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10.04.2008 :: partner

Political animals

by Olga Apostolova :: Comments (0) :: (Read 4121 times)

Global environmental governance is taught in political science departments around the world. Bulgaria is lagging behind in such a big way that only a big move can compensate for that.
I don’t live on another planet - I do know that the environment is not high on the agenda of Bulgarian politicians right now. But how do we change that?

This year I went back to school - sort of. I am taking part in the School of Politics run by New Bulgarian University. It’s really geared towards young politicians, but there is the odd journalist or representative of an NGO (which is how I qualify). It’s surprising to observe the following. Young politicians do care about the environment and are very much aware of environmental problems in Bulgaria. However, day in and day out they are faced with a different reality. For example, how would you like to be stuck with the notion that Bulgaria’s transition to democracy may not be quite complete? Would urgent environmental issues still sound so urgent?

This reminds me of the case of UK environmental activists besieging the home of a Shell CEO only to discover – after he serves them tea on the lawn and talks to them in length – that he believes in the same environmental values, only reality on the ground is different and change takes time.

Would our politicians look stupid if they adopt the green agenda in the context of everything else that is going on in the country right now? I may be living on another planet when I am thinking – no, they won’t. If nothing else, this is the done thing everywhere else in Europe and the US. Look at Barack Obama for instance. He scored easy points by announcing that he will have Al Gore work in his cabinet. Or mayor Ken Livingstone – he teamed up with the Green Party’s candidate ahead of London mayoral elections on May 1st.

It’s a question of having a task force, team green if you like. Contemporary environmental challenges require professionals with an education that cuts across disciplines and bridges theory and practice. Global environmental governance is actually taught in political science departments around the world, albeit under a wide range of titles. We are lagging behind in such a big way, that it seems to me only a big move can compensate for that. The environment is not a joke.

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