Achieving Sustainability in Time

To see this CONVERSATION in context, please see the Introduction to the entire series of VITAL CONVERSATIONS here.

How can Sustainability be achieved?

How could the present generation of humanity actually accomplish the shift to a life-sustaining civilization in time?

The six-volume presentation of the Earth Holocracy Proposal compiles together the voices of authentic, realistic sustainability and ‘real democracy’ advocates worldwide in order to reveal the significant consensus of opinion that now exists in regards to:

  • the magnitude of the world environmental crisis and, as such, the great urgency for effectively meeting “the sustainability challenge”
  • the root cause of the sustainability crisis – and, indeed, all crises now confronting global humanity – social, financial, political, etc. – being the centralization of power and wealth
  • the solution to the mega-crises of our time  – that is, the only realistic and viable way to ensure the immediate and long-term survival, and indeed, the flourishing, of global human civilization and the planetary biosphere – being decentralization, that is,  political, economic and socio-cultural relocalization.

The Mission Statement of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a leading public advocacy organization, exemplifies the nature of the ‘consensus’ presented:

“We believe that we are in the midst of an escalating ecological crisis, and that the crisis is the result of decisions made by a relatively few people who run corporations and government. We believe that to attain sustainability, a right to local self-government must be asserted that places decisions affecting communities in the hands of those closest to the impacts. That right to local self-government must enable communities to reject unsustainable economic and environmental policies… and must enable communities to construct legal frameworks for charting a future towards sustainable energy production, sustainable land development, and sustainable water use, among others. In doing so, communities must challenge and overturn legal doctrines that have been concocted to eliminate their right to self-government…”                    Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Mission Statement

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is eloquently emphatic about the urgency for effective action:

“Sustainable development now needs a decisive breakthrough – a breakthrough in action. The time for concept development is past. The urgency of action is upon us.

“We must trigger the sustainability transformation now, and a critical component of that is the energy revolution that needs to both address emissions and power as the world moves into a sustainable future. Considering the scale of the transformation necessary for the sustainability revolution, it is clear that governments cannot deliver on their own. Meeting the challenge we face will be impossible without an unprecedented level of cooperation between the public, the private and the civil society sectors.” 

Christiana Figueres, 9 March 2012, Barbara Ward Lecture: Implications of the Durban outcome for enhancing action on climate change on the ground towards a more sustainable future London

In 1992, some 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued an appeal – ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity‘, stating:

“Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

“No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.

“A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.

“Five inextricably linked areas must be addressed simultaneously:

“We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on.

“We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to more benign, inexhaustible energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air and water.

“We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine plant and animal species.

“We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively.

“We must give high priority to efficient use of energy, water, and other materials, including expansion of conservation and recycling.

“We must stabilize population.”

1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity

On November 13, 2017, the American Institute of Biological Sciences issued a follow-up statement: ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice‘, stating:

“On the twenty-fifth anniversary of [the scientific community’s ‘first notice’], we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

The Earth Holocracy Proposal compiles the views of sustainability and ‘real democracy’ advocates worldwide in order to present the evidence of broad agreement with the viewpoint of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund – as noted above:

“We believe that to attain sustainability, a right to local self-government must be asserted that places decisions affecting communities in the hands of those closest to the impacts.”

So, in this Vital Conversation, our objective is to confirm participants’ widespread alignment with the broad consensus presented.

In this Vital Conversation, our key objective is to “agree that we agree”: this being recognized as a necessary step towards acting upon the ostensible consensus – that is, establishing consensus as the precondition for translating broad agreement into effective, collaborative action.

The Introductory Letter for the Earth Holocracy Proposal is offered as a starting point for this Conversation.

Participants are warmly invited to offer a more succinct, representative synthesis of the various voices presented within the Introductory Letter – as we work together to hone a mutually acceptable representation of a common understanding.

Participants are also welcome, of course, to provide further relevant links, and general-response comments.

Please open The Introductory Letter for the Earth Holocracy Proposal.

Please see also the first four articles in Volume One of the Earth Holocracy Proposal series – which elaborate upon the introductory letter’s condensed presentation – and bear direct relevance to this conversation:

The Urgency of Effective Work for the Common Good
The Shift to a Life-Sustaining Civilization
Effectively Addressing the Issue of Climate Change
The Time for Real Global Democracy is Now

Please see also (from Volume Five on Economic Decentralization) the proposal’s presentation of the ‘sustainability classic’:
Only One Earth by Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos

Thank you for your consideration and input.

Examples of the Viewpoints up for Examination and Formal Agreement

“Each and every obstacle has solutions – especially if we commit to an ethic of stewardship, robust citizenship, and a systems approach to addressing the challenges that we face.”
Ed Groark, Acting President of Worldwatch

“The world’s economies and people face hidden dangers to sustainability that demand immediate action. [These dangers] have the potential to upend social systems, environmental balance, and even entire economies. ‘These threats are hidden in the sense that they are commonly overlooked or under-appreciated. But addressing them is critical to building sustainable societies’, notes Ed Groark, Acting President of Worldwatch… [who clarifies his view on the matter:] ‘Each and every obstacle has solutions – especially if we commit to an ethic of stewardship, robust citizenship, and a systems approach to addressing the challenges that we face’.”
Gaelle Gourmelon, April 13, 2015, Press Release: ‘Hidden Threats Imperil Quest for Sustainable Societies Worldwide – Report Finds’

More from Christiana Figueres:

“Sustainable development now needs a decisive breakthrough – a breakthrough in action. The time for concept development is past. The urgency of action is upon us. We must trigger the sustainability transformation now.”

“Already in the 1970s, Barbara Ward knew that we have to combine our immediate commitment to meeting human needs with our longer term need to protect the Earth as a place suitable for human life now and in the future.

“Barbara laid the basis for the Brundtland Commissions eventual definition of sustainable development. She gave us a firm foundation 50 years ago. The question for us is, what have we built on this foundation?

“With business-as-usual making the ground under our feet shake now more than ever before, with billions of people still in abject poverty and with environmental depletion and greenhouse emissions at an all time high, one cannot help but conclude that this was not what Barbara Ward had in mind.

“While arriving at the concept of sustainable development was a critical breakthrough in the 1970s and 1980s, and while putting in place the policy frameworks that would drive sustainable development was a laudable achievement in the 1990s and early 2000s — acting to get the world onto a truly sustainable pathway has now become an urgent imperative.

“Sustainable development now needs a decisive breakthrough – a breakthrough in action. The time for concept development is past. The urgency of action is upon us. We must trigger the sustainability transformation now, and a critical component of that is the energy revolution that needs to both address emissions and power as the world moves into a sustainable future.

“Meeting the challenge we face will be impossible without an unprecedented level of cooperation between the public, the private and the civil society sectors.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 9 March 2012, Barbara Ward Lecture: Implications of the Durban outcome for enhancing action on climate change on the ground towards a more sustainable future London