- Date published:
8:10 am, February 8th, 2012 - 19 comments
Categories: business, climate change, education, equality, health, International, sustainability, water - Tags: intergenerational debt, peak oil, un
The Panel is chaired by Finnish and South African Presidents Tarja Halonen and Jacob Zuma. It contains the likes of Kevin Rudd and many other former Prime Ministers, heads of the World Health Organisation and present Ministers.
For a “Future Worth Choosing” they consulted thousands all over the world on how to get the best future for the world. This means combining the issues of poverty and income inequality; health and education; peak oil and climate change; intergenerational theft and equitable distribution of the world’s resources.
It’s about creating a future that’s sustainable economically, socially and environmentally. Getting economists, social activists and environmental scientists talking to each other and getting sustainable development to move from a generally agreed concept to a day-to-day, on-the-ground, practical reality.
Why has that not happened already, despite the authoritative Brundtland report 25 years ago?
Sustainable development has undoubtedly suffered from a failure of political will. It is difficult to argue against the principle of sustainable development, but there are few incentives to put it into practice when our policies, politics and institutions disproportionately reward the short term. In other words, the policy dividend is long-term, often intergenerational, but the political challenge is often immediate.
[And] … the concept of sustainable development has not yet been incorporated into the mainstream national and international economic policy debate. Most economic decision makers still regard sustainable development as extraneous to their core responsibilities for macroeconomic management and other branches of economic policy. Yet integrating environmental and social issues into economic decisions is vital to success.
The report makes a number of recommendations with a focus on equity/equality (of gender; economic, environmental and social resources; for future generations), a move towards science/empiricism and away from short-termism, and a need to mobilise financial resources towards international problems.
a. It is critical that we embrace a new nexus between food, water and energy rather than treating them in different “silos”. All three need to be fully integrated, not treated separately if we are to deal with the global food security crisis. It is time to embrace a second green revolution — an “ever-green revolution” — that doubles yields but builds on sustainability principles;
b. It is time for bold global efforts, including launching a major global scientific initiative, to strengthen the interface between science and policy. We must define, through science, what scientists refer to as “planetary boundaries”, “environmental thresholds” and “tipping points”. Priority should be given to challenges now facing the marine environment and the “blue economy”;
c. Most goods and services sold today fail to bear the full environmental and social cost of production and consumption. Based on the science, we need to reach consensus, over time, on methodologies to price them properly. Costing environmental externalities could open new opportunities for green growth and green jobs;
d. Addressing social exclusion and widening social inequity, too, requires measuring them, costing them and taking responsibility for them. The next step is exploring how we can deal with these critical issues to bring about better outcomes for all;
e. Equity needs to be at the forefront. Developing countries need time, as well as financial and technological support, to transition to sustainable development. We must empower all of society — especially women, young people, the unemployed and the most vulnerable and weakest sections of society. Properly reaping the demographic dividend calls on us to include young people in society, in politics, in the labour market and in business development;
f. Any serious shift towards sustainable development requires gender equality. Half of humankind’s collective intelligence and capacity is a resource we must nurture and develop, for the sake of multiple generations to come. The next increment of global growth could well come from the full economic empowerment of women;
g. Many argue that if it cannot be measured, it cannot be managed. The international community should measure development beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and develop a new sustainable development index or set of indicators;
h. Financing sustainable development requires vast new sources of capital from both private and public sources. It requires both mobilizing more public funds and using global and national capital to leverage global private capital through the development of incentives. Official development assistance will also remain critical for the sustainable development needs of low-income countries;
i. Governments at all levels must move from a silo mentality to integrated thinking and policy-making. They must bring sustainable development to the forefront of their agendas and budgets and look at innovative models of international cooperation. Cities and local communities have a major role to play in advancing a real sustainable development agenda on the ground;
j. International institutions have a critical role. International governance for sustainable development must be strengthened by using existing institutions more dynamically and by considering the creation of a global sustainable development council and the adoption of sustainable development goals;
k. Governments and international organizations should increase the resources allocated to adaptation and disaster risk reduction and integrate resilience planning into their development budgets and strategies;
l. Governments, markets and people need to look beyond short-term transactional agendas and short-term political cycles. Incentives that currently favour short-termism in decision-making should be changed. Sustainable choices often have higher up-front costs than business as usual. They need to become more easily available, affordable and attractive to both poor consumers and low-income countries.
It goes into much greater detail (in the summary document!) and our government and political parties should be looking at it and measuring themselves against it.
There are a lot of “big issues” to deal with in the modern world, and a lot of resources to deal with them – but we need a co-ordinated approach to get some traction and some action on them.