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A Talk Show on Sustainability 01.11.1993

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"How many trees did you plant? I planted five!" a conference participant asked me proudly. I had to sadden him with the answer that I enjoyed street theatre by Earth First!

Activists instead of participating in the tree-planting event that was organized by the Manchester City Council. It was quite hard to explain to this man that the demonstrators did not damage his freshly planted trees, and that their symbolic action was directed against new motorway-building policies which are conquering the world around us.


Inside the conference

It is the final scene of the Partnerships For Change conference, held in Manchester from September 20-22. Yes, it’s the same conference that John Major launched at UNCED as a major opportunity for those people caring for the Earth to point out successes of sustainable development in post-Rio era.

The Manchester meeting was an perfect example of presenting to the world a democracy which doesn’t actually exist. 350 participants from some 60 countries all around the world, the majority of whom came from Third World countries, were invited. By the way, John Major himself showed his attitude towards sustainable development by attending trade negotiations in Tokyo during "his" Manchester conference... Are there still any doubts about economic development being the predominant policy?

The conference took place in an amazingly beautiful and huge Town Hall. There was a luxorious reception given by Lord Major of Manchester, and other receptions sponsored by North West water and British Petroleum. Participants stayed in the Britannica hotel, and business-class flight tickets were provided for relatively poor people around the world.

Why such generosity from the government, you might ask? Actually, any expense which can show to society the democracy and openness of the decision-making process are not too big for the real governors.


Sad results

It is too unrealistic to hope for any radical or important decisions from a conference like this, with participants who have experienced sustainability in their local communities but who aren’t able to understand the games that their leaders are playing on the global level. But still, there will be concrete outcomes from this conference which didn’t result in any decisions or statements! A Mysterious International Advisory Group (IAG), which chose the participants of the whole conference, took the responsibility of publishing a book on sustainability on behalf of all 350 participants! This way, the IAG, governed by Martin Holdgate, the boss of IUCN, and assisted by his friends from the International Chamber of Commerce and Trade Union men, will use my name to let the world know what ideas they are having about sustainable development. I am awaiting their bestseller with great interest!

A final observation

In no youth NGO meeting have I heard people using terms "NGO" and "grassroots" as much as in Manchester, where the rest of the participants were far older than me. Lately it seems to be a fashion for anyone to call himself an NGO.