Of Sustainability and Culture of Peace

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Picture Credit: PressenzaBy Pía Figueroa*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BONN (IDN) - Twenty years ago, as a Junior Minister in the first democratically elected government after the Pinochet era, I had the opportunity to contribute to the Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro outlining the Chilean government’s preoccupation regarding the urgent need to create an environmental consciousness that could lead us to sustainable development.

A complete generation of young human beings has grown up since then. These people, unlike us, have been educated and informed with environmental values and today nobody can stand against a type of development that does not consider the environmental dimension. The world in which we live has changed rapidly but it is also a planet where too many are marginalized from the benefits of development.

Now that the Río+20 conference (June 20-22) has finished, we observe in its official document a growing concern regarding the future. A financial power has emerged and concentrates, in fewer and fewer hands, the destiny, not only of individuals, but also of organizations, institutions, countries and even complete regions of the planet.

Forms of violence

This tremendous concentration is a very evident form of violence that leaves the majority of people unable to participate in real democracy, leaves too many families unable to enjoy the right to education, health, housing and security in their retirement, leaves 99% of this planet's inhabitants marginalised. Social injustice seems to be creating more favourable terrain for violence than ever before.

When we speak of violence, we do not only refer to physical aggression, which is the most evident form. There are many other forms of violence aside from the physical one. There is an economic violence when there is exploitation; political violence when there is no access to participation; religious violence when beliefs are imposed and there is fanaticism; there is institutional violence when there is abuse of power and unjust laws; in culture there is violence when other cultures are excluded; there is an ethnic kind of violence when the rights of a community of people are not respected; there is gender and sexual violence, psychological violence and so on.

Human sustainability

Today sustainability must be understood also in its human dimension, as "human sustainability", since it is the human species that is increasingly suffering and finding greater difficulties to carry on life with the dignity it deserves.

Each day we are more and more convinced by the fact that there will be no development if it is not from all and for all human beings. There will be no sustainability if the human situation is not considered and prioritized.

That is why we as Pressenza have centred ourselves on four main pillars from which we organize communication and try to contribute through the creation of consciousness. These four main topics are Humanism, Nonviolence, Human Rights and Non-discrimination.

Clearly, we do not educate about these subjects, since our task as a press agency is to communicate news. But we try, on a daily basis, to give priority to all those facts that this new sensitivity is setting in motion. We give emphasis to those voices that are clamouring for a better world where we all can live, and we try to encourage people towards the construction of a single Universal Human Nation.

How can peace be achieved if it is not with the participation of all? How can it become a value as environmental sustainability already is? We subscribe to all efforts that are presently taking place around the world in order to achieve real democracy and to accomplish it through a nonviolent way.

In particular, regarding Education, we consider it very important to contribute to the creation of a nonviolent consciousness, and that is why we have supported the concrete efforts of the Argentinian Government for the Social Dialogues that Lía Mendez is conducting from the Senate with grassroots organizations; we give coverage as much as we can to the Permanent Councils of Nonviolence that Juan José Pescio is leading and organizing throughout all South America from The Community for Human Development; we have sponsored the documentary regarding the Tupac Amaru organization in the north of Argentina, and their efforts to bring dignity to human beings; we have supported the nonviolent claims of Chilean as well as Canadian students in order to create consciousness regarding the discrimination that the system imposes from the very first school years and throughout the entire formal educational process.

In other words, we are convinced that until development is from all and for all human beings, violent conditions that put at risk social as well as personal life will persist.

*Pía Figueroa is Director of Pressenza International Press Agency. This article is an abridged version of her presentation at a workshop organised by the Global Cooperation Council at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum June 25-27, 2012 in Bonn. [IDN-InDepthNews – June 28, 2012]

2012 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Picture: Pía Figueroa | Credit: Pressenza

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