Persian and Pakistani sustainability

There were a few things I noticed about these areas that sparked my interest in terms of responses to ecological constraints while trying to meet everyone’s needs. Certainly on the ‘needs’ side, the sense of a real cultural identity that was not just defined through consumerism or defining identity through being anti something else (e.g. anti-terror, anti-west, anti-science).

These may be relevant to think about for those working on these issues in other geographical or cultural contexts, and to expand your ideas of what is possible.


  • everyone uses compact flourescent lightbulbs

  • uninterrupted power supply systems are common because of the regular interruptions to power. The interesting thing is that they major component is a power inverter, so could be at least one step towards a switch to solar (which requires the same inversion capability and battery storage capacity).

  • eastern hospitality – may be the most inviting and unconditionally affectionate in the world?

  • spiritual traditions that create a sense of community and positive shared cultural identity

  • work does not define people, and the drive to ‘succeed’ and ‘do something’ is not as overwhelming as it is in UK or Australia.

  • no-one drinks, yet everyone can still relax, laugh, dance and be happy. This may be unbelievable to some of readers… ; )

  • they are used to power being cut off, rationing and differential pricing of natural resources (e.g water, petroleum)

  • they grow and make stuff themselves, rather than outsourcing it

  • people listen to religious leaders, so if they advocate for picking up your litter, it has a fair bit of influence


  • mind-boggling, and body-destroying pollution in the cities

  • lack of legislation or poor / corrupt enforcement. Stories were told to me about education, vehicle emissions testing, company environmental standards

  • attitudes to littering

  • large military budgets spent on civil unrest and conflict with neighbouring nations

  • drugs – the massive economy around getting drugs to europe – apparently 85% of all opiate drugs in europe comes through this area

  • fuel is subsidised and cheap (Iran)

  • unfair trade conditions and historical damage from colonialism etc. that has never been repaired

  • massive distance between the haves and the have-nots

  • serious constraints in terms of investment in science, freedom of information, speech, and religious beliefs

Thesse lists are far from complete, but starting to think about this helped me a bit more flexible in my own beliefs and assumptions about what may be possible in other cultural contexts e.g. Australia.

After all, development and sustainability is all about creating new cultures, so to think some of our fundamental beliefs and assumptions won’t be different in a sustainable future would be a mistake!


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