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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2401

Global warming due to commercialized luxuries will doom the earth: Prof Mohan Munasinghe warns

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Colombo, 24 April, ( There are 1.3 billion in the world who live one less that one dollar per day and 3 billion on less than two dollars per day. So the sustainable development challenge is to alleviate poverty and to provide adequate food, especially for the 800 million people who are malnourished today—this will require food production to double in the next 35 years without further environmental degradation, said Prof Mohan Munasinghe, Nobel Peace Prize Co-Winner as Chief Guest and Guest Speaker at the CIMA Janashakthi Pinnacle Awards 2007 that was worked out at Cinnamon Grand Hotel.

Ranjith Page, Chief Executive Officer, Cargills Ceylon Ltd reached the pinnacle in the Sri Lankan Business Excellence when he was adjudged the Most Outstanding Business Leader of the Year and won the gold medal (Large Scale). This is one of the highest business accolades on offer among the business community. Ravindra Pitigalage, Chief Financial Officer at Lanka Transformers Group of Companies won the gold as the CFO of the Year (Large Scale Organization).

The other winners: Gold for Young CIMA Star of the Year: Asanka Wimalaratne, GM, Textprnt Lanka (Pvt) Ltd; Young CIMA Star Silver: Dayan Gunasekera, Management Accountant at Hemas Manufacturing (Pvt) Ltd and Bronze in that category was won by Himashi De Silva, Asset and Liability Management Officer at Sampath Bank. Three Merit Awards went to Kasuni Silva, Fadhil Jiffrey, and Malika Perera.

CIMA Business Manager of the Year Gold was won by G. Ramanan, CEO, HNB Securities Ltd; Gold for the Best Management Team won by Lanka Bell (Pvt) Ltd and Merit award by Amba Research Lanka (Pvt). Prof Munasinghe spoke on Climate Change, sustainable development and the role of the Business Leaders, he said that the main issue is how the level of carbon dioxide is reduced as thousands of years ago the level was low, but in the last few centuries, particularly after the industrial revolution this level has gone up alarmingly.

He said that climate change undermines sustainable development and unfairly penalize the poor and thus is a great threat to future human development . He said that business leaders can start making development more sustainable today.

He said that there are practical solutions and policy options to be implemented that will integrate Climate Change responses and sustainable Development strategy from global to local levels and there are many examples of good practices available and therefore there could be no excuses for delay.

A survey done has revealed that the global warming is unequivocal. Total radiative forcing of the climate now is unprecedented in several thousand years, due to rising concentrations of Green House Gas (CO2, CH4 and NO2) climate has now become a threat to future human development.

He said that poor countries and poorest groups will be most venerable to warming, sea level rise, precipitation changes and extreme events. Most socioeconomic sectors, ecological systems and human health will suffer. Adaptation measures are available, but must be systematically developed. Mitigation technologies are also available, but better policies and measures are needed to realize their potential.

Making development more sustainable (MDMS) by integrating climate change policy into sustainable development strategy is the most effective solution.

Future predictions are that the global climate for the 21st century - GHG would go up by 2 to 3 times by 2100 and the temperature would rise by 3C (1.8 to 4) by 2100. The sea level will rise by -0.4m (0.2 to 0.6).

There is the need to provide clean water for the 1.3 billion and sanitation for the 2 billion energy for the 2 billion people and a healthy environment for the 1.4 billion who are exposed to dangerous levels of outdoor pollution and even a larger number exposed to dangerous levels of indoor air pollution and vector-borne diseases.

Prof Munasinghe said that safe shelter have to be provided for those who live in areas susceptible to civil strife due to environmental degradation and those vulnerable to natural disasters. Sustainable development will be set back by climate change and developing countries are most vulnerable.

There are many set targets like the Rio Declaration of Principles, Agenda 21 UNICCC, Millennium Development Goals 2000: UN; WSSD Goals 2002; Johannesburg Summit; Millennium Development Summit 2006; UN.

He said that there are Climate Change and Sustainable Development Major agreements such as Poverty/Equity focus – Millennium Development Goals (MDG) – United Nations Millennium Declaration, 2000 They expect to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empowerment; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development

He said that all these targets are commendable but achieving them is the greatest difficulty. There are grave challenges to meet where there are poor living on less than one dollar per day while the richest fifth of the world’s population enjoys 82.7 percent of the world income and one fifth of the worlds population are poor the poorest fifth of the worlds population receives only 1.4 percent of the total world income.

The atmospheric GHG concentration has to be stabilized to prevent ‘dangerous’ anthropogenic interference in the climate system: enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner; ensure food production is not threatened and allow ecosystems to adapt naturally.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992 is on adaptation burden and equity: CC SD – Adaptation is first priority of developing countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. Climate change is likely to impact disproportionately upon the poorest countries and the poorest persons within all countries, exacerbating inequities in health status and access to adequate food, clean water and other resources.

Net economic effects will be negative in most developing countries. Impacts will be worse in many areas where already there are flood and drought prone, and economic sectors are climate sensitive. Lower capacity to adapt because of a lack of financial, institutional and technological capacity, and access to knowledge.

Per capita GHG emissions and population 2004 mitigation Responsibility and Equity: SD CC speaks that mitigation is main responsibility of industrial countries with high per capita GHG emissions.

He said that Global Long Term Perspectives are lessons of history and future scenarios – durable use of resources such as Nile Basin (Egypt) - Paranoiac system lasted over 4000 years, with sustainable resource use and reasonable quality of life. Yellow River Basin (China) – imperial system was stable for many millennia and supported flourishing society – Saraswati River (India) hosted a flourishing civilization for 4000 years. River eventually dried up due to tectonic activity, climate change and desertification, and water piracy.

Examples of overexploitation of Resources are Sahara Desert – once green with many animals and hunters. Over-exploitation led to a drier habitat which could no longer sustain these populations.

Speaking about Globalization Prof Munasinghe said that there could be high risks, but significant benefits if well managed. There should be good governance, rid mismanagement and corruption. Government business and civil society partnership is crucial in private- public balancing.

Too much government control and unrestrained markets are both risky extremes – He said the globalization potential benefits could be improved growth rates; increased productivity due comparative advantage . living standards rise faster. Global competition and cheap imports lower prices, so inflation is less likely to derail economic growth.

He said that open economy spurs innovation with fresh ideas. Export jobs often pay more than other jobs. Unfettered capital flows give access to foreign investment. Improved communication, more sharing of knowledge and technology.

The risks of globalization potential are, loss of national sovereignty; jobs lost due to imports or production shifts abroad; loss of comparative advantage when companies build factories in low-wage countries; adverse effects on local industries due to cheaper foreign goods.

The environmental problems would then be multinationals operate where there are fewer environmental safeguards. Global capitalism will widen gap between rich and poor; Cultural homogenization, loss of diversity and resilience; increased crime and disease; Political disengagement – citizens feel they are ceding local control to overwhelming external forces.

Climate change seriously affect poverty, inequity, environmental degradation, social polarization and also could lead to terrorism. It also makes inroads towards barbarization in that unrestrained market forces increase risk of conflict (erosion of ethical and moral underpinnings of civilization), leading to chaos and break-down such as conflict, rivalry and competition for resources overwhelm all efforts to impose order.

Then there is the Fortress World – local, regional and international groups respond selfishly to protect their interests.

Leadership/managing change is vital in a dynamic world to face continually emerging challenges. Business vision must extend beyond individual and organization growth to one that touches the society/humanity as a whole. Specific objectives of enterprise/individual must be integrated in broader societal issues like climate change,

poverty, sustainable development, poor governance, ethnic injustice, environmental degradation, etc. Some of the essential qualities needed include: Creativity, Innovation, Critical thinking, Attention to detail, Strategic Decision-making, Integrity, Ethics and values, High standards, Complete professionalism.

W T Ellawala, Chairman, Janashakthi Insurance Co as Guest of Honour said that CIMA Janashakthi Pinnacle Awards were created five years ago to recognize and facilitate the accomplishment of business leadership and financial professionalism, to recognize talent, skills, to focus on ambition and the determination to achieve.

He said that excellence and professionalism are two core values instilled deep in the culture of Janashakthi Insurance. Our continuing association with the Pinnacle Awards demonstrates our commitment to encourage these attributes in local business. He said that they will continue to partner CIMA by sponsoring the Pinnacle Awards to encourage professionalism and entrepreneurship in the financial services business, and in all other spheres of life.

The panel of judges who selected the winners was headed by Dr Uditha Liyanage and the other members of the panel were: Trevine Fernandopulle, Ravi Peiris, Richard Jurienz and Ms Rohini Nanayakkara.

- Asian Tribune -

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