Suggesting An Alternative Prescription
/October 19, 2017
Born and raised in South East Asia, I’ve grown accustomed to the disruption, uncertainty, and change of everyday life that occurs here. The people in this region are strong, resilient; they understand how to transition without the moan and groans. Their focus is about their families and how they are going to survive each day one step at a time.
Having spent a number of years living in Yangon I can’t help but think how does one start a conversation on sustainability to a society that has recently opened its doors to the world. A society that is struggling to find its identity. A society that is confronted with decisions of developing and becoming westernised whilst trying to maintain it’s culture, its tradition, and it’s belief system.
Is the term “Sustainability” irrelevant in this case? Is it applicable to the society here or the ever-changing environment? In my opinion life here is not stable!
Poor labor regulations around jade and ruby mines, land grabbing and displaced communities, constant flood disasters, these are just a few of the everyday challenges that occur here.There is little to nothing about our lives in the developing world that can be characterised as environmentally sustainable.
Descriptors such as stability, sustainability should be not be applied to these circumstances. We love buzzwords and I feel sustainability is ‘the’ current buzzword. A term loosely used among public and private sectors in Myanmar without really understanding what it is and how it should affect us. Western societies themselves are struggling with the concept of Sustainability finding difficulty adapting in an environment that has pre existing structures, support, and systems etc. As a result, how can we introduce the word to a society like Myanmar that is still developing, where the minimum wage for an eight-hour day is about $3.
I understand change is scary. However, time is of the essence. I hope our insights provide a renewed vision of sustainability to effectively communicate and shed light on the every day transitions people Myanmar make.
The idea of initiating innovative solutions to address large-scale problems like water crisis, weather events, food crisis, social instability is not impossible. Its can be about showcasing and describing transition.
Maybe for Myanmar we need to reword sustainability into a language and action that can be understood by the people. Maybe that word already exists. Maybe its strong transition.