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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

How did traditional taboos work?

Posted By: Gillian Cambers
Date: Sunday, 6 June 1999, at 10:06 p.m.

In Response To: Using traditional checks and balances in sustainable development / Samoa. (Mali Voi)

I liked your ideas about using practices which had proved successful from the past in present day development and also the concept of allowing Nature time to re-coop and repair herself both on land and sea. Some questions/comments:

SHORT TERM GREED VERSUS SUSTAINABLE YIELD: The ideas of using the declaration of taboo on certain waters and limiting cropping of some lands were obviously sustainable practices. Another way of looking at modern versus traditional practices in this context is perhaps short-term greed and quick profit versus sustainable yield, i.e. taking as much as much as possible in the short term and depleting the land/waters for ever, versus long term planned production which is sustainable. It seems that all too often we are dealing with developers who are only interested in short term gain and it is these people who often influence our politicians. Whereas common sense tells the majority of the population that there is a better way (combining the successful aspects of traditional practices with new technologies) to do things. Perhaps the key is motivate and vocalise that common sense.

TIMES SCALES FOR TABOO DECLARATIONS: A question: over what sort of time periods were waters declared taboo, and did everyone observe the taboo or was there a need for some sort of enforcement?

INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS: I was also interested in your idea of developing wise practices as International Instruments - could you explain how this would work and your thinking behind it.

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