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www.alliance21.org > What is the Alliance? > History of the Alliance > Platform for a Responsible and United World

Strategy Guidelines

1. The Need for a Global Strategy

Many positive reactions have emerged to the three crises humankind is facing. They range from specific exemplary actions in villages, towns, and cities to the recent international conventions, from the charters or environmental audits drawn up or conducted by certain firms to the energy policies decided upon in certain countries, and from consumer awareness to the emerging environmental forms of agriculture.

Such progress, however, still seems very limited and isolated compared to the major forces driving our world. A deep feeling of powerlessness prevails today. Each society, considered separately, appears to be paralyzed by the scale of the changes that need to be made. Each individual, enterprise and state senses the need to act but is resigned to doing nothing and waiting for others to initiate actions, or decisions to be made elsewhere. Science, technology and the market have become the new names of fate, while ideologies and institutions, because they are slow to change, are often ill-equipped to deal with the present emergencies and challenges.

We must not be timid. Our duty is to be bold. We must chart a desirable future from all the different future scenarios possible on the basis of our common values; we must then design a consistent set of actions that will meet today’s emergencies and can meet tomorrowis challenges. Just as the three crises are inseparable, so are the responses to them.

We do not believe that a sustainable development respecting the major ecological balances can be achieved at the price of the exclusion of a large part of humankind. We are wary of attempts to solve the problems we are facing through a relentless progression of technology and through restrictions imposed by the powerful few, and endured by the masses of others. We are convinced that the actions that need to be taken must aim at building balanced relations between people and their environments, in their full complexity and diversity, and at building balanced relations between people and their societies. The problem is not to establish a scale of gravity among the three crises, but to find forms of action that help to resolve them simultaneously. This convergence, along with the enactment of the seven principles listed above, must be our main guide in establishing action strategies. The world we want to build is truly a responsible and united world.

To meet this objective, we have no choice but to mobilize exceptional resources and determination. This is possible. The Western world emerged from the Big Depression of the 1930is thanks to an unprecedented mobilization of resources to prepare, then wage World War II. At the close of this century, our proposal is to engage equivalent resources to combat all forms of poverty and exclusion, and to implement technologies and production models that respect our living environments.

As things stand today, 20% of the people own more than 80% of the world’s wealth. Some families have an income equivalent to the resources of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of deprived families. The vastly wealthy people and countries of the world will therefore have to bear the bulk of the effort.

Once this solidarity drive is clearly accepted, it will constitute the political condition on which all countries will be able to draw up common objectives and a consistent strategy. It will be the tangible expression of the recognition of the human communityis unity. It may also be a key stage in the introduction of new mechanisms of solidarity and redistribution, similar to those that human societies have occasionally invented in the past and that on a world scale today have become more necessary because of the growing links between societies and people everywhere.

Finally, for this strategy to succeed, it must be as consistent and complete as the present development model; it will require organizations, leaders, regulations, and technologies geared to the given objectives. It will develop over time, at the price of unswerving determination.

2. Unity and Diversity of Priorities

Being global, the three crises call for action priorities on a world scale: the rehabilitation and dissemination of common values, the reduction of inequalities among people and among societies, the protection and restoration of the key sources of life, the building of new relations between people and ecosystems, and putting a stop to the squandering of energy and food resources. These common priorities, however, should lead not so much to uniform measures decided on a worldwide scale as to coordinated initiatives geared to the infinite diversity of contexts.

Moreover, each region of the world has specific priorities. The richest countries are mainly facing new forms of social exclusion and need to rethink their life styles radically; the countries of the former Soviet Union have to tackle widespread unemployment, the conversion of an inefficient production system, the dangers of their military and civilian nuclear plants and their badly deteriorated environment; the new industrialized countries tend to overexploit their workers and their environments; the poorest countries are struggling to control population growth, stem extreme poverty, protect their water and soil resources, and develop a science and technology that are rooted in their own cultures and adapted to their own circum-stances; for all the arid countries, the availability of water supplies and the conservation of the vegetable and soil covers are becoming a matter of life and death.

Solutions to the few truly planetwide priority issues (protection of the seas and the oceans, ozone-layer protection, reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions) can be neither considered nor implemented in the same way in every situation, especially if they seem imposed on the weakest by the most powerful.

The need to give the global priorities a local translation and to take specific priorities into account are a constant and necessary reminder of the unity and diversity of our world. It makes monolithic " top-down " strategies inconceivable. The strategy we need must be both multifaceted and organized into convergences.

3. Combining the Different Levels of Action

Today’s major problems require action at every level.
At the individual, citizen, and consumer level, education, information, awareness-raising and an emphasis on the ethical dimension should contribute to producing changes in value systems and behavior, and this would have an impact at the local, as well as the regional and world levels.

There is also a high stake at the enterprise, municipal-authority and regional-council level; the first needs the commitment of managers and employees, as well as of clients; the latter two should involve their constituencies as well as the legal and regulatory frameworks in which they work. Against this background, the role, which was so important in ancient times, of small human communities, villages, rural areas, drainage areas, towns and cities, geological, climatic, hydraulic and historical units, will have to be completely restored. Indeed, this is the scale at which the diversity of cultural, social and environmental situations and contexts can be considered. This is also the scale at which the integrated approaches that reconcile people with their ecosystems can be democratically designed, discussed and implemented.

In previous centuries, regulations were made and actions for the common good were implemented mainly at the level of nation states. At a time when social and economic exchanges were essentially organized within the framework of a nation state and environmental damage was circumscribed within its borders, the nation state was the scale at which social and economic balances were formed, development models were tailored to suit its spirit, the conditions of democratic control were laid down, and standardization, legislation and control procedures were formulated. Today, this predominant role of the state is being seriously questioned: from above, by the globalization of exchanges, information, and ecological imbalances; and from below, by growing aspirations for more independence. The idea of full sovereignty and air-tight borders has become an illusion. Nothing can be done to stop the stateis dismantling through both global and grassroots pressure. Nonetheless, nation states will remain decisive political fora for a long time to come: They are where major decisions will be planned, joint actions for the common good will be implemented, and legislation, taxation and control measures pursued. Although the nation state should play a prominent role and continue to be naturally linked to other entities, it will have to accept to be one among many levels of management in a united and responsible world, and its strategies will have to be incorporated into broader movements.

A level that should play a growing role in the next century is the regional level. Nation states are too many, too dissimilar and too unequal to conduct an effective and fair discussion at the world level or to jointly frame the bold strategies required by today’s challenges. Many regional-organization initiatives have been taken, and we can clearly see the possibility of a world organization taking shape, probably with a variable structure depending on the fields of action, in which eight to ten major regions are emerging. In the twenty-first century, these regions could well play a role in the organization of their domestic markets and in their exposure to foreign markets, similar to the one played by the nation state in the past five centuries. More broadly, the regional level seems well suited for the regulation of relations between people and nature, and among people themselves. A system of world management that is neither dominated by the most powerful country or countries nor managed by experts could most certainly be developed by establishing a college representing the major regions of the world, and giving it an increasingly greater role to play, including in security matters. Any armaments reduction is coupled to the need of ensuring the security of nations. Here too, regional authorities and procedures should eventually play a key role beyond interstate agreements and the intervention of a world body.

Finally, the world will become a determining level in the coming decades, whether in the area of standards, legislation and regulations, taxation, control, the launching of sweeping initiatives, or the coordination of major multinational actions. To achieve this, a world authority will first have to gain the necessary legitimacy, and demonstrate its will to impose common rules on the most powerful economic and political players. Institutional machinery will also have to be established to ensure the fundamental separation of powers, particularly between the legislative, executive, and judiciary organs. It will then be necessary to break from the confinement of negotiations, for example by linking trade negotiations to an agreement on environmental conservation.

Finally, the international community will have to support the creation of world networks able to form useful opposition forces, monitoring systems and forces that can be mobilized to provide a comprehensive strategy.

From the individual to the world, responsibilities and jurisdictions are clearly and inevitably connected to all the different scales. We will need sweeping innovations to avoid piling up layers of bureaucracy and having jurisdictions overlap, i.e. the sort of situation that is so conducive to widespread irresponsibility. Priority must clearly be given to local initiatives and local management, which alone can vitalize the links between societies and their environment. This could be called the " subsidiariness principle ". Subsidiariness does not mean, however, that each local authority is free to do as it pleases within its territory. A local authority is not the owner but the manager. It is therefore committed to applying the conservation, responsibility, caution, and moderation principles. It is free to choose its means, within the framework of aims consistent with those discussed and defined at another level. To highlight this " coordination " responsibility we prefer the phrase " active subsidiariness ". Just as this principle applies to the whole world, it does so all the more to the grassroots community. >From the individual to the planet, human communities are linked together by contracts of balanced rights and responsibilities among their members, as well as with regard to the planet and to future generations.

4. Getting the Transformation Process Started

The ultimate objective is for humankind today to realize the magnitude of its responsibility and assume it; that is, for humankind -through its peoples, nations and cultures, its elite and its leaders, its institutions and numerous players- to apprehend its new responsibilities to itself, to the most deprived and weakest, to the Earth and all living things and to future generations, and to compel itself assume them.

Our societies, however, caught up in the current emergencies, significantly disaffected by the now mired nineteenth-century messianist movements of the nineteenth century, seem to have forsaken all projections of the future. Our increasingly complex societies are having a hard time imagining how to manage their own transformations. They are therefore ill prepared to direct the future course of world affairs.

For this reason, it is essential to design a self-consistent transformation process and make it known: at the present time, it is even more important to say how to get things going than to say which way to go.

The process should be multidimensional and include everything from a change in citizen and consumer behavior, to local collective actions, and decisions made on a planetary scale. This collective transformation process could contain the following elements:

- Progressively changing perceptions. To a large extent, the world changes in our heads before it changes in the field. For this, education is the key action lever, and the changes to be made are immense. A top priority is to generate a new humanism containing a fundamental ethical component with an emphasis on the knowledge of and respect for the cultural and spiritual values of different civilizations, which can offset the technological and economic bias of modern Western civilization. The teaching in our schools and colleges must focus on values and their translation into deeds, on a critical approach to science and technology, on a systemic rather than an analytical approach, on cooperation rather than competition. The idea is not to add one or two courses to already overloaded curricula, nor even to design an Introduction to the Environment course that could be applied uniformly in all countries, but to base all of education everywhere on a global vision of relations and exchanges among people and between man and nature by emphasizing the diversity of relationships between human beings and their environment. At the same time that this form of teaching is introduced into educational systems, similarly designed training should be made available to citizens who want it, particularly trainers and teachers, journalists, technicians, engineers and decision makers.

- Building a collective imagination. Only a common conception of the future, projected by stages, can muster the necessary energies, unite efforts, and gear current decision making into the long term; nothing other than a jointly built collective imagination can generate the necessary synergism that will be able to offset the pressure of constraints, stretch beyond immediate interests, overcome the obstacles, and use each challenge as an opportunity to bounce back and innovate.

- Coordinating the pursuit for innovations. An innovation never takes place by itself: It involves other innovations downstream and upstream. An innovation that is limited to a single field is doomed to fail. Technical innovations, social innovations, and changes in mentalities, behavior and institutions always take place in a linkage process. States, enterprises, farmersi organizations, trade unions and consumer associations will therefore have to promote a coordinated approach to technological and social innovation in the coming decades,

- Developing and federating experience-sharing networks. Social and technological innovations always originate locally: in an enterprise, a town, a village, or in a rural or any other type of community. They are always rooted in a particular context. Nevertheless, it is also necessary for them to be disseminated so that others can assimilate and transform them. This requires networks. Most of the current networks, however, are local or specialized while many of the current challenges are global: We must therefore develop existing networks, encourage new ones to be established, and provide flexible means for them to connect and set up federations. This will enable us to save many precious years, perhaps decades, in the dissemination of the innovations that can contribute to addressing the different aspects of the three crises we are facing.

The features of the strategy that needs to be built are gradually taking shape. They are: self-consistency in the strategy and in the tools to implement it; an interconnection among the solutions to be applied to the three crises; a necessary reconciliation of the local translation of common planetary priorities with the statement and consideration of priorities specific to each region of the world; and the combination of the different levels of action and the different ingredients for getting things started. Obviously, this is a cross-sectoral strategy; it involves coordinating changes in mentalities, education, institutions, technology, standards, law, taxation, and international relations.

5. Campaigns to Stir People into Action

As we near the end of the twentieth century, humankind faces specific, urgent and global challenges. To address them, we need to marshal our energies on a few major campaigns. While these campaigns cannot alone succeed in organizing the sweeping changes in societies required in the next century, they would nevertheless be a tangible sign of action, demonstrate that the three crises can be simultaneously tackled by opening up work opportunities, express through joint projects the awareness that we all belong to the same human community, improve the living conditions of the severely deprived, and create a better balance between human beings and their environment.

In our view, five campaigns seem to meet this definition. They address the water, energy and soil issues, the rehabilitation of severely deteriorated regions, and the conversion of the armament industries.

- Water. One out of three persons in the world today suffers from water shortage. In less than twenty years, continents like Africa are expected to experience dramatic shortage. Ninety percent of the major diseases in the developing world are due to the poor quality of the water. Conflicts between countries for control over this scarce resource are sure to become more frequent and more violent, given that the major drainage basins are not border-defined. While water management is often a source of conflict, it is just as often the cement that joins communities. Through an integrated approach at varying scales, a concerted water campaign can involve urban and rural areas, as well as the areas of health, agriculture, energy and food, and can draw on a wide range of techniques and create many jobs; it would introduce participants to the previously described principle of active subsidiariness by emphasizing local initiatives and including them in a global perspective; it would contribute to improving living standards, developing activity and seeking optimal equilibria between human beings and their environment.

- Energy. An energy campaign must comprise two aspects: energy saving and the introduction of renewable energy sources. All countries, including the poorest, possess economical energy resources. Maximizing the efficiency of these resources, developing economical energy technologies, and gradually withdrawing many forms of disguised subsidies for the use of fossil fuels will all contribute to making viable the retooling of plants in view of accepting renewable energy everywhere and in every form where it is available. Applied on a large scale, the program would help to improve the production efficiency of renewable energy. As with water, a decentralized management of energy would contributes to the teaching of the active-subsidiariness principle. The campaign would benefit the local and global levels simultaneously by making it possible to reduce local pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions, and to stem the growth of nuclear hazards and waste.

- Soil. The campaign would involve the broad-ranging promotion of the type of soil exploitation that causes minimal damage to the soilis biological, food, regulatory and hydraulic functions. Today’s massive damage to the soil has led to a serious decrease in the fertility of natural environments and hence to desertification. The major merits of the program would be its wide reach, its obligation to thoroughly review agricultural production systems, its mobilization of considerable manpower, its reduction of food insecurity in the poorest countries, its necessary search for a diversified management of ecosystems, and its combination of large-scale programs with micro initiatives.

- Rehabilitation of severely deteriorated regions. This campaign concerns the old industrialized countries as well as the countries (in central Europe, in the former USSR or elsewhere) that have suffered the devastating excesses of forced modernization and industrialization. It is of immense symbolic value in a world where people have been all too inclined to go elsewhere when their own environment has been ruined by their needs and shortsightedness. In a shrinking planet, rehabilitation strategies must prevail firmly over the dream to conquer new and improbable territories. Rehabilitation is humankind’s new frontier.

- Conversion of the military industries. Since World War II, entire sectors of the economy in many countries have been centered on the production of armaments. Theoretically, the end of the Cold War should free a host of skills and resources. The transition from war to peace is nonetheless a major challenge. It requires political determination, technical know-how, the opening of new markets, and new openings for the released know-how and talent. We propose a concerted world campaign to steer the military industries into the development of environment-friendly technology. This would entail an initial heavy investment, but will pay off in the long run. The campaign would also symbolize the transition from a period of conquest and confrontation to a period of solidarity and alliances among societies and between societies and nature. Conditions for security, both among countries and for national minorities, however, will have to be guaranteed by international bodies, preferably regional.

There is nothing new about campaigns to stir people into action. The failure of similar programs in the past may give rise to skepticism. Nonetheless, we can also draw lessons from such experiences and offer the following campaign-implementation rules that will increase their chances of success:
- Make sure the campaign is closely matched to the needs of the region in which it is implemented (as was the case, for instance, for the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe in the aftermath of World War II).
- Fit the campaign into a long-term plan (fifteen to twenty-year time span), if necessary by associating a whole generation with the program.
- Introduce procedures and financing gradually.
- Involve institutional capacities and set up decentralized techniques that are rooted in, and open to, the concerned populations, and sign draft treaties with the populationsi representatives.
- On the basis of the most appropriate technological solutions, introduce actions gradually and assess their impact regularly, always in close connection with the concerned populations.

The rich countries will have to make a major contribution. This contribution could be levied in the form of a progressive tax based on energy consumption or CO2 emissions (which would take climatic conditions into account), and of world taxes on armament expenditure per capita and on stock-market earnings.

6. Deadlines

Three milestones can be singled out:
- The year 2000. By then, widespread awareness and the convergence within the framework of the World States-General of a host of energies prepared to act will have paved the way to major decisions, and major programs will be underway in the main fields. We shall have begun to detect some definite turns in trends.
- The 2030-2050 period. This milestone will mark a definitive turning point because at that point the present trends will have led to some situations of profound deterioration and imbalances, which will probably be almost impossible to reverse. In most areas (demography, social harmony, solidarity, water, energy), some " sustainable and lasting " courses of action will therefore probably have been found by that time.
- The 2080-2100 period. This is the milestone at which we can expect to have struck a new balance between human beings and the planet, and found the life styles and production methods that keep natural-resources depletion and waste within limits that the planet can sustain.


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