We must move toward a low carbon economy because there is no planet B.
José María Figueres, Former President of Costa Rica

In an ancient Sri Lankan Blessing, a favorable environment (may the rains come in time), economic prosperity (may the harvests be bountiful), social stability (may the people be happy and contented), and good governance (may the king be righteous), were clearly identified as key prerequisites for making development more sustainable. There is great wisdom in the elements of this blessing. 

For many years the prosperity of a country has been based on its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which measures the monetary value of all goods and services that are produced within a nation during a given period and sold to consumers, governments, investors or are exported. In a nutshell this means that GDP represents the part of the population’s well-being that comes from the consumption of goods and services. In order for the GDP of a country to grow, the people must consume more and more. There are multiple criticisms of the use of GDP as an indicator of a country’s prosperity. For example, if a country engages in war or suffers from natural disasters, monetary transactions will increase thus leading to a higher GDP. If a small portion of a population spends extravagantly, but many do not have the resources to spend, the GDP may show growth but at the cost of great inequality. According to Richard Heinberg, “Calculating a nation’s overall health according to its GDP makes about as much sense as evaluating the quality of a piece of music solely by counting the number of notes it contains”.

GDP takes into account a single bottom line – economic growth. This means that no externalities such as the cost of natural resources, just wages, etc. are taken into account.  Many economists, as well as specialists in other fields, are now advocating for the triple bottom line – social, environmental and economic growth. A planet with finite resources cannot sustain perpetual growth. Naomi Klein asserts that “our current economic model is based on the faulty premise that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract.”

Our current economic system is no longer viable. It has led to extreme wealth for some countries and individuals at the expense of many of the least developed countries (LDCs) and a great majority of the populations of both the LDCs and industrialized countries. The question we must ask is “How can people work, individually and collectively, to challenge the current all-pervasive consumer society which is destructive of both people and the planet in such a way that it truly leads to building God’s kin-dom on earth?” (based on material from Caroljean Willie, SC)



Photovoltaic ProjectIn 2005, we Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur initiated a Solar Energy Program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria to improve the lives of our sisters and the people they serve. With solar powered energy now operative at six sites, many gains have been experienced. All sites have access to power and clean water. Health Centers explore up-to-date medical procedures, and students and teachers broaden their scope of learning through solar powered satellite internet.

On February 6, 2012, we will be offering a side event during the UN Commission on Social Development to share about our ground-breaking Photovoltaic Project. Our presentation will provide important project information to governments and other NGOs. Featured speakers will be Sister Lorraine Connell, Project Coordinator; Sisters Claudine Dumbi and Lucie Kima, onsite experiences in Congo; and Sister Kristin Hokanson, on the project’s global impact through technology.


Women’s World Summit Foundation invites nominations for its 18th annual prize for women’s creativity in rural life, honoring creative and courageous women and women’s organizations around the world working to improve the quality of life in rural communities. Consider nominating someone you know.

Deadline: April 30, 2012.


Nigerian Million MarchA recent protest near the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York City focused on the lack of electricity in Nigeria which denies Nigerians basic necessities such as Employment, Security, Good Health, Education, Economic Growth and many more.



In October 2011, the population of the earth reached a total of 7 billion.
Of these, 1.4 billion live on less than $1.25 a day.

7 billion