We extract, consume, abuse, mis-use, destroy, and compromise natural resources, even those intended for future population ,creating deeep changes that make difficult to solve some of the world’s largest problems – including social equity (e.g., poverty, health and wellness, and human rights) and environmental accountability (e.g., climate change, land use and biodiversity).
But are we doing a totally different kind of approach to sustainability that acknowledges a new future of global resource scarcity? Evidence suggests we have already transgressed the planetary boundaries in biodiversity, climate change and nitrogen inputs. It is expected that we will hit the critical tipping point of a two degree increase in global temperature in the next 12 years. After this we are likely to start to see issues with basic needs such as food and water. Over 1 billion people already live in countries and regions where there is insufficient water to meet food and other material needs. By 2025, this number will grow to 1.8 billion, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions.
What makes these statistics so scary is that their effects will now be felt within our lifetime and if not, certainly the lifetimes of our children. These scenarios, even if they are off by a couple of years, or even a decade, mean that we are entering a world in which companies can no longer operate on the paradigm of abundance, but rather must shift their thinking to one of scarcity. Research shows that many governments and firms are not prepared for a resource scarce environment and are “sleepwalking into a resource crunch. Given that environmental areas such as carbon emissions, water, waste, oil and gas, grid energy and rare earth metals are predicted to become of critical importance, firm- level response to the resource scarcity issue is critical.
In this context, what role can governments play? First of all, it is important not to be paralyzed by these statistics and decide that the problems are too big, or too difficult to tackle. It is also important that businesses move beyond the traditional “shifting the burden” archetype and stop claiming that these issues are not theirs to solve.
Where is Justice for Earth?
Environmental restoration is based on an anthropocentric bias and on the false idea that techno-scientific solutions can provide lasting solutions to environmental problems. Restorative justice teaches us that we should listen to the voice of the speaking earth; the non-human victims of environmental damage.
Restorative environmental justice is philosophically much more than a set of techniques for doing justice for the environment in a more relational, more emotionally intelligent fashion. (…) It is about healing earth systems and healing the relationship of humans with nature and with each other. Because the relationship of human domination developed during the Anthropocene, restorative environmental justice should also be about humbling humans’ domination of nature.
It is about tempering human power over earth systems and domination of the powerful over the less powerful. (…) This must involve a transformative mobilisation of the restorative power and the restorative imagination of humankind. It involves the insight that, by being active citizens of the planet, by participating in small ways in the project of healing our natural world, we heal ourselves as humans who only have meaning and identity as part of that natural world.