Contradictions that Matter
14 agosto, 2020
By: Alliances for Advocacy, Reforestamos México
Human beings are made of contradictions. Surely, you have experienced episodes like these: “I don’t like avocados, but I love guacamole,” or “I am very fitness-conscious, but I use escalators.” There are several situations like these that accompany us in everyday life. Some contradictions transcend more than others. Who are we to judge if sandwiches should or should not have avocados? However, when these contradictions affect the public sphere and are related to government decisions, then yes, we can express our opinions on the matter.
Imagine this situation – which, if it had any relation to reality, would be purely coincidental: There is a hill that still preserves its trees – and it keeps them because the community living at its base is interested in taking care of them and continuing to have a place from which to extract some medicinal plants, mushrooms, and the occasional animal. It turns out that this hill holds a mineral deposit.
In this context, let’s imagine that a government authority, responsible for promoting sustainable forest management, promotes a training program with the local people to enable them to responsibly use and market products derived from the forest. At the same time, another institution from the same government authorizes the extraction of minerals from the subsoil through an open-pit mining process.
Without a doubt, this is a contradiction over the territory: on one hand, an institution ensures that natural resources are sustainably utilized for the benefit of the community, and on the other hand, another institution benefits an industry owned by individuals external to the community, resulting in the disappearance of the hill and severe environmental damage.
Another good example can be found in food production: it can be done through agribusiness or agroecology. In the former, inputs like glyphosate must be used – with little regard for the consequences it has on human health – and in the latter, the use of organic substrates is required, whose mass production requires a great effort.
To resolve controversies, we need to rely on science-based data, have a clear vision of the type of country we want to live in, and be aware that to “leave no one behind,” or to uphold the principle of “first the poor,” decisions must consider the environmental impact and social benefit in localities.
Contradictions within the government must be resolved through dialogue with society, with a firm belief that activities in the territory should be environmentally responsible, benefiting people, and yielding economic returns for communities. This should be grounded in a legal framework that promotes sustainable development and transparently presents arguments that inform the purpose and reasoning behind decisions.