as part of an economic globalisation agenda promoted by undemocratic multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc. These ‘reforms’ were pursued on the premise it would enhance quality of public administration and services, help attack corruption, and thus guarantee a better quality of life for all. What really resulted is increased control by private corporations over manufacturing and global supply chains, of technology development, and financial and data /information sectors. Hand in hand massive income inequalities and exploitative extraction of nature and natural resources, and labour, increased. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare all these systemic flaws in unprecedented and unimaginable ways.
Alongside, energetic and innovative civil society processes helped build the United Nations as a public multilateral space producing commitments to tackle climate change, protect biodiversity, advance biosafety. In addition, global action through World Health Organisation got governments to agree on ambitious strategies and action plans aimed at inclusive development based, on the Right to Health for All. Unfortunately these significant gains were lost over the past deade and more due to systematic declines in public investment in strengthening national public health systems and towards encouraging innovation that produces public goods. Instead globalisation of “intellectual property rights” under the World Trade Organization facilitated multinational corporate control, weakened domestic pharmaceutical industry in developing countries and increased dependency on imports. In addition, public health systems have largely been handed over to private hands, while public funds for research and development have become a subsidy for private industry.
In the backdrop of all these developments, Yoke Ling will discuss how COVID-19 underscores that Right to Health of All can only be realised with functioning and resilient public health systems, sustainable and adequate financing, as well as a “One Health Approach” that integrates human health, animal health/welfare and the environment.
CHEE Yoke Ling – Speaker, Week 7
CHEE Yoke Ling is a lawyer with law degrees from the University of Malaya and the University of Cambridge. She is Director of Third World Network, an international non-profit policy research and advocacy organization with its secretariat in Malaysia. She was formerly a law lecturer at the University of Malaya and the executive secretary of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth, Malaysia). As a firm supporter of multilateralism Yoke Ling’s work involves various processes in the United Nations. She was a Lead Author in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in Working Group III on Mitigation. Among her current research and advocacy work is public health and resilient public health systems, with a focus on access to affordable medicines, in particular the national implementation of flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights administered by the World Trade Organization. The other focus is antimicrobial resistance and the One Health Approach that integrates human health, animal health and welfare as well as the environment
Week 6 Summary: Securing Community Land Rights helps shape Resilient Imaginaries for a Secure Future
The recognition, protection, and registration of community land rights have been central to the struggle of natural resource-based communities in Kenya, and elsewhere around the world, in ensuring an inclusive, just and stable world. Despite policies and laws promoting the idea, actual work has lagged behind putting at risk livelihoods of the majority of the world’s population which is land-dependent. The security of tenure of community land rights was not normal in the pre- Covid-19 pandemic time. This compels us to draw a line on the old normal which was survived by land grab, compulsory land acquisitions, land deals, land rush, new enclosures, development-induced displacements, and various other forms of land dispossession. Given the precariousness of urban forms of living, millions are returning to land-based livelihoods. The post-COVID-19 pandemic scenario, therefore, provides an opportunity to open a fresh outlook for resilient and inclusive use of community lands.
Odenda Lumumba – Speaker, Week 6
Odenda Lumumba is a land rights activist and a founder Co-ordinator of the Kenya Land Alliance, a Policy, Land Laws, and Institutional Reforms Advocacy Network. He has served as a Civil Society African Region member of the Governing Council of the International Land Coalition from 2008-2013. Odenda holds a Masters of Philosophy in Land and Agrarian Studies a subject he continues to pursue his Ph.D. from University of the Western Cape. He has co-authored book chapters on Land and Sustainable Development in Africa and The Global Land Grab: Beyond the Hype and authored Ours by Right, Theirs by Might; Who owns this Land?; Corruption in Land Management in Kenya published by the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
Week 5 Summary: The Covid-19 Pandemic: Seven Lessons to be Learnt for a Future
The pandemic has revealed many fault-lines in the way the world currently functions: the relationship between markets and society, how nature is impacted by our economy, the consequences of inequality, the structure of governance, and the wisdom we apply to personal choices.
We must treat this as a wake-up call if we want a world that is free of these fault lines. The lecture will propose seven key lessons we must learn for a worthwhile future.
About Prem Chandavarkar
Prem Chandavarkar is the managing partner of CnT Architects: an award-winning and widely published architectural practice based in Bangalore, India.
He is a former Executive Director of Srishti Institute of Art Design & Technology in Bangalore; and an academic advisor and guest faculty at Indian and international colleges of architecture.
Besides his design practice at CnT, he writes, lectures and blogs on architecture, urbanism, environment, art, cultural studies, philosophy, politics and education.
Week 4 Summary : MODERNITY WITHOUT ITS CLOTHES: THE PANDEMIC CRISIS SHINES A LIGHT ON FUTILITIES OF CONTROL
Contrary to the many confident pronouncements on all sides, a key feature of the current global pandemic is the underscoring in high level policy making, of uncertainties of kinds that normally remain hidden. Despite the eager rhetorics on how it might be harnessed, no-one knows what this pandemic really means. And it is this quality of ignorance (rather than any particular identifiable impact on social or environmental structures or forces), that may in the long run prove to be most politically potent. For in a world of intensifying global structures of inequality and appropriation, uncertainty-denial forms a major part of wider fallacies of control. And it is these fictions, fantasies and futilities of control that arguably form the most important diagnostic common denominator of globalising Modernities themselves. So, in highlighting the ever-present salience of uncertainty and uncontrollability, it may be (whatever other diverse effects might arise) that this pandemic can help open ways for radically new formations based on: humility (not hubris); hope (not fear); diversity (not singularity); mutualism (not hierarchy); equality (not superiority); precaution (not calculation); flourishing (not growth); and care (not control). It is in these cues and spurs to new murmurations, that chances may be arising to revolve Modernity itself.
About Andrew Stirling
Andrew Stirling is a Professor in the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University and a fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences. Working on issues of democracy, power and uncertainty in science and innovation, he co-directs the ESRC STEPS Centre and currently collaborates with ESG colleagues in theGOST Project. An interdisciplinary researcher with a background in astrophysics, archaeology and anthropology, he’s served on many science advisory bodies in the UK and EU. Formerly an environmental and peace activist, he’s also served on boards for Greenpeace International and Greenpeace UK.
Prof. Michael Goldman of University of Minnesota spoke on the topic titled “The sudden collapse of the global economy: should we mourn or celebrate? The deadly pandemic and lessons for a socially just and ecologically resilient future”
Nilufer Koc, a member of the Executive Council and Spokesperson for the Commission on Foreign Relations of Kurdistan National Congress, delivered the 2nd Talk of ESG’s Global Web Talk Series on “Imaginaries for a Resilient and Inclusive New World” on May Day, 2020.
Ms. Koc spoke on “Self-organising by Solidarity Societies Critical to Overcoming the Pandemic”, in which she provided a comprehensive account of the situation in the Middle East, in particular of the Revolution in Rojava led by Kurdish people . She spoke extensively on the critical importance of Democratic Confederalism propounded by Abdullah Ocalan, Kurdish leader imprisioned by Turkey for about two decades now.
Prof. Sheila Jasanoff of Harvard Kennedy School delivered the inaugural lecture of the ESG Web Talk Series: “Imaginaries for a Resilient and Inclusive New World” on Friday, 24th April 2020. The full video recording of the talk is accessible here.