The Third Annual Conference of SWAN (South Asia Women’s Network), which was dedicated to the theme of “Women of South Asia and the Green Economy” took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 2 and 3, 2011 with participants from nine South Asian countries : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
At the end of the Conference, a DHAKA DECLARATION: SWAN (South Asia Women's Network)’s Positions on an emerging Green Economy was released. In relation to Green economy, this Declaration notes among others that:
A Green Economy should be an economic system that ensures social justice and equity, protects the ecological balance and creates economic sufficiency. Such a Green Economy should replace the current economic order, which is based on inequity, environmental destruction and greed, which has resulted in keeping nearly half the world’s population in poverty, and has brought the planet to the point of a severe environmental catastrophe through climate change. The core idea of a Green Economy must be poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability through maintaining biodiversity, and the well-being of all the people.
As SWANs, we embrace such a Green Economy. We commit ourselves to raising our collective voices for it. We will transcend the fragmenting boundaries that attempt to divide us, and will unify our energies to create a better world for all.
Our local economies have always been in harmony with nature. We have used resources prudently, and shared them equitably. SWAN believes that agriculturists and craftspeople around the world have always worked in tandem with the seasons and in harmony with nature. A craftswoman carries with her the wisdom of generations that did not pillage the planet for profit. She has a deep commitment towards nurturing the natural world for sustaining livelihoods. The only raw materials needed to keep
millions employed is a thriving green environment with rich forests, wild grasses, clean waters, and unravaged hillsides. The dignity and creativity of hand-work greatly contributes towards sound rural economies. This work of women across the South Asian region must be acknowledged by all those who wish to build an inclusive and truly integrated, ecologically balanced world.
Today, those who have created the ecological crisis talk of the Green Economy. For them, the Green Economy means appropriating the remaining resources of the planet for profit — from seed and biodiversity to land and water as well as our skills, such as the environmental services we provide.
For us, the privatization and commodification of nature, her species, her ecosystems, and her ecosystem services cannot be part of a Green Economy, for such an approach cannot take into account our traditions. The resources of the Earth are for the welfare of all, not the profits of a few.
Sharing our vital resources equitably and using them sustainably for livelihoods and basic needs is at the heart of our concept of a Green Economy. Our rich knowledge of biodiversity, our ecologically sustainable agriculture, and our crafts techniques are free of fossil fuels and toxics. They generate creative and dignified livelihoods and they provide the basis for poverty alleviation.
We stand committed to strengthening these life-giving traditions. It is of vital importance to spread awareness about these issues through the media and through the educational process, which reaches out to youth and children. Awareness about the Green Economy and the significance of its diverse impacts is essential in order to enable all segments of society to make informed choices. Recognizing the changing face of the media, SWAN encourages the use of new media, including social networking tools, to reach out and support the women of South Asia in their struggle to
meet the challenges of ensuring the Green Economy for sustainable development.
Our Green Economies are diverse and decentralized and therefore are a path of empowerment for all. Women are the storehouse of knowledge and provide the cultural base to create and build economies that increase wellbeing and happiness, joy and beauty, sustainability and equity. It is from our region of South Asia that the concept of Gross National Happiness has spread worldwide. We will deepen this
concept and make it the basis of the Green Economy.
We stand committed to peace in our region and to strengthening these life-giving traditions. We commit ourselves to defending the ecological integrity of our region — our mountains and rivers, our land and oceans, our natural forests, biodiversity and seeds. We commit ourselves to creating prosperity and peace through the Green Economy that protects and enriches our natural and cultural heritage. We commit ourselves to resisting those irresponsible policies and armed conflicts that directly harm women
and children. We commit ourselves to equity and to defending vital resources, like forests, seed and biodiversity, rivers and water, as a commons. We recognize that the Green Economy we envisage will greatly facilitate and strengthen women’s empowerment in South Asia and in other parts of the world.
We commit ourselves to working together to show that a better world is possible. We commit ourselves to making our voices heard at all important regional and multilateral forums where these issues are being discussed.
Read the full DHAKA DECLARATION: SWAN (South Asia Women's Network)’s Positions on an emerging Green Economy, here