Household ‘oikos’ by Vandana Shiva

Avoiding the destruction of the planet, the water wars and other resource grabs, the unequal distributions of accumulating wealth and consequent poverties are all topics of concern, activism and thought for Vandana Shiva. Here, an excerpt from her recent article ahead of Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Minds

“An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development”


“Both ecology and economics have emerged from the same roots – “oikos”, the Greek word for household. As long as economics was focused on the household, it recognised and respected its basis in natural resources and the limits of ecological renewal. It was focused on providing for basic human needs within these limits. Economics as based on the household was also women-centered. Today, economics is separated from and opposed to both ecological processes and basic needs. While the destruction of nature has been justified on grounds of creating growth, poverty and dispossession has increased. While being non-sustainable, it is also economically unjust.

The dominant model of economic development has in fact become anti-life. When economies are measured only in terms of money flow, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And the rich might be rich in monetary terms – but they too are poor in the wider context of what being human means.

Meanwhile, the demands of the current model of the economy are leading to resource wars oil wars, water wars, food wars. There are three levels of violence involved in non-sustainable development. The first is the violence against the earth, which is expressed as the ecological crisis. The second is the violence against people, which is expressed as poverty, destitution and displacement. The third is the violence of war and conflict, as the powerful reach for the resources that lie in other communities and countries for their limitless appetites.”

Excerpt from Guardian article

Vandana Shiva, physicist, ecofeminist, environmental activist and author, is currently working on a 3-year project with the Government of Bhutan advising the government on how to achieve their objective of becoming the first fully 100% organic sovereign country.