A Joint Division of the Institution of Civil Engineers and
the South African Institution of Civil Engineering

'Rights and Sustainability - Sustainable Rights'- Wed 28 April 2010

Wed, 2010-04-28 00:00 -- superadmin


Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership




Salil Tripathi and Richard Calland:
'Rights and Sustainability - Sustainable Rights'





Wednesday 28 April 2010






IDASA Bookshop, 6 Spin Street, Cape Town

There is a lovely restaurant if you want to stay for dinner, seperate booking required ( 021 461 0666 ).



R230 (Free for members)

The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, invites you to join us as two international experts on human rights discuss ‘Rights and Sustainability – Sustainable Rights'.

The protection of natural capital – ecosystems, biodiversity and natural resources – is often portrayed as a luxury affordable only to the wealthy and something that stifles economic growth and is anti-poor. The recent debates in South Africa around the granting of mining rights in protected and environmentally sensitive areas and the building of new coal fired power stations are cases in point. Progress on international climate negotiations has also been deadlocked on the ‘rights’ of developing countries to grow and to emit CO2 in doing so.

However, recent work done as part of the ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ project, highlight an inextricable link between poverty and the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity. Their research show that ecosystem services account for us much as 40%-50% of what they define as the ‘GDP of the poor’. There are thus clearly ethical choices involved between the rights of people in different parts of the world and with different levels of economic wealth. But, there equally ethical questions involved between the rights of current and future generations.

When economic models use a 3-5% discount rate to calculate the current value of ecosystem services, it means that we value a natural service to our own grandchildren (50 years hence) at one-seventh the benefit we derive from it, a difficult ethical standpoint to defend.

Correctly viewed, sustainable development has always been about natural AND social capital, placing emphasis not only the rights of the poor but also on the rights of future generations.


Salil Tripathi is Director of Policy at the Institute for Human Rights and Business based in London.

He has been engaged with some of the major international initiatives concerning business and human rights of the past decade including, while at Amnesty International, the Global Compact and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.  He is on the advisory network of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, and the Development Diamonds Initiative. He is among the principal authors of the Red Flags guide, which points out the liability risks companies face in high-risk zones. He has contributed chapters in several books on business, conflict, and human rights.

Salil has an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College in the United States and graduated with a degree in economics and commerce from the University of Bombay. He has been a senior visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Born in Bombay, India, Salil has also been a foreign correspondent based in Singapore and Hong Kong (1990-1998), from where he went on reporting trips to South Africa, writing about the changes that accompanied Nelson Mandela's release from prison, the announcement of elections and the dismantling of apartheid. He is also a widely published writer.

Richard Calland is Associate Professor in the Public Law Department at the University of Cape Town.

He teaches constitutional and human rights law, and some administrative law. He is also Acting Manager of the Economic Governance Programme at Idasa, a programme that was initiated in January 2007, and serves as part-time Executive Director of ODAC (www.opendemocracy.org.za). He is a member of the Transparency Task team of the Institute for Public Dialogue at Columbia University, which is led by Professor Joseph Stiglitz. Professor Calland has in recent years served as an expert consultant to the Carter Center, the foundation led by former US President Jimmy Carter, advising on various transparency projects in Bolivia, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Peru and Mali.

Calland writes a fortnightly political column for the Mail and Guardian newspaper, 'Contretemps', and is a regular commentator in the media. He is also the author of several books including: 'Anatomy of South Africa: Who Holds the Power?' (2006). Richard is a Senior Associate of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.


Booking is essential. To book and pay, please click here



Sent on behalf of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership by the Joint Civils Division