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Attending the WSSD: An Optimist in a sea of doubt

Why I’m attending the WSSD: An Optimist in a sea of doubt.

The deteriorating state of our planet is ultimately a reflection of the current human condition. However, being human enables us to design and create transformational change. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) for me is an ultimate reflection of our genuine willingness to be better at being human. We have the potential, but dare we believe it is possible?

I am pleased not to be an official member of the New Zealand delegation. It enables me the flexibility required to move through this complex event, I do however remain networked to the NZ team. Being human requires us to operate at all levels.

I have chosen to be a part of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements’ (IFOAM) team. In that capacity, I will be able to independently observe and perhaps at times be the conscience of the New Zealand delegations performance. Indicators of this performance should include:
- The ability to listen and observe the genuine needs of others
- The tenacity not to be bullied by the greater industrial nations agendas and hold firm to being globally responsible of our unique position
- The ability to applaud and endorse those creating positive change in small meaningful ways as well as large courageous ones
- To give substance to sustainable development by committing NZ to being a world leader in positive, non polluting, measurable change and by doing so become an active world leader in integrated sustainable development.

On a personal basis I am seeking to identify good news, together with regional and local actions that are making a difference to the planet and all biological life on it. There is so much technological information to learn from the developed nations and an equal amount of the social dimension from undeveloped ones. It is my life experience that there is so much to share.

My role, as part of the IFOAM delegation team, is to communicate the positive trend of the world increasingly adopting measurable sustainable practices and principles through Organic systems agriculture. The international Organic community has moved from being small and desperate to an extremely powerful. Organics is more than food and fibre and includes urban poverty alleviation projects to the fastest growing food and health sector in the world. It is one driven by the consumer and is essentially based on trust, an ingredient civil society does not give to government or multinational business. Organics symbolises the future of integrated sustainable development.

Being fresh from an international Organic conference in Canada, and a visit to some of Capetown’s poverty alleviation projects, arrival in Johannesburg for the WSSD leaves me feeling optimistic that the human spirit can create positive equitable change. As humans beings we can, if willing, be successful.

I also suspect that the WSSD will confirm the growing trends of power allocation. Currently these include the multinational business and governments (in that order). Less predictable and increasingly effective is the growing effectiveness of civil society. Civil society’s power is in its trans-national global alliance centred on equity and the ability to mobalise resources and counter positions at rapid pace. The future of our success is reliant on all people all over the planet.

Measuring the success of the WSSD, is dependant on humanities desire to accept that real meaningful change is essential, but requires a rethinking of our desires and willingness to live gracefully with ever less materials. I dare to believe this is possible.

Brendan Hoare
027 480 30 52

Brendan Hoare is a senior lecturer from UNITEC in Organic systems and sustainable design. Mr. Hoare who is also the co-convenor of the Organic Federation of Aotearoa New Zealand (OFANZ). He is part of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement’s (IFOAM) four person team to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

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