Sunday, April 01, 2012

Planet under Pressure: Planetary Stewardship (Day 4; final day)

Planet under Pressure: Planetary Stewardship
Several high-ranking people gave presentations on the final day.  A UNESCO director, a British minister (the political kind) and several leads from major groups, including a passionate Johan Rockstrom on the new "Future Earth" initiative.  They all said the right words about need for change; none were sure about actions toward change.  In contrast, an outstanding presentation by Berkeley prof Richard Norgaard got to the point.  Until we change our current economic value system, no change is likely, if even possible.  There is need for a moral path that is rooted in international trust.  Neither is there now, but this is the likely way forward.  Equity, not efficiency should guide the new economic system.  And, the desire for market-based win-win solutions is fundamentally flawed,  There is no win for everybody; instead, we need to back up a little and want less.  Incentives by our governments should be toward the economic system we want, not building on the past.  I would love to hear a long lecture from this guy, including a bit more on the hard theory he alluded to.
The stewardship panel was 80% female this time (well-balanced, according to one panelists), which solicited a tweeted question about the value of a matriarchal system v today's patriarchal structure.  Are women better in governing?  None of the panelists went as far as supporting that contention ... in public.
The conference ended with a PuP declaration that can be found here:
Again, the right words and certainly the right spirit.  Unfortunately all this gives me little hope for any progress at the Rio+20 summit later this year.  The key politicians have not even decided to attend (like UK, USA, China), so agreements would have limited impact.
This type of conference, which is unusual for me, offered a great experience.  It reminds me of op-ed pieces in newspapers that have powerful words, but do not require accountability from the writers.  It also reminds me of the classes my colleagues and I give.  Similarly, professors are not held accountable for change.
No grand conclusion, although pathways are crystallizing in my head.  As such, the PuP conference provided lots of excellent stuff to engage my future classes, which are stocked by the young folks who will demand action and may be willing to accept change for themselves.  Clearly, continued (economic) growth is not the answer.  Equity and human behavior are directions toward solutions.
Saturday, March 31, 2012.

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