View from Canopy - HoB Newsletter April 2014 issue
By: Dr. Thomas Maddox
Dr Tom Maddox, WWF Heart of Borneo Global Initiative Leader
Whilst Spiderman and others were raising awareness of the need to decrease our global environmental footprint in Singapore in March for Earth Hour this year, a much smaller but no less significant event was happening simultaneously on the next island to the east in the village of Ba’Kelalan at the centre of the Heart of Borneo.
Globally, mankind consumes natural resources roughly 1.5 times faster than our planet can produce them. Singapore represents many of the places around the world that drive this trend; achieving a high standard of living but at the cost of using many more natural resources than it can generate. Ba’Kelalan, on the other hand, represents one of the places where the reverse is true. But unlike many places that consume fewer resources than they generate, Ba’Kelalan appears to be achieving this whilst maintaining a good standard of living. As with many of the highland, Dayak villages of Borneo, the people of Ba’Kelalan rely on renewable energy sources for much of their power, grow crops with minimal impact on the land and retain a strong connection to the environment that supports them. At the same time, they have an award-winning school, beautiful houses and a stunningly beautiful environment in which to live.
Singaporeans, just like the average global citizen, urgently need to reduce consumption, increase efficiency and protect the ecosystems that generate the goods and services they rely on. The people of Ba’Kelalan do not. If anything, they have a right to consume more. In Singapore the city was plunged into darkness for Earth Hour whilst people reflected on how it might be possible to move towards a greener economy. Had they looked east towards the Heart of Borneo they might have seen inspiration, as the people of Ba’Kelalan switched off the single generator feeding the town hall and children from the local school read candle-lit thoughts on the planet they would inherit.