Sustainability as a Killer App in creating Political Buy-in?

Sustainability is the most loosely used or even an abused term in our public discourse. Everyone seems to be sprinkling the term as the flavor of the season as to be Green to the Gen Y prosumer. Green washing has entered daily lexicon of ours and terms like eco-extremist, growth fundamentalist and green folks are in everyday use. Everyone seems to be using the term, but do we really understand what it really implies? Sustainability literally means very different things to different folks all across the world. Sustainability is its most basic nuance is a local issue in terms of scale. But unless Sustainability as a policy instrument is not infused within the governance framework and funds are not allocated where the measures are need, Sustainability at best would remain a buzz-word.

Nail Ferguson recently wrote a book called Civilization: Six Killer Apps of Western Power. I really liked his usage of the term Killer App. Governance and Sustainability are treated as disjointed entities often. Sustainable Development deals with the rendering of Public Goods like Water, Waste Management and Energy Access. These are also matters on which electorates vote Governments in or vote them out. No Electricity and Bad Waste Management or bad access to clean water are electoral issues in the developing world. But usually these issues are regional subjects and hence the national policy discourse is largely untainted by the significant issues related to sustainability.

Sustainability requires both hard and soft infrastructure; talent and money. Many a time the talent is around, but the money is missing. Defense get the lions share of the budget every year. Traditionally Environmental Ministry’s have been postings to low key politicians. It is not a power centre in short.

Ecological Security impacts all the variables of migration, food and water access, human conflict. Sustainability is the software which can be the compass in building political and social capital. Its high time that Politicians take the business of sustainability governance seriously.


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