The Challenges for Emerging Forces in the Globalised World


International and Multidisciplinary Conference in the framework of a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference

Yogyakarta-Bandung-Jakarta, Indonesia

October 26-31, 2015



Terms of Reference






By ‘Ecology,’ the seminar refers to the relations between people and their environment. This is an essential and urgent subject because science warns that we are entering ‘The Era of Environmental Catastrophe.’ Seminar explores the issues surrounding Ecological Sustainability, meaning “the maintenance or restoration of the composition, structure, and processes of ecosystems” (Dictionary of Environment and Conservation [2007], Oxford University Press).


Seminar links escalating ecological crises with Conference’s keywords as the former and latter are intertwined and representing vicious cycles. It reflects on the modern Western civilization and ‘Hegemony’ of West/North in the increasingly ‘Globalised World’ because many experts believe that they are diminishing the ecological integrity of Earth, our common home. Seminar also echoes Conference’s ‘Asian-African’ concern because the South is especially vulnerable to the ecological degradation lead by the West/North.


As for types of knowledge, Seminar shares descriptions (or factual information) relevant to such disruptions to Earth’s life-supporting processes as atmosphere pollution and climate change, soil degradation and depletion, ocean acidification and warming, etc., observed at local, national, regional and/or planetary levels. Building on descriptions, it illuminates explanations (or causal relations) among human and natural phenomena. The descriptive and explanatory insights hopefully enable Seminar to illuminate effective prescriptions (or recommendations) that alleviate today’s sufferings for today and tomorrrow.


Many believe that the worst human interference to Earth’s bio-geochemical cycle ever made is the rising concentration of planet warming gases in the atmosphere. According to UN, the period of 1990-2013 alone saw a 34% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on the atmosphere – due to emissions of such long-lived gases as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. CO2 constituted 80% of this increase, attributable to the combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities. In glaring contradiction to much scientific warning, the concentration of CO2 from 2012 to 2013 (the latest two years available for comparison) marked the largest annual increase (2.9 parts per million) for the period of 1984-2013.


UN believes the continuation of current trajectories of greenhouse gas emissions leads to global temperature increases of over 4 degrees within this century, causing catastrophic changes in ecosystems unparalleled in human history. As the emitted CO2 and other warming gases remain in air for hundreds of years, experts believe we have started a new geological epoch of ‘Anthropocene,’ leaving behind the Holocene whose moderate climate and stable ecosystems over the past 10,000 years allowed Homo sapiens to prosper. Now, humanity is projected to struggle with this increasingly challenging environment until the last person leaves Planet Earth. Many experts believe how harsh the future may become and how long humanity can survive will be largely determined by what we do now.   


On the land, humans and both domesticated and wild life forms all face dramatically altered weather patterns as the global climate change propels extreme rain and snow storms, heat waves and droughts, and other unprecedented phenomena. Many ecosystems that used to be suitable for human habitation are becoming uninhabitable by desertification, soil salinization, constant flooding of low-lying areas, etc. Communities in dry regions in Africa and Asia will be especially vulnerable to water and food shortages for the pervasive drought and soil degradation. In the oceans, warming causes raised sea-levels. Coupled with intensified storms, many coastal towns in Asia become uninhabitable due to the shoreline erosion and constant flooding.


Today’s atmosphere, whose CO2 level is the highest for the past 800,000 years, is also causing rapid oceanic acidification often called ‘The Other CO2 Problem.’ The acidification rate is already the fastest for 300 million years, and predicted to accelerate in the coming decades. Experts are concerned about collapsing fisheries and many other oceanic degradations as they sharply impact the developing world. Already we have a huge number of ‘environmental refugees’ that is expected to surge in the future. Those who are displaced by disasters alone (i.e. not by drought or gradual environmental degradation) more than doubled since the 1970s, reaching the annual average of 27.5 million people for 2008-2013, among whom over 80% are Asians.


While problems directly linked to CO2 concentrations alone are frightful, they constitute only the tip of an iceberg of the entire planetary ecological catastrophe. Seminar hopes that, by illuminating diverse ecological issues from multiple angles, and by embracing participants’ insightful visions, creative brains and committed hearts, we can make a difference to the world – especially as it may easily become more unjust and unsustainable than ever before.




This section sketches out the prospective Ecology Seminar at more concrete levels. Given the broad range of factors that shape ecological phenomena, Seminar will be trans-disciplinary par excellence, and model after Conference’s multi-disciplinary framework.


Prospective Program

Introduction: Ecological Reality & Seminar’s Mission

Thematic Area 1: Cultural-Ecological

Thematic Area 2: Economic-Ecological

Thematic Area 3: Political-Ecological

Thematic Area 4: Spiritual/Religious-Ecological 

Conclusion: Seminar’s Message to the World


Type of Knowledge Explored

A Panel presentation is expected to cover all three knowledge spheres – Description (e.g. shortage of clean water in urban slums), Explanation (social and natural factors causing the shortage), and Prescription (the ways to alleviate the shortage). A Paper presentation, on the other hand, will be given a less time and therefore expected to focus more on a specific knowledge sphere.


Four Trans-Disciplinary Thematic Areas: Why?

All thematic areas in Ecology Seminar are trans-disciplinary, explicitly linking Ecology with other socio-intellectual scopes that are covered by other seminars. Some readers may be wondering why Seminar’s thematic areas are cross-sectional. Thus the below briefly notes the historical backgrounds and future requirements that constitute the grounds for these thematic areas.


Thematic Area 1: Cultural-Ecological

One scholar notes humans unconsciously hold “cultural assumptions” and remarks: “the disordering of ecological systems and Earth’s biogeochemical cycles reflects a prior disorder in thinking about humanity’s role in ecological systems.” Similarly, another scholar states: “We misconceive our role if we consider that our historical mission is to ‘civilize’ or to ‘domesticate’ the planet… We are not here to control. We are here to become integral with the larger Earth community.” Do you agree with these views? If so, what are their implications to the currently dominant ‘Culture of Gloalization”? How can African and Asian traditions may be utilized to counter the ‘disorder in thinking’ or ‘misconception of own role’? 


Thematic Area 2: Economic-Ecological

Reportedly, a market-based economy – “predicated upon principles of profit-maximization and rational decision-making” – emerged only about 300 years ago, and the idea of “economy…as a separate entity” emerged even more recently. Therefore, Seminar adopts a broad definition of ‘Economy’ as “the structure or totality of relations of production, distribution, exchange and consumption of goods and services” (Dictionary of Human Geography [2000], Blackwell). This conception covers not only Market economies “organized and regulated by the movement of prices,” but those founded on such alternative principles as ‘Reciprocation’ and ‘Redistribution.’ How can we promote economies that are less destructive to Earth? Can humanity transcend the ‘endless growth imaginary’ and ‘development- as-usual model’ associated with Market economies?


Thematic Area 3: Political-Ecological

Climate change and ecological degradation generally undermine the traditional principle of ‘Sovereignty’ – the power of political communities to govern over own territories without interferences from outside. Since the 17th century, Sovereignty has been the ‘first law’ of international relations, initially within Europe and then worldwide. Therefore, even though humankind shares the atmosphere (and others) universally, international state system is territorially founded and its Sovereignty is spatially confined. Thus, the most polluting countries may be suffering least and vice versa. What is the role of Sovereignty to effectively promote ‘Ecological Justice’ today? As territorially founded statehood looks increasingly obsolete, what kind of alternative political framework should we reinvent?


Thematic Area 4: Spiritual/Religious-Ecological

Because ecological crises are anthropogenic, they logically imply humankind’s urgent need of reformulation. According to ‘Spiritual Ecology’: “In order to resolve…environmental issues…humanity must examine and reassess our underlying attitudes and beliefs about the earth, and our spiritual responsibilities toward the planet” (“Spiritual ecology,” Wikipedia [2015]). The metaphysical dualism of modern West has been widely criticized for eco-crises by advancing such binary oppositions as “mind and matter, good and evil, and God and world” [“Dualism,” Britannica Concise Encyclopedia]. In contrast, many Asian and African traditions uphold holistic visions transcending such divisions as culture-nature, sacred-profane and alive-dead. Can Afro-Asian visions save humanity from this suicidal ecological crisis? By re-locating ‘the moral’ within ‘the natural’?


Seminar coordinator

Mr. Yukio Kamino, Japan (Dr., African Studies/Ecology, OISCA, Tokyo)


Working group members

Mr. Alban Bourcier, France

Mr. Asfarinal, Indonesia

Ms Lau Kin-chi, China

Mr. Rohit Negi, India

Mr. Sutrisno Murtioso, Indonesia