WED 2010: Saving the Planet, one human mind at a time…

Race to save the Planetary Ark: How are we doing?

Today was World Environment Day (WED), and this year’s theme was biodiversity. The slogan read: Many Species, One Planet, One Future.

Different people observed the day in many and varied ways. Each one is valid, useful and purposeful.

I don’t believe in tokenistic tree planting. In fact, I’ve never planted more than a tree or two all my life – and honesty, I don’t know what happened to those hapless saplings after I deposited them gently and eagerly into a little hole in the ground…

Instead, I’m committed to a longer term effort: raising a single child as a single parent, trying to make her more caring for the planet, its limited natural resources and its people. I’m hoping that this would prove to be a lot more planet-friendly and worthwhile than a whole lot of trees planted and then abandoned…

As David Suzuki, the Canadian environmentalist and my favourite broadcaster, has said: “Our personal consumer choices have ecological, social, and spiritual consequences. It is time to re-examine some of our deeply held notions that underlie our lifestyles.”

This is precisely the premise of Saving the Planet, the six-part, pan-Asian TV series we at TVE Asia Pacific produced and released in late 2009. It was among the compilation of environmental films that we screened at the British Council Colombo today to mark WED.

Filmed in six countries in South and Southeast Asia, Saving the Planet profiles groups working quietly and relentlessly to spread knowledge, understanding and attitudes that inspire action that will help humans to live in harmony with the planet.

Here are two stories that have a particular focus on biodiversity – all others have also been featured on this blog over the past few months (just run a search for ‘Saving the Planet’).

Cambodia: Floating the Future

The people of Prek Toal have always known how closely their lives and jobs are linked to the ebb and flow of the Tonlé Sap lake, the largest in Cambodia and linked to the Mekong River. Now, the conservation group Osmose is showing how they can benefit from the lake’s fish and other natural resources without killing off the very ecosystem that sustains them. One strategy that works: to reach out to grown-ups through their children.

Thailand: Smile Again!

Tourists are astounded by the richness and diversity of Thailand’s natural heritage. But many Thai children and youth are not connected with Nature – they are not familiar with plants and animals even in their own backyard. Concerned, the Thai Education Foundation launched a programme that links schools with their local community to learn about Nature through exposure and experience. We travel to Phang Nga province in southern Thailand to find out this works.