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TEST -- getting ready to revise the drafts posted earlier on debategraph; I start with the working file of the table of contents.. 3/9/2012 11.36 EST

Note: these 'STW UN REPORT' files are proposed rough DRAFTS of sections of a report on the LinkedIN 'Systems Thinking World' discussion on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's call for 'revolutionary thinking and action to ensure an economic model for survival' at the WEF 2011 meeting in Davos, started and moderated by Helene Finidori. Discussion participants are invited to edit these drafts, adding material, correcting mistakes or awkward or inappropriate wording. The material is largely cobbled together from previous material and will likely have some repetition, personal bias, while missing newer information from the discussion, thus very much needing attentive editing. The drafts will be posted here section by section, starting with the proposed tentative table of contents, below. 'Empty' headings are calls for suggestions (e.g. 'title … ' below).

STW UN REPORT [A]: Main Body Draft


A Systems Thinking Response to the UN Challenge for ‘Revolutionary Thinking and Action to Ensure An Economic Model for Survival’


  • 1 I N T R O D U C T I O N
  • 1.1 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Address to the World Economic Forum
  • 1.2 The Discussion on the LinkedIn ‘System Thinking World’ Forum

  • 2 R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S
      • OVERVIEW
        • Overview
        • Selected Project / Proposal Listing
        • Project Grouping according to key areas of concern
      • 2.2.3 DISCOURSE
      • 2.2.4 RESEARCH

  • 3 S U M M A R Y / C O N C L U S I O N

  • 4 A P P E N D I X
    • 4.1 UN Secretary General's Call for 'revolutionary thinking and action to ensure an economic model for survival.
    • 4.2 The LinkedIn ‘Systems Thinking World’ discussion started and moderated by Helene Finidori.
    • 4.3 PROJECTS / PROPOSALS / POLICIES: DETAILS (order to be discussed)


A Systems Thinking Response to the UN Challenge for ‘Revolutionary Thinking and Action to Ensure An Economic Model for Survival’



  • The major recommendations of the group are the following:
  • Support and encourage the variety of sustainability initiatives already underway
  • Take steps to facilitate the immediate start of selected priority projects:

** Overall framework for global coordination, discourse, research, education / information; ** Oasis / Acorn Project ** Reforestation projects -

  • Take steps to stop, reduce the following unsustainable and destructive practices:

** Nuclear energy applications even for civil power generation ** Development / expansion of ‘monoculture’ systems of agriculture, transportation, energy generation and distribution, finance, and information; ** -  ??

1. I N T R O D U C T I O N

1.1 The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Address to the World Economic Forum

At the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued an emphatic call for ‘revolutionary thinking and action to secure an economic model for survival’. He warned the audience of the dangerous consequences of the past and current economic model of fueling economic growth by unconstrained exploitation of natural resources, and challenged the representatives of the institutions assembled at the WEF meeting to rethink “How we organize ourselves economically?” and “How we manage increasingly scarce resources?” to “ensure sustainable, climate-resilient green growth.” He ended his call for a revolution of thinking and action to revise the current ‘global suicide pact’ by reminding the members of the urgency of the task: “let me highlight the one resource that is scarcest of all: Time. ... There is no more time to waste.” (Full text: Appendix 4.1)

1.2 The discussion on the LinkedIn ‘Systems Thinking World’

On the Linked-In Systems Thinking World forum, a discussion was started by Helene Finidori about “how to make this happen” (Appendix 4. 2). Starting in February 2011, the discussion generated more than 2200 comments by early July 2011, and over 4900 by March 2012, resulting not only in a lively exchange of widely differing opinions about the issue, but also an impressive wealth of references to reports, web sites, books, action proposals published and actual initiatives already underway, that are relevant to the problem in one way or another.

Call for a Formal Response by Discussion Participants

A suggestion was made to summarize the results of the discussion into a concise report that could be presented to the UN and the public. This desire was based on the general interest and urgency of the subject, the range of opinions, suggestions and researched material assembled in the course of the discussion, and on the conviction of many participants that a systems perspective might make valuable contributions to the problems addressed by the UN call. Several participants began to assemble material for such a response. Helene Finidori compiled the various suggestions and links, organized into a survey of themes, presented on a special ‘systems wiki blog’ page established for the purpose by the moderator of the overall Systems Thinking World Forum moderator Gene Bellinger and invited other members to prepare drafts and organized contributions for a formal summary or report.

This report is one of several efforts by different members of the discussion participants to prepare and present the main themes and emerging recommendations of the discussion.

Problems / Areas of key concern ?

2 -- R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S

The overall recommendations of the group of participants in the STW discussion are the following:

    • Suggestion of an overall framework for coordination, discourse, research, education/information to facilitate the global effort for overcoming the crisis;
    • Description, within that framework, of selected local, small-scale projects, initiatives, research efforts that are already underway of have been proposed;
    • Suggestions for ‘new’ projects and initiatives that have not yet been published but are seen to be needed;
    • Suggestions for overall policies to be adopted by governments, private enterprise, and individuals
    • Recommendations regarding projects, technologies, practices and habits that are considered detrimental and should be avoided, stopped, or reduced in scale.

Recommendations for the framework are discussed in the following; the projects will be presented in detail in Appendix 4.3.


As part of the STW group response to the UN call, the following is a recommended framework for the process of the evolution of a new economic model for survival.


The research done by the participants in the discussion suggests that while there is an impressive amount of work already being done in terms of theoretical analysis as well as actual practice initiatives, projects and programs, there is currently no coherent overall model in existence that would meet the expectations of the UN call and could be implemented at a global scale to replace current systems and practice. The discussion also suggests that it would also be undesirable and counterproductive to have such a model implemented by some global authority, top-down fashion, if it is not based on the participation and support of all affected groups. Any overall 'model' should be kept to a minimal set of common agreements leaving room for the development of a wide variety of local, individual or small group variations. The first task must therefore be to establish a coherent framework for the discourse that can bring about such broad support. The proposal consists of suggestions for such a process framework. It builds on efforts aiming at transformation currently done within existing institutions, but also provides opportunity and support for the emergence of new institutions and societal organization.


The proposed framework consists of the following major components that combine both the many ‘action’ initiatives already underway, grouped loosely as ‘local’ level activities, and the ‘global’ provisions supporting and coordinating these activities and drawing upon their results and experiences to feed a global discourse articulating and shaping the common agreements underlying the many diverse local efforts.

    • Local level initiatives: “Action Projects”

The research done by participants in the discussion revealed an impressive array of initiatives, projects, research, programs and experiments being already undertaken by individuals, groups, companies, universities, non-government organizations and governments. The following categories of items in this group are distinguished:

  	Examples of such projects will be described in detail in Appendix 4.3.

Global framework components:

*The Coordination Component: networking and support of local action projects

*A global system for compiling and sharing information for local action projects, coordinating and networking, securing funding, monitoring their performance and success. An important part of this component -- that will be shared with the other main components described below -- will be a service for the translation of information between ethnic languages as well as the specialized vocabulary of different disciplines and conceptual / philosophical, religious frames or reference and ideologies.

*The Discourse component

This component will be a platform for the global discussion of all the issues that must be explored, for which solutions must be found and decided upon in the development of the eventual economic model. It will be the vehicle for encouraging, empowering and facilitating wide participation in the discussion and decision-making about those issues for which global agreements are needed.

*The translation service mentioned in the above Coordination component will be a vital part of this discourse framework.

*The discourse component should include an element for the systematic and transparent evaluation of contributions to the discourse: specifically, for the evaluation of the merit of arguments. The development of specific measures of this kind is urgently needed to provide a currently missing transparent link between discourse and the criteria used to achieve decisions.

  • The Research component

*The development of the knowledge, tools, measurements, etc. for the evolution of a new economic system will require intense, coordinated research. Setting up new institutions for this will only be a small part of the overall framework at least initially, so the initial thrust will be to develop an effective cooperation network between all the institutions currently doing research: public and private universities, government and internationally funded research centers, corporate research laboratories.

  • The Education and Information component

*Eventually, ensuring an economic as well as social, environmental and political model for survival will require adoption of new attitudes, tools, institutional patterns and habits. This will require information and training of humanity as a whole. The results of the action project experiments, the discourse, the research findings must be made available to citizens and children everywhere. Beyond mere information, citizens must be inspired, encouraged, enabled and empowered to shape their future. Provisions must be made available to acquire the tools and skills needed. An important ‘prerequisite’ aspect of this is the acquisition of the ethical and moral principles and attitudes (cooperation, nonviolent conflict resolution, compassion, solidarity etc.) that must be learned not only by being exposed to instruction but essentially through appropriate living experiences: games, internships, ‘camps’, involvement in a variety of community activities.

  • The process

*The transformation towards more sustainable institutions and modes of operation will proceed simultaneously by two avenues:

** a) Gradual, incremental changes, new practices, adaptations, experiments of existing institutions of local, national, international government entities as well as private enterprise companies, all of which are already engaged in improving their practices at various levels of scope, intensity and commitment.

** b) Since needed change may be resisted by entrenched interests of existing institutions, a second avenue toward change should consist of the establishment of new institutions or organizations for cooperation and self-governing entities that can overcome the constraints and sources of conflict, resistance to change, and inefficiency inherent in existing institutions. An essential part of the proposal addressing this aspect is the suggestion to provide opportunities for initiating such innovation experiments in areas that are in need of international aid redevelopment due to natural disasters or armed conflict, as possible laboratories for the development of new forms of organization. Details are be presented in the Appendix section on 'Innovation Zones' (

The diagram illustrates the components of the proposed framework.



  • Overview

The participants in the discussion compiled an impressive array of initiatives, projects, research, programs and experiments that are being already undertaken by individuals, groups, companies, universities, non-government organizations and governments. While some of these projects are large scale, even global, most are still small, local, experimental 'alternative' initiatives outside or even in opposition to the perceived mainstream systems, part of the efforts of governments, or of businesses aiming to gain a competitive advantage in their field.

The following are some selected examples of ongoing recommended activities, briefly described to illustrate the variety of such efforts but by no means exhaustive. Detailed descriptions of these projects are provided in the appendix.

    • Urban gardens
    • Rooftop gardening
    • Alternative currencies (WIR Bank, time banking)
    • Permaculture
    • Small family-size farms, gardens for food
    • Renewable energy sources -- solar, wind, wave; energy storage ---

New ideas and proposals

During the discussion, a number of new ideas were proposed and discussed, that obviously are yet to be tried out and documented, but could be perceived as responses to the call for innovative thinking of the UN Secretary General’s call.

  • --?
  • --? Selected Project / Proposal Listing

The following is a tentative list of projects and proposals discussed in the STW forum, in alphabetical order:


*Alternative Currencies (e.g. WIR Bank)

*Alternative measures of performance

*Alternatives to nation-based societal organization

*Argumentation / Argument Assessment Game

*Budget control


*Circular economy

*Civic credits

*Cooperative games development

*Decision-making modes: alternatives to voting

*Discourse framework (details)

*Dual economy

*Emergency planning and response centers

*Ecological education and understanding

*Ethics Education

*Family-size farms

*Finance transaction tax

*Fishing Regulations / Treaties (Campaign to reduce overfishing)

*Food transport: Reducing the distances food products are transported

*Future We Want

*Gardening, Family gardens, Urban Gardens, Window Gardens

*Highway biofuel crops

*Innovation zones in areas destroyed by disasters

‘Living WE’

*Local Food Cooperatives

*OASIS Project


*Pocketful of Acorns (Desert Reforestation)

*Power controls

*Reducing the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers

*Reforestation of desert areas

*Replacement of fossil fuels for energy production with carbon-neutral energy sources

*Rooftop gardening


*Shell roof system

*Small farms

*‘Spreading the word’ projects: dissemination of sustainability success stories

*Systematic assessment / measurement of planning arguments

*Systems modeling and simulation

*Translation service for the global discourse framework

*Unified programming platform for the discourse framework

*Water Management (e.g. Rajastan water management revitalizing food production)

  • Water management to prevent runoff, erosion, desertification

Detailed descriptions and references are provided in Appendix 4.3. Project Grouping according to key areas of concern

Various suggestions were made to establish an orderly grouping for all this material. They can only be tentative, not least because the more interesting and promising projects cover several categories, aiming at multiple interconnected objectives. Various suggestions for possible groupings are included in the Appendix (IV. 3) The following are groups of projects for “areas of key concern”:

Food projects group:

The problem of providing sufficient and healthy food for a growing world population is currently being addressed in various ways both by large industries (‘agribusiness’; fisheries) and small, local initiatives that pursue ‘alternative’ objectives opposing many of the practices of the large industries and corporations, that are seen by many as unsustainable and detrimental. The resolution of these controversies will require more research and discussion. The STW discussion was largely focused on identifying projects and proposals of the ‘small’, local kind, providing diversity, closeness of social and cultural context. It identified the following projects or campaigns addressing the problem of providing food for a growing world population:

*Small farms: Campaign to increase food production in small farms *Gardening: Campaign to increase food production in gardens *Local Food Coops *Permaculture: promoting adoption of Permaculture principles *Reducing the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers *Food transport: Campaign to reduce the distances food products are transported *Rooftop Gardening *Window gardening *Fishing Regulations / Treaties (Campaign to reduce overfishing) *Water management (e.g. Rajasthan water management revitalizing food production)

Food projects

Water projects group:

    • The OASIS project;
    • Water management – e.g. The Rajasthan Water management project;
    • Highway Biofuel Crops Project
    • Shell roofing system

Water projects

Ocean projects group

    • Fishing Regulations / Treaties

Disaster projects group:

An important aspect of a model for survival is the issue of surviving disasters both natural and caused by human activities. The tasks of predicting, preventing if possible, and responding to such events if they do occur have been the responsibility of governments, and traditionally, international organizations, NGO’s, and charities have provided humanitarian aid where the resources of government s were inadequate.

Human activities and climate change have introduced new threats of disasters, and increased the severity of damage such events can cause. The question of how such challenges can be met must therefore be a significant component in an overall strategy for survival.

The task of predicting natural disasters will fall primarily on research. Preparation for such events, and implementation of response activities will be governance responsibilities. Depending on the type of threat, this will require both long term changes in many areas of human activity, and readiness for swift and effective response when disasters occur.

As a general policy recommendation, all these efforts must be continued, coordinated, and intensified as needed.

The following recommendations reflect more recent insights into the role of human activity in contributing to possible disasters, but also provide opportunities for addressing other problems of concern.

*Water management to prevent runoff, erosion, desertification; *Campaign to apply Permaculture principles in agriculture *‘Innovation zones’ in areas where existing infrastructure has been destroyed by disasters *Reforestation of desert areas *Development of emergency planning and response centers

  • Disaster projects

Education / Understanding projects group

  • (Projects of Education / Understanding, -- Awareness, Ethics Inspiration, Enabling, Empowering)

(Separate groups??)


Attainment of a ‘model for survival’ – a sustainable mode of operations of spaceship earth – will depend on actions, projects, changed habits by individuals, groups, businesses large and small, governments and international organizations. Such actions, projects, habits must be based on adequate understanding of the problems and systems as well as appropriate vision, attitudes, ethics. Many argue that we are still far away from such a basis, and even that before significant collective programs and projects are started, the focus should be on gaining better understanding and attitudes, on clarifying the vision of a sustainable ‘Future We Want’.

The following is a list of considerations and suggestions for both of those concerns. They can be loosely grouped into ‘attitude’ ideas, and proposals for improving understanding of problems and systems (as a precondition for selecting appropriate strategies and solutions). The difference between the emphatic nature, the focus on vision and inspiration of the former, and the analytic, technical, scientific, calculation and systems-orientation of the latter might suggest that they be treated as separate groups. They are discussed together because of demands, on the one hand, for including not only ‘social’ and ‘environmental’ aspects into analyses (e.g. systems models) that appear (justifiably or not) to many to have focused primarily on economic and efficiency aspects – and thereby contributed to the larger problems: calling for ‘SEE’ models – integrating social, environmental and economic factors. On the other hand, the results of projections calculated by means of system simulations are valuable tools in demonstrating the seriousness of the crisis, and raising awareness and understanding for the need of making the required changes.

Proposals of the first kind tend to call for general ‘campaigns’ of information and education: ‘policies’ to guide action; the second group is more concerned with specific ‘research’ projects of investigation of systems models – developing the models, getting the data, presenting these to inform the public and pertinent decision makers.

The following are projects pursuing these considerations:

    • Systems modeling and simulation
    • Ethics education
    • Education toward better ecological and sustainability awareness and understanding
    • ‘Spreading the word’ projects: dissemination of sustainability success stories
    • ‘Future We Want’ project
    • Argumentative planning and argument evaluation game
    • Development of cooperative games


  • Education / Understanding Projects

Governance projects group

  • The following projects, while also being relevant to other key areas of concern, mainly address issues of governance issues. The group includes the following projects and proposals:
    • Innovation Zones
    • Power Controls
    • Alternative Measures of Performance
    • Dual Economy
    • Sanctions
    • Budget / deficit control
    • Civic credits
    • Alternatives to nation-based societal organization

Governance Projects

Energy projects group


Discourse project group

An essential component of the proposed global framework to ensure a sustainable future is the discourse component. Its design and implementation to meet the challenging requirements of

    • wide, unrestricted access,
    • encouraging participation,
    • translation,
    • ease of use,
    • providing overview of the state of discourse about any significant issue,
    • facilitating the assessment and merit of contributions, and
    • making it possible to explicitly and transparently link measures of discourse merit to the eventual decisions and agreements.

Establishing such a framework will be a major effort. The following individual proposals are seen as some first suggestions contributing to that wider effort.

    • Discourse framework (Adaptation of IBIS concept /Argumentative Model of Planning)
    • Translation service
    • Unified programming platform
    • Systematic assessment / measurement of planning arguments
    • Decision-making modes: alternatives to voting
    • Argumentative planning / argument assessment game


Discourse projects

Climate projects

Regardless of differing opinions about the extent to which global climate change is caused or intensified by human activity, there are a number of ways local climate conditions can be improved, for example, to result in more rainfall in areas that have experienced drought and desertification, which in turn results in better conditions for agriculture, soil preservation or improvement. Overall, the question of reducing CO2 emissions, and/or recapturing CO2 in forests and oceans, require large scale, global policies and arrangements to become effective, since emissions or reductions are not restricted to the area where they are generated but have global impact.

More than other problems, the issue of climate change is characterized by complex systemic interactions among many aspects: apparently ‘small scale’ changes in local water management, forestry, household consumption habits or agricultural practices can have large scale climate effects if reproduced over larger regions or countries. These interactions are not yet fully understood, which calls for continued support of research and systemic modeling efforts. One question that deserves further study is the effect of small ‘alternative’ projects whose practices different from the standard national patterns that provide the data for the model simulations – which are by and large all using highly aggregated data assumptions and do not include small local variations. Well-intentioned national or international policies and standards may actually get in the way of innovations in small experimental projects.

The following proposals and projects have been suggested to entirely or in part address climate change and its effects.

    • OASIS / Pocketful of Acorns
    • Reforestation
    • Replacement of fossil fuels for energy production with carbon-neutral energy sources
    • Circular Economy


Ecology projects

The systems perspective maintains that all human activities depend upon and affect the natural environment in one way or another, and that ecological considerations must therefore be an integral part of a strategy for survival.

The ecology perspective introduces aspects and criteria that may at first glance look – and have in the past been considered -- adverse to human interests and activities, and only more recently have been recognized as equally critical to sustainability and health of human society. Such criteria include

    • species diversity
    • equilibrium systems rather than growth – oriented systems
    • closed-loop systems
    • the standards of leaving the environment from which resources are extracted (or into which emissions are released) in the same or ideally improved state than before the activity;

Projects or policies that (entirely or in part) aim at reversing ecological damage include the following:

    • Permaculture principles in agriculture and forestry
    • Reforestation projects;
    • OASIS project
    • Pocketful of Acorns;
    • -

(Fig. Ecology projects group)

Economy projects (Finance, Money, Jobs, Taxes)

Projects aiming at transformation in the economy, finance, business sector include the following:

    • Dual economy
    • Budget controls
    • Finance transaction tax
    • (New market for sustainability business?)

System understanding projects >> Education / Understanding projects? Recommendations

The experimental and exploratory nature of many of these projects implies that their potential success and performance drive towards 'ensuring an economic model for survival' cannot currently be adequately predicted or guaranteed. Their methodological, ideological, political, spiritual bases and assumptions are not uniform or consistent. Nor is such consistency necessary or even desirable. A variety of such experiments is needed to generate information about 'what works' and what does not work; but also as opportunities for people to create 'their own' versions of desirable future, to develop the variety of different economic cultural, societal models within an overall set of agreements for compatibility, cooperation and nonviolent conflict resolution. Above all, a variety of economic interaction, production and governance models can be considered critically important in ensuring resilience of human society in responding and recovering from future, yet unprecedented crises.

       The recommendation is for the UN and other governmental and non-governmental agencies to actively encourage, support and facilitate such experimental 'alternative' projects, by means of financial support where appropriate, and  information-sharing. The support may include removal of bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles, especially if they do not fully conform to current practices and legal provisions. Support may also consist of invitations and encouragement  of project initiators and supporters in global discourses.

It is the need for such overall agreements on sustainability and nonviolent conflict resolution that requires a network of support, information-sharing, coordination, discourse, negotiation, research and education that form the remaining 'global' components of the proposed framework described in the following sections.



The Coordination component of the proposed framework is a global system for compiling and sharing information for local projects, coordinating and networking these, securing funding, monitoring their performance and success. An important part of this component, that will be shared with the Discourse, Research and Education / Information components, will be a service for the translation of information between ethnic languages as well as translation of the vocabulary of different conceptual / philosophical, specialized discipline terminology, religious frames or reference and ideologies, into commonly understood language.

Rationale and Function

To encourage and support as well as deriving the full benefit of the various action projects, a global coordination service or network should be developed. Its functions will include:

    • Developing and disseminating information that invites and encourages initiatives of conceiving, exploring, and implementing 'alternative' ideas, projects, activities aiming at improving sustainability, by individuals, groups, institutions, businesses and governmental agencies.
    • Compiling information of such projects and activities; the resulting inventory of action initiatives and experiments may become a vital source of helpful information for the design of new projects.
    • Planning and preparation for emergency response to disasters according to sustainability principles;
    • Provision of funding of local action projects aiming at sustainability-enhancement;
    • Supporting the startup of such activities by removing obstacles in the form of bureaucratic regulations designed for older and current practices but now inhibiting innovation);
    • Networking and coordinating the provision and sharing of information (as one of the key resources of implementation projects);
    • Monitoring the development and performance of implementation projects; the record of performance monitoring will become the basis for the discussion and evaluation of project features (for suitability in general application elsewhere) in the following Discourse component;
    • Translation services, not only in terms of translation between different languages, but also between the different conceptual frames of reference, value systems, philosophies that guide those initiatives.
    • Identification of problems or potential conflicts that should be brought to the attention of the global discourse (for discussion and needed decisions) or research component, for investigation of causes, systemic implications, and development of remedies.
    • Support in resolving conflicts between innovative, non-traditional initiatives and existing infrastructure, governance, social and cultural conditions.

Many aspects of this component can be built upon existing global networks and institutions, with increased focus on information-sharing and overall coordination.

Recommendations and priority tasks for the coordination component

Examples of tasks requiring urgent priority attention in this component are:

  • Development of a coordinated disaster planning and response strategy. This should include coordinated preparation for emergencies in areas know to be susceptible to natural disasters -- earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes -- as well as coordinated preparation for establishing innovation zones in stricken areas, and actual construction of disaster / emergency planning and preparation centers.
  • Development of the translation service (which will also be needed for the discourse, research, and education/information components);
  • Development of an inventory of technologies and procedures being applied and tested in action projects, as a basis for evaluation of their effectiveness and performance and sharing of this information.
  • Development of legal procedures for establishing (perhaps temporary) exemption provisions for innovative projects that would be prohibited by regulations governing older technologies and practices, conflict resolution and issues arising from application of technologies, processes, social and economic innovation that are not or insufficiently well covered by existing regulation, standards, quality control, insurance provisions etc.

Coordination component


A key global component of the proposed framework is that of a forum or platform for the discourse from which a new model for survival would emerge. It is based on the view that such a model will accommodate a wide variety of forms of practice and evolving experiments regarding governance, economics, production, social and cultural patterns and ways of life, within an overall framework of common sustainability principles and agreements aimed at nonviolent conflict resolution. Such an overall set of agreements cannot be imposed top-down but should be the result of a wide participatory discourse, negotiated freely in a global forum that encourages and accommodates all ideas, concerns, visions to be brought into the discussion. The forum arrangements should bring the result of the discussion to bear on the decisions in a meaningful manner, and establish effective safeguards to ensure that the agreements will be adhered to by all parties.

Organizations such as the UN are established and aimed at essentially the same general objectives. However, their effectiveness is limited by constraints resulting from their intrinsic structure (such as the UN being constituted of territorial nation-governments that themselves are being increasingly influenced by other non-territorial forces), still ineffective mechanisms for participation by all parties potentially affected by their eventual decisions, and above all, a few major problems that afflict most if not all current government forms, but become supremely critical at the global level. These problems are:

    • The question of adequate representation of all concerns, interests and ideas in governance decision-making bodies, especially those of minority populations (representation via election according to majority vote do not meet this expectation); this can also be seen as
    • The problem of ensuring adequate access to the forum and decision-making bodies, for all segments of society; this aspect is linked to
    • The problem of participation: one side of which is lack of willingness to participate, often bemoaned as 'voter apathy' which may be in part caused by meaningful participation opportunities and voter perception of lack of access to the real decision-making levels, in part, on the other side, by lack of awareness, adequate information, education, and attitudes / values towards community involvement;
    • The missing linkage between the outcome (insights, preference expressions, even agreements) achieved in discussion and debate, assuming that all voices have adequate access -- and
    • The criteria applied for making decisions: neither decisions made by hierarchical or dictatorial authority nor achieved by 'democratic' tools such as majority voting guarantee that discussion results are adequately reflected in the decision;
    • The means for ensuring that agreements, treaties, contracts, laws are adhered to. Traditional means for this are almost universally based on coercive sanctions, 'enforced' by the threat of application of force by an enforcement agency more powerful than any potential violator; and finally:
    • The control of power, the question of how to ensure that the most powerful group or institution itself will not be tempted to abuse its power. Traditional tools for doing this at the level of nations -- elections, service time limits, impeachment provisions, and balance of power between different government branches -- are reaching the limit of their effectiveness even at the national levels. Power control mechanisms are still incomplete at the global level, where they ultimately rely on coercive sanctions (threat of violent force) which all too often results in military conflict, and prevents many nations from agreeing to endow such organizations as the UN with 'world government' authority and power.
    • The negotiation of global agreements for a sustainable economic model requires a global forum structured to adequately address these problems, pursuing that objective as part of its mission. Specifically, it should be designed to meet the following expectations:
      • - The platform should be open, encourage and facilitate wide participation and engagement in entering and presenting proposals for common agreements and actions, information in the form of questions, answers, evidence, arguments, and other concerns;
      • - The platform must provide adequate universal access to the forum;
      • - All contributions and information should be made easily accessible to all parties. This means
        • a) that it must provide translation of all contributions into all languages (both languages into other languages and ‘translation’ of the many specialized vocabularies of disciplines and commercial ‘brand’ concepts and services that have developed especially in connection with new information technology and management) into ordinary languages; and
        • b) that it provide adequate display of the essence of contributions and relationships (preferably in visual form) and concise format suitable for supporting the formation of opinions and decisions
      • - The decision-making component of the platform should provide, or make efforts to develop, adequate measurements for the outcome and merit of discussion e.g. about proposals for common agreements, based on the quality of contributions, information, arguments. Such measures can then serve as transparency benchmarks against which actual decision-making criteria can be compared (such as votes, or other applicable tools).
      • - The decision-making component of the platform should be designed to couple any decisions for agreements with provisions to ensure adherence to those agreements -- sanctions -- that do not require enforcement by threat or application of force or coercion by a 'most powerful' enforcement agency. Attention and energy should be devoted to develop new forms of sanctions that are automatically triggered by the very attempt or act of violation.
      • - To the extent that negotiation and decision-making activities within this platform involve positions or structures of power, a priority concern for the discourse (supported by research) should be the development of better forms of control of power, to prevent both abuse of power and associated corruption. This is a concern that applies to all societal organizations, especially also regarding the power of private enterprise to influence governments. It is critical at the level of global organizations and governance.

Not all of these concerns can be resolved in the proposal for the discourse framework. The larger issues of sanctions, decision criteria, power control go beyond the task of organizing the discourse itself, but the questions must be raised and taken up by the discourse.

The conceptual model for the proposed framework is the ‘argumentative model of planning’ (Rittel 1970, 1989) with its support tools of ‘issue based information systems’ (IBIS) respectively ‘argumentative planning information systems’ (APIS), enhanced and implemented with current information technology, techniques for display of the discourse (mapping) and for the development of tools for the evaluation of the merit of the discourse (Mann 2010).

The specific subsystems and process of the discourse are shown in the following diagram

The Discourse Component


Discourse component flow and subsystems:

  • 1. The Discourse Agenda display showing the Proposals (for global agreements, projects,) that have been entered, and the Topics that have been raised in the discussion.
  • 2. The 'Verbatim File' for all contributions in the form in which they have been entered (for reference);
  • 3. The Translation service (shared with the Coordination, Research and Education / Information component) whose function is to
    • a) translate contributions into other languages in the Verbatim file;
    • b) 'translate' contributions containing discipline-specific vocabulary, acronyms ('discipline jargon') into language understandable to a wider audience.
  • 4. The Analysis Service whose functions are:
    • a) to extract the essential information e.g. of proposals, arguments, evidence from contributions to 'condense' these to a concise format suitable for both convenient overview maps of the discourse, and eventual systematic evaluation; and file the resulting 'core content' into a condensed Proposal / Issue File structured according to proposals and topics;
    • b) to consult with the Research component for supporting ongoing discourse with information either already available as a result of existing / past research, enlisting research specialists to contribute expert information, or engaging researchers to conduct ad-hoc investigations as appropriate to important discussions; and
    • c) to cross-reference the entries to the Verbatim file (2)
  • 5. The Display Service which prepares visual overview diagrams (topic maps, issue maps, argument maps) for the respective proposal and topic discussions, regularly or continually updated, displays these maps in suitable platform and media (web site, TV, public announcements, etc.) and files the maps in the Map file cross referenced to the Proposal / Issue File, or in the topic pages of that file itself. It will also prepare the result of the following Evaluation Service for display in the same way.
  • 6. The Evaluation Support Service. This component will prepare the needed material for the systematic evaluation of proposals and arguments for proposals that have been accepted by the appropriate bodies for decision or recommendation; distribute the worksheets for participants in the evaluation process, collect, compile and prepare the results for display by the Display Service.
  • 7 Decision-making. No recommendations are made at this time about the composition and structure of the decision-making body or entities that will be responsible for negotiating and deciding upon the acceptance of agreements. This could be the UN itself, a special new branch of the UN, an entirely different organization, or ad-hoc assemblies of agencies concerned with specific issues and topics.) The development of an effective mechanism to replace (or complement as an advisory service to) existing decision-making structures at the global level -- one that also addresses the concerns listed above about appropriate sanctions / provisions to ensure adherence to agreements as well as this about the control of power, must be seen as high priority items of the agenda of the overall discourse. (The 'constitution' of this framework should provide for the evolutionary implementation of such provisions if these cannot be articulated and included initially.)
  • 8. Software. The STW discussion research indicates that a technology and software platform that would adequately serve all the required functions of this component does not yet exist. There are software programs available on the market for several of the functions listed, but a program that fully supports and integrates all these functions into one overall easy to use platform remains to be developed.

Priority tasks for the Discourse component

  	For an effective orchestration of the global discourse, the following tasks are seen as urgent:
    • - Refinement of the proposed IBIS framework and its components and procedural provisions for the given purpose;
    • - Development of a sturdy, comprehensive (software) platform that efficiently integrates the different parts and tasks of the discourse framework -- especially, the linking of the discussion component with the mapping and evaluation services.


The systematic investigation of unresolved questions both as related to understanding nature including human behavior, and to policy issues regarding human activity within the natural environment is properly understood as the role of research. This function overlaps and serves both the discourse component of the proposed framework policy, and the education / information component, and action projects, as the underlying knowledge basis for the applicable technology and techniques they use.

While research has traditionally been one of the primary responsibilities of universities, a more recent shift has seen research activity being taken over by both governments, industry, and private research institutes ('think tanks') working independently or on contract for government and industry. The implications of this development have not yet been adequately investigated and understood, though some problems have become quite apparent. They include issues regarding secrecy of research done in government research institutions, controversies about research findings produced for paying clients, legal issues relating to the right to profit from research, (under the heading of ‘intellectual property’). The new category of crime in the form of ‘industrial espionage’ is another issue arising from secrecy involving research. The common problems here include questions about commercial and state interests influence on research objectivity, the question of research priorities and funding, and ethical implications of withholding publication of research results to protect commercial (profit) interests. For many kinds of research tasks, the internet itself constitutes a new data-gathering and analysis tool whose potential has yet to be fully realized.

To a significant degree, answers to humanity’s problems are going to be provided by research. For the short term, it seems likely that most research for the global effort called for by the Secretary General will have to rely on existing research institutions. This will require extensive coordination. The question whether entirely new institutions and networks will have to be developed to meet this global challenge and resolve the issues surrounding current research practices should therefore assume high priority on the agenda of any forum or institution attempting to coordinate the effort to ensure the development of a better model for survival.

A key issue regarding the coordination of research work in existing institutions and the development of any new organizations is the traditional division of research by 'disciplines'. 'Interdisciplinary' studies and research have been proposed and carried out for some time, to overcome the limitations of the traditional model. An example of exploration of new forms of organizing research is the development of systems science and 'systems thinking' incepted over half a century ago. Systems thinking started as an effort to discover common patterns in different disciplines, as well as a vital tool in achieving a better understanding of 'whole systems' in nature, (ecology) society, the economy, and industry. The premise of the 'Systems Thinking World' forum has been that systems thinking and modeling will be key tools in the development of any new societal /economic / ecological model for survival. Though questions have been raised about its limitations and problems as well, especially with the emergence of several 'schools' of systems studies, each with its own basic assumptions, tools and jargon. As for many other disciplines, specialized jargon presents a significant barrier for the meaningful injection of research results into the public policy discourse.

The proposed framework for the discourse component could help alleviate a problem regarding the relationship between social policy and research that has caused significant controversy. It is the blurred boundary between scientific-technological expertise and the legitimation to make policy decisions that has led scientists and technology experts to claim the right to influence policy decisions on social goals on the basis of their scientific and technological expertise. Political decision-makers defer to such experts, leading to decisions that are unacceptable to wide segments of affected populations. The explicit distinction between the different types of issues and argument premises in planning and policy arguments (in the proposed framework) makes it clear that scientific-technical expertise is inescapably necessary for the validation of factual and factual-instrumental claims, but does not extend to the assessment of plausibility and valuation of deontic (ought-) claims. For the latter claims, experts have no more and no less right than other citizens to have their assessments ‘count’ towards collective decisions. The role of research in the discourse of policy development would thereby be clarified to the benefit of both research and the policy discourse.

Priority Topics for Research

One of the most critical tasks regarding the research component of the proposed framework is the development of a new set of agreements and ethical rules for the use or exploitation of research results by both governments inasmuch as they see themselves in competition with other governments, and corporate organizations for the purpose of securing competitive advantage in pursuing commercial advantage and profit. A new balance should be found between the principle that knowledge derived from scientific research should benefit society in general, and the right of entities sponsoring research to be the primary beneficiaries from that research.

The development of more comprehensive, stable and effective 'systems' models for the prediction of outcomes of human activities, proposed policies, technologies and organization in the overall global system of humanity and nature should be seen as an important task, especially with respect to the experience of many well-intentioned human interventions leading to serious 'unintended consequences'. Continued effort should be focused on the more efficient use and re-use of natural resources, 'closing the loop' of resources, and helping to shift the pattern of resource use from a linear 'cradle to grave' (waste, detrimental emissions) to a circular 'cradle to cradle' model.

In the social-science corner, the development of better approaches to the control of power should be pursued more intensely with regard to power in government, but also power in private enterprise and other human institutions, the power of entities that operate outside government (and therefore are not subjected to traditional 'balance of power' provisions) but exert their influence on government. A related issue is that of developing better mechanisms for conflict resolution on all levels, and provisions for ensuring that resulting agreements and treaties (laws and regulations) will be adhered to: sanctions that do not require 'enforcement' with the threat of violence or coercion.

These topics coincide with items on the agenda of the 'discourse' component, since the development and introduction of such tools is itself a policy issue to be resolved with the help of research but not by research; in the global discourse.

The Research Component

  • Recommendations:



General considerations

The education / information component of the proposed framework combines two concerns that often are seen as very distinct functions served by very distinct institutions: the education system -- 'schools' -- conveying essentially 'enduring' knowledge and skills, and the news media are expected to circulate 'current', ‘new’ information, and entertainment. There are good reasons to re-think that traditional distinction between ‘enduring’ and ‘current’ information, not only because of the increasing crossover of technologies used in both realms, but because the very distinction is becoming blurred. Other functions are emerging as significant, for example the aims of informing, inspiring, enabling, and empowering people (children as well as adults) to constructively engage in society's efforts to overcome new challenges. The means by which these aims can be met are changing as rapidly as the challenges, so the strategy and role of education and information within the project of developing the new 'model of survival' must be carefully reconsidered.

Results of work done in the Discourse and Research components -- the discussion and the analysis and theory realms, as well as lessons from the Projects initiatives, should be distributed and made available to the public everywhere. Two main concerns should be distinguished, because they will need different approaches. First: to increase awareness, induce awakening, a transformation of beliefs, values, principles, habits; to work towards a transformation of consciousness about the problems we face. Second: to provide practical information, the necessary tools and skills: enabling and empowering people for action. Both provide and distribute information, but arguably go beyond merely making information available. The process really is a critical educational function towards achieving a fundamental change of direction of the global human project.

With regard to the first aspect, many voices are urging a mental or spiritual awakening and ethical reorientation as the key to a new model, even a precondition for meaningful change. Little is said in the discussions about precisely how such adjustment of values will be achieved. That task may have to be approached on several different levels. One level will involve the development and wide distribution of brief, concise, memorable information items such as advertisements, cartoons, images, short videos or complete movies or TV series, aiming at catching people’s attention and igniting interest. A second level would be aiming at generating better understanding of the processes and problems, with easily available but more in-depth information. Both approaches should be as widespread as possible, making best use of new technology and social networks, and aim at the articulation of universal, cross-cultural common denominators: An overall set or framework of common principles and agreements. At all levels, the ‘learning’ cannot be achieved only in traditional passive modes but must include active ‘doing’ experiences.

The label ‘education’ might be misunderstood to suggest that the material in question should be injected into the existing education systems. A traditional approach would be for some entity / authority to develop a standard syllabus for the various educational systems (schools) to adopt, localize, and teach. This may be plausible for the long run, but unrealistic as a tool for achieving the necessary transformation in the short term. The needed transformation must be achieved faster and with fewer resources than it would take to revamp all the world’s educational systems. A different approach should be considered. To be effective, new behavioral guidelines and rules should not be imposed by authority. Acceptance, as mutual commitments freely engaged in, must be the result of dialogue and negotiation. Only then will people take effective advantage of the actual content made available for learning. Concerted efforts should be initiated, feeding directly off the results achieved in the discussions of topics in the Discourse component, addressing the same list of topics or subjects. The results, carefully distinguishing the ‘facts’ about the world from information about the controversies people argue about, questions about what we ought to do , should present different opinions with their supporting evidence, seeking to empower learners to effectively and meaningfully evaluate that material and arrive at their own judgments to creatively construct their own future.

The instruments for this crucial task should take advantage of the rapidly evolving information technology, especially the internet and the increasing use of cell phones, which facilitate a global discourse with wide participation. Thus, the recommendation is: to initiate the development of a framework for not only disseminating the education material using these technologies, but providing the opportunity for communication about it.

Similar considerations apply to the information function of this component. A particular challenge is the role of the media in the political election campaigns; specifically, in the distribution of campaign advertisements, which require massive amounts of financing, and in turn gives the donors of campaign funding a disproportionate degree of influence over the outcome of campaigns and subsequent political policies. A recommendation for remedying this at least to some degree is to devote public funds (for example, the money dedicated in US income tax returns to presidential campaigns) to the preparation of impartial campaign information stripped of rhetoric and repetition to the core essence of actual information and argument, for all candidates or referendum proposals alike, and to make this information widely available under ‘equal time’ and public announcement rules.

Reliance on technology should not be the only pillar of the education campaign. For one, people are more likely to accept mutual rules of cooperation if their understanding of the need for such rules arises out of actual experiences. There are two main possibilities for this: one is for ‘apprenticeship’ participation in experimental projects or emergency relief situations, where the normal societal structures have been disrupted and must be re-established. The Peace Corps offered such experiences, as an example. Another possibility is that of games. Even the traditional educational system relies on games (in sports) or game-like activities such as music and plays, through which qualities such as cooperation (not only competition), and sportsmanship are conveyed. This suggests efforts to start an educational campaign via the internet, possibly complemented by TV with the likes of ‘survivor’- type series of episodes highlighting both the kinds of situations where current / traditional attitudes and rules must be replaced by a new ethic, and the interactions conveyed in an interesting and entertaining manner. At the same time, the same content should be made the subject of actual, ‘live’ games and experiences.

An intensive effort should be directed at the development of more cooperative games: both real and video-games in which the ‘winning’ scores depend on adherence to cooperative and sustainability principles. The overwhelming majority of games children and adults currently engage in are competitive, resulting in ‘win-lose’ outcomes. It does not seem to occur to most people that in the process of supporting, watching and celebrating the 1% champions -- the winners, we are inadvertently creating 99% losers. A widely advertised competition for the development of ‘win-win’ shows and games according to the motto ‘If I do better, you will do better, and vice versa’, might be a starting point.

An outline for such a game aimed at cooperative problem-solving, policy-making that could be run online with a wide number of participants, or as a ‘live’ game in a modified parliamentary setting assisted by an IT support system is presented in the Appendix […] It can be considered and run as a game that familiarizes players with the argumentative planning concept underlying the discourse framework of the proposal. The hope is of course that once people become familiar with the approach, it will be used as a real problem-solving or planning technique.

The design of a complementary education system along the lines suggested should take into account society’s dual expectation of education: On one hand, the acquisition of knowledge, skills and factual - instrumental information must be freely accessible to all members of society (not only during childhood but throughout life, as the kind of information and skills change over time). Knowledge, skills and information are among the most important resources for people to be able to take advantage of available opportunities in a society. On the other hand, the outcomes of this process in the form of acquisition of skills etc. must be able to be certified in order for it to be admissible to apply the skills in practice. Based on demonstrated performance according to agreed-upon standards, a document certifying the mastery of some specific skills must mean the same everywhere, to the extent public safety, health and welfare depend on the skills being applied appropriately, and to exclude fraudulent exploitation by charlatans and impostors. The balance between these two functions should be re-examined: the opportunities for acquisition of knowledge and skills through new information technology should be acknowledged and accommodated. The linkage of the certification function to traditional educational institutions that once were the exclusive means for acquisition of knowledge can be replaced with other, more effective means.

This discussion is currently, it seems, made more difficult by the legitimate concerns for the second important level of the education system of a society: that of ‘socialization’, or acquisition of a common foundation of ideas and values. In addition, the role of the ‘research’ mission of the educational system at it higher levels, involving the generation of new knowledge, traditionally linked to the same institutions that were then transmitting research results to students, increase the complexity of this challenge. The discussion could be more constructive if these different functions -- knowledge acquisition, certification, socialization, research -- were clearly acknowledged as separate tasks, but using a common forum provided for the orchestrated exchange of information, opinions, discussion and resolution of concerns (such as allocation of funds for each function). This could allow experiments to be conducted for each function to arrive at innovative, improved means to pursue its purpose, without having to encumber the innovation process with negotiations about how the entire structure of a combined system would be affected by an experiment in one part.

This education and information component is an example of a global initiative, and also one in which private enterprise (corporations in the technology and entertainment industries) should be encouraged to join the public effort. It could be combined with any small-scale, local experiment or initiative.

Framework for the education / information component

The education component will have to include a global forum on educational content, one in which the media should play an important role. The difficulties of establishing what should be taught in schools are a well-known source of controversy in most countries, from the local level to the international mutual certification levels. The challenge is aggravated by the common assumptions that what schools should teach should be ‘the truth’. That assumption flies in the face of the fact that there are always widely varying opinions as to what that truth is, about almost any subject, and that even in those areas where the ‘standards’ for what can be accepted as truth ( in the natural sciences, for example), new research is constantly revising and often completely challenging what was previously accepted as true information. Thus, there is little basis for optimism about the chances for agreement on teaching content if the ‘truth’ criterion is maintained. The global effort on education should therefore downplay if not entirely abandon the effort to specify 'true' content for education content for any but the most practical questions of skills and tools that are required for carrying out activities of responsibility in society. Instead, the focus should be to establish a syllabus on controversies. It should aim at teaching children about the major issues of humanity, about which there are profound and significant differences of opinion, at present and throughout history. The aim should be to highlight different opinions about how truth should be sought, opinions about what people consider adequate guarantees fro accepting information or opinions as true or plausible -- and leave the resolution of the controversies to the learners as their life challenges. (In this, the term ‘plausibility’, is suggested to replace ‘truth’. It applies equally to questions of fact and questions about what we ought to do, which ostensibly are not ‘true’ in the same sense as past and current ‘facts’ of nature.)

Of course, such a solution would itself require a considerable amount of discussion before even minor consensus decisions can be expected.

Priority Topics for the Education / Information Component

Recommended tasks for the education component that should be initiated as soon as possible include the following:

    • a. Establishment of a coordinating service to initiate and support the following tasks:
    • b. Preparation of appropriate material for informing the public about the crisis challenges, increase awareness and above all understanding to the nature of the problems, the relationships between the forces involved, possible solutions and the need for cooperation and willingness to change habits.
    • c. Development of appealing and interesting games and other educational material for children and adults that emphasize cooperation (‘win-win’ outcomes) rather than competitive (‘win-lose’ outcomes.
    • d. Development of ‘technical’ or ‘How-to’- information of innovative tools, procedures, approaches for sustainable practice, for wide public use at all levels from basic self-help to the development of sophisticated advanced technology. An example of this kind of material is the proposed 'argumentative planning game' aiming at familiarizing users with the practice of cooperative, argumentative planning and policy-making, including the approach to systematic and transparent evaluation of planning arguments.

The Education / Information Component

The Education / Information Component – alt.?




Topics missing from the discussion

Among the interesting observations both of official reports of 'official' and 'unofficial organizations, as well as of this discussion, is the curious omission of certain aspects, and therefore, the lack of concrete, specific proposals for dealing with these issues. This report can merely point out this fact, and attempt to raise some of the issues. The following is a list of such items, in no particular order, but starting with the observation that the orchestration of the global discourse itself is not, it seems, a subject of a wider discussion. The assumptions seems to be taken for granted that on the one hand, the provisions of current institutions (e.g. UN) and media, and the potential of the internet on the other, will be sufficient

  • Organizing an effective framework for the global Discourse:

**a) adequate platform, support software for global discourse; **b) development and application of a measure of merit of arguments; **c) linking the measure (b) with decision-making;

  • Control of power:

**a) in general, for government but especially on the global level (the 'world government' controversy) **b) in private enterprise and other organizations **c) specifically, the role of power in the relationship between these organizations (b) and governments.

  • Sanctions: 'coercive', 'enforced' by bigger power' versus automatically triggered by the attempt at violation. The many calls for adoption of agreements, rules, laws, regulations or even ethical attitudes and principles almost always lack specific suggestions about how to respond to violations of such rules. Even parties denouncing the 'excessive' coercive enforcement, e.g. for the control of crime within societies and the use of military force internationally, usually do not offer concrete alternatives for preventing or responding to such violations to the traditional pattern of enforcing laws or 'settling' conflicts by force or threat of force.
  • The questions of specific practical proposals (assumption of 'spreading the word' on the internet?) for the strengthening of a new vision, ethic, sense of 'we', values, stewardship of the natural as well as social system. What means should be used: Stories? Games? Imagery? Produced and distributed by what agencies, what media?
  • Alternative measures of success of policies, actions to replace exclusive use of indices such as Gross Domestic Product and its growth have been proposed and are being implemented by governments: quality of life, citizen happiness or human development index. But these measures are still quite crude (little more than elaborate opinion polls with scant specific linkage to actual actions or conditions) even for government use; and the introduction of such measures to private enterprise does not seem to have been not been explored.
  • Practical measures (steps) to replace the growth motive for private enterprise and government economical decisions. One reason for this might be the lack of distinction between areas, sectors where resources are finite and continued growth physically impossible, and other areas where growth is still meaningful and needed (e.g. meeting nutrition, shelter, sanitary and health needs). Are political economy 'ideologies' of either camp applying their positions indiscriminately -- and thus destructively -- to all sectors over which they have political mandate?
  • New ideas for the 'Free market' versus 'better regulation' controversy, which is still going strong and has not been carried through to viable resolution. Specifically, the question of how the transition -- towards either end of the spectrum -- can be managed without detrimental side effects, has been left out of the discussion.
  • Implications of some proposed policies (e.g. 'family / small garden) on legal rules about land-ownership / property (Property laws) need more detailed exploration and discussion. The proposals for small farms and family gardens are based on assumptions of property laws, the presence of water, transportation and markets within reach etc., that do not apply equally everywhere; these differences may be the very reason for the decline of small farms.
  • The dilemma of Employment / Unemployment: There appears to be a general assumption of 'jobs' as the main economic tool for income. How does the 'right' to work and the campaign promises of politicians to ‘create more jobs’ relate to the effect of industrialization and rationalization which aims at doing more and better work with fewer workers, that ostensibly has reduced the need for human labor while increasing the education and training requirements for work, that the unemployed cannot pay for?
  • The question about nation-states as the main constituents of global governance or forum organizations. Are territorial 'states', -- still the obvious and unquestioned only form of governance, even in the face of the growth of global, non-territorial forces and networks, -- able to meet the challenges? What alternatives should be considered? One aspect of this is the growing number of migrants, refugees from war-torn areas, ‘displaced persons’, but also the number of ‘guest workers’: all populations with less than standard citizenship rights in many places, often subject to exploitation, discrimination, and without a voice in the national and global discourse.
  • The relationship and compatibility of religious beliefs regarding the imminence of the end of the world, even positing the obligation for the faithful to speed up the coming Armageddon, with the search for a sustainable future: is the assumption of a discourse between the underlying beliefs an unrealistic one? And if so, how should the question be dealt with?

‘What Not To Do’

The phrasing of the Secretary General’s call “for revolutionary” thinking and action may have contributed to a tendency in the discussion to focus on ‘new’ ideas, projects, alternatives, and perhaps neglecting an equally necessary emphasis on discussing practices, habits, behavior patterns that should be abandoned or reduced. True, some such calls have been voiced, but little attention has been paid to the question of how the needed changes could be practically achieved. ‘Stop corruption’ is a frequently heard demand; its actual eradication has proved quite difficult to achieve, and the approaches to such phenomena may have to be re-thought more carefully.

Some commonly expressed responses to problems that ‘have just not yet been applied sufficiently well’ may not be adequate: for example, the call for ‘more regulation’ of financial transactions to address problems such as the recent financial crisis. Another example is the persistent pursuit of economic growth – in the face of increasing evidence and demonstration of the logical impossibility of indefinitely sustained growth – as the remedy for problems in national economies.

Examples of things that are either seen as clearly unsustainable patterns or at least very controversial are:

• The current pattern of ‘agribusiness’ relying on monoculture, huge application of machinery, large farms, extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. • Overfishing in the worlds oceans; • Continued exploitation and use of fossil fuels; • Continued clear-cutting of rainforests; • Concentration of private enterprise, especially in the financial sector, media, resource extraction sectors; • Consumption patterns resulting in production of large amounts of waste, and detrimental forms of waste disposal; • -- • --


The ‘missing’ or inadequately explored issues should be taken up both in the general discourse, as research topics, and even as subjects of actual experiments within other projects or initiatives.

Efforts to replace unsustainable traditional patterns of behavior and operation – of governments, individuals, businesses should be intensified – with an emphasis on facilitating transition not only by means of sanctions for ‘bad’ but incentives for ‘good’ practices.

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3 S U M M A R Y / C O N C L U S I O N


4 A P P E N D I X

See separate page 'Appendix'

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