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RIO+20 The Future We Want

RIO+20 the future we want

Amy Tsanga: The Future We Want

Amy Tsanga

The future we want is fundamentally predicated on coming to grips in our present time, with the obstacles that currently prevent humanity from realising its full potential for sustainable development. Great technological strides particularly in the military and telecommunications arenas have been made by humankind over the last twenty years. Yet a troubling, and certainly very humbling reality of humanity’s true progress towards sustainable development, emerges when these advances are juxtaposed against the everyday realities of war, starvation, poverty, sickness, unemployment, homelessness, religious intolerance and xenophobia in various parts of the globe.

The vast majority of the world’s people continue to experience the relentless brutality and consequences of a dominant, unbridled economic system that is founded on the narrower interests of a basic few. While high food and commodity prices have contributed throughout the world to a food crisis, the truth is that we live in a world where some rich countries, year after year, would rather throw away millions of tons of food and grain than give it to those who are starving. We have witnessed how the might of the gun and superior military technology by the world’s powerful is being used to overthrow governments and cause unending mayhem in order to access another country’s resources. Sustainable development cannot take place in a constant cycle of unending greed and accumulation. The future we want requires fearlessness in challenging the current world economic order that is largely responsible for increasing gaps between the haves and the have nots.

We live in a world where the space for freedom of movement is shrinking rather than expanding by virtue of one’s religion, colour of skin or ethnicity. In many parts of the western world a combustible situation exists in terms of living in a context of ethnic diversity. Muslims know only too well the strictures on their right to “be” that have come with 9/11. Africans throughout the globe hold no illusions about the end of racism. One only has to try getting a visa to the West and to the Americas to be reminded time and time again that small improvements in race relations should not be mistaken for major triumphs.

In sum, the future we want is fundamentally one where human rights are not dependent on the narrower interests of a global power, but are driven by truly universal values.

Amy Tsanga is a senior lecturer in law and Deputy Director of the Southern & Eastern African Regional Centre for Women’s Law at the University of Zimbabwe.