Enabel / International development
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Over the last 20 years I have been working in the field of international development. My main concerns, based on a large number of field missions, are related to the decline of forest cover, natural habitats and biodiversity and, in cities, to the urgent need for adapted water and solid waste management systems.
Observing environmental challenges is fair enough, translating concern into action is far less easy. As a citizen, I believe that each election, whatever the level (local, regional, national or European) is a chance given to express opinions and support potential leaders showing (and proving) real interest and ambition for a greener world. On a more individual ground, within the family, I try to favour sustainable transport means such as bike and subway and limit car use. We have our own compost that we use in the garden and produce homemade jelly. We also buy fruits and vegetable at the local market to promote local producers and limit plastic bags. We paid special attention to the insulation of our home and limit heating to a comfortable 19-20°C.
However, changing your way of life and limit consumption is not a piece of cake. I believe the first difficulties we face are our own habits and mental frame. It is very tempting indeed to fly for a few days trip (holiday/seminars/meeting) instead of finding alternatives (train/conference calls). Reducing meat consumption, buy less, buy local, reuse, buy second hand…often require efforts before being integrated and becoming alternative ways of consuming. Over time things change however, I would today not consider taking my car to commute to work although that’s what I was doing 15 years ago.
Key changes at political level is a tricky question. If you focus at the global level, then that’s the whole economical system that is becoming obsolete : competition between states and between individuals, will of some to work more to earn more while others stay jobless…Locally, speaking for Belgium, I am very much impressed by the new generation which is trying hard to make lines move on the political ground, pressure from the street and from the votes are 2 majors drivers for politicians. It is more than time to invent a new economical model that can reconcile humanity with nature, propose decent jobs and emphasize quality of life before blind consumption.