Imagine a verdant forest, where anything you see has shades of green and brown; color of vibrant trees and healthy land. A cold mist runs through your nose and smells like fragrant pine; the smell of fresh air. Listen to the chirping birds and animals with various sizes forming a complex music of animal sounds; sounds of life. Then close your eyes. Immediately after one second, you begin to smell burning wood and ashes wipe your nose. As you open your eyes, the birds and animals are gone, the trees are all cut down. No life can be found; the verdant forest that was full of life lays dead.
The green and brown is changed to red and black; colors of burning wood and charcoal. In just few instances, the verdant forest is wiped out, and as a consequence, the birds and animals are extinct. This is Eastern Island, centuries after the abuse of its own people. My dear friends, colleagues and guests, it is my honor to speak to you today regarding sustainable development. Sustainable development as a concept promises many things to many people. Aspects of government policy, business strategy and even lifestyle decisions have been shaped around the concept.
However, there is still an ambiguity surrounding the subject and the meaning of the words themselves. The phrase “sustainable development” has been continually redefined to cover ever-growing parts of life on the planet, and some of the definitions are shown overleaf. From early “green” definitions which concentrated on environmental concerns, the definitions quickly moved on to cover ever-wider issues, raising the possibility of conflicting principles, compromise and doubts on whether anything can ever be agreed.
In short, it has become a complex interdisciplinary subject providing an interesting case study of constraints and pitfalls in modern living (Mawhinney, 2002). Today, sustainable development is like a rope that is created by the intertwining of small threads or strands; strong enough to withstand the test of time or adapt to any situation or circumstances where sustainable development can be applied. You have previously “experienced” Eastern Island; a civilization that is wiped out by humans.
The people of Eastern Island simply did not care for the future of the subsequent generations. They have used the resources beyond its limitations or carrying capacity. It is as if they ate the whole meal, including the plate. How can the next person eat if there’s no more plate to contain the food? Some may say, “just get another plate”. However, we should all put into our minds that forests don’t appear overnight.
Today, another environmental treasure is knocking at our doorsteps, hoping that we let it in and save it for the next generation. I am referring to the Amazon rain forest. It is another verdant rain forest that has an amazing biodiversity; plants, trees, animals, insects, amphibians and other species can be luxuriously seen in this rain forest. However, deforestation due to increasing human settlement and use is threatening to turn the Amazon rain forest into another Eastern Island; and I do not want to experience such tragedy again.
Worst of all, 6 to 12 million tons of ash is released into the atmosphere due to forest fires and the air over several Amazon cities was more polluted than that of the dirtiest industrial areas in Brazil (Rich, 1994). I was not able to do anything to save Eastern Island; nobody did. Today, let us make a stand; let’s make a difference. Sustainable development for the Amazon rain forest can still be attained as long as we do our part in keeping it. Let us separate individuality and work together.
Let our organizations work together with various government, institutions and environmental sectors or societies to save the Amazon rain forest. Let’s open our eyes and keep a firm stand against the violators of the law, particularly those who are working and dreaming of illegal logging and poaching in the Amazon rain forest. We have all seen the mistake of the people of Eastern Island; let’s not make that mistake again. Let’s work together and keep this planet green.