« The First Law of Ecology: Everything is connected to everything else. » -Barry Commoner

Science proves that humanity is facing an unprecedented crisis, and this is due to a specific development model called industrialized capitalism. Mauritius is unfortunately not spared from the massive destruction caused by this economic model. Indeed, the land industry continues to gain ground by grabbing beaches and building near ecologically sensitive areas. In February of this year alone, a luxury villa was sold at a price of Rs 627.6 million, making this sale a record as it is the first time a property has been sold at such a high price. Faced with this situation, it is more than essential to talk about the ecological situation of the country and what development model should be implemented to avoid the massacre of the coastal, mountainous, and other sensitive areas of the island. To elaborate more on this topic, the ki nouvo moris set of Monday, June 3, 2024, had to invite David Sauvage, an environmental activist and member of the national committee of Rezistans ek Alternativ. Ashvin Gudday hosted the debate.

What is the vision of ReA for the next 50 years?
Humanity is facing a massive crisis, and the central question to be asked is how to allow “people to move and to stay in motion.” For David Sauvage, Mauritians know how to act in moments of crisis.
« Where the government has failed, the population has been diligent by working together to counter the spread of oil. The lesson to be gained from this ecological calamity is that the government’s role is to provide the population with the freedom to move so that it can address the difficulties that arise. »

The question of the law of nature in the Mauritian constitution must be addressed as soon as possible because it is fundamental to regularize economic activities that could taint its integrity. The inclusion of this right in the country’s national law will thus allow for stronger protection not only for nature but also for those who feel aggrieved by an administrative or legal decision to be able to take the case to a court of law.

« The first foundation of this law is to allow public interest litigation and a class action for Ecological Sensitive Areas (ESAs). »
This will allow all Mauritian citizens to protect ESAs. David Sauvage points out that it is imperative to create the ESAs Act. As a reminder, the ESA study of 2009 showed that 90% of our wetlands are no longer functioning; as such, it is essential to have an ESA Act that will help to protect and restore these sites.

“The ESA Act must not be set in stone; every year it must be subject to modifications and improvements.”

The activist also points out that it is necessary not to make the same mistakes as before. Policymakers and other institutions tend to underestimate people’s knowledge of nature.

“We must not look down on the knowledge of the inhabitants; on the contrary, we must take them into consideration, and above all, do not ignore it.”.

Toward an ecological transition.
It is necessary to move towards a just ecological transition because it is not enough to have electric cars and solar panels, says David Sauvage. Those who face climate injustice—those who are excluded from the current economic model—must be compensated because they are suffering a double penalty. The just ecological transition is also made through good nutrition. It is mandatory that the children of Mauritius have a healthy diet, and this can be made possible through agro-ecological centers where the people of the region can plant in an environmentally friendly way.

In addition, the relationship between individuals and the sea must be restored. The sea holds an important place in the lives of Mauritians, and it is high time to restore its value. A university of ecological transition must be created, and it will strengthen everyone’s relationship with the sea.
« This university will welcome scientists and anyone who wishes to get moving to take care of our ocean. Cargo sailboats could be used to transport goods all over the island, and this is at a lower cost because these sailboats do not use fuel. »  Besides being an ecological and free means of transportation that does not cause pollution, it will also be used to relieve road congestion, says David Sauvage.

Like every transition, the battle is not a foregone conclusion. It will be necessary to establish legal structures that will provide broader legal protection to all interested parties and to all those who feel aggrieved by any legal decision. The Mauritian population must get moving because each know-how is important for the realization of this project. As a matter of fact, it is with the mobilization of everyone that the economic and ecological transition can be made.

Watch the full debate here: