Introducing SADED:

Empowering Ecological Democracy for a Sustainable Future

In the year 2002, South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED) emerged as a collaborative effort between Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), and Lokayan in India, along with Kepa and Siemenpuu Foundation in Finland. However, SADED’s practical work extends far beyond these origins, embracing a diverse network of individuals and organizations working together towards ecological democracy without a single epicenter.

ADED’s core principle revolves around democratic control of natural resources, recognizing it as crucial for democracy’s expansion, deepening, and humanity’s survival. Regrettably, the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development disappointed those advocating for ecological sustainability and equitable development. Modern science, social, and economic processes tend to fragment life and issues, hindering the holistic approach needed for real progress.

Democracy today is often limited to representing political structures, but there exists an alternative perspective emphasizing equality, mutuality, and respect in various relationships. SADED envisions a space that fosters diverse interventions and ideas without merging individual institutional identities. Instead of unifying the diverse, SADED aims to foster meaningful relationships and nurture democratic interventions, encouraging politics centered around comprehensive democracy.

At the heart of SADED’s work lies the concept of ‘Ecological Democracy’ (ED). This concept encompasses a democratic relationship between humans and nature, as well as equitable distribution of nature’s resources among nations and within a nation. Referred to interchangeably as ‘Ecological Swaraaj,’ ED represents a deeper notion symbolizing just, symbiotic, and sustainable relationships in all dimensions of life, expanding to encompass the entire world as a family.

SADED’s Mission:

SADED endeavors to articulate ecological democracy in a manner that captivates the imagination and garners support as a desirable worldview in India, South Asia, and globally. This requires a comprehensive understanding of democracy expressed in all aspects of life.

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The Perspective: Theoretical articulation of the linkages between ecological issues and other dimensions of life within a democratic framework is essential. The idea should be conveyed in a way that resonates with diverse sections of society, influencing their daily actions. Engagement with individuals involved in mainstream politics is crucial, as ideas need to be based on concrete realities in people’s lives across different settings.

SADED’s Goal: The goal of SADED is to develop strategies and theoretical, administrative, and practical models for an ecological democracy approach. This involves bringing ecological democracy into public discourse as an integral part of comprehensive life democracy, showcasing how ecological concerns empower other dimensions of democratic urges, and engaging with local communities’ initiatives, grassroots views, and media on ecological democracy.

SADED’s Objectives: SADED aims to explore various modes of articulating ecological democracy, understanding their strengths and limitations, and learning from them. The focus is on deepening the understanding of ecological democracy through real-life situations and strengthening resources to continue efforts towards ecological democracy.

The SADED Methodology: SADED operates as an open-ended knowledge network on ecological Swaraaj and sustainability, welcoming engagement from new initiatives and partners. It employs a dialogic method, recognizing the complexity of the South Asian reality and the ever-changing context. SADED emphasizes participatory communication to create a widely shared understanding of ecological issues, essential for effective responses to the present ecological crisis.

Thematic Areas: SADED focuses on thematic areas that intersect ecology with social, economic, and political democracy, from local to global levels. These areas include Sustainable Agriculture, Water-Rivers-Flood Management, Ecology, Dignity, and the Marginalized Majorities, Let No One Sleep Hungry, Save the Himalaya Campaign, Adivasi Survival Globally, and Inter-Continental Dialogue.

SADED Principles and Processes: SADED follows principles like voluntary participation, nurturing individuals with ecological worldviews, linking theoretical and ground-level issues, collaborating with ongoing activities, and promoting ecological democracy without seeking organizational credit. It engages in various forms of dialogue, including conversations, workshops, seminars, Jeevanshalas (schools), remedial classes, padyatras, and field research.

By adhering to these principles and processes, SADED strives to promote and deepen the concept of Ecological Swaraaj, building networks, disseminating information, and upgrading its Resource Center to support scholars and activists working towards ecological democracy. Through collective efforts, SADED endeavors to empower ecological democracy and pave the way for a sustainable and just future.