Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 07 March 2007
Thursday, 08 March 2007 03:35

永續發展宣言

文化滋養.發展永續

永續發展是全世界、亞洲以及台灣非走不可的路。

我們必須保護後代子孫的權益,留給他們乾淨的水、潔淨的空氣、足夠使用的能源、生物多樣性以及維護海岸線的氣候條件,降低山洪暴發並減少旱災來襲。

永續發展滿足人的基本需要,也讓人類反省分享資源的方式:相對於消費主義與個人主義至上的觀念,我們會逐漸培養如儉約、團結等等的價值觀。

我們需要動員的文化資源,是能夠協助各個國家、國際組織、企業以及公民社會的智慧資源,讓人類敏銳覺察到必須共赴的永續難關並迎接挑戰,從而展現高度的創新力、無畏心與合作意識。

文化能幫助我們保持歷史記憶的鮮活並培育創造力,使我們更好地寓居人世。

文化多樣性是永續發展必要的一環。

生態多樣性提高自然環境的調適能力,使得自然環境更有能力去抵抗病毒的入侵與破壞。同樣的道理,多樣化的文化環境也使得人類比較有能力去因應經濟與社會的急遽變遷。

今日,文化交流豐厚了各個社會的文化資源。人類過去從來沒有裝備有如此多科學上與文化上的資源來迎接人類發展進程的風浪並馭風使舵。

文化資源是人類首先所必須共享的,透過網際網路的「知性串連」,不同文化的成功故事將更廣為人知並不斷被吸收複製。

台灣若動員本身豐富的文化資源,必然能夠成為永續發展的領航者,邁向解決世界問題的新座標。

為了永續,台灣創新:台灣不但會改善現行的發展模式,而且開啟台灣與世界的新對話。

幫助自己,就是幫助全世界。能耗降低消耗、綠色企業推廣、生物多樣性受到保護、社會公道伸張、尋求更好的治世之道,以上都是各個社會努力奮鬥的目標。

你我同心協力,讓台灣成為永續發展與文化多樣性的典範。
活動緣起 永續宣言 會議議程 會場資訊 報名聯絡

附加的多媒體:
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Thursday, 08 March 2007 01:23

Bunkers and Debunkers

This fable is about Bunkers and Debunkers.

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Bunkers and Debunkers. They exist only in this fable. Bunkers are people who believe and promote what they believe. Debunkers don’t believe and discredit what Bunkers believe. Debunkers are usually Bunkers of other beliefs.

People love to label people.

They like to sort others into opposite categories. Some classifications are more or less universally accepted, like male or female, dead or alive. Some dichotomies depend upon where one is standing, like up or down, right or left, front or back. Most dichotomies are quite relative and open to discussion, like young or old, short or tall, right or wrong, good or bad, smart or stupid, sane or insane.

There needs to be some accepted upon dividing point or standard. Everyone has a different set of standards. People with the similar standards tend to group together. They usually form a united front against these with different standards. Sometimes those at one end are sworn enemies of those at the other end and do everything in their power to convert or annihilate them.

Beliefs and disbeliefs are controvertible subjects that divide people.

Some people are willing to believe anything. Others refuse to believe anything. Some people believe so much they are not fazed by denial. Others change their beliefs with every new thing they hear.

Put another way, the world is full of Bunkers and Debunkers.

Debunkers are all those who according to the English dictionary try to discredit all the beliefs of others which they believe are unfounded.

Bunkers according to this fable (but not according to the English dictionary) are all those whose beliefs are being challenged and are defending their beliefs.

There are also many kinds of Bunkers and Debunkers.

Let’s begin with the Bunkers:
True Believers believe strongly in what they believe.
There are two kinds of True Believers.
Balanced True Believers are not afraid to dialogue with others and respect the beliefs of others.
Fanatical True Believers refuse to listen to those who think differently and relate to those who think differently as sworn enemies.
Circumstantial Believers only believe because their parents or friends or associates do.
Wishy-washy Believers change what they believe every time someone tells them something different.
Non-Believers believe they have yet to hear anything that will convince them to believe.

There are also many kinds of Debunkers:

Annihilators are sworn enemies of a belief and will do anything to discredit and eliminate it.
Doubters are forever questioning what they believe, but are afraid to renounce it.
Skeptics don’t believe anything.
Indifferents don’t believe any belief is worth fighting for or caring about.

Camp Followers swarm in the wake of Bunkers and Debunkers.

Onlookers just hang around out of curiosity or look for some excitement, but don’t want to join in.
Reporters are eager to take pictures and write articles that will satisfy their editors and justify their salaries.
Profiteers are eager to exploit the situation by selling goods or services to either side or both sides.

Now we are ready for our story.

Once upon a time, a crop circle design was discovered in a wheat field.

During the night a huge geometrical design had been trampled out in the middle of a farmer’s wheat fields, ruining a lot of valuable grain. The news quickly spread. Soon there were people saying that it was a sign produced by aliens from another planet.

Almost at once the farm was crowded with people.

The True Believer Bunkers were there in force. The Balanced Believers were overjoyed, eagerly examining the design site for proof that it had been done by aliens.
The Fanatical Believers were triumphant, confidently proclaiming they already had proof it could not have been done by mere earthlings.
The Debunkers were also there in force. The Annihilators were already proclaiming it had been done by humans.
The Skeptics promised to reproduce it themselves.
The Onlookers had plenty to satisfy their curiosity.
The Reporters had plenty to report.
The farmer was irate. He condemned the ones who had ruined his field and demanded compensation and punishment from all the unwanted visitors who polluted his farm and further ruined his crops.

A week later:

The Skeptics reproduced the same design overnight in another field.
The Debunkers claimed that proved the first design had been a hoax.
The Camp Followers lost interest and went away.
The True Believers said that didn’t prove aliens didn’t do it first.
The owner of the field had the Skeptics arrested for trespassing and destruction of property.
All was quiet for several months.

Then one night in another field a new design appeared.

This one was very different from all the others. It was many times larger and more complex and mathematically precise than any design that had ever appeared anywhere else in the whole world.

Not only that, The grain had not been trampled down. Where the plants had been were beautiful mats that had been woven in complex designs using the stalks of all the uprooted plants.

The news caused a sensation. The whole world was astounded.

The True Believers were ecstatic.
The Debunkers still said there had to be a natural explanation.
The Skeptics could not reproduce the design.
The Reporters had a heyday.
Growing numbers of Onlookers were prey for the Profiteers.
The farmer was getting rich charging visitors for guided tours.

In the months that followed:

The Scientific Community couldn’t find any natural explanation.
More and more people were becoming Believers.
The Debunkers declared that it would take more than just a fancy design to make them believe. In fact, it would almost have to be a miracle.

Six months later, the miracle happened.

Suddenly overnight, he latest amazing design and the mats that were still impressing the world disappeared without a trace. All the empty spaces where the design had been carved out were once again full of waving stalks of grain.

The farmer woke to find his field back to its original condition.
The Bunkers believed their belief in non-earthy intervention was proven beyond a doubt. Most of the world began scanning the heavens hoping to witness the next visitation.
Only a few diehard Debunkers still insisted it was a hoax.

God up in heaven looked down on the world.

He wouldn’t tell anyone how the feat had been done or by whom. He just smiled with amusement upon the predictable and unpredictable behavior of mankind.

There are lessons hidden here.

No matter what happens, there will always be those
who say it didn’t.
If you don’t want to believe,
you can always find a reason for not believing.
If you want to believe,
you are in danger of believing without question
anything you want to hear.

Doubters and skeptics there will always be.

A person with no convictions
is a rudderless ship
on a meaningless sea.
It is better to be honestly wrong
than dishonestly right.
Only a person who wants to be right
and not ashamed to be proven wrong
is not afraid to face the truth.

 

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Wednesday, 07 March 2007 18:51

Downstream Countries

Words and photograph by Moeun Nhean
IPS Mekong Fellowship 2005-2006

No one is yet able to foresee how badly affected Cambodia and Vietnam’s downstream waters of the Mekong River or the Tonle Sap Lake will become. Upstream countries like China have built dams, and many locals in both Cambodia and Vietnam, are voicing concerns about the environmental damage caused by the decreased water levels flowing down from the north.

Dams are not the only problem, growing populations in Cambodian and Vietnamese floating villages are creating more waste and the environment is paying the price. Some organizations are taking steps to turn this around and many living on the country’s great waterways are learning to appreciate the value of their environment.

Nguyen Thanh Ky is a 37-year-old fish farmer at Chau Doc in southwest Vietnam. Thanh Ky says that in the last few years, fish farmers have been facing a string of problems.

"Fish are not surviving in the bé [fish farm]. Five years ago, the fishing was good, and I never had problems with fish dying in large quantities," Nguyen says.

"Today, the number of fish in most bé in this area is decreasing and many of the bé are quite empty of fish. I don’t know what will4 become of our lifestyle in the future. Will there even be a future for floating fish farmers like us?"

"Some people have told me that fish farming is suffering because of water pollution, and even if we changed the type of fish we breed, the result would be the same: they’d die."

Kompong Loung commune chief Kev Sovannareth believes that with the population of floating villages in Cambodia growing at the rate they are, the environment is seriously at risk.

"I remember floating villages with just a couple of hundred people living on them, but now there are many thousands; ten times the amount," Sovannareth says.
"This poses a great risk to the water around the villages now, the water used to be so clear. At some spots you could see the bottom of the lake and fish swimming," he says.

"Many fish have not been sighted for years now; fish like the chpin, the chra-keng [Barbus siaja], a fish found in swamps and flooded rice fields, the freshwater Elephant fish [Oxyeleotris marmorata] and the pruol [Cyprin laveon]."

"The fish are dying because plastic and oil are floating into their habitats … Plastic bags are floating about everywhere on the lake and around the village. They disrupt fishing activities all the time, and it’s popular nowadays to use those plastic bags isn’t it? It used to be the opposite, people would just use banana or lotus leaves.

"But the most frightening thing for me to see is the pollution from engines, from the oil and petroleum leaking into the water. Fish are choking. People’s health is affected and every year many of my villagers get skin diseases. I don’t know what kinds of diseases they are or from where they’re getting them from. But I have an idea, though: pollution," Sovannareth says.

Further south in Kompong Svay district, Kompong Thom province, another commune chief, Heng Monour, is worried about water shortages and illness too. "Many of the commune people get the same stomach diseases and fevers. What if there was a dangerous epidemic of cholera?" Monour asks.

"The river is much lower and our commune hasn’t seen any of the Mekong dolphins for the last five years now. We used to see them here every season," he says.

"The amount of rain hasn’t changed in these parts, but the Mekong is just not flowing from the Tonle Sap Lake in as great a quantity as it used to. When I heard news saying that further upstream, the Mekong River was being dammed, I put two and two together and figured that our water levels are lower now because of the dams."

In a story published in The Cambodian Scene Magazine (July/August 2005), the water levels of the Tonle Sap and its nearby tributary the Dang Tong Lake, were so low in May 2005 that residents in the area discovered an ancient tree, claimed to date back to the 11th century.

Coordinator for Environmental Education at NGO Osmose Keo Yada says Osmose selected Koh Chi Vaing commune in a trial to educate the residents about their river environment and to teach them how to look after it. Koh Chi Vaing is situated on a remote area of the Tonle Sap; people living there are poor and earn money on, and around the lake, fishing, hunting and cutting trees to sell.

"A few generations ago, the water in the Tonle Sap Lake was clean enough to drink, now people get skin diseases from just bathing in it," Keo says.

Osmose, established in 1999, is one of many non-profit organizations working around the Tonle Sap Lake, who are educating these floating village residents about how the future of the lake, and their livelihoods will be affected, if they do not change their habits and protect their environment now.

Besides Osmose, two other NGOs are playing a role in helping protect the Tonle Sap, like the Australian-based Live and Learn - Environmental Education (LLEE) and local organization Mlup Baitong.

Live and Learn country director Chum Som Onn says the organization selected five provinces around the lake to undertake training courses in primary schools: Kompong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Siem Reap and Kompong Thom.

"Live and Learn also work with the local media to broadcast news related to the lake environment. Our targets are those living on the floating villages because they are the people who are affected," Som Onn says.

Keo Yada says the organization’s goal is to educate the younger generations to love and respect their surrounds. "We teach five sorts of lessons to children: forestry, fish, animals, water and pollution. Osmose has already taught over 700 students from public schools and over 200 children who do not attend school. We also teach floating village people how to make floating gardens to grow vegetables," she says.

"Fewer people are chopping down important trees, or hunting rare birds and animals now. They are beginning to understand the importance of looking after the environment. They are also throwing less rubbish into the water, particularly plastic items,” Yada said.

"As for the lake’s water levels, in the six years I’ve worked for Osmose on the Tonle Sap, I’ve noticed the flood season happen slowly, there is less water; while the dry season sucks up all the water very quickly," Keo Yada says. She blames the lower levels on the floodplains on the upstream damming of the Mekong.

Member of the Economic, Social and Cultural Observation Unit (OBSES) at the Office of the Council of Ministers Touch Seang Tana says before the dams were built, the Mekong flooded at high levels several times a year.

"All that water covered a huge area, providing irrigation, sustenance and life, for thousands of people and animals in the area. With lowering levels this could destroy the area," Seang Tana says.

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