June 2011, Issue 139
of Amsterdam Journal.
beauty is in the eye of the beholder democracy has many possible
definitions. One may say it was a result of a process of reconciliation
between the aristocratic ruling class and its subjects from the beginning
of the industrial revolution. Clearly, recognizing the rights of people's
decision making instead of oppressing them proved to be a more efficient
tool of governance. To keep the safety of the mass production at the
industries' factories and the necessity of a consistent environment
for "the free flow of goods", monetary stability and exchange
ability became more important than imposing the direct power of the
However, democracy has
not only failed to prevent big wars and general justice it has become
insufficient as a rule of principle at the age of information as systems
became rather complicated for having a deep knowledge in many different
fields. The vote for the late 300 page EU constitution draft was too
much a demanding task to go through, let alone studying and understanding
the details of the text. The same applies to numerous other issues awaiting
ruling from our democracies. The technical difficulty of getting people's
attention and asking them to focus on many issues than one can handle
at a life time while the world is already an increasingly challenging
place for earning one's living and even survival, is it reasonable to
expect a fair judgement from the majority to make the best decisions
for the future?
Are European Democracies
fit for dealing with the challenges ahead? Do we need new tools? New
decision making processes? Or do we need to radically renew our approach?
in knowing more and sharing thoughts and ideas .... join us at the event
future of European Democracy - Thursday, 23 June!
Social networks impact on democracy, dictatorships and freedom
By Patrick Dixon,
Chairman of Global Change Ltd.
By Jacque Fresco, The Venus Project
Democracy as a Condition
for Philosophy. 2006
By Alain Badiou,
By Noam Chomsky, American Philosopher
Participatory Democracy: What prospects in Europe?
future of European
18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Veemkade 267, 1019 CZ Amsterdam
conference language is English.
The speakers and
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science. Vrije
The essence of democracy and the challenge of internationalization
Maurice de Hond,
Dutch pollster and entrepreneur
Owner, Schloer Consulting Group
is dead, as we know it!
Moderated by Kwela
Wilderness: The Idea and the Space
By Arnab B. Chowdhury,
Prarthana Kalaskar, Rémi Boutinet
Arnab is founder of Ninād
- an Integrality-centered network that ideates Knowledge Management
strategies to help entrepreneurs and organisations to become nimble
and dynamic. Prarthana and Rémi are core members of IndiaThinks
- Ninad's research arm, which focuses on strategies that unite Knowledge-Business-Consciousness
Historically, the word Wilderness
has derived from the notion of wildness or that which is
not controlled by humans. The word's etymology is from the Old
English wildeornes, which derives from wildeor or
wild beast (from wild + deor beast, DEER).
In European culture, the word first appears in medieval Bibles,
in reference to arid, uninhabited lands that were often a sign
of God's displeasure. The traditional Judaeo-Christian view has
been that it is right and proper, in the eyes of God, to transform
the wilderness and make it bloom. At the same time, wilderness
was seen as a place to cleanse the soul. Hermits retired to the
wilderness to become closer to God. Eastern cultures had an even
stronger tradition of contemplation and meditation in natural
places.1 In America, wilderness areas are defined as
a place "where man himself is a visitor who does not remain".
Wilderness is also considered to be a human construct. It is a
recovery of a memory of spaces in nature before humans changed
it to suit their needs; a pristine, sacred nature, undisturbed
by any human activity. Late 20th century saw changes in this vision
of Wilderness and humans seemed to have found their place in nature
in a peaceful co-existence.
The World Wilderness Congress is the longest-running and
one of the most prestigious international environmental forums
in the world. The World Wilderness Congress of 1998 held in Bangalore,
India, introduced the concept of wilderness areas in Asia, where
before no such wilderness protected areas existed. Reintroduction
of the Cheetah in India and a discussion of marine wilderness
protected areas was a result of this meeting that had 700 delegates
from 30 nations voicing their concerns.3
Wilderness then is an idea, a feeling experienced by humans as
being with nature and not disturbing it; and geographical spaces
that are specially set aside for nature and which humans merely
visit but neither occupy or use for personal benefit.
Locating Wetlands in Laws and Policies
India's National Environment Policy (2006) states that apart from
forests, India's freshwater resources comprise the single most
important class of natural endowments enabling its economy and
its human settlement patterns. The fresh water resources comprise
the river systems, groundwater and wetlands. Each of these has
a unique role, and characteristic linkages to other environmental
entities ---- Wetlands, natural and manmade, freshwater or brackish,
provide numerous ecological services. They provide habitat to
aquatic flora and fauna, as well as numerous species of birds,
including migratory species' ---- A holistic view of Wetlands
is necessary which looks at each identified Wetlands in terms
of its causal linkages with other natural entities, human needs,
and its own attributes.
The Report of the
National Forest Commission (2006) recommends that a National Wetland
Conservation Act should be framed with the following:
- Inclusion of
all types of wetlands (freshwater, coastal, marshes, swamps,
mangroves, waterlogged areas) in the land use classification
in the country should be done.
- A National
Wetland Biodiversity Register should be started.
- An inventory
of 'user groups' also should be prepared while collecting information
for the biodiversity register. It should also list out the priorities
of the communities on particular wetland resources.
- To establish
a National Wetland Inventory and Monitoring Programme and a
National Wetland Information System and therefore, to develop
a sustained and serious programme for monitoring wetlands.
- The economic
evaluation of wetlands must be computed and it must be integrated
with National Resource Accounting.
- Wetland productivity
studies on a long-term basis by identified organizations from
different parts of the country need to be undertaken.
This would bring
out indisputable data on wetland productivity, which is many times
more than that of other ecosystems. Moreover, it would be an excellent
tool to check the wetland ecosystem health.
At the policy level
in India there is the Wild Life Protection Act 1972, Forest Conservation
Act 1980 and National Forest Policy of 1988 and a host of rules
formulated under these acts are implemented by the Forest Department.
The states in India have their own State Forest Policies. There
is an independent Ministry of Environment and Forests with its
minister holding a cabinet rank at the Union Government level.
The call is now for a Wetland Conservation Act from lawyers, environmentalists,
activists, Green organisations and people dependent on wetlands
Conservation of water bodies. The scheme on conservation and management
of wetlands was initiated in 1987 India is also a signatory to
the Ramsar Convention.
signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty
which provides the framework for national action and international
cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and
their resources. There are presently 158 Contracting Parties to
the Convention, with 1758 wetland sites, totaling 161 million
hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands
of International Importance. Ramsar Convention is the only global
environment treaty dealing with a particular ecosystem.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was developed as a means to
call international attention to the rate at which wetland habitats
were disappearing, in part due to a lack of understanding of their
important functions, values, goods and services. Governments that
join the Convention are expressing their willingness to make a
commitment to helping to reverse that history of wetland loss
Ground Reality --- The case of recreating wilderness in an
So many laws, rules, recommendations and for all these years
… what is the ground reality?
"I have worked like there is no tomorrow!" says Mr.
Joss Brooks the chief "knowledge architect" of the Tholkappia
wetlands, in the south Indian city of Chennai. These wetlands
were recovered from the filth laden dumping grounds of what was
once the Adyar River that flowed across Chennai and emptied into
the Bay of Bengal. A serene 58 acres of land now present an occasion
to recover a not-so-distant memory of a forest along the banks
of the river. For this project, Joss is a government contractor,
but sees himself 'a gardener from in the international township
of Auroville', who created in 1973 the Pitchandikulam
a bio-resource centre in the bioregion of Auroville.
The beauty of the
Tholkappiar Eco Park project has been a revelation to one and
all: as one retraces the steps taken to address causes one ends
up finding more inclusive and holistic solutions. At a cost of
22 million USD, the government of Tamil Nadu has committed to
work backwards and clean the entire Adyar River, about 358 acres
of area, which means resolving a lot of issues of all those who
in one way or another use the river for domestic or commercial
purposes. In Joss's own words, "This goes to show that if
there is a political will and community support and good budgetary
provisions, it is possible; it is not easy but it is possible
and that is a good sign. The word 'Innovation' interests all and
a change of mindset, to understand that things can be done and
therefore be done, is new level of being on a collective level".
According to India's National Forest Policy (1988), all urban
areas should have 33% of their land under forest cover by 2012.
The best efforts of the forest department notwithstanding, Chennai
the capital of Tamil Nadu, south India, remains the least green
metro in the country, with a green cover extending to just 9.5%
of its geographical area in the city limits.
In this backdrop the creation of the Tholkappiar Eco Park has
a special significance, it is already fulfilling the role of an
urban forest area in not just providing a beautiful aerial view
of the city but by playing a key role in maintaining the environmental
balance and supplying good quality oxygen to a polluted city.
Human trails are light footprints by students who come to study
nature or simply "be" in nature. The Department of Environment
(Tamil Nadu) holds interactive
training programme for school students.
Joss's involvement in this project began in 2004 as the founder
of Pitchandikulam Forest --- a Conservation site within the Auroville
International Township. Auroville was invited to come to the middle
of Chennai to help restore the estuary, starting with the Adyar
Creek (Adyar Poonga).
Joss grew up in the Australian state of Tasmania, a place full
of wild natural beauty and wide open empty spaces. After living
in Europe and Africa he came to Auroville in 1970 to participate
in the early pioneering work of the newborn community. In 1973
he established the community of Pitchandikulam dedicated to restoring
the eroded 60 acres of Auroville Green Belt land to its former
green cover. Now it is a vibrant forest with more than 600 species
of plants, many with medicinal value. In 1993, associating with
the Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT)
he developed the medicinal plant conservation Park at Pitchandikulam.
In 2002, the Nadukuppam Environment Education Center was founded
in a village 30 km north of Auroville in order to spread the restoration
ecology message into the Auroville bioregion. In 2004, Pitchandikulam
Forest Consultants was created to implement restoration work in
other areas of Tamil Nadu including the city of Chennai.
The actual work on the Adyar Creek began in 2008 and Joss brought
with him his rich experience of "recreating" natural
ecosystems, and an aspiration for deep harmony between man and
Wilderness and Sacredness - Nature in the City
Joss has revived the cultural sanctity of Nature with modern,
rigorous scientific studies and innovative practices through all
his initiatives at Auroville and it is this experience that he
brought with him as he set to restore the wetlands in the urban
area of Chennai. For Joss, the transition between Auroville to
Adyar Poonga is like integrating the rural into the urban and
it is here that his uniqueness is best expressed.
- Revival of
Sacred Groves: Stretches or fragments of forests protected
by the local or the visiting community with reverence and respect
which is traditionally accorded to the Divine. One of the most
important functions of the sacred groves was that it was a repository
for various medicinal plants. The groves supplied humans with
replenishable resources like fruits, honey and dry fallen wood.
The groves also had natural ponds and streams, and when embanked
met the water needs of the communities in the neighbourhood.
- Contemporary sacred
groves serve as biodiversity hotspots, often house plants and
animals that have become extinct in neighboring areas. They
can help with genetic diversity and ensure flourishing of such
species. Sacred groves in urban areas act as "lungs"
of the city. Wilderness is about letting Nature heal herself.
study and field experiments in regeneration of indigenous plant
species native to a particular geography:
Pitchandikulam is a peaceful sanctuary of a self-generating
forest where over 800 species of plants can be found in the
sanctuary forest, grasslands and ethno medicinal gardens. With
60 other in situ and ex situ conservation areas, Pitchandikulam
Forest is part of the Medicinal Plant Conservation Network.
This network implements detailed programs of botanical and social
documentation as well as conservation and planting initiatives.
There is a stress on reviving traditional health systems.
- Creating a
Knowledge base that includes the local community, its belief
systems and practices, and village elders as an important resource
of information, insight and wisdom and disseminating this knowledge.
Since the tsunami, Auroville has been monitoring the survival
of some of its coastal plantations where many Tropical Dry Evergreen
Forest (TDEF) species have been tried. It has been observed
five months after the wave that some 90%, 120 species, have
survived. This information is invaluable in the planning process
for future plantations.
Eco Park has several elements to sensitize visitors to the environment.
It has four primary zones. The first is the Arrival and Orientation
Zone, which will provide safe arrival areas for visitors and
at the same time ensure minimal disturbance to the rest of the
park. The second is the Interactive Learning Zone with interpretive
education gardens, learning areas and an Environmental Education
Centre. The third zone is the Nature Interpretation Zone, which
has a natural trail with occasional viewing points for people
to experience the various ecosystems of the Coromandel Coast.
The largest zone is the Silent Zone, which is not accessible
to the public.
technologies: Where possible, the use of sustainable technology
is embedded in all activities. Examples of such technology can
be found at Nadukuppam Environment Education Centre where an
integrated water sanitation system has been developed, solar
technology and organic agricultural activities are demonstrated.
By providing working examples of sustainable technologies the
task of encouraging communities to implement them becomes a
Eco Park is a green and plastic free zone where solar panels
light up the street lights. The small canteen at the entrance
serves organic food. An important aspect of conservation is
the water management plan --- Water from collection tanks spread
out in the park will be pumped using solar pumps. The park will
generate its own water from storm water collection and treatment
of sewage and grey water from surrounding urban areas using
innovative engineering technology, effective micro organisms
and special fountains that aerate and energize tired and polluted
water. The purification and reactivating of this essential element
of life will be a key principle of the park.
Nature will be allowed to work herself out in decontaminating
ground water and soil. With vigorously growing health plants,
the air has been rid of foul smells that existed earlier.
- Training the
young generation of students and volunteers: The vision
is to set up an environmental education centre with the aim
of restoring biodiversity in the Poonga through student and
community participation. The Environmental Education Centre
then becomes a point for community involvement in integrated
training. Teaching the necessary skills to bring biodiversity
back to the land are researched and taught involving the community,
particularly school children.
The aim is to show
visitors the wonder and importance of ecological diversity;
communicate scientific studies and research into indigenous
fauna and flora; raise awareness of local environment issues;
and inspire people to engage in the process of restoration and
preservation of the environment. It will introduce visitors
to the basic principles of ecology with an emphasis on coastal
ecology and watershed rehabilitation. These programmes will
help to nurture a deeper appreciation and reverence for living
things and natural systems. Visitors will become familiar with
plants and animals native to Chennai and learn about their interrelationships
and how human activities affect them.
The notion of urban
forests is not new in India nor is the idea of Wilderness; India
has had its 'Aranyas' (forests and wilderness where man
could contemplate on his essence and of that of the universe).
Transcending piecemeal environmental remedial measures as well
as deep ecology, "if this project works then it is a reminder
that wilderness can be ... even inside the city; it brings back
a memory, a collective memory and a conviction. It shows how urban
wetland could be cleaned up. The park is not about entertainment
or making a profit. It is about pulling out something different,
about making a big shift and a place to dream, to imagine.
People have forgotten to imagine ... to imagine ... so important
to imagine, not to be scared of imagining".
As we celebrate the World Environment Day on 5th June,
the news that Bolivia has enshrined natural world's rights with
equal status for Mother Earth has clearly turned the spotlight
again4 on "Wilderness" as a global issue
that needs to be addressed sensitively and urgently; followed
by Ecuador, which changed its constitution to give nature "the
right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles,
structure, functions and its processes in evolution". 5
"Ley de Derechos de La Madre Tierra" in Spanish (Law
of Mother Earth)
The legislation in Bolivia creates 11 distinguished rights for
They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue
vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right
to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not
to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified
or genetically altered.
"It establishes a new relationship between man and nature,
the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration."
Still some way to transit from Human Rights to Rights of Nature
and essentially to a harmony, goodwill and collaboration between
of Amsterdam blog
of Amsterdam blog
January 1: On
the meaning of words
November 30: The
happy organisation – a deontological theory of happiness
November 26: Utilitarianism
for a broken future.
about the Future
Toyota Friend is a private social network for Toyota
customers and their cars. Toyota Friend will be powered by Salesforce
Chatter, a private social network used by businesses, and will be
offered, first in Japan, initially with Toyota's electric vehicles
and plug-in hybrid vehicles due in 2012.
Marc Benioff said: "Toyota and salesforce.com share a vision
to take the auto industry into the future. Social and mobile technologies
will transform the car ownership experience, and we are excited
to be Toyota's partner in this transformation."
Based on the latest developments in neuro-technology, Emotiv has
developed a revolutionary new personal interface for human computer
interaction. The Emotiv EPOC is a high resolution, neuro-signal
acquisition and processing wireless neuroheadset. It uses a set
of sensors to tune into electric signals produced by the brain to
detect player thoughts, feelings and expressions and connects wirelessly
to most PCs.
In this first “World
Ocean Review”, we present
a report on the state of the oceans which will be followed by
periodic updates in the future. Our aim is to reveal the consequences
of intense human intervention for the ocean realm, including the
impacts of climate change. We already understand some of the effects,
but many unanswered questions remain. What is certain, however,
is that human society must change its behaviour with the goal
of achieving sustainable interaction with the environment and
the oceans in particular.
The world oceans, global climate drivers
The oceans cover around 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface.
They thus play an important role in the Earth’s climate and
in global warming. One important function of the oceans is to
transport heat from the tropics to higher latitudes. They respond
very slowly to changes in the atmosphere. Beside heat, they take
up large amounts of the carbon dioxide emitted by humankind.
How climate change alters ocean chemistry
Massive emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere have an
impact on the chemical and biological processes in the ocean.
The warming of ocean water could lead to a destabilization of
solid methane deposits on the sea floor. Because of the excess
CO2, the oceans are becoming more acidic.
Scientists are making extensive measurements to determine how
much of the humanmade CO2 is being absorbed
by the oceans. Important clues are provided by looking at oxygen.
The uncertain future of the coasts
It is now accepted that global warming will result in a significant
sea-level rise in future, with many low-lying coastal areas around
the world being lost to the sea over the coming centuries. The
wealthy industrialized countries will be able to defend themselves
from the encroaching waters for a time, albeit with massive technological
effort. In the long term, however, they too will have to withdraw
back from the areas under threat or, alternatively, adapt to rising
Last stop: The ocean – polluting the seas
Human society inevitably generates immense amounts of waste arising
from the production and utilization of food as well as industrial
and consumer goods. A considerable amount of this waste eventually
ends up in the oceans. Fortunately, the pollution from oil has
been decreasing in recent years. But the increasing load of nutrients
and pollutants and general littering of the oceans are a growing
cause for concern.
Climate change impacts on marine ecosystems
There can be no doubt that climate change will alter marine life.
Changes in ecosystems usually have multiple natural causes, but
increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global
warming are now playing a critical role. The extent of the coming
disruption to biotic communities is unknown.
Exploiting a living resource: Fisheries
For decades, the catch from the world’s fisheries steadily
increased – with the result that many fish stocks are now
classified as overexploited or depleted. Failed fisheries policies
and poor fisheries management are to blame for this situation.
Short-term profits appear to take priority over the development
of a low-impact, sustainable fisheries sector that will remain
economically viable in the long term.
Marine minerals and energy
Our appetite for energy and mineral resources seems insatiable.
As landbased resources become increasingly scarce, those in the
oceans are attracting greater interest. The fuels and ores in
the deep sea are particularly tempting. But wind and wave power
could also meet a proportion of our energy needs.
Maritime highways of global trade
The volume of maritime traffic increased significantly over recent
decades, but the global economic crisis brought the industry to
its knees. Now there are promising signals for a recovery, however,
nobody knows what the future holds for the process of globalization,
the global imbalances still linger on and the world of finance
continues to be in a fragile state. The growing threats of piracy
and terrorism could also compromise shipping.
Medical knowledge from the sea
Marine organisms such as bacteria, corals and sea sponges contain
thousands of interesting substances that could provide us with
the medications of the future. Some of these agents have already
been approved as drugs. Research on primordial organisms can reveal
both how diseases occur and how they can be treated. Before the
treasure trove beneath the sea can be claimed, however, some legal
issues must be resolved.
The law of the sea: A powerful instrument
Today, a raft of international treaties determines which state
has jurisdiction over coastal waters and the seabed and where
a country’s fishing fleet may legally operate. However, the
extraction of mineral resources from the ocean floor and climate
change are confronting the international law of the sea with new
challenges. Balancing the protection of the marine environment
with intensive use of the oceans is also a difficult task.
Crisis and Renewal (Big Ideas)
By Paul Ginsborg
Despite the global
expansion of democracy, a looming threat has appeared in the countries
that claim to love it most: declining electoral turnout, diminishing
faith in political institutions and the growing gap between the
political class and those who elect them? Historian and commentator
Paul Ginsborg goes back to first principles and examines anew a
concept that we once fought for in this brilliant and bold new diagnosis
of our political system.
Political parties have
lost swathes of members and effective power is ever more concentrated
in the hands of their leaders. Behind these trends lie changing
relationships between economics, the media and politics. Electoral
spending has spiralled out of all control, with powerful economic
interests exercising undue influence. The 'level playing field',
on which democracy's contests have supposedly been fought, has become
ever more sloping and uneven. In many democratic''countries media
coverage, especially that of television, is heavily biased. Electors
become viewers and active participation gives way to mass passivity.
Can things change? By going back to the roots of democracy and examining
the relationship between representative and participatory democracy,
political historian Paul Ginsborg shows that they can and must.
is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between
human habitation and the natural world through design approaches
so sympathetic and well integrated with its site that buildings,
furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated
The term organic architecture was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright
Fallingwater by Frank
Organic Architecture S3238821
Portrait: Prabhu Guptara
Professor Prabhu Guptara (born 1949 in Delhi, India) is
an authority on the impact of technology on globalization, on
strategy, on knowledge management, on corporate social responsibility,
on comparative and cross-cultural ethics, and on management and
Professor Prabhu Guptara is Executive Director, Organisational
Development, Wolfsberg (a subsidiary of UBS - one of the largest
banks in the world). He is also Freeman of the City of London
and of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, and
Chartered Fellow of the of the Chartered Institute of Personnel
and Development; he is also Fellow: of the Institute of Directors,
of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and of the Royal Society for
the Encouragement of the Arts Commerce and Manufactures; and has
supervised PhD research at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland)
as well as to be Visiting Professor at various Universities and
Business Schools around the world.
Earlier roles include:
a Governor of the Polytechnic of Central London, Member of the
Council of the British Institute of Management, of the International
Federation of Training & Development Organisations (IFTDO),
of the Association for Management Education and Development (UK),
of the South East Regional Council of the Confederation of British
Judge, 1988 National
Training Awards, 1980 Commonwealth Poetry Prize, 1990 & 1991
Deo Gloria Prize for Fiction; Chair of the Panel of Judges, Deo
Gloria Prize 1992 & 1993.
an enormous range of organisations including: Akzo Nobel (Netherlands),
the Associated Banks Institute (Germany), Barclays Bank (UK),
British Petroleum (UK), the Council of Europe, Cultor (Finland),
Deutsche Bank (Germany), Groupe Bull (France), Federation of Finnish
Engineers (Finland), the International Management Association
of Japan, Kemira (Finland), Kraft Jakob Suchard (Switzerland),
Leadership Academy (Finland), Nokia Telecommunications (Finland),
Novo Nordisk (Denmark), Sedgwick International Insurance and Reinsurance
Brokers (UK), Singapore Institute of Management, Sonatrach (Algeria),
Sun Alliance (UK), UNCTAD, Valeo (France), and so on.
Why are loans bad for the poor?
June 23, 2011
18:30 - 21:15
future of European Democracy
Veemkade 267, 1019 CZ Amsterdam
Season Events 2010/2011
Oct 14, 2010:
future of Hacking
future of Happiness
Jan 20, 2011: the
future of Financial Infrastructure
Feb 17, 2011: the
future of Services
March 17, 2011:
future of Shell
April 14, 2011:
future of the Human Mind
May 19, 2011:
future of Singularity
comments, ideas, articles are welcome!
Please write to Felix Bopp, Editor-in-Chief:
Copyright © 2002-2011,
Club of Amsterdam.
All rights reserved.