The latest issue of Zwazo, the unique and long running, full colour conservation magazine published twice yearly by Nature Seychelles, is on 'Sustainable Living' - a complex but important subject. Sustainable living is about making fundamental lifestyle choices and decisions in favour of the environment and the earth's non-renewable resources.
These decisions big and small affect all of us: where we live, how we build, what we eat, what we buy and sell, the waste we generate, where we take it, the energy we use, how we impact the environment, and how we care for it.And then there is the question of how we can live sustainably. Is it by abandoning our way of life completely or merely adjusting how we live? And at what cost?
Nirmal Shah illustrates in the editorial that there can be vast differences in the thinking between us in the developing world and those in the western world: "Whilst many people from North America and Europe are weary of consumerism and popular culture, people from the developing world are eager to adopt the same. Which is the right way?" he asks.
Zwazo asked several authors both in and outside Seychelles to explore aspects of sustainable living including green architecture, alternative energy and sustainable tourism. Examples were sought from small island developing states and the region. We wanted to give tangible examples of how sustainable living could be achieved.
In Seychelles for example the magazine looked at issues of sustainable development, tourism and energy and highlights efforts in these areas. Through a project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for instance, the Seychelles Tourism Board recently launched the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL). This is Seychelles’ first ever sustainable tourism certification system aimed at providing a set of standards to encourage and guide operators to do their part for sustainable tourism in Seychelles. The issue also highlights several energy efficiency efforts that are underway.
Articles also look specifically at island livelihoods and how to protect them. Women are protecting the fragile mangrove ecosystems in Tuvalu, one of the smallest, most remote, and lowest lying countries on Earth while benefiting from traditional handicrafts for sale, one article shows. Another explains how sustainable island livelihoods can be built without ignoring ethical considerations and challenges faced by small islands. Nirmal Shah explores the paradox of environment and development. He also compares Seychelles to Nauru in a bid to show that the choices we make while meeting the constraints of living in small island states sets us apart as countries.
Other authors have given examples of sustainable alternatives in architecture and food. These examples are in the form of organic farming in Kenya and eco-architecture in a tourism establishment in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Chumbe Island Coral Park has been built using local building technologies and materials. Its spatial orientation and open design makes maximum use of the prevailing directions of the seasonal Indian Ocean trade winds in place of air conditioning, and its making use of various energy and water saving methods. It serves as an example of environmental conservation,
sustainable designs and responsible tourism.
However, a bio-fuels (fuels from crops) article using an example from Kenya's Dakatcha Woodland illustrates how problematic energy alternatives can be. This article challenges the hyping of bio-fuels as a green, renewable alternative to fossil fuels.
Zwazo is available for free download from our e-library and on Issuu
Photo: Local women planting mangroves in Tuvalu (Duane Silverstein)