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Documentary Script Episodes

The Vrinda Handbook


MDGs presentations
Countries presentations



Episode 7 - MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability


Issue 10 - Sharing knowledge and resources. Why and how development actors support each other








To be recorded



Stefano asks  e Vrinda replies


 Learning and Knowledge Management


To be recorded






Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

The depletion of the Earth's resources is higher than the rate of regenerating resources. This means that we have not chosen a sustainable path of economic development.

The MDG 7 acknowledges that development can be sustained only by environment conservation and recognizes the right of future generations to inherit an environment as preserved as the one that we are enjoying.

Although the rate of depletion of natural resources is decreasing, humanity is unable to protect plant and animal species at the risk of extinction.

South East Asia's contribution to green house gases increased by 82% in the past decade although per capita emissions remain the highest in the developed regions.

More than half the population of countries like Sierra Leone and Mozambique remain without access to safe drinking water.





Sustainable development

Ethics and environment





The problems of African environment

Africa - Need Assessment - Eugenio & Osman in Liberia and Guinea






More reflections on  community and environment

how can we plan a project so as to ensure that is sustainable?






Africa - Community Tourism - Number2 River

Along the North Atlantic coast of Sierra Leone and flanked by lush green hills, lie some of West Africa’s most beautiful beaches. Along this coastline, near the capital city Freetown, is a one-mile stretch of fine white sand where lies one of the country’s most pristine yet simple beach resorts. Here, the beach skyline is dotted with thatched grass huts for daily rental, beach chairs and umbrellas, small guest cottages, a restaurant and bar, and several long wooden boats that ferry visitors up the river to spot crocodiles or take them to see the Banana Islands, once a staging point for the slave trade.


The beach resort has been developed and managed by the community of a village called Number 2 River. The village itself is tucked out of sight in the woods near the northernmost part of the beach. The non-profit entity that manages the resort is called the No.2 Village Development Association.


Number 2 River is an entrepreneurial marvel in one of the world's poorest nations. Its success story began in 1998, in the midst of a decade-long civil war, when the U.S. Embassy gave the village $2,500 and encouraged it to take advantage of its unique location on one of West Africa's most beautiful, unspoiled beaches. The village leaders didn't disappoint the U.S. Embassy. They built a little resort that has grown over the years and today employs around 30 villagers. The resort hosts around 1,500 every year.


The No.2 beach resort practices and promotes “responsible tourism”; i.e. a tourism that has a positive social, cultural and environmental impact, that that protects the human and natural capitals. Responsible tourism is a way of utilising tourism potentialities of a specific area or resource in such a manner that the tourism resource of that territory is protected. Responsible tourism also makes sure that those who are directly or indirectly employed in the tourist industry can preserve the way of living that they value and chose to maintain. On the side of the tourists “responsibility” means relating to the environment and the communities in a non-invasive manner and thus enjoying more rewarding human relations and experiences of contact with nature.


Responsible tourism at local level needs requires a dialogue and collaboration amongst all major stakeholders so as to ensure a community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) that generates lasting benefices to the communities who are directly or indirectly dependent on the location for their livelihoods.


The crowd on a winter Sunday can be as high as 80 persons. The profits of the resort serve the village needs, like paying school fees for the children and medical bills for everyone. The association re-invests some of its $13,000 average annual profit into the resort, maintaining a rustic charm that has made it a favourite weekend getaway for Sierra Leoneans as well as the expatriate community. The employees divide 10% of the proceeds among themselves. The association maintains a generator that provides electricity to the entire village.


The 10-member board of the association dreams of Sierra Leone as a prime tourism destination and hopes to receive many more visitors in the future.






International cooperation: is it dialogue and solidarity or an effort to export Western stereotypes?






Sierra Leone - Unsustainable Growth - Kono Town  

he mining sector in Sierra Leone officially accounts for over 90% of the country's export earnings. However, the share of this sector in the country’s GDP has dropped from 16% in the early 1970s to 10% today. Illicit mining and widespread smuggling of gold and diamonds has increased over the past years. And excess exploitation of mines has led to decreasing public revenues and depleting deposits.


We went to Kono, a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, which is the largest producer of diamonds in the country. We all know that the decade of brutal and devastating civil war in Sierra Leone was a "diamond war", fuelled by diamonds. Rival factions constantly fought for this area and much of the 600,000 population had to leave their homes. The vast lands of the Kono District were heavily looted, making Kono among the most ravaged districts of the country.


Both large-scale and artisanal mining today result in land degradation since miners clear lands, dig up vegetated areas, reducing the vegetative cover, often felling valuable trees. Mining activities in hilly areas and slopes also lead to soil erosion. Miners usually abandon the excavated areas that get filled by water and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This kind of mining contaminates water sources and makes land unsuitable for living or farming.


Unsustainable mining activities cause heavy siltation in river beds and creeks, reducing coastal coral and fish populations that feed and breed in it. Toxic wastes in the water sources contaminate marine life making them unfit for human consumption.


Such irresponsible and over-exploitative mining is often the cause for fierce clashes between farming communities and the floating population of artisanal miners.


The diamond reserves are both a blessing and blight for the people of Kono. The war is over but mining activities even today continue to destroy large tracts of land. Often companies, both foreign and national, procure mining licenses from the national government, take out the minerals and leave the land and the environment devastated. Although environment protection is the central issue of most international debates, international companies continue ravaging natural resources for profits and tempt local governments into violating legislations.


Why is it that we respect legislations in our countries, while we use every opportunity in other countries to maximise our profits even if this means crossing the threshold of human and natural resource exploitation?






The religious dimension of ecology






Africa - Father Osman Marah and the Pentecostal Church 

 Africa - Father Osman Marah and the Pentecostal Church 





 la dimensione spirituale della sostenibilità






Syria - Valuing Water - Damascus

Water is the most precious resource of humanity. With more and more people migrating to cities and with cities becoming more prosperous, especially in developing countries, the demand for water in urban areas has grown manifold. Syria’s population grows at more than 2.6% per year. 56% of this population lives in urban areas.


Damascus, the capital city of Syria, is no different from its sister capital cities across the developing world. The Greater Damascus area has more than 4 million inhabitants. 70% of the water is used by rural areas around the 30% is shared by residential, commercial and industrial neighbourhoods. The urban rich solve water problems by buying water from private tankers while many poor families share a common source of water.


Acknowledging the increasing demand for water and the need to preserve and recycle this precious resource, the Syrian government requested the European Investment Bank and the Government of Germany to support setting up of pilot wastewater treatment plants and a sewerage system in Southern Damascus. The bank has provided financing of more than 1.7 billion Euros since the start of its activities in Syria in 1978. This specific cooperation between the European Investment Bank and the Damascus Water authority aimed at improving water and sanitation services and establishing a best practice in the management of this sector. Through the GFA consulting group, the bank provides expert advice on managing, benchmarking and technical aspects.


Alongside the infrastructure part of the project, the Syrian government increases awareness, among religious leaders, teachers, parents, students, on the value of water, the public role in conserving it and ways to harness and recycle it.


We went to a mosque in Damascus to meet the Imam of a mosque who talks about environment issues during his sermons and also recycles water. We also went to meet school children who learn about why there is a need to save and recycle water.



















 Lebanon - Managing Waste - Bint Jbeil 


 Lebanon - Managing Waste - Bint Jbeil 






- testimonial by Maroun Aziz  major of Bkassine  (Lebanon)




  J.M. Balamorugan  is a Indian Government Official taking a 4-5 year service with Civil Society.  and is the CEO of Isha Foundation.


  • I think it is important for people to change sector so that they can learn from the other sector and bring back their experience. Why do you think it is important for people to do that and how can we make systems more flexible to allow that?

This flexibility is very important in whatever we do. Because after a period of time we tend to be inflexible, rigid in our way of working and we tend to assume we know things and we have lots touch with reality. Whatever sector one is working in they need to know the role of the other agencies, they need to spend time with the other agencies. They need to get involved with the other agencies; and what better way than to actually spend time working with them. When you work with them you are actually able to learn from the prospective of the other agencies and you are able to bring back the experience in your own working.

  • Do you think we should ask institutions to allow people to work in a different ambience and then come back to them?

Yes, it should be built as part of the system itself in the organization, that a person gets to spend a certain period of time in a sector with which he is connected. Like if I am a computer company which is giving solution to municipal bodies, this person should spend some time with the municipal bodies and understand how the whole thing works; so that whatever he designs as system is more closer to reality. Organizations should have a flexibility to provide this kind of facility for their staff.





 India - Green Hands- Coimbatore

 In 2010, the Government of India awarded the project “Green Hands” with the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, the highest national recognition given to individuals or organisations working for protecting the environment. In 2006, 852,587 saplings were planted as part of this project, earning a place for it in the Guinness Book of World Records.


We went to Coimbatore to meet Sadhguru, the spiritual leader of the Isha Foundation, who launched this project as a response to the huge deforestation occurring in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu where millions of rural people risk becoming victims of famine caused by desertification.


Over the years, Sadhguru has motivated millions of individuals to plant and nurture trees. Sadhguru observed that nurturing two saplings over the next 10 years was a task that the poorest of the poor could also do. So, he encouraged everyone to get involved in planting trees, without placing any additional financial burden upon the state.


Over the past 8 years, more than 2 million Isha Foundation volunteers have planted around 14 million saplings. Their target is to plant 114 million trees, especially along the sea side so that the impact of future tsunamis and cyclones is minimised. Besides this, the Foundation also conducts “greening” campaigns, raising awareness among school and university students, government, NGOs and the private sector.


Acting as a responsible citizen of the world, Sadhguru, albeit unknowingly, contributes to the Millennium Development Goals.






 Relationship between Spirituality and a Desire for Inclusive Growth

  • Do you think there is a link between spiritual search and the desire for inclusive growth? The very basis of spirituality is inclusiveness, because exclusiveness comes because of physicality, because physicality means boundaries, boundaries means explosiveness. Boundaries means you are on one side, I’m on the other side. Spirituality means going beyond the physical, going beyond the physical naturally means going beyond boundaries, going beyond boundaries is inclusiveness, isn’t it?  Right now people are struggling to think in   exclusively. That struggle is not needed if your experience of life becomes absolutely inclusive. That is the spiritual process.

  • Is it going boundary less or making a greater boundary? Boundary –less. Non-physical means boundaryless.

  • Is spirituality the only way forward or can non-spiritual people also have a dire of inclusive growth?   There is no one who is non-spiritual. Either you can be consciously spiritual or non-consciously spiritual. Can you just be physical? There are other dimensions of who you are. Physical is what you have gathered over a period of time, is that so? Whatever you gathered is can be yours but it cannot be you, isn’t it? Right now you sit on this stone and say this is my stone. After some time, if you sit long enough, you say, “this is me”. That is madness, isn’t it? That is what is happening with your body and your mind. Whatever you collect, whatever you accumulate it can be yours but it can never be you. If you get out of that foolishness, if you get out of that illusion, then you are spiritual. Whatever you are not conscious of does not exist for you, that is a problem with life, isn’t it? Right now behind you a huge elephant is standing. Don’t turn back and see! Such a big animal; you are not conscious of it so it does not exist for you, isn’t it? Life is like this, only what you are aware of exists for you, what you are not aware of does not exist for you. Spiritual process means that whatever this is [the whole you], you are aware of; that you do not want to leave this piece of life unexplored, that you want to know it through and through. That is the spiritual process.





TV7 on India






Watching the video in Rome

Backstage - Italy 1 - Armadilla Office in Rome






Heroes and programmes






Development Education

Select the right passages

·         Lappalainen - Etikwa Ikutu - Media (and ONGs) media uninterested on the real policy issues - why



    The Vrinda project :  community dialogue not prophets

The expected outcome of TVP

By creating, collecting and distributing knowledge resources and tools for media personnel so as to facilitate them in informing their public of international development priorities, this Action will help the opinion makers to better inform the European public about the scope and challenges of the Global partnership for Development.

A more informed public will understand why it is in the interest of everybody to built faire relations between developed and developing countries. And this will lead to changes in the attitudes of the EU public with regards to issues and difficulties the developing countries and their peoples are facing.

In this way we hope that TVP will contribute to raise public pressure upon policy decision makers for implementing the international agreements (like the MDGs) aimed at reducing poverty and at improving relations between developed and developing countries.




Manoj Kumar  Country Director of Concern Worldwide  was interviewd  by Stefano De Santis on December 2010   in River N 2, Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone.

  •  CONCERN internal and external challenges: "There are difficulties to recruit expertise. Because of the war an entire generation in Sierra Leon missed the opportunity of education. So we recruit people also if they do not have the right kind of education and we build their capacities".

  • The knowledge cycleAlso if each contest is very different from another, still there are things learned in one place that are possible to be apply in other Countries. 


see full interview:




C.B. Rao, a writer and a former United Nation officer was interviewed by Fausto Aarya De Santis in March 2011 in Varanasi, India


see full interview:



Danièle Smadja is the EU Ambassador to India. She was interviewed in Delhi on the 12th May 2010 by Fausto Aarya De Santis 

Can knowledge and social harmony be considered as resources?
Education is a fundamental right and that is very important. If you say that social cohesion is a resource to go up the economic ladder in the sense that it has to be available for all and it everyone should have the possibility to have it.  Even though we have a number of problems in Europe, even though we have a number of disparities in our society; social cohesion has been for many years in the heart of the architecture of the European Union. Social inclusion and social coherence has been in the heart of Europe and European policies.


see full interview:


Rajendra K. Pachauri , Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the Director General of the The Energy and Resources Institute, TERI. He was interviewed in New Delhi, India on the second week of February 2011 by Stefano De Santis

Can you tell us of a good practice to show that change is possible.  TERI has launched a project called “lighting a billion lights”, because there are 1.5 billion people on earth who do not have access to electricity. So we have designed solar lanterns, we have trained a women in every village to charge these lamps and she rents them out at night… and it makes so much difference to their life. A women can cook without inhaling gas from the kerosene gas, carpenters can work for much longer, etc.  I have a lot of faith in young people. I think if the youth are educated, if the youth are informed then society will change. That is the real challenge.


see full interview:





Jean Drèze   s a development economist teaching and working in India. He was interviewed in Allahabad, India on the 23rd February 2011

see full interview:  


Julian Parr,  Regional Manager, South East Asia for Oxfam GB.
  • ggest challenges that development economies have, like India, is that they have a huge young population where more than 50% are less than 15 years old. So, India has to now create jobs at a scale it has never faced before and in order to do that is has to skill its workforce up. India is at the moment famous for its intellectual experts but that is just the tiny tip of the iceberg... so it is going to be about vocational training, access to the internet, only 5% of Indians access the internet.   It is getting that access to knowledge and resources that is a huge challenge. 

  • 5 - Do you think knowledge and social harmony can be considered as resources?   The most important companies today, value themselves on intellectual capital, you are as strong as your workforce. The same applies for nation states, you are as strong as your population. So unless you educate your population, unless you empower them and build intellectual capabilities and capacities that is where you ultimate strength is.



see full interview:


Montek Singh Ahluwalia is the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Government of India. He was interviewed in Delhi on the second week of April 2010 by Fausto Aarya De Santis

see full interview:

Jyoti Sapru was interviewed by Fausto Aarya De Santis in May 2010  in New Delhi, India

see full interview: