"Women should be given equal rights and be encouraged to participate in political and social processes."
"I think Rio+20 is an excellent forum to discuss issues plaguing the world today on a global scale. It doesn't matter that there has been no recorded progress since Agenda 21. The important thing is that there is an increasing sense of responsibility and awareness among today's politicians, state leaders, economists and so on, as they have gather under one roof to thrash out solutions to issues such as the environment and development.
When we talk about the environment, the first thing that comes to my mind is "global warming" and subsequent climate change. We have, over the years, abused nature. But before it is too late we must return to it that which we have plundered. I recently came across an article on the problem of the usage of plastics. Plastic does not decompose but at the same time its usage is rampant and universal. It poses a definite threat to the environment and the need of the hour is to find an environmentally friendly alternative. This is easier said than done, but we must persist and discourage the use of plastic.
Another issue is poverty. It must be eradicated. But this can only be achieved gradually, in a phased-out manner. We must encourage the broadening of literacy campaigns and take steps to propagate hygienic, healthy lifestyles among the poor – especially in developing countries. Women should be given equal rights and be encouraged to participate in political and social processes.
Development is a relative term. To me it is progress in the field of science and technology and the optimal use of non-conventional energy resources, such as nuclear energy. Nuclear energy, as I understand it, is clean energy. But after the Fukushima disaster maybe it is now time for a rethink based on safety concerns. The solution does not lie in the closure of nuclear plants, but in emerging wiser from our wealth of experience and channelling the knowledge we have gained towards the welfare of mankind. We can even encourage the use of solar energy, wind energy and renewable energy wherever it is in abundance and plug the energy shortfall.
The issue of population explosion should also be addressed. It calls for educating the masses, and the poor, job creation, sanitation and providing healthy living conditions. Inventions and discoveries usher in changes to the quality of lifestyle. Our aim should be to strike a balance between these inventions and the bounty of nature. This is a tough proposition but cannot be compromised upon. Thus, ideally, we must try to elevate living conditions the world over, promote peace and harmony and spread happiness. Is this too much to ask for? It's in our hands."
Hema Venkataramani from Chennai, India
Editor: Helen Whittle