Sustainability after Covid-19: Interview with Meera Ghani
By Richard Bousfield
On June 25th, Greenbuzz Berlin, Geneva and Zurich join forces to discuss the topic of Sustainability after Covid-19. We spent time with Meera Ghani, Community Organizer and Activist, presently working at ECOLISE as their Policy Coordinator.
Hi Meera. Firstly, what drove you toward this point in your career and what motivates you forward?
I’ve been a part of the climate justice movement for over 15 years, and while I see in those years some of the rhetoric around climate breakdown has changed, the narrative still hasn’t. For me, climate breakdown isn’t just about controlling emissions and technological fixes, it is a manifestation of existing systems of oppression namely, colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism. Unless we address those root causes, we can’t come up with the right solutions. For me this work is about dismantling the interconnected systems of oppression, hence climate justice work can’t be separate from racial justice, social justice, economic justice or gender justice.
Culture of Care is central to much of your work, can you tell us a bit about this theory?
A culture of care is essentially my counter to the culture of violence we live within today, which is entrenched further by the trifecta of systemic injustices. Its putting care at the heart of how we build and move forward. It’s moving towards regenerative economies that replace extractive and punitive forms of social and ecological relationships with systems that are nurturing to all forms of life, and enable individual and collective flourishing. In practical terms, it means divesting from institutions and corporations that are destructive and re-investing into services and institutions that center and provide care such as health care infrastructure, mental health services, child care, elderly care, affordable housing, public transport and a living wage. This is where I see a limited role of the state.
Communities are already demonstrating how to build regenerative economies through initiatives that seek to bring about ownership, custody, and management of natural resources and productive assets by their communities of co-users, and to bring the provision of basic needs and economic governance into community control.
You are currently Policy Coordinator for the European Network for Community-led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability (ECOLISE) – how have community-based initiatives played a key role in engendering a more sustainable future?
Research shows that community-led initiatives such as Ecovillages, Transition towns and permaculture initiatives (many ECOLISE represents) are creating low carbon alternatives to existing lifestyles, local economies, and other unjust societal structures, directly reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses, enhancing biodiversity and fostering independence from the fossil fuel economy.
Coronavirus has had a dramatic impact upon societies and economies around the world. How do you see the Pandemic impacting local community-led initiatives over long-term scales?
Community-led local initiatives have shown an amazing and unexpected amount of resilience during the pandemic. While many communities are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, their reliance on community grown food, community-owned energy systems, and care services has meant that they managed to carry on without major impact. Hence as a learning form this we have and as a response to the pandemic, we are launching an Action Programme called Communities for Future in September.
What policy solutions do you see as facilitating the change necessary for more just and sustainable societies?
5 “simple” steps towards a just recovery would mean:
- divest from the life-taking institutions and industries;
- degrow the Northern economies that are based on extraction;
- decolonize from the mentality at the heart of this injustice;
- re-distribute the wealth hoarded by the few; and
- invest in life-affirming institutions and community-based services.
For more information on the event, please visit: https://www.greenbuzz.global/bern/