A Vision for a Common Future Michael S. Karlen, August 2022
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. Following are a number of practical steps that each one of us can take to contribute his/her part to a sustainable, peaceful and evolutionary future.
Earth, Our Home
The following texts are taken from the preamble of the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter is an international declaration of fundamental values and principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century.
Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life’s evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of devel-opment are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, igno-rance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threat-ened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.
The Challenges Ahead
The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of our-selves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.
To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying our-selves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world in which the local and global are linked. Everyone shares responsibility for the pre-sent and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, govern-ments, and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed.
Responsible Global Governance
The following 10 steps to create a framework for a sustainable world in peace and security are taken from the book Vladimir Petrovsky, The Master Diplomat (CDAC 2015) by M.S. Karlen. Vladimir
Petrovsky was CDAC (Comprehensive Dialogue among Civilizations) Founder and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations (1992-2002) and Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union (1986-1991).
1. Re-focus on the United Nations and its Charter
If the world is going to become a better place, and I believe it is, then there is an important role for the UN to play. The international system of the twenty-first century—the first century of the emerging human-oriented civilization—can be envisaged as the realization of the idea of interdependency. Di-versity will be its wealth; unity, its force. And this is precisely the aim of the United Nations.
2. Incorporate moral and ethical foundations into politics
There is a need to merge law and ethics in international politics and create a political mentality of a new kind, which will unite rather than divide people, and produce a feeling of solidarity amongst them. In particular I am referring to the mentality of the political leaders—those few people who determine the course of events. Fundamentalism, of a religious or political variety, is one of the major causes of the current instability in the world.
3. Acknowledge the sovereignty of the human being
The supremacy of international law in all directions presumes the protection of the human being, his or her rights and his or her dignity.
It can be asserted that Kant’s vision of what is now referred to as responsible global governance really is a final “realization of Nature’s secret plan to create a perfectly functioning state as a single condition of complete development of man’s natural capacities.”
4. Mobilize political will and reform executive culture
Effective multilateralism depends primarily on political will, more so than it does on structures or procedures. Political will demands responsible behavior from all those participating in the global interaction, beginning at the state level. The state is in no way a monolithic, impersonal structure. The actions of one and the same state often depends not so much on what party held power, but who personally was in power.
5. Balance of interests rather than balance of power
The time has come to develop a planetary way of thinking which subsumes the definition of national interest within the global context. The logic of a planetary way of thinking brings to the foreground the task of providing not a balance of power, but a qualitatively new balance: the balance of interests of all the countries of our planet.
6. Adopt a multifaceted approach to collective security
The international community has at its disposal a set of tools to build the system of cooperative collective security. Peacekeeping, peacemaking and preventive diplomacy, development and humanitarian assistance, diplomatic and humanitarian intervention, continued disarmament, strengthening of international law, together with close cooperation among the international organizations and between them and civil society: these and other instruments can be effectively used to strengthen peace on our planet.
7. Need for constructive parallelism in disarmament negotiation
In the new world there is no place for such techniques as “linkages” often used during the Cold War. On the contrary, the multilateral disarmament fora, including the Conference on Disarmament, can rely more on the principle of constructive parallelism, which presupposes that progress in one area facilitates efforts undertaken in another sphere. This approach can stimulate disarmament not only in the nuclear field but in others as well. This observation is also applicable to the Conference on Disarmament.
8. Cross-section partnerships
A cross-section partnership with a variety of politicians, business associations, civil society groups, religions and professional communities, international and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and artists is essential. for ensuring the mobilization of funds and volunteer support of all, including those who have a direct impact on an agenda for sustainable development, and the management of all living species and natural resources. Political will, practical steps and partnerships have to be combined with a renewed spirit of global cooperation and solidarity.
9. Comprehensive dialogue
I deeply believe that the idea of dialogue among civilizations is no mere catch-phrase or trite political slogan. It is an invitation for us all mentally to leap over our ancient cultural divisions and to understand better not only one another’s world view, but also our irreplaceable respective contributions to our common cultural heritage.
10. No globalization without a human face
The 21st century will achieve a new and radiant definition of progress if we can manage to put a human face upon our world. It seems clear to me that a holistic approach will continue to be the guiding force towards problem-solving at the international level, and that a multilateral effort is required. This being the case, it is imperative to seek ways to revitalize and strengthen the United Nations. The UN’s importance in the future will continue to grow.
Everyone can help limit climate change. From the way we travel, to the electricity we use and the food we eat, we can make a difference. Start with these ten actions to help tackle the climate crisis.
Start with these ten actions!
Save energy at home
Much of our electricity and heat are powered by coal, oil and gas. Use less energy by lowering your heating and cooling, switching to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient electric appliances, washing your laundry with cold water, or hanging things to dry instead of using a dryer.
Walk, bike, or take public transport
The world’s roadways are clogged with vehicles, most of them burning diesel or gasoline. Walking or riding a bike instead of driving will reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and help your health and fit-ness. For longer distances, consider taking a train or bus. And carpool whenever possible.
Eat more vegetables
Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and less meat and dairy, can significantly lower your environmental impact. Producing plant-based foods generally results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land, and water.
Consider your travel
Airplanes burn large amounts of fossil fuels, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions. That makes taking fewer flights one of the fastest ways to reduce your environmental impact. When you can, meet virtually, take a train, or skip that long-distance trip altogether.
Throw away less food
When you throw food away, you’re also wasting the resources and energy that were used to grow, produce, package, and transport it. And when food rots in a landfill, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. So use what you buy and compost any leftovers.
Reduce, reuse, repair & recycle
Electronics, clothes, and other items we buy cause carbon emissions at each point in production, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and transporting goods to market. To protect our climate, buy fewer things, shop second-hand, repair what you can, and recycle.
Change your home’s source of energy
Ask your utility company if your home energy comes from oil, coal or gas. If possible, see if you can switch to renewable sources such as wind or solar. Or install solar panels on your roof to generate en-ergy for your home.
Switch to an electric vehicle
If you plan to buy a car, consider going electric, with more and cheaper models coming on the market. Even if they still run on electricity produced from fossil fuels, electric cars help reduce air pollution and cause significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel-powered vehicles.
Choose eco-friendly products
Everything we spend money on affects the planet. You have the power to choose which goods and services you support. To reduce your environmental impact, buy local and seasonal foods, and choose products from companies who use resources responsibly and are committed to cutting their gas emis-sions and waste.
Speak up and get others to join in taking action. It’s one of the quickest and most effective ways to make a difference. Talk to your neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family. Let business owners know you support bold changes. Appeal to local and world leaders to act now.