Political, business, civil society leaders demand urgent action to avoid climatic and environmental disasters
The 7th Earth Dialogues concluded at the United Nations Office at Geneva with former heads of state and leaders of science, business and civil society urging immediate action to respond to the human-induced global environmental and security risks that threaten to unleash catastrophic results on people worldwide.
The Earth Dialogues, held on Tuesday 3 September as part of the Green Cross International 20th anniversary issued today its “Geneva Declaration on Action for a Peaceful and Sustainable World.” The Declaration states: “To continue on the present business-as-usual path of consumer-driven, resource and energy intensive growth will very likely lead to disaster. The present unsustainable patterns of consumption and production must change. We must develop and implement more responsible strategies for growth and development.”
It paid special mention to the crisis in the Middle East, stating: “The framework of multilateral cooperation must be revitalized to achieve concerted action in the face of common threats, to strengthen the global partnership for development and to avert threats to peace such as now in Syria.”
The Declaration also urged world leaders to at urgently to avert the risk of irreversible climate disruption, reverse the destruction of critical ocean and terrestrial ecosystems, and achieve full nuclear disarmament.
The Dialogues, organized by Green Cross International and hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva, were attended by Mikhail Gorbachev, founder of Green Cross, former Seychelles President Sir Robert Mancham, former Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbayeva, and ex-Netherlands Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. Leading economists, environmentalists, development experts, and businessmen spoke during the conference, including Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Julia Marton-Lefévre, Martin Lees, Dimitri Zenghelis, William Becker, and Brice Lalonde.
The Declaration said: “Innovative thinking, renewed engagement and enhanced cooperation are needed to break the deadlock of entrenched but inadequate ideas, political stagnation and international fragmentation and the re-emergence of militarisation in thinking and action.”
Rising inequality and unemployment, marginalisation of the poor, growing military expenditure and dangerous instabilities and vulnerabilities in the world economic and financial systems together demonstrated that our present model of economic growth is failing, the Declaration said.
“Rising demands of an increasing world population, of between 9 and 10 billion people by 2050, and of a growing middle class will exacerbate the overuse and destruction of vital resources and will intensify competition and the risks of conflict. … In spite of 20 years of negotiations, climate change emissions have now risen to dangerous levels, with a growing risk of destabilising the global climate.”
The Declaration urges world leaders and decision-makers in all fields to:
- Move beyond GDP as the primary measure of real progress and work urgently towards a new approach to achieve balanced, qualitative growth, development and globalisation – centred on sustainable human progress.
- Adapt national policies and budgets to take full account of the social and employment facets of policy and of natural capital and resource depletion, pollution and carbon emissions.
- Question the centrality of material consumption as a value in our societies: the stimulation of consumption should not be the principal driver of growth.
- Rein in excessive resource use of the rich, and adopt new strategies to meet needs of the underprivileged within the boundaries of a fragile planet.
- Make structural changes in economic and energy systems, and with the adaptation of incentive structures and regulations, to drastically reduce resource consumption and related pollution and waste, and cut emissions to a level which will avert the increasing risk of catastrophic climate change.
- Decouple the exploitation of resources and pollution from industrial output by radical improvements in resource efficiency, by the encouragement of a “circular” economy and through business models and fiscal and social policies and incentives that favour employment and environmental responsibility.
- Strengthen basic and applied research and education to develop and disseminate breakthrough solutions essential to master global challenges.
- Enhance efforts to overcome the present blockages, failures and delays in multilateral cooperation by formulating new patterns of collaboration and new alliances of the willing so as revitalize the international system to meet the intensifying challenges of the 21st century. This will include verifiable, action-oriented, sustainable-development goals to achieve the post-2015 global development agenda.
The Earth Dialogues are public forums bringing together civil society and the private and public sectors in the search for solutions to resolve the most pressing and interconnected challenges of insecurity, poverty and environmental degradation.