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David O'Connor
on Fri, February 1, 2013 at 02.49 am

Now closed: Sustainability and Growth

Welcome to this e-discussion on Sustainability and Growth, which will run from today, 31 January, until 15 March 2013. This e-discussion is the fourth in a series organized as part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Growth and Employment, providing inputs into the post-2015 development agenda.

Economic growth is an essential means to support improvements in people’s wellbeing, from poverty reduction, employment and health, to education and quality of life – but the quality of growth matters. Natural resources and biodiversity also contribute important goods and services to human well-being and economies both directly and indirectly – clean air and water, healthy food, forest products, minerals, these are a few examples. Healthy natural ecosystems support human well-being through various functions, including water purification and flow regulation, climate regulation and carbon storage, biodiversity habitat, waste absorption and remediation, to name a few. These natural goods and services which support lives, livelihoods, and economies are often designated as ‘natural capital’, partially analogous to man-made capital in the form of machinery and technology and human capital in the form of an educated and healthy population.

There is substantial evidence and concern, however, that continued and accelerating environmental degradation caused by growing human activities and the consumption and resource use associated with high and rising living standards could threaten the natural resource and environmental basis of human well-being.  Poor people and communities that depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods and well-being are particularly vulnerable to their depletion.

Industrialization has brought significant economic and social benefits to many countries. But it has also contributed to environmental damage, including through greenhouse gas emissions. Despite some progress, decoupling consumption and production from fossil-fuel energy use remains a major challenge. Climate change is already having significant impacts on food and agricultural production, human health, biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and the physical infrastructure on which societies depend.

One response to these challenges has been to propose a new growth model that would put economies on a path to sustainable development – “inclusive green growth”. This raises a several questions that can launch the discussion:

  • Can growth be good for both people and the planet?  If so how? Are there examples of how people in your country or your community are solving the problems of sustainability and economic growth?
  • What kind of policies can move us away from a “grow now/clean up later” approach to industrialization and economic development?
  • Where growth is likely to increase the pressure on the environment, how can we keep that pressure to a minimum, while still benefiting from the growth itself?
  • To what extent is the depletion of natural resources affecting livelihoods of people in your community, country?



 Farmers Stock Market The Nakasero Farmers Market in Uganda. This market plays an important role in the development of the local economy. A significant number of microfinance clients sell and buy their products here, as in the stock market.

Photograph taken in ANGOL, Sent by Rolando Villanueva


 We welcome your response to these questions drawing on your experience, ideas or research. In a few weeks we will share additional follow-up questions for discussion.

We look forward to your active participation and encourage you to inform your colleagues and networks about this discussion.


Anil Markandya, University of Bath and Basque Centre for Climate Change

David O’Connor, UNDESA

Tim Scott, UNDP  

Please or to post a comment.
Timothy SCOTT from
Mon, February 4, 2013 at 03.51 pm

Dear colleagues,

This timely discussion on growth and sustainability links to many key aspects of human development and societal progress. 

Preparations for Rio+20 involved extensive consultations on these links and how countries and communities can move towards more inclusive, sustainable forms of people-centered development. These debates have helped highlight different perspectives on sustainability and growth policies within and across countries, and their importance for the MDGs and post-2015 discussions.

These views are reflected in the Rio+20 Outcome Document, as well as a synthesis of national Rio+20 reports, available here. Both documents can help inform this discussion on Sustainability and Growth.

In particular, they offer several insights on sectoral and cross-cutting policy options and the capacities needed to ensure that economic growth serves as a means to reduce multidimensional poverty and increase equity and resilience, without compromising planetary boundaries and the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. They highlight the role of ongoing advocacy and education, capacity development, and a range of tools, metrics, and technologies - all core components of integrated, people-centered sustainable development planning and implementation.

We look forward to your reflections and experiences.

Best regards,

Tim Scott


dennis baker Valedictorian @ the school of from Canada
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 03.14 pm

In my opinion 

We need to replace the fossil fuel power plants, the primary source of GHG. Now! 

At a scale required to accomplish this task : 

Ethanol starves people : not a viable option. 

Fracking releases methane : not a viable option. 

Cellulose Bio Fuel Uses Food Land : not a viable option 

Solar uses food land : Not a viable option 

Wind is Intermittent : Not a viable option 

All Human and Agricultural Organic Waste can be converted to hydrogen, through exposure intense radiation! 


The Radioactive Materials exist now, and the Organic waste is renewable daily. 

Ending the practice of dumping sewage into our water sources. 

Air, Water, Food and Energy issues, receive significant positive impacts . 

Reducing illness / health care costs as well ! 

Dennis Baker
Penticton BC V2A1P9 
cell phone 250-462-3796 
Phone / Fax 778-476-2633

Anand PB from
Mon, February 18, 2013 at 11.44 am

Dear Tim,


Thank you for sharing these documents. This is a very important theme and a number of posts have already highlighted some of the relevant issues. The synthesis document of national Rio+20 reports is an interesting account of both the challenges and possibilities. 

Developing and strengthening institutions (key priority 1 in the syntehsis document) is crucial- here the expression institution can be seen in the sense of both Douglas North and also Ostrom. As North (2003) warns, there is a tendency to over-react with creating formal institutions. What is perhaps equally important is to understand what informal institutions (including cultural norms) already exist and how change can be best achieved by creating such formal institutions where needed to complement good informal institutions or counteract (bad or inefficiency causing) informal institutions. 

Unpacking green economy (key priority 2) and developing flexible and nationally or locally relevant variations is also important. As an example, we could mention the development of a environmental vulnerability in Mongolia as part of the National Human Development Report 2011. [The NHDR is here. The background paper that explains the environmental vulnerability indicator is here.] Though these reports are not about green economy, they provide an example of how nationally and locally relevant indicators could be used in developing appropriate indicators.

The expression 'green economy' requires further clarification and elaboration in the years to come. At the moment, it is both the journey as well as the destination- i.e., a broader and symbolic expression of intentions (and direction of change) as well as sometimes a very specific indicator or sustainable development. By definition measures or indicators are static -more like snapshots of the state of the world at a moment in time. Directional measures can capture some of the dynamics but not entirely and adequately. 

A lot has already been said here and elsewhere on the need to link SD more closely with development goals such as MDGs (key priority 3). There are other discussion forums on the 'worldwewant' family of spaces which are exploring this. Also see the discussion documents from the UNDP-ILO joint meeting held in Tokyo.

With regard to engaging stakeholders (KP4) I think the synthesis document's use of the word 'meaningfully' is highly appropriate. Case studies related to drinking water supply in peri-urban areas and sharing of river waters for agriculture clearly show how it is possible to 'do' stakeholder consultation yet miss the most important and often the most affected communities. The need for multiple and various approaches of communication is also clear from this. While it is fashionable to use new media and such tools are important to reach some of the stakeholders especially the youth and urban workers, such tools can miss out entire populations even within large cities and educated groups. Similarly more traditional forms of communication such as print media or TV can also miss out certain difficult to reach populations. These various experiences highlight the importance of engaging with various sections of stakeholders and using multiple strategies to communicate and receive feedback in real time.  

Developing appropriate and meaningful indicators (KP5) feeds into a number of these strands. There is a need for different kinds of indicators and also use innovative ways of developing indicators. Not all measures need to be statistical or numerical data based indicators. A lot of work related to subjective well-being indicators indicates a creative use of qualitative and participatory approaches to generate relevant measures. For every indicator we want to cite, I am sure there will be critics questioning the validity of data- it is important to acknowledge that any such indicator or measurement provides a limited, partial but useful glimpse of the state of the reality- how we interpret that partial picture is equally important.

The various posts in this forum already reflect a rich variety of approaches that are possible and give us optimism for moving forward.

Thnaks and best wishes,

PB Anand

Patricia_Amada Alarco-Vizcarra Intl Consultant AcadResearcher from Peru
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 08.40 pm

Sustainability and Growth, to me, is the only way forward 

Growth and development collocates, AND, not surprising enough, sustainable and development as well. Moreover, if we make a simple search using a browser, it is shown as an anticipated search. But is this always true? Food for thought indeed. Depends if we are focusing on short term goals or having a wider picture looking ahead.

I was born in a developing country in South America which is currently having an outstanding regional growth, and have spent the last four years in a developed country where interests and economic problems differ widely, not to mention how Europian economic growth has been heavily affected lately.

Having stated that, and, in my experience, having seen and studied first hand both worlds, with pros and cons, with cultural diversities. Not saying one is better than the other, just different, so being aware of global issues make each of us a better global citizen, however we need to be prepared for acceptance and tolerance, key words wherever we are, I have realized.

As businesses look for sustainable partnerships, connecting systems and looking for international collaboration, some of us are not fully aware of the importance of this powerful combination: growth AND sustainability, a key partnership without a doubt that incurs in far more benefits than risks.

... So in terms of Global growth, Sustainability and Awareness, we are facing unfinished business. Therefore is to each of us to get involved and have a say. We can all make a difference, however small this one we might think it is, every little helps!



pattyalarco (at) live (dot) co (dot) uk

Lal Manavado from
Tue, March 19, 2013 at 02.18 pm
Growth and development, a metaphoric confusion?
At least in English, growth and development is used metaphorically to describe two features of man-made activities.
Growth signifies a quantitative increase, while development refers to a qualitative change. However, both words have their origin  in biological changes.
After a tree has attained its full development and begins to flower, it may continue to grow without any further development in it as a tree.
In their metaphoric use of these two terms, people seem to have forgotten that growth and development take place between birth and death.
Perhaps, we ought to choose some other goal, enhance social and personal contentment not linked to the size of bank balance or power?
Thank you.
Lal Manavado.

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Sent: 15 March 2013 14:00
To: Lal Manavado
Subject: [World We Want 2015] Patricia_Amada Alarco-Vizcarra Intl Consultant AcadResearcher from Peru commented on the Discussion "Sustainability and Growth"

Shanthi Sivakumaran from Philippines
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 11.32 am

IBON International is pleased to make a submission to this discussion which can be accessed here.


Economic growth should no longer be a means and an end in itself if we are to balance social and environmental concerns. We need to make the economy more responsive to the needs of society and the environment as a whole but it requires a fundamental shift in perspective by all. Developed and developing countries need to follow an alternative development path that is not based on the exploitation of people’s labors and the exhaustion of the planets resources for profit but rather one that is geared towards improving the well-being of all people while safeguarding ecosystems and the planet.

The real challenge is in establishing a new model of sustainable development within the post-2015 agenda and shifting away from an obsession with an exclusionary, top-down growth model geared towards excess consumption for private profit, towards new modes of production consumption and distribution and a rights-based framework centered on the principles of equity, justice, democratic ownership and respect for nature. 

IBON International is a member of the Campaign for People's Goals for Sustainable Developmenta network of grassroots organizations, labor unions, social movements, non-governmental organizations and other institutions committed to forging new pathways to the future we want. We campaign for People’s Goals for genuine sustainable development based on the principles of human rights, equality, self-determination, social, gender and ecological justice, and culturally sensitive approaches to development that value diversity.

Lal Manavado from
Tue, March 19, 2013 at 01.41 pm
How do people know?
I wonder how could one assume that achieving people's goals would-
   1. Not threaten or degrade the environment
   2. Have definite quantitative limits
   3. The number of those people are actually known.
Thank you.

From: notification@unteamworks.org [mailto:notification@unteamworks.org]
Sent: 15 March 2013 06:09
To: Lal Manavado
Subject: [World We Want 2015] Shanthi Sivakumaran from Philippines commented on the Discussion "Sustainability and Growth"

Meng Li
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 03.56 pm

Sustainability implies that the human race (with the future generations in mind too) should grow within the life-supporting capacities of the Earth’s ecosystems. The Global Environmental Outlook 5 (http://www.unep.org/geo/GEO5_SPM.asp) launched atRio+20 has quantitatively shown human impacts on atmosphere, land, biodiversity, freshwater, oceans, among others. Exceeding critical global, regional and local thresholds will cause abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet, with significant adverse implications for human well-being. The concept of “inclusive green growth”, as I see it, promotes a healthy balance of environmental, social and economic dimensions.

To be able to grow but to keep the pressure from human activities to the minimum, the topic of sustainable consumption and production patterns (SCP) deserves great attention from the international community. The 10 Year Framework of Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production adopted at Rio+20 reflects the global consensus on its huge relevance in the sustainable development agenda. And SCP should continue to be an integral part of the SDGs/ post-2015 discussion. I’d like to further highlight a few points:

1) In poverty eradication efforts, it is important to make sure aid be provided to the poor with a long term view, so they can “leapfrog” to sustainable behavioral patterns.

2) Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is relevant to all countries, regardless of their development stages. To some, SCP is more about how to start right. But to others, perhaps most of the developed world as well as the business sector, it is about shifting business-as-usual, where awareness raising campaigns are not of much help. This is where the call for transparency and accountability comes into the picture. If sustainability reporting becomes a mainstream practice, we will be more equipped to create a feedback loop, consisting of practical guidance, specific targets, indicators, reporting and performance appraisal. What is measured gets managed. (Same logic applies to the country level. Sustainability suggests the integration of social and ecological values in assessing a country’s performance. If we don't measure beyond GDP, countries will most likely only care about economic growth.)

3) It is the responsibility of governments to use policy tools to create incentives that are socially beneficial. However, policies such as fossil fuel subsidies would lead to unsustainable consumption and production patterns, which increases the pressure of human activities on the Earth’s ecosystems. The international community should therefore strive to stop them.


John Robinson Global issues scientist from New Zealand
Thu, March 14, 2013 at 07.52 pm

The world has been colonised by humans until it is overpopulated and severely damaged. This change from growth demanded a massive collective culture change, an enormous paradigm shift, at least by 1970.  The control of corporate fascism has shut down global research and led to failure so it is now too late.  This story is described in "A plague of people", a free ebook published on smashwords.  This tells how a free, unfettered science moved from "Silent spring" and "The limits to growth" to take in economics and political organisations, in order to get to grips with the immense challenge.  All we can do now is to man the lifeboats and protect them from swamping by desperate masses.  I hate the story and this conclusion but it cannot be dodged.

Anonymous Presence trainer and coach from Netherlands
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 08.15 am

Thank you Mr Robindon for your view, and at times I totally concur. This is the story that appears evident  from the apparent facts that are displayed to us. And also, it aids me to see in my direct environment and worldwide a distinct change in direction and empowering of the masses.

Mankind and earth have a great resilience. And reality does not have to become what it apparently is heading towards. When the iron curtain fell this was completely unexpected. From the first moments on reporters told it was going to remain open, which I just could not believe. Reality can change abruptly as Malcolm Gladwell elaborates in his book "the Tipping Point". Major changes can loom undergound for prolonged time, remain invisible and yet revolution can follow and take place in a day.
Reality, as I perceive it in a philiosophical way, is not real but is apparent. An illusion. 

When I believe that my fear is real, something inside me keeps checking the progress of this fear, and events are interpreted in a way that justifies that I had been right that this unwanted scenario will happen. In fact the fear itself may even create the effect by itself. This can occur for instance when one tries to coax one's spouse not to leave. The fear itself can be the cause that a relationship comes to a halt.
Being optimistic about what will come out, our questions and contributions will have a positive effect in that direction, theis positive energy we give to others will multiply in them and chances increase that it will actually come true.

Can we predict exactly how this situation will improve? Related to crises, what will ultimately emerge we usually don't know in advance. What came up towards me is a project that recycles waste into oil, gas and some other usable half-products, instead of burning it. Technological development has been speeding up tremendously over the past ten years. Where in the past a scientific publication or an edited and printed book took a year to prepare, the internet has made it possible to spread new ideas in seconds. Teams can work around the clock around the globe. Academic wisdom has become available to all, including e.g. those who live in remote areas such as the inuit Greenland and the simplest people living e.g. in the Favela slums in Rio de Janeiro. And, great findings may take a long and complex road to get there, but finally end up to be ultimately simple in nature. An example of this are many of the physical laws such as the E=MC2 law by Einstein, or the finding that an empty Coca Cola bottle filled with clean water and mounted as a portal for light in the roof of a slum hut during daytime sets the whole hut into luminous light, better than a lightbulb.

For true developments to come out, it would greatly help when whistleblowers and developers of new technologies would be free to do their work and safe from harassment and threats. Honest and individual contributions should be honoured and proclaimed, similar to the TED talks. Here a culture change could be advocated or concerted by the world leaders.

When we people maintain our focus that true solutions are possible, these will come up when the time is there. These days much is demanded from us that we maintain faith in the solution. I am sure it will occur. There are major projects of reforestation, of alternative energy sources, often with a proven stunning power to re-create what is needed. Everything has to do with consciousness. Are individuals and corporates aware of their ecological footprint. Can people redirect their activities from narcissistic buying gimmics and going on cruises, to growing permaculture gardens and contributing to poverty and ecosystems. Global vision and legislation is a key to shift focus in that direction, and this has advantages and disadvantages. The power of large economic forces one good day will be subjected to the good of the planet. For this to occur, it appears a major crisis is inevitable. I trust this will be in a gentle and peaceful way, by people discovering inside themselves what all this is about.

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 07.19 pm

Thank you for putting this view forward in so much detail and with such clarity. It is important to consider the positive sides of what we are doing. Unfortunately, when bad news dominates the headlines in the media, as it so often does,  fear and pessimism often paralyze people.

I have been involved with the UN since 1969 and I am astounded by the changes that have taken place since then at the global level. For instance, in 1989 I, as UN representative of the Association of World Citizens, was addressing an empty room at a major UN conference, because it was the afternoon of that conference dedicated to NGO statements. Twenty one years later, Major Groups are actually permitted to speak during the negotiation part of a conference which is the holy sanctum for government decision making. And just a few weeks after the Rio Summit the views of people from all sectors of society with special emphasis on the poorest and the most marginalized were actively solicited by the UN so that their views could be submitted to Member Governments as they looked more carefully at ways to eradicate poverty. Now just a few months after Rio, we are all participating in this global consultation. I can hardly believe that this is happening.

In a world with just a few relationships things move so much slower than in a world where people worldwide are relating to one another consciously and unconsciously in multiple ways all the time-- and all these interrelationships are affecting the whole. As a result of globalization and the population increase things are speeding up by the hour. It could therefore be important in this wonderful dialogue organized by the UN that even seemingly "far out" views be noted. They might seem far fetched today but even next week they might spring into prominence and then Governments will be grateful they were alerted to their existence. Who would have believed even in 1990 when UNDP in its Human Development Reports began to think about alternative indicators that we would be seeing a Gross National Happiness Index not just applied by one country but being studied by a wide variety of countries and people. Who would have thought that Nature would be given rights?

The threats to human well-being are escalating but so is human resourcefulness and so are positive solutions and the recognition by increasing numbers of people that we are part of an interdependent world and that we had therefore better try and make it together. I am not necessary optimistic about the outcome, but to me there is no question that "making it" is not a lost cause and that if we don't give it our all, pessimistic prophesies will inevitably become self-fulfilling.

Lal Manavado from
Tue, March 19, 2013 at 02.18 pm
Dear Lisinka,
I salute your spirit.
I agree that many voices are now allowed to air their views on fora like this. Yet, the power to make decisions are still firmly in the hands of 'elected' or self-appointed political leaders.
Would that there is some mechanism that would enable people to revise political decisions when they demand it with reasons of force.
Otherwise, however reasonable they may be, public discussions cannot be anything more than a global safety valve.
I wonder who invested nature with rights. Unless it was done by some supra-natural entity, it must be a joke, for as a part of nature himself, man granting the whole rights sounds a trifle curious.
Lal Manavado.

From: notification@unteamworks.org [mailto:notification@unteamworks.org]
Sent: 15 March 2013 12:24
To: Lal Manavado
Subject: [World We Want 2015] Lisinka Ulatowska commented on the Discussion "Sustainability and Growth"

Anonymous Individual from Canada
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 07.37 pm

Well put , now apply that thought process to my proposed solution, and find your theory fits my practice.  

The interaction and interdependance of all issue's that MDG attempt to address, are interconnected.

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Thu, March 14, 2013 at 11.33 pm

The picture you paint certainly looks realstic. Yet as humans we do not have the mental/spirtual capacities to understand universal processes.For this reason, I personally try to face the situation as squarely as possible and do all I can and who knows we might still win through. It is worth trying. And nothing tried, nothing gained.

Mark Sutcliffe Project officer from Qatar
Thu, March 14, 2013 at 08.00 am

The solution is as simple as it is obvious.

Current growth is based on GDP growth.  This metric is completely devoid of any indication of quality of life.  Any improvements in quality of life are purely market driven.

Solution- Replace the metric with ones that people on an indvidual level will care about, removing any reliance to economic indicators such as 'Proportion of population below $1 per day (PPP values)'  The economic value of 1$ is totally subjective and serves to be a greater distraction than offer any utility. 

Whilst many people understand how utterly ill equipped economics is to 'solving' issues related to sustinability, like a bad habit, people continue to try and reintoduce it.  Whilst one may be able to draw inferences certain useful from it, relying on it entirely to manage processes conducive to life is only an act of desperation.

Drawing on the MDG's as inspiration, the following, in no particular order, would be far more adequate:

1) Life expectancy

2) Access to education

3) Eradicating Hunger

4) Combat disease

5) Improve maternal health

6) Gender equality

7) Improve environmental sustainability

In the end, if we acheive progress on all of the above goals, then we will be laying a foundation upon which we can build sustainably and securely.  Only after those 'needs' are met can we afford to pay attention to our 'wants', activities of strictly secondary importance - something for which economics is indeed an effective tool capable at providing guidance.

ABHA Mission for Social Health and Education from India
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 06.57 pm

GROWTH = gratitude, reciprocation, optimist, wisdom, trust, humanity  > genuine growth for the world !  :)

David Woodward
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 10.16 am

I absolutely agree that we need to shift our attention from aggregate economic measures such as GDP and economic growth, and towards actual societal goals such as those you cite. (I would add some broader measure of quality of life, incidentally: otherwise this may be sacrificed to attain the specified goals.)

However, while this is perhaps, merely the bias of an economist, I would not want us to move away entirely from money-metric measures. It is financial considerations – particularly poverty and public expenditure – which underlie the current deficiencies in all these dimensions; and measures to deal with these issues will be central to a solution.

At the risk of self-promotion (Heaven forbid!), I have elsewhere proposed an approach to this, which might be worth consideration – what I have termed a rights-based poverty line. The basic principle is to define a consistent set of country-specific poverty lines based, not on a fixed number of dollars per day at PPP, but rather on the level of income at which people actually attain a given threshold level of an outcome indicator which corresponds with a particular right (eg infant and child mortality, primary school completion, access to water, etc), based on the actual empirical relationship with household income in each country.

This provides an alternative means of standardising our definition of poverty rather than the “$-a-day” approach (which is methodologically problematic as well as arbitrary); it relates our definition of poverty directly to the reasons for our concern about (impacts on people); it forces us to be explicit about the moral judgments implicit in our adoption of a particular poverty line; and it provides multiple poverty lines corresponding with different rights in each country (providing a much richer representation of the nature and consequences of poverty. It also means that poverty can be reduced, both by increasing income and by improving living standards at a particular level of income – and, at least as important, it means that an increase in income which does not actually improve living standards does not appear as a reduction in poverty.

A paper summarising this approach (and critiquing alternatives) is available at http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/how-poor-is-poor. The technical paper presenting the approach in greater detail (including an application to selected countries based on the infant mortality rate) no longer appears to be on-line, but I’d be very happy to send this to anyone who’s interested (e-mail: woodwarddavid@hotmail.com).

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 02.32 am

This is an important aspect of a discussion that is increasingly going on at the UN. People's economic and social rights must be considered when we think of an economy where people respect and do not ravage the environment. It seems that some of the most stable and prosperous countries are those where people's well-being is taken care of. In this respect, Denmark came out top according to one poll.

But while economic and social rights being implemented is crucial, so too are less material aspects of life. Here Bhutan is leading the discussion with its Gross National Happiness Indicators.

But can happiness be measured objectively from the outside alone? Happiness has to do with being able to experience what has meaning to us individually and that requires more subjective metrics. It is important, I believe, to move from outer "objectivity" to a more comprehensive "holistic" approach taking into account people's own assessment. Bringing people's inner experience into the economy brings in a wealth of new dimensions that all can learn and benefit from. It also helps us to value the diversity among people. Each person is unique. Each person is an invaluable part of the whole.

Lisinka Ulatowska

Wei Liu from United States of America
Wed, March 13, 2013 at 06.56 pm

I would like to bring to this e-discussion trade dimension of growth and sustainability. There is broad agreement that trade has been a major driver of economic growth and globalization over the past few decades. And we have a strong sense of profound changes in the world because of trade.

The key point is that trade in itself is not intrinsically good or bad for development; it all depends on how the gains and losses from trade are distributed across society, and how trade impacts the use of natural resources and the environment.

It is understood that a transition to a green economy will involve both technological and structural changes. Such changes are a constant of modern economies – but even so they can be disruptive. Some may win and some may lose. It will be a threat to those that are predominantly trading in old technologies or dirty goods. It will be an opportunity to those able to seize new market opportunities.

As a growing number of countries adopt strategies and policies to promote a transition to a green economy, this will have implications for trade flows and trading opportunities. And as the structures of domestic economies change, so will the structure of their international trade. Thus, a country’s own domestic policies as well as the policies of its major trading partners to support a green transformation would have trade effects.

Developing countries are concerned that they be able to keep up with the pace of technological and structural change, to be able to compete in new industries and products. 

So, the key for the proper management of greener growth and fair globalization is to help those that might face painful adjustments and to support capacity building and market access for those interested in seizing new green growth opportunities. This will require enhanced support for green trade facilitation and finance and aid for trade. We also need to improve global trade governance both inside and outside the Doha Round Agenda.

In this context, DESA together with UNCTAD and UNEP prepared a study: “The Transition to a Green Economy:  Benefits, Risks and Challenges from a Sustainable Development Perspective” which is available at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/index.php?page=view&type=400&nr=12&menu=45 .

Further reading:



We hope these points and references are useful for the discussion.


Wei Liu


Lal Manavado from
Mon, March 18, 2013 at 10.48 am
Trade and sustainability.
i suppose some form of trade may have existed since the day of the ancient hunter gatherers, when a bit of meat could have been bartered for a handful of berries.
When it served its purpose by directly benefiting the participants of that exchange, trade was beneficial, and the question of wealth distribution did not arise.
But, the appearance of the middlemen have changed a fundamentally simple and mutually beneficial exchange into a psuedo-scientific persuit, where bloated middlemen exploit the two original participants of the exchange, viz. the producer and user.
It is this bloated middle that depends on constant consumption for its profit, be it a speculator in futures, shares peddlar, currency hawker, etc.
Lal Manavado.

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To: Lal Manavado
Subject: [World We Want 2015] Wei Liu from United States of America commented on the Discussion "Sustainability and Growth"

David Woodward
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 10.15 am

I would entirely agree that trade (like growth – see my earlier positing) is neither intrinsically good nor intrinsically bad. Rather, it needs to be used instrumentally to achieve our societal objectives of poverty reduction, health promotion, well-being, sustainability, etc. This requires a much more strategic and selective approach than has been fashionable in recent decades.

However, I would caution against extrapolating from recent experience in considering the role of trade in future development strategies. Climate change and carbon constraints are a game-changer in this respect. The question is, what are the “new export opportunities” in this new context?

I hope you will forgive me for repeating part (most of) a post on a different section of this site (on structural change) – my excuse is that I posted this only after the deadline, so the chances are no-one read it anyway!

The context of the coming decades is likely to be very different as a result of the need for drastic reductions in carbon emissions to limit climate change to (hopefully) manageable proportions. I would suggest the following propositions in this context.

  1. Global carbon emission constraints require a very considerable reduction in fossil fuel use over the coming decades, which is becoming increasingly urgent.
  2. Global carbon emissions arise primarily from consumption in the North.
  3. Limitations on the economic and technical potential for mitigation technologies, and incentive effects from potential policy approaches (eg carbon taxes/trading) means meeting reduction targets will entail at least a shift in consumption patterns in the North (and among the better-off in the South), even if their consumption growth is not slowed.
  4. Major consumption patterns likely to be adversely affected (those with the greatest and most visible carbon footprints) include:
    1. long-haul tourism;
    2. high-value perishable agricultural produce requiring air transportation (eg fresh soft fruits and vegetables; cut flowers);
    3. low-cost, low-quality manufactured goods with low utility and/or short product life.
  5. More generally, a move is likely from “material” to “non-material” consumption.
  6. Low-income countries’ comparative advantage, and their exports, are strongly oriented towards “material” rather than “non-material” production: “non-material” production is essentially limited to low-value, non-tradable services (eg local transportation, retailing and petty trading, personal services, etc).
  7. The three sectors identified in 4 above correspond with major routes towards development in an export-led model.
  8. If low-income countries seek to accelerate, or even to maintain, their growth relying on these sectors, prices will be driven down by intensified competition in markets with declining or slow-growing demand, which is likely to prove self-defeating.
  9. The main remaining sector is extractive industries (excluding fossil fuels), which generally generates very limited employment relative to the value of production, and whose demand will also be limited by a more general shift away from “material” consumption.

10.This raises serious questions about the viability of export-led development in a carbon-constrained global economy, or at least indicates a need to identify different and more environmentally sustainable and lower-carbon sectors for export development.

Combined with the concerns about capital intensity of industrial production raised in earlier posts, this reinforces the need for structural change, but also implies a very different nature of such change in the post-2015 context. Specifically, I would suggest that the need is for:

  1. a shift in focus from South-North exports to greater attention to the development of local, national and regional markets (with important implications for transport infrastructure);
  2. policies which target poverty more directly rather than growth, with benefits “bubbling up” from poverty reduction to growth rather than “trickling down” (or not) from growth to poverty reduction;
  3. an emphasis on rural development and diversification (within and away from agriculture), particularly by exploiting the potential benefits of decentralised and micro-renewable energy technologies, to generate small-scale labour-intensive production by small and micro-enterprises;
  4. coordination of demand and supply increases, orienting income-generation programmes towards increasing the supply of goods and services whose demand will be increased by poverty reduction (identifiable from household expenditure surveys), most of which can readily be produced locally (with judicious use of import tariffs where appropriate);
  5. a shift away from reliance on, and competition for, (relatively capital-intensive) foreign direct investment, and towards promotion of local and diaspora investment, with greater labour intensity and stronger forward and backward linkages in the local economy;
  6. collective action to limit exports of primary commodities with price-inelastic demand (eg through coordinated export taxes), designed to avoid negative income effects on small producers and to avoid free-riding.
Lisinka Ulatowska from
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 02.32 am

Thank you for your valuable work. Beside the global and national levels, there are also local levels and people to people transboundary movements. One important one is the Fair Trade Movement. Where the poor have insufficient income they must ravage the environment. The Fair Trade Movement tries to ensure that those selling products in developing countries receive a fair income from the sale of their products in wealthier countries Such a people's movement and many initiatives like it are also important to shifting to an economy based on the well being of all people and nature.

Lisinka Ulatowska
Coordinator of the NGO Major Group Commons Cluster and Commons Action for the United Nations

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 01.33 pm

Mr. Manavado, Mr Reinier Bosman,

It is indeed important to arm people with "techniques to produce peace of mind". It is important that such techniques be taught in schools. It is also important that communities already develop "peace of mind as a community" before disaster strikes. Stability, social cohesion and capacity to work together for the benefit of all stakeholders are important characteristics for any community. There is a growing sense of this need if we look at the growth in cooperatives in recent years and the fact that these are thriving during crises created by economic downturn. This makes sense since in cooperatives there is a culture of caring and sharing that is found less in businesses where competition among employees and among businesses is more cut-throat in nature. Cooperatives are owner operated and all employees/managers share both in the decision making and benefits. This creates both goodwill, trust and a team spirit that can help when disasters strike since people are more inclined to work together.

This paradigm change from competion, self-centredness to one of caring and sharing is also found in the growing number of other types of commons communities, whether they be internet based or physical communities. It would be important for local authorities to keep all of their citizens involved in and informed about matters that concern their well being and regularly involve them in generating ideas and making decisions together. This practice of sharing responsibility is a way of preparing populations for the disasters that are likely to strike as economic, social and environmental challenges remain unmet. 

Reinier Bosman from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 03.18 pm

Thank you.

I am very willing to take up anything that comes up in this regard.


Op 11 mrt 2013, om 14:35 heeft notification@unteamworks.org het volgende geschreven:

Lal Manavado from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 03.17 pm
Ms. Ulatowska,  Thank you
Thank you for your remarks.
The old adage, prevention is better than cure still holds.
It is possible to minimise the occurance of man-made disasters, but, the natural disasters are another matter.
No disaster in European history decimated  European population than Black Death. This was at a time nobody knew the ætiology or how to treat Bubonic Plague. Yet, Europe revived.
At the country level, after the Mongol invation of Hungary in the thirteenth century,  the country lay in ruins with nearly half the population killed or taken away by the invader. Yet, under the leadership of King Bëla, the country revived.
As a child, Anton Chekov was given regular whippings by both his father and grand father. The latter was a serf, who managed to buy his freedom. Well, this harsh treatment did not seem to have impaired his ability to give to mankind what no politician could ever even dream to do.
This does not imply a spot of thrashing would produce a good crop of new Chekovs from  comprehensive schools.
I believe that people possess an unsuspected degree of resilience, and one should not regard them as helpless under all adverse conditions.
It is important to do what we can to reduce the risk of avoidable disasters, while enhancing people's ability to deal with them should they occur.

From: notification@unteamworks.org [mailto:notification@unteamworks.org]
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 2:36 PM
To: Lal Manavado
Subject: [World We Want 2015] Lisinka Ulatowska commented on the Discussion "Sustainability and Growth"


Viktor Chistyakov
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 09.10 pm

Dear Sirs and Madams

I would to bring your attention to the nexus between environmental degradation caused by the indistrial policies of the developed nations.  The economic growth models reproduced by the developing nations take after the economic growth models put into reality by the developed nations. The anthropogenic origins of the current and ongoing environment are indisputable and can be traced back to the industrial policies of the early 19th century that prioritized accummulation of capital at the expense of the environment.

It is unfortunate that these models are being replicated by the developing nations worldwide, and are further encouraged by the IMF and the WB.  They lead not only to the degradation of the environmment and the raw materials that are the wealth of the developing nations.  They perpetrate patterns of population movements that migrate away from the fledgling environmental cataclysms. These movements of people are irreversible and put heavy burdens on the shoulders of both the sending and the receiving countries.

I, therefore, would propose to put forward an agenda that would drastically revise the models of economic development for the developing nations that would bring the safety and well-being of the natural environment and habitats, as well as the maintenance of biodiversity (a true wealth of the developing nations) to the forefront.  Re-imagining the models this way would allow to slow down the the ongoing environmental degradation and mitigate the evolving patterns of population movements that increasingly depend on the ecological changes.

Kind Regards,

Viktor Chistyakov

Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Soraia Taipa from Portugal
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 04.18 pm

- Earth Condominium - a proposal to organize the global neighborhood -

Our planet is not just a sphere of rock, water and air with a surface of 510 million square kilometers divided between states. This planet possesses a Natural System that constitutes the support for life on Earth. Recent scientific developments that approach the Earth's System as whole, provided us with insights on the biogeochemical structure of the Holocene period – the only state of the Earth System that offers certainty for the provision of support for advanced human civilizations. The knowledge on this “safe operating zone for humanity”, obliges us to dematerialize the juridical vision that represents nature merely as a geographically delimited space and elaborate this “other” intangible systemic dimension, which is infinitely abstract, but still is incredibly concrete.

Experience has shown that the shared and unrestricted use of this finite system, results in an inevitable “tragedy of the commons”. To voluntary accept rules that harmonizes the common use of resources, presupposes the prior construction of the organizational foundations that enable the emergence of confidence.

The first foundation will be to manage identification and delimitation of the resource that everyone needs and depends upon. In delineating the different common and private properties, the juridical model of the Condominium organized responsibilities and the different management competencies, harmonizing the individual and collective interests. On a global scale the proposal of the Earth Condominium consists of the following steps:

  1. The recognition of the “Earth System” as Natural Intangible Heritage of mankind.

  2. The constitution of this new heritage according to the biogeochemical structure that is adequate for the conditions of human life: “The Planetary Boundaries”.

  3. The creation of a metric and global accounting system in regard to the different costs and benefits that each state currently carries out over this common heritage.

  4. To settle accounts and provide compensation between the outstanding balance of each State in regard to the maintenance of this system.

  5. Turning the maintenance of this heritage within its limits into an object of globally organized and institutionalized management.

  1. This other qualitative dimension of nature based on the adequacy of the state of the Earth System to support the conditions for human life does neither fully nor partially alter the current sovereignty regimes. The rights of States over territorial waters and contiguous zones are maintained. The freedom of the sea is maintained. Air space sovereignty is maintained. The freedom of flying through, when it exists, is maintained.

What will happen is that each State will have to manage its balance relatively to its right to use this heritage, not just taking into account the costs it produces, but also the benefits (ecosystem services) it generates in order to keep this heritage within the “safe operating space of humanity”. By capturing the positive contributions on this new heritage, we can start to construct an economy that is able to provide ecosystem service and find the basis for justice and equity required for an agreement.

Soraia Taipa,

Earth Condominium Project


Lisinka Ulatowska from
Sun, March 10, 2013 at 09.01 pm

Thank you very much, Soraia,  for this interesting and extremely important point. As coordinator of the NOG Major Group Commons Cluster that has been increasingly active within the CSD and Rio processes at the UN, I know that many Civil Society Organizations are deeply motivated to find effective ways of preserving, restoring, managing and stewarding our global commons--our very survival depends on the quality of Earth's Systems.

Earth's Systems are global commons in that their quality and the benefits derived from them affect all people globally. It is therefore imperative that these be administered consciously by both all governments AND ALL PEOPLE.

In terms of a Governmental and UN approach, the Immaterial World Heritage approach is brilliant. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a conference organized by the Earth Condominium Initiative and I was surprised and inspired at the amount of research that is already going on with regard to the legal aspects of this issue. At this conference, parallels were made between possible legal underpinnings for dealing with Earth's Systems and those that exist for Outer Space, the Sea Bed and Antarctica. I understand that we must act fast to protect the means for our survival and thrivability and so the legal underpinnings should follow a series of steps, possibly beginning with the Immaterial World Heritage approach while realizing that the issue can be approached from a number of angles. Each one promising in its own way.

In terms of people's involvement. At that same conference, the idea was explored to use the global footprint for assessing both governments' use of Earth's systems as well as those of individual people.It would be essential that a cap be placed on destructive use to avoid those with the wherewithall being able to buy their right to negatively impact Earth's Systems.

Applying the global footprint metric to assess individual people's use of and contribution to Earth's Systems has many advantages:
It would increase people's consciousness of their impact on the means for humanity to survive and thrive by the effect-- both good and bad-- on their personal income. People would also get "rebates" for positive effects on Earth's Systems. Society as a whole would also put pressure on individual people to care for Earth's Systems since the taxes levied on a nation would affect all of its citizens. Ultimately it is the combined actions of all people worldwide that determine the health of the systems on which our survival depends.
Thank you again for bringing up this important point. We shall discuss it within the context of the Commons Cluster and see how we can contribute to the further development of this initiative that can benefit us all.

Dr. Lisinka Ulatowka
Coordinator Commons Cluster and Commons Action for the United Nations

Najeeb Ahmad Fokeerbux from
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 03.18 am

To start with a quote:

Wiser, Sustainable Use of Natural Resources, which noted that, "[W]aste will be regarded by both industry and consumers as a potential resource with the effective reuse and recycling of materials the social norm".

~ Waste or Product? That is the question. (J. Enright, Ashurt Morris Crisp; UK)


Indeed, various justified questions have been asked to launch the debate. Replies and opinions, have been oriented towards the concept of "killing the chick in the egg"; that is, source control; which is a sustainable means of development in itself.

Nonetheless, until policies are adopted, people sensitized, sustainable consumption patterns developed and vulgarized, wastes are being accumulated; be they wastewater, household wastes, industrial wastes, etc.

Sustainable growth and sustainable development.

From definition, as per the Brundtland Commission, Sustainable Development is the "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Can reduce, reuse and recycling of "waste" and "waste products" help in Inclusive Green Growth?

How to reconcile Waste Management with Sustainability and Growth?


Sustainable consumption must not disregard  the after-effects of consumption; that is, waste disposal.With the various implications associated to waste disposal - land use problems, leachate, pollution of water bodies, fragalisation of the ecosystem, etc. - and associating waste management and the 3R's relative to waste, one of the many options to move steps closer to sustainable development, is Solid Waste Management (SWM).


The following benefits, in generalised form, can be derived:

  1. Creation of jobs - new sectors of development will employ people. For exampl: waste sorting. 
  2. Reduction on mineral imports - Countries not having mines, and petrol, with SWM, in a certain way, instead of throwing away recyclable and reusable products, they can process these to in-country goods, which can help again in the production, consumption, disposal, treatment, and re-production process. This reduces imports.
  3. Preserving for future generations - Consuming the same material (after treatment) time and again, reduces exploitation/over-exploitation of resources. For example, if today one writes school notes on a copybook to be used for a year, and disposes of it later on, recycling the copybook can help in using almost "the same raw material" time and again.



BEng. (Hons.) Civil Engineering Student - Level 4

University of Mauritius


Lisinka Ulatowska from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 01.33 pm

Mr/Ms Fokeerbux,

This is a hugely important point. In fact at the UN during one of the meetings of the Commission for Sustainable Development there was a presentation about Zero Waste organized, I believe, by Mr. Zukang Shah. It showed that Zero Waste is indeed possible and how valid your ideas are.

Also during a recent meeting, the Secretary General of The Institute for Planetary Synthesis that is situated in Geneva Switzerland pointed out the Switzerland have a zero waste policy. The Cradle to Cradle approach creates products that at the end of their cycle can be/are dismantled and their components reused. The amounts of precious metals recovered such as gold is more than is actually mined is some countries that specialize in mining them.

Switzerland is an example in this way perhaps because it has a long tradition of involving their whole population in governance. If a person does not agree with governmental policy s/he can organize a referendum. So this participatory spirit works in favour of such success in recycling.

Also the Pigouvian approach to taxation is such that taxes would be generated by extremely high penalties paid by polluters and degraders of the environment. These would moreover be responsible for restoring the environment to its original form.

In this context I should also like to draw attention to another thread of conversation going on about the management of Earth's Systems. This conversation was originated in the context of the Earth Condominium INitiative.

Lisinka Ulatowska
Coordinator of the NGO Major Group Commons CLuster

Marita McInerney from
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 01.10 am

Human beings are more than "beasts that buy".  Human beings can care for those most needy as well as their own families. Human beings can nurture the earth that nurtures us. Real joy comes from deep within us and from meaningful relationships.

Limits to growth must be established. People in industrialised countries need to accept that: it is not OK to lead a disposable life, more goods do not make more happiness, larger is not better, relationships need cost nothing, love cannot be bought & greed is NOT OKAY.

Sustainability should not be used to justify unsustainable practices. Science and technology will not save humanity and the planet from the effects of overconsumption.

Developed nations need to compensate developing countries for the devestating impacts of climate change. Climate justice demands that indus trialised nations pay their ecological debt to those deveoping countires most affect by climate change.  This means supporting climate finance through LOSS & DAMAGE mechanism.


Lisinka Ulatowska from
Fri, March 15, 2013 at 02.32 am

I think it is important to see what does not work and also to look at positive alternatives and steps that can be taken to change things. The NGO Major Group Commons Cluster at the UN does much thinking work together and then produces papers that we send out in response to questions that arise at the UN. THe following paper shows what a commons approach is and how it can help bring about a shift to a commons based economy centred on the well being and nature. It also indicates ways in which such a shift can be financed.

Unfortunately, this great discussion ends tomorrow. Many thanks to the organizers.

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 03.17 pm

Thank you for this cry from the heart that goes deeply into the problems we must face: material poverty is often created by spiritual poverty. (I believe that that point was made by the Association of World Citizens during the 1995 Social Summit.)

Spiritual poverty causes people to want to feel whole and strong by buying things that give them status and the appearance of power. Since these are surrogates that do not fill the void, people overconsume.

The question is how can spiritual poverty be eradicated whether it occurs in developed or developing countries. One way is through education. Eduation can either teach  people to feel that they are separate from all others and must fight others to survive or else it can empower them to feel they are connected to the greater whole. Feeling a part of the greater whole both of nature and of society  is vital in this period of rapid globalization. It moreover brings a sense of peace, well-being and benevolence toward others with whom one feels connected. And the temptation to overconsume becomes less compelling.

A curriculum to fill the spiritual void would consist of a combination of tools.These could include:
1. Starting the day at school with a brief period (10-15 minutes) of quiet reflection, or listening to music together or even a guided meditation that encourages the mind to feel caring connection for oneself and others.  As psychologist I know that there are a huge amount of techniques that can help bring about this sense of inner and outer connection. Some are generated by religious practice and many are not connected to any religion at all. They are tools increasingly used in psychotherapeutic situations.
2. Teaching subjects with an underlying all-win perspective. That means not win/lose (having power over others); not win/win (where people come together to win often at the expense of nature) but all-win where people are taught to evaluate situations with regard to how well they serve all people and nature as a whole. In an interconnected world our destinies are bound up with all people and nature The international community is coming around to this point judging by the emphasis on living in harmony with nature to be found in Rio+20's Future We Want..
Examples of a shift in perspective could be showing how movements in history that have to do with the well being of communities surfaced and helped to change the economy or political structures; or the prosperity of areas where people have cared for their natural environment.
UNESCO used to have an Associated Schools Programme that allowed schools to share their curricula and course work. At present there is a great deal of sharing going on in education. Even such well respected institutions of higher learning as  MIT and Harvard often provide free education via the Internet for 100's of 1000s of students. If such educational sharing could have an all-win perspective and it could reach people worldwide, then a paradigm change from win/lose to all win could take place within a fairly short period of time.
3. The model UN Is a marvelous project that shows students both how politics at the global level takes place and also creates understanding of challenges diverse nations are contending with. It would be good if it could be taught in all schools worldwide.
It is wonderful to have an opportunity to give input to the HLPF and other UN bodies as is provided by this global consultation organized by UNDP and others like it . Once people feel they have a say in their lives at local through global levels much can change in terms of our sense of responsibility.
Thank you for this opportunity, UNDP. Thank you for your cry from the heart to the writer of this comment. It is a sign of deep caring.

Lisinka Ulatowska
Coordinator of the NGO Major Group Commons CLuster.

Lal Manavado from
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 10.34 am
The recurring nightmarish theme of development
Many previous participants have pointed out that the rductive approach to development based on mere economic indicators is flawed from the outset. Even though this is self-evident, the awesome power of the modern eminences gres represented by the commercial entities has succeeded in forcing the world to continue to believe in the vulgar fallacy, economic growth is synonymous with development.
The parody of education most of us have received has reinforced our belief in that even one's own well being can be measured in monetary terms. The so-called pedagogic experts have contributed to a world-wide blunting of human intellect, while vultures of a feather like 'entertainment industry' and 'media' have done their utmost to promote this evil trend.
In a very restricted sense, it is advantageous to specialise in a field owing to the constraints imposed by one's inclinations and intellectual capacity. But this ought to built on a general educational basis that would enable one to lead what one may for want of a better word, may call a full life.
Such a life would embody a willingness and an ability to experience esthetic enjoyment, learning and understanding of our world, in short, lead a civilised life.
Modern education has spawned automatons with expertise in some incredibly narrow area, who often presume to make sweeping pronouncements on the whole even though they are no more qualified to do so than  any other average person. What is even more bewildering is that all too many are willing to accept such bosh as truth.
I challenge anyone anywhere to deny the claim, no country is governed by those who are most able to do so. For some at least, this may be a truism. And its implications are horribly evident in reality.
I have suggested that the term 'development' should be redefined in a holistic manner. My point of departure is that the rational indication of a nation's development is how well its citizens are enabled to develop their individual abilities. It is not indicated by the presence of any specific employment categories such as partical Physicists anymore than that of astrologers and psychologists.
In a world that loudly boasts of being in the throes of an 'information revolution', it is amazing how the experts have overlooked the,crucial importance of literature, music, drama, other plastic arts and craftsas aspects of development. Their blindness to it brought about by the intellectual sterility of the modern education geared to produce experts, but not civilised human beings.

From: notification@unteamworks.org [mailto:notification@unteamworks.org]
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2013 2:56 AM
To: Lal Manavado
Subject: [World We Want 2015] Marita McInerney commented on the Discussion "Sustainability and Growth"

Thu, March 7, 2013 at 11.29 pm

La mia proposta è l'introduzione di nuove regole per le Banche Centrali per attuare un nuovo paradigma macroeconomico sostenibile ,questa è la sintesi tecnica di un lavoro di ricerca e analisi politica-economica volta ad individuare la risposta alle varie problematiche ,come anche dai suggerimenti in "rio-dialogues" ,da affrontare nei prossimi anni;pertanto si propone nella sua più grande ambizione di esserne la soluzione generale e fondamento di quelle politiche ,da affrontare poi nel merito, per uno sviluppo equo e sostenibile a lungo termine.

Il suddetto lavoro è partito dalla considerazione del fallimento dell'attuale modello economico e di sviluppo individuandone la causa all'interno del suo stesso meccanismo di crescita :il ricorso alle varie forme di credito.Ora se queste da una parte sono fondamentali per finanziare lo sviluppo si sono anche rivelate capaci di metterlo in crisi ;non solo la finanza creativa ma è la stessa regola del tasso di interesse a rendere il credito un elemento generativo di potenziali fallimenti.

L'intervento supposto per equilibrare almeno in parte il circuito creditizio è mediante una nuova regola da applicare alle Banche Centrali : quando una BC ha una emissione di moneta data ad un certo tasso di interesse la banca stessa deve stampare nuova moneta in quantità corrispondente al tasso stesso, metterà come normalmente accade a bilancio delle uscite il quantitativo emesso che può sia far parte delle sue riserve o essere di nuova emissione e ne attenderà normalmente la restituzione fissata, mentre non metterà a bilancio della banca la quota di moneta che andrà a stampare corrispettiva all' interesse e che darà a disposizione di un apposito fondo pubblico dove una pubblica commissione ne valuterà l'opportunità di impiego per pubblica necessità che possono essere i vari punti problematici suddetti. Per esempio : una BC ha una emissione di 100 miliardi di sua propria moneta e li destina come prestito a banche commerciali ad un tasso fisso del 3% e li mette a bilancio,contemporaneamente però stampa 3 miliardi di unità che non mette a bilancio della banca ma devolve al fondo pubblico suddetto che gestisce per pubblico interesse ma comunque reimmettendolo sul mercato dove comunque torna alla BC come restituzione dell'interesse di quelle banche commerciali che avevano ottenuto il prestito ,quindi il circuito creditizio della BC avviene con le solite norme e anche il rientro del credito con il tasso fissato ,abbiamo però creato un circuito parallelo che genera la quantità di moneta necessaria a ripianare il bilancio della banca centrale stessa e necessario anche al mercato per evitare fallimenti forzosi e aiutato anche le pubbliche necessità di finanziamento senza aggravare le politiche fiscali, dunque avendo più risorse per investimenti di sviluppo sostenibile,quali che siano nel merito ovviamente rimane una decisione della istituzione preposta ma almeno introducendo le nuove regole suddette ci saranno le basi finanziarie per attuarle.

Il vantaggio di questo nuovo paradigma macroeconomico quindi avviene su più fronti ,da una parte abbiamo un sostegno riequilibratore dei mercati stessi che si trovano maggiore liquidità e anche i debitori trovano più facile accesso alla quantità di moneta loro necessaria alla restituzione del credito riducendo i rischi e fallimenti ,pur rimanendo in regime di concorrenza ma con degli indici competitivi più bassi, inoltre abbiamo anche direttamente una certa quantità di moneta spendibile a disposizione della istituzione pubblica e non proveniente da tassazioni e quindi non depressiva dei mercati cioè maggiori risorse per le politiche pubbliche dei governi come quelle in oggetto al summit prossimo .Ci sono anche sicuramente altri aspetti da considerare come l'inflazione o altri ma faranno parte della eventuale discussione ...

Reinier Bosman
Thu, March 7, 2013 at 10.58 pm

This comment has been deleted.

Lal Manavado from
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 10.34 am

This comment has been deleted.

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 01.33 pm

Mr Manavado,

I think there might be a misunderstanding here. Many of us at Rio+20 became familiar with the Presence Approach and found it most impressive.

I thin the misunderstanding might have occurred since Mr. Bosman is not a native ENglish speaker. Most participating in this discussion do not speak English as our first language and this can sometimes cause misunderstandings. The Presence approach is useful as I experienced during one of these workshops at Rio+20 last June because they use a very simple way of producing peace of mind. This is extremely important since so often we speak and act impulsively because we are uptight or misinterpret something. I do hope that this helps to clarify this point.

Thanks you for your statement.

Lisinka Ulatowska
Coordinator of the NGO Major Group COmmons CLuster

Reinier Bosman from
Mon, March 11, 2013 at 03.17 pm

Thank you so much Lisinka.

I am wiling to take a different onset a next time.

This really helps.


Op 11 mrt 2013, om 14:35 heeft notification@unteamworks.org het volgende geschreven:

Anonymous Source from Netherlands
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 11.04 am

This comment has been deleted.

Lal Manavado from
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 02.00 pm

This comment has been deleted.

Francisco Filho from
Thu, March 7, 2013 at 10.16 pm

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to bring to this e-discussion a summary of an article by Leisa Perch* that was published by UNRISD** yesterday. It presents the state of the discussion on green economy as it relates to combining growth and sustainability with as focus on the social dimensions of sustainability, i.e., equity and inclusive policy.

The False Dichotomy between Economy and Society: Implications for a Global Green Economy

One of the assumptions about green economy is that it will lead to poverty reduction and equity. Since several mainstream arguments for going green are largely economic, the structural changes and incentives envisaged are also largely economic in nature. However, to "go green with equity" will require social sustainability principles such as (i) preferential access for the poor and vulnerable to new jobs, green microfinance and infrastructure; (ii) adaptable social protection mechanisms which mitigate the impact of environmental and disaster risk and provide income support for green consumption by the poor; and (iii) a rights-based approach which tackles fundamental structural inequalities.

Much of the impetus behind the green economy rests on the idea that growth, sustainability and equity are compatible, that poverty eradication and environmental sustainability are reconcilable, and that “green” can be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Yet significant levels of deprivation, the current rate and cost of environmental damage,1 the escalating cost of climate variability and change, and the persistent lack of access to resources by billions of people suggest that we have neither achieved the necessary balance for sustainability, nor been able to maintain many efforts which seemed full of promise in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

To some extent, this same cycle is perpetuated in the current green economy formula. It embodies a number of assumptions: (i) that economic growth can be successfully and sustainably decoupled from environmental degradation; (ii) that economic incentives and structures can be both effective and efficient in facilitating this decoupling in order to turn the tide in a “green direction”; and (iii) that such changes can deliver both poverty reduction and equity. Social inclusion appears more as a virtue than a central strategy and principle. Below I outline key issues for the growth-equity dimension of green economy, and the related implications for sustaining a global green economy. Green, thus, has a distinctly socio-political dimension.

Defining Green

Many mainstream arguments for going green are largely economic and, as a result, the structural changes and incentives envisaged are also largely economic in nature. The push factor of the climate crisis and the pull factor of new economic productivity and jobs are significant incentives of a green economy, but they are also shaped by the need to avoid a full-on crisis. While these are powerful incentives at a macroscale, they fall short of addressing the larger objective of equitable, sustainable human development. Strategies speak more about productive sectors than of the people who work in – or depend on – them, people who need to benefit from going green and who need support in order to go green. 

The 800 million people who live in least developed countries (LDCs), many of whom are African, need more than economic growth. While the African Economic Outlook (2011) highlights the consistency of growth in Africa at the macro level during the last decade, and the relatively smooth rebound from the global economic crisis, a startling fact remains: 80 per cent of African countries face a food deficit, and constitute 55 per cent of all such countries in 2010. Food insecurity, which limits and potentially destabilizes growth, is a manifestation of broader problems of human insecurity and inequality. 

More than 600 million people are disabled,3 many of whom live below the poverty linemore than 33 million live with HIV/AIDSover 300 million are indigenous peoplesmore than 2 billion have no access to safe water and sanitation1.3 billion are without access to electricitymore than a billion are undernourished; and over 30 million are refugees or displaced people.4 For these constituencies, which criss-cross national and state boundaries, a green economy must do more than provide jobs or more employment opportunities. And it must do so in ways that ensure that these individuals are among the beneficiaries and are, in some cases, prioritized. This implies a focus on effectiveness, including getting the finance and the politics right.

Getting the Politics and the Policy Right

Focused attention is therefore needed on the effective incentives for green and affordable consumption, as a complement to ongoing research and practice which tends to favour “greening” production and investment. Green economy strategies must respond to the multiple deprivations which condition poverty and inequality. Otherwise, multiple challenges at the nation state, household and individual levels are likely to put the “staying power” of the green economy to the test. 

Increasing focus on economic drivers for an industrial and energy-based "green" transformation potentially exacerbate such tensions. Scaled-up investments in hydropower, for example, can provide a number of public goods but is also likely to increasingly concentrate water resources away from rural areas and from agricultural production. Greater availability of energy in itself will not necessarily benefit the poor or the socially and economically excluded.

The current market-oriented focus of green capital and investment has tended to favour economies of scale—or, large production units—as well as bigger economies, bigger populations and concentrated impacts, often leaving equity concerns to be resolved by other public policy mechanisms. The focus on scale has largely benefited G20 countries, including the emerging economies of the South. The equity agenda of the green economy is further weakened by the following: (i) increasing levels of investment in renewable currently outstrip ODA (in 2009 the latter was USD 162 billion in comparison to USD 119.6 billion of the latter);8 and (ii) the growth of the biofuel sector, into global multibillion dollar engine stands in stark contrast to the steadily declining scale of investment in agriculture over the past three decades.

When policies, strategies and interventions ignore unequal access to finance, land and other resources, they potentially engender negative knock-on effects, resulting in a further entrenchment of inequality, which can in turn reinforce unsustainable patterns of resource use and consumption. The tensions between access to food, water and energy as rights, and their consumption, as a foundation for development and economic opportunity, needs urgent and more careful consideration. 

The constant flux of the economy, society and environment, not least due to their influence upon each other, suggests that there is no inherent "ideal state" for the green economy. The fundamental and sustained changes required at the household, national and international levels will rely significantly on the socio-political: collective action, political savvy, ethical consumerism and production, and social accountability and responsibility. Moreover, these will rely as much on the ease of access, relevance and cost-effectiveness of new green technologies—which are equally a matter of equity, justice and balance—as on finance and economics. Ensuring the positive triggers needed for a green economy to deliver “for and with society” means defining a pathway that delivers sustainable outcomes through which the imperatives for growth and the financing of development can both be met. 

*Leisa Perch is Team Leader and Policy Specialist for Rural and Sustainable Development at the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth in Brazil. She is a co-editor of recently published Poverty-in-Focus magazine on “Growth, Gender, Poverty and Environment – Dimensions of Inclusive Development”. IPC Poverty in Focus #23

**UNRISD is the Geneva-based United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. This article is part of a series of think pieces reflecting on the importance of bringing the social dimension back into discussions about green economy and sustainable development.

Lisinka Ulatowska from
Thu, March 7, 2013 at 09.36 pm



Growth is good for the environment where people realize that their well-being and survival depends on that of nature and of society. This realization generates a sense of caring and carefulness. This is the case in “commons” communities where people actually manage the fruits of nature and society that they need for their own survival. The term commons was made famous by the late Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel Prize Winner (Econonic Sciences), who saw this as a viable economic form. She described a commons as having minimally three characteristics:


  1. Commons resources. Fruits of nature and society needed by people in order to thrive.
  2. Commoners—people who manage these resources for the benefit of all concerned
  3. Commoning—a form of democratic, open and inclusive decision making used by commoners to arrive at policies and ways of stewarding their commons resources that benefit all stakeholders (commoners).


A commons-approach was used by Original Peoples in their communities to care for “Mother Nature” of which they felt an intrinsic part; it is being used as a way of living sustainably by movements such as the Sarvodaya movement, Transition Towns, the Global Ecovillage Network, Geocities, farmers, fishermen, etc. Commons communities are often created by people worldwide who are moved to act as they realize that their means of making a livelihood is dwindling due to the abuse of nature (and society). Where such communities and networks are dedicated to the well being of all people and nature, they provide a strong foundation for a sustainable economy at all levels (local national, regional, global) that is based on caring for both its natural and social resources.


People who consciously build a commons together do so both because they are deeply motivated to ensure the sustainability of a resource and are dedicated to the well being of all stakeholders. Such communities tend to produce healthy and happy citizens and stable communities because they create environments that empower all of their commoners to prosper. As a result people are less likely to indulge in empty materialism just to fill an inner void. 


Commons are ubiquitous and their number is increasing. As a phenomenon, they are just waiting to be discovered. The year 2012 was proclaimed the UN Year of Cooperatives. These are businesses that use a commons approach to business. One billion people worldwide are officially members of cooperatives.


There are commons wherever we look: neighbourhood watches, farmers’ markets, parks watched over and cared for by local residents, Wikepedia, the Internet. Alternative currencies are a commons approach to regenerate flagging local economies as in the LETSystem.


One way of creating a sustainable global economy is to enable the links between these communities and networks to strengthen so that they can learn from one another and work together to complement one another’s capacities. The Commons Abundance Network (CAN) is now being created to facilitate this process. The Commons Cluster is a network of Civil Society Organizations that was created in the context of the Major Groups that are active within the United Nations. It relates to Governments via the UN and the UN Secretariat to explore ways of using the commons approach to create a commons-based economy at all levels centred on both the well being of all people and nature.


Dr. Lisinka Ulatowska

Coordinator the Commons Cluster

UN Representative AWC and IPS  

Soraia Taipa from Portugal
Fri, March 8, 2013 at 04.22 pm

- Earth Condominium - a proposal to organize the global neighborhood -

Our planet is not just a sphere of rock, water and air with a surface of 510 million square kilometers divided between states. This planet possesses a Natural System that constitutes the support for life on Earth. Recent scientific developments that approach the Earth's System as whole, provided us with insights on the biogeochemical structure of the Holocene period – the only state of the Earth System that offers certainty for the provision of support for advanced human civilizations. The knowledge on this “safe operating zone for humanity”, obliges us to dematerialize the juridical vision that represents nature merely as a geographically delimited space and elaborate this “other” intangible systemic dimension, which is infinitely abstract, but still is incredibly concrete.

Experience has shown that the shared and unrestricted use of this finite system, results in an inevitable “tragedy of the commons”. To voluntary accept rules that harmonizes the common use of resources, presupposes the prior construction of the organizational foundations that enable the emergence of confidence.

The first foundation will be to manage identification and delimitation of the resource that everyone needs and depends upon. In delineating the different common and private properties, the juridical model of the Condominium organized responsibilities and the different management competencies, harmonizing the individual and collective interests. On a global scale the proposal of the Earth Condominium consists of the following steps:

  1. The recognition of the “Earth System” as Natural Intangible Heritage of mankind.

  2. The constitution of this new heritage according to the biogeochemical structure that is adequate for the conditions of human life: “The Planetary Boundaries”.

  3. The creation of a metric and global accounting system in regard to the different costs and benefits that each state currently carries out over this common heritage.

  4. To settle accounts and provide compensation between the outstanding balance of each State in regard to the maintenance of this system.

  5. Turning the maintenance of this heritage within its limits into an object of globally organized and institutionalized management.

  1. This other qualitative dimension of nature based on the adequacy of the state of the Earth System to support the conditions for human life does neither fully nor partially alter the current sovereignty regimes. The rights of States over territorial waters and contiguous zones are maintained. The freedom of the sea is maintained. Air space sovereignty is maintained. The freedom of flying through, when it exists, is maintained.

What will happen is that each State will have to manage its balance relatively to its right to use this heritage, not just taking into account the costs it produces, but also the benefits (ecosystem services) it generates in order to keep this heritage within the “safe operating space of humanity”. By capturing the positive contributions on this new heritage, we can start to construct an economy that is able to provide ecosystem service and find the basis for justice and equity required for an agreement.

Soraia Taipa,

Earth Condominium Project


Paapa Kwasi Danquah Paapa Kwasi Danquah from Ghana
Thu, March 7, 2013 at 05.37 pm

Dear friends, I see no place for the realization Growth and Employment without a place for decent work, social protection and the deepening of the democratic culture.

If our aim is sustainable development then the link between enabling rights of workers and the role of social protection in human development as well as the place for enhancing democratic culture (not only democratic events), must not be lost on us.

For there to be growth that leads to employment and a cycle of same, there must be robust and reinforced adherence to the decent work principles of the ILO.

Thu, March 7, 2013 at 01.11 pm

On behalf of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD 2005-2014)

[i] members support the processes of policy advocacy, consultations and side-events on the interconnections between equity and quality education, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and the three pillars of sustainable development at Rio+20, and is aimed at ensuring that quality education for sustainable development is integrated in the years to come.

Living in a world of 7 billion, with the largest ever youth population in our history and limited natural resources, is both a challenge and an opportunity. While addressing long-term perspectives, it is crucial to put in place holistic approaches that promote relevant teaching and learning towards a globalised world ensuring effective transitions to a green economy and more sustainable and equitable societies, whether in rural or urban settings. Hence, the dominant education systems supporting such a transformation need to undergo radical change to effectively address current and future global sustainability challenges and ensure access for the most marginalized. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) - with its focus on holistic approaches, contextualisation, life-long learning processes, values orientation, community engagement and participation - is central to facilitating change towards a better future for humanity.

The current mode of development is unsustainable and is perpetuating the cycle of poverty, inequity and the destruction of ecosystems. To achieve sustainable development and to break the cycle of poverty and inequity, one needs sustainable education systems and education for sustainability. That is, the world needs men and women who are educated to think and act responsibly and respectful towards environment and the society.

Today, mainstream education does not adequately represent values related to sustainability, nor do they provide the knowledge and skills necessary for putting those values into action.

Education has the potential to be transformative. It can change people’s values and behaviours encouraging them to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. It can contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty and it can build the resilience of the most vulnerable. It plays a critical role in the development of knowledge, attitude and skills required for transiting to green economy. In this context, education for some groups, and rural people in particular - which today are the majority of the world poor and illiterate people - has to take a priority in the policies of the nation states. At the same time, it is important to recognise that the world of poverty is rapidly urbanising and requires urgent measures that develop capabilities of poor to live decent life. Such an inclusive education is most equitable and effective when it starts from childhood and leading to life-long learning in adulthood. While efforts should be directed towards increasing the access of the most marginalized people, including youth, to education systems, the importance of informal and inter-generational learning, building on culturally sensitive approaches, can also not be under-estimated, particularly when taking into account that access to quality and relevant education is not guaranteed for large populations of boys, and more so, for girls.

We know that for education to be transformative, it must be based on active, inclusive and participatory learning and teaching processes, be supported by qualified teachers, take place in enabling and safe learning environments and be linked to local communities and local issues. Quality and relevant education demands changes toward sustainable thinking and action across the entire education system.

Furthermore, transformative education needs to build the skills of learners in critical thinking and innovation and to strengthen the core values of respect for themselves, others and the environment. In order to break the cycle of poverty and build resilience, education must reach the poorest and most vulnerable children and adults through complementary formal, non-formal and informal approaches. Such education should empower children and young people to take informed decisions on all matters that affect them and participate fully and freely in society.

Society today has become a risk society which, in addition to old risks, is facing new global sustainability challenges. Constantly and rapidly changing realities present a special challenge to educational institutions. With so many social, economic and technical innovations for sustainable development available, many of them remain just good examples and require upscaling. Education is key to this challenge. Implementing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is an inter-sectoral endeavour, requires high-level government support and political will to make it happen in all types, levels and settings of education and learning. Sowing the seeds of ESD we can advance the rights, health and well-being of current and future generations.


    1. 1.    Mainstream the integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) by all countries’ education sectors with a strengthened focus on key sustainable development issues (such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk preparedness, sustainable consumption and production, gender equality, equity and tolerance), skills for resilience and dealing with complexity, innovation, creativity as well as participation and cooperation.

    1. 2.    Reinforce support for and facilitation of cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder ESD initiatives at all levels (in particular at the sub-national level), as a means not only to develop locally relevant learning systems but also as a mechanism to upscale and mainstream sustainable practices.

    1. 3.    Focusing on vulnerable populations, including youth, rural and urban poor, migrant workers, immigrants and marginalised minorities, and their learning needs through formal , non-formal and informal education through all their lives and strengthening their abilities for life and their capacity to succeed and to break the cycle of poverty, hunger and illiteracy.

  1. 4.    Further develop ESD initiatives beyond the 2015 target of the MDGs by mobilizing capacities and resources of all the relevant governmental agencies in particular Ministries of Education as a key actor.

Useful Resources:

Climate Change Education

Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Education Sector RESOURCE MANUAL

UNICEF and Disaster Risk Reduction

UNESCO Course for Secondary Teachers on Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD)

UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development

[i] The IAC is a forum for UN agencies to engage in open-ended collaboration for the effective implementation of the DESD. The IAC promotes the role of ESD and its implications for all forms of international initiatives including the Millennium Development Goals. The IAC brings together more than 20 UN agencies who are committed in achieving the DESD goals. UNESCO is Secretariat and UNICEF is Chair in 2013 of the IAC-DESD.
UNESCO (2010) Building a More Sustainable World Through Education – United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014) and The Inter-Agency Committee for the DESD

Thu, March 7, 2013 at 01.04 pm

By: Stephanie Hodge

Defining a post 2015 agenda is urgent. What about the need for a focus on learning for sustainable development? It is about the nature of learning for sustainable development for adaptation/survival, for equity, and development rights - promoting local technologies vs. leapfrogging irrelevant technologies etc.  It is also timely and overdue to consider a global learning and assessment framework that incorporates indigenous 'local' knowledge (not necessarily influenced by modern ideals) and a focus on multi-stakeholder ownership in education planning and implementation, teacher certification and teacher professional empowerment and a principle based, yet flexible local curriculum. The modern ideal of knowledge for education is reflecting critical structural power imbalances behind persistent neo-colonial values of classism and racism. The idea that indigenous knowledge is old, antiquated and less than ideal for a modern education is a problem for education for sustainable development (ESD)!! A missing link for sustainable development is above all - fairness in and through quality education for all and in general access to quality education.  Education has a duel role in today’s governance agenda. It includes the role of education to support an overdue paradigm shift about education and a need to transform society towards a more sustainable pathway. The current ideals in education and the global testing framework reflects a predominantly capitalist oriented society view - and possibly is controlling work to maintain the status quo from older times! A key message concerning Equity and Good Governance.


Key message


Traditional knowledge is important for equity in a through education and learning systems. This gap is hidden and not well discussed and therefore largely outside the mainstream. The dominate view on learning is perpetuated by mainstream learning policies and a global definition of learning and assessments informed by mainstream learning linked to a capitalist ideology.  The UNU work shows that in Asia as an example - traditional knowledge guides 80 % of the population. The policies on traditional knowledge show extreme views - many countries believe traditional knowledge is either 1) romantic, 2) utilitarian or have a 3) pluralistic understanding.


The UNU collection of case studies analysis finds three dominant approaches.


 1. Institutional focused on medical systems. The finding is that there is not much bridging of traditional medicine with modern science.


2. Ex situ approach looks at modern and traditional bridging needs.


3. Social learning approach - taken up by NGOs etc...work with community members etc.


Common challenges


  • ·         Lack of social legitimacy


  • ·         Lack of recognition of indigenous or local practice


  • ·         Erosion of knowledge, lack of successors


  • ·         Self-determination, rights to resources, traditional land


  • ·         Incompatibility with mainstream knowledge


  • ·         Peaceful existence and preservation of diversity

The major questions for us are: How are we defining the new learning for SD informed by this gap?  What is an epistemological sensitive method to identify and integrate appropriate in learning? What mechanisms drive social and institutional traditional knowledge systems?


  • ·         Inter-generational, lifelong learning


  • ·         Collective social learning 


  • ·         Learning in totality


  • ·         Appropriate integration in mainstream learning


Laszlo, E. (2010, May 5). The Dis-Ease of the Western Mind.The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ervin-laszlo/the-dis-ease-of-the-weste_b_561280.html.


Laszlo, E. (2012, July 10). Akasha Thinking. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ervin-laszlo/akasha-think_b_1654078.html.


Quijano, A. & Ennis, M. (2000). Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America. Nepantla: Views from South, 1(3), 533-580. Duke University Press. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from Project MUSE database.


Said, E. W. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.


Said, E. W. (1993). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).(2012). Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Education Sector Resource Manual. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/education/files/UNICEF-ClimateChange-ResourceManual-lores-c.pdf.


United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS). (2013). Innovation in Local and Global Learning Systems for Sustainability: Traditional Knowledge and Biodiversity: Learning contributions of the Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. U. Payyappallimana and Z. Fadeeva. (Eds.). Yokohama: UNU-IAS. Retrieved from http://www.ias.unu.edu/resource_centre/TKB%20Book%20FINAL%20Jan%202013_1.pdf

Thu, March 7, 2013 at 01.03 pm

The following is a submission on behalf of the Regional Centres of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs) of the Americas.  The RCEs of the Americas include cities and regions in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and the United States. The RCE members represent a wide variety of community sustainability stakeholders including the private and public sector, youth, indigenous, educators and administration of public and private schools, higher education, faith-based groups and a wide range of environmental and social NGOs.


This brief submission captures but a part of the discussion at the four events held in Lima, Peru during the meetings and concert, exposition and side events associated with the gathering of the RCEs of the Americas. One focus of the gathering was on strategically aligning the important sustainable development tools included in education for sustainable development (ESD) in the post 2015 realignment of the development goals and initiatives. The second focus was learning from and avoiding the mistakes of the twenty nearly lost years of the post-Rio decades.


ESD is the collective contribution of the world’s education systems including preschool to higher education, the world’s public awareness and information sharing systems, and the world’s public and private sector’s training systems.


ESD focuses on concerted activities in four major spheres.


(1)    Access and retention in quality education.  This is supportive of but not limited to the traditional approach of the Education for All activities.  This thrust addresses the millions of under-educated youth and adults in the developed world who are unemployable or in need of continuing education.


(2)    Reorienting the current formal education systems.  There is an immediate need to shift our education systems from their underlying focus on traditional development to one of sustainable development. It is often our most highly educated citizens who also leave very deep ecological and social footprints.  Simply replicating the current education systems complete with their embedded aspirations and goals in other regions of the developing world will not necessarily serve the quest for a sustainable future.  This reorientation includes the engagement of higher education in particular as it is these graduates who will shape the future of the planet in a disproportionate manner.


(3)    Engaging and building public awareness and understanding. In democracies both the public and private sectors need the political and purchasing support of a knowledgeable and informed public in order to reorient policy and/or launch more sustainable products. There remains a need for worldviews that address future generations and the inclusion of “others”. We need to engage all the community messengers in formal, non-formal and informal education systems to build an informed, society that will be both understanding of the need for wise reform but also recognizing current or emerging unsustainable policy and practice. ESD is about strengthening global citizenship rather than indoctrination of sustainable development. 


(4)    Training and reorienting current practice in all sectors of society. There are several aspects to the need for training.  One aspect is recognizing that new technology is rapidly emerging but there is a need to not only purchase the equipment but to also retrain the operators.  Beyond the usual sustainable production focus there are also new practices in most sectors including the extractives such as mining and forestry, the food industries such as agriculture and fisheries, and even the administrative sectors such as accounting and reporting. Public health and even the retraining of the world’s 60,000,000 teachers is a massive yet crucial undertaking.


Yet training is not only about the simple change of practice. It is also about addressing deep-seated attitudes and perspectives to social, economic and environmental issues to facilitate future training, professional growth and becoming an important part of a learning organization.



A Widespread ESD Concern


There are warnings in many cultures about ignoring the past. Those who do ignore the past are likely destined to relive past calamities. We must learn from previous poor decisions.


The ESD community recalls the difficulties in embedding these three wonderful tools of education, public awareness and training in Agenda 21.  In the first round of negotiations in 1989 these potential tools were ignored but thanks to a few countries they were later included as Chapter 36 under the section of Means of Implementation. Under closer reading they were not only mentioned in this chapter but also addressed in all 39 other chapters and the Conventions. In 1996 as one of the forty issues of Agenda 21, Chapter 36 (ESD), along with three others chapters on Financing, Technology Transfer, and Indicators of Success were singled out by the UN CSD as warranting separate work programs. Of these four only ESD has been given a UN Decade status.


Yet post – Rio ESD and these three tools have not been featured as valuable assets in the discussion.  It is as though they are taken for granted.  Even Ministries of Education and Higher Education were not engaged. We have learned from the post-Rio years that governments cannot expect these systems to be there without engaging them from the beginning as integral stakeholders and partners.  Developing new capacity and reorienting existing ESD systems are difficult tasks for resource challenged institutions/organizations and means redeployment of resources.  While there have been some marked reorientations to the betterment of the institutions and the communities they serve, this widespread redeployment of human and financial resources has not happened to date. Leaders at all levels need to be engaged, trained and armed with fundamental policy change to allow and encourage them to undertake this new or additional work.


We, the broad-based community of stakeholders from the Americas united with others in the global ESD community are concerned that the failure to take full advantage of these three valuable assets is about to be repeated in the post 2015 planning. This oversight can be avoided by broadening the discussion, specifying ESD in Post-2015 documents, and specifically bringing educators and trainers to the table now so they clearly see themselves as needed and welcomed partners of this emerging strategy.


 ESD Suggestions for the Consultation


The following are but a few examples of messages we wish to share with your consultation process.


Equity and social justice


  • Education must be inclusive and work in the service of those facing poverty and inequality. Today’s world is adapted to a dependency on growth.  However there is a need to refocus on an understanding between unsustainable growth and sustainable development with a focus on equity is what is most needed. There is widespread confusion between growth and development.

Education Governance


  • Achieving multi-sector planning around education for sustainable development is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Education planning for sustainable development goes beyond a single ministry and so planning for ESD must be inter - sectoral and must be high on the political agenda of nations. In countries where power and resources are highly centralized, education for sustainable development must be a priority for the highest members of government. In countries where local governance is key, ministries must join hands with municipal and local leaders to provide joint and institutionalized support. Preferably both these approaches would work in synergy


  • Contributions of education for sustainable development to good governance include building community capacity that demands transparency, accountability and broad participation (horizontal and vertical) in planning a sustainable, equitable future for all.  



  • Youth who in many countries represent fifty percent of the population are not effectively involved in education planning and therefore should be ensured a seat as a partner at the table as a first step towards rectifying this lack of empowerment. ESD research is currently underway to discover the relationship between ESD curricular content, student engagement and a focus on sustainability issues as a methodology of improving the quality of education for indigenous and marginalized youth.


  • However, all youth are facing challenges regarding the rapid societal changes and hardships. Basic skills in language and mathematics, while useful, are not sufficient or engaging enough for youth to successfully take responsibility for their preparation for successful citizens in the world they are about to inherit.  This is a key aspect of ESD.

Relevant education for all


  • Education must be planned to ensure the wide participation of all and must be grounded in local and indigenous knowledge with flexible principled curricula for dynamic and participatory planning and learning outcomes. Local and indigenous communities should have a say in what is taught in national, regional and school-based curricula development. Additionally, teachers themselves should also be included in those processes.  
  • Schools and institutions of higher education must be constructed to model sustainable practices but education for sustainable development must go further, beyond changes to infrastructure to address vision, policy, curricular delivery, assessment, and community engagement.

Role of Higher education


  • Promoting the development of teacher training modules and certification of teachers in education for sustainable development would also be a key action.


  • Higher Education institutions must embed core concepts of sustainability in all disciplines. To address the emerging global need to address issues such as adaptation and resilience to climate change, these efforts should not only engage the current focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) but also engage the social sciences to better understand individual and social behaviour change.


  • Courses on indigenous education must be included in mainstream curricula.  Couses on ways of knowing and philosophy are also crucial as we need to rethink who we are and where are we going?

ESD and Innovation for sustainability 


  • Relevant learning has been the driver of smart innovation and adaptation has been the propeller of sustainable human advancement - the most pressing problems of today including accelerated climate change require relevant learning for all. We need education for adaptation which is ESD.


  • Education must focus on multi-stakeholder participation in planning and innovation and should therefore start with the investigation and monitoring of natural life systems. A rethinking of education for sustainable development and the governance of education would be necessary and would need to recognize the oneness of the world.


  • Education must provide instrumental support to climate change adaptation and resilience in particular through its focus on relevant technologies informed by local education and learning processes that build upon local knowledge and practices.   


  • At the heart of the vision of ESD is a focus on exploring and embracing global, regional and local values and ethics in and through education. 


  • Education for sustainable development has characteristics for the engagement and professional growth of leaders in the new economy.  These elements are derived from the professional associations themselves working within and across sectors


  • The very goal of education should be focused on sustainable future and individual well being - Education for Sustainable Development ESD is a pathway.


  • ESD is concerned with the ethical foundation of innovation and entrpreneurship.

Good news


In spite of many lost years and opportunities where leaders were not engaged or help misunderstandings of ESD there has been enough success to give hope and a strong foundation to build upon. The recent report on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) complied by UNESCO has thousands of ESD initiatives being reported by countries worldwide.


 Even simple ESD actions and initiatives such as planting trees or recycling have proven valuable and useful. However, those countries, regions, cities, and institutional systems that have launched major systemic ESD change have found marked improvement in the quality of their program.  New research is underway in the high-scoring Performance Indicators of Student Achievement (PISA) countries as well as several developing/emerging countries to further explore the synergy between ESD and perceived “quality education”.

The Bonn Conference on ESD in 2009 was a major turning point for ministries of education to understand ESD and to recognize their role and responsibility in using the world’s education systems in a concerted manner to seek a more sustainable future.

Higher education is proceeding rapidly from “Greening the Campus” to “Greening the Mind” as they embed sustainability in the curricula.

Ngo’s as working in collaboration with not only other NGOs but other sectors of society in the UN University Regional Centres of Expertise in ESD program.  There are nor approximately 120 of the cities and regions researching and implementing ESD through multi-stakeholder initiatives.

Hundreds of teacher education institutions in 76 countries are currently working together in a UNESCO Chair project on reorienting teacher education to address sustainability.

Academies such as the Sustainability and Education Academy in Canada (SEdA) are forming to look at the reorienting of entire education systems by involving ministry officials, faculties of education and local school trustees and senior administrators.




The major elements inherent in ESD (Education, Public Awareness and Training) are enormous potential agents of capacity building and societal change.  While they have been working largely in isolation to address sustainability much more could be done.


The current leadership in many countries of Ministries of Environment can be problematic in the Post 2015 action. To date this leadership has sent a message that the core focus is largely on environmental sustainability.  Those in the field understand that has not been particularly helpful as there is a need for widespread systemic engagement of all ministries, a broad spectrum of civil society and the private sector.  This is especially apparent in the work at the city and community levels. We suggest that responsibility for sustainable development actions converge at such levels as head of state, cabinet, major and CEO levels.


We hope this brief communique is useful and we remain hopeful that the Post 2015 process will lead to hastening all of humanity down the path to a more sustainable future. In closing we repeat our main concern:


We, the broad-based community of stakeholders from the Americas united with others in the global ESD community are concerned that the failure to take full advantage of these three valuable assets is about to be repeated in the post 2015 planning. This oversight can be avoided by broadening the discussion, specifying ESD in Post-2015 documents, and specifically bringing educators and trainers to the table now so they clearly see themselves as needed and welcomed partners of this emerging strategy.




The Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs) based in the Americas*.


-RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014)**, by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate
-RCE is a flagship initiative of the UNU-IAS Education for Sustainable Development programme



* Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE)- THE AMERICAS
















United States of America

**UN Inter-Agency Committee for the DESD (IAC)
The UN Inter-Agency Committee for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (IAC) seeks to ensure harmonious international coordination of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) within the UN system, to embed the ESD agenda into the work of UN agencies in a coherent and timely manner, and to emphasize the role of ESD and its implications for all forms, levels and settings of education. It is a forum for open-ended collaboration towards the effective implementation of the Decade.


The IAC is composed of representatives of UNESCO, FAO, ILO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UN Global Compact, UN-HABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN-ISDR, UNITAR, UNU, WFP, WHO, World Bank, WTO, UNCCD, UNCBD, UNFCCC and UNDESA.

Julia Krzyszkowska from Switzerland
Wed, March 6, 2013 at 04.27 pm

On behalf of WWF:

To deliver sustainable development that benefits all people and does not compromise the Earth’s ability to support us it is necessary to adopt a radically different approach to growth and development in the post-2015 period. WWF has identified a number of key recommendations for socially inclusive green growth policy that highlight the links between sustainable management of natural resources and equitable growth within planetary boundaries.

The post-2015 development agenda should focus on shifting global development paths to achieve socially inclusive green growth at the national and international level, by driving action to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality and deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for all.

The scale of the effort must match the scale of the challenges. To achieve sustainable development that benefits all people, the international community should agree to key deliverables between now and 2030 that should include:


Adopt a “One Planet” perspective for managing natural capital within the Earth’s ecological limits.

Policy imperatives:

  • Go beyond GDP: Capture the value of natural capital and ecosystem services in public and private decision-making, through development indicators that account for the state of the environment, to ensure sustainable use and fair distribution of the value of natural resources.  Complement these with indicators to measure progress on inequality, for instance gender-related.
  • Set the framework: Establish and enforce strong legal, regulatory and planning frameworks to ensure sustainable use, management and protection of natural resources and ecosystems. Fiscal frameworks should be established to stimulate sustainable consumption and production decisions. This would include the elimination of subsidies harmful to the environment, coupled with social safeguards where necessary to protect vulnerable groups.
  • Increase accountability: Include environmental impacts and risk in existing accounting and reporting requirements for public, corporate and financial actors and environmental footprint disclosure including environmental risk in securities filing.
  • Champion sustainable lifestyles: Build public support for low-footprint lifestyles, including by changing food, energy and water consumption patterns in high-consumption groups.


Drive active investment in sustainable development and resource efficiency.

Policy imperatives:

  • React to climate realities: Agree and implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stay well below 2°C degree global warming; actively promote and invest in renewable energy and integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into climate-smart development and conservation policies.
  • Stimulate the creation of green and decent jobs: Support research in resource efficiency and climate-smart development, including for urban areas, and use fiscal policy (taxes, charges and expenditure) and labour policy to create green jobs that respect internationally recognized labour standards. This includes setting up appropriate incentives for environmentally sustainable investments throughout the financial value chain.
  •  “Walk the talk” through sustainable public procurement and investments: Revive sustainable public procurement and investment as a means to drive markets for resource efficiency and faster adoption of environmentally sustainable solutions and technologies. Ensure that International Financial Institutions prioritize preservation and sustainability of ecosystem services when funding development projects.
  • Drive the sustainable consumption and production of goods and commodities: Work with producers and consumers to significantly reduce inputs and waste by maximizing energy, water and material efficiency, maximizing recycling and recovery and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Work with the private sector, in consultation with stakeholders, on relevant policy development and implementation.


Ensure equitable resource governance as a critical enabling condition for inclusive green growth and structural transformation.

Policy Imperatives:

  • Manage natural resources to enable universal and sustainable access to food, water and energy: Implement policies to sustainably manage natural resources as one element of meeting the food, water and energy needs of all, paying particular attention to meeting the needs of the poorest individuals and marginalized groups.
  • Build sustainable cities: Plan for a global population that is 70% urban by introducing climate-smart, low-footprint solutions for meeting urban housing, food, water, energy and mobility needs and eliminating the increased vulnerability and exposure to urban pollution and disaster risk faced by low income urban and peri-urban dwellers. 
  • Govern available resources through fair and ecologically informed decisions: Implement natural resource governance built on inclusive processes and implement policies and tools for analysing, resolving and managing competing land use and water use claims, including for livelihoods based on natural resources.  Recognize the intrinsic value of the natural world and the non-marketable spiritual, cultural and recreational services it provides to people.
Please see attachment for a PDF file of this comment.
Rula Qalyoubi Dr. Rula Qalyoubi, Economist from United Arab Emirates
Wed, March 6, 2013 at 06.55 am

Thank you for providing this platform as its importance speaks for itself.  Most responses are very good and have addressed an important aspect of “how” we should be altering the BAU scenario; the adoption of green economy principles in order to avert current economic and ecological projections. 

However, current institutional setup (government, laws, regulations, policies, trade) all favor the path that is least resistant as the rules of the games has been long established.  In addition to the presence of power groups to ensure the private sector’s profitability (as the perceived wealth of nations manifested in the stock market) hinges on the unconditional government support.  Moreover, if the private sector, unilaterally committed to abide to corporate social responsibility slogans it’s because they can afford the higher transaction cost which will put pressure on SMEs to do the “catch-up” and they will be at disadvantage. 

Growth can be good for both the people and the planet if (and only if) we revise our priorities and our commitments.  Given the problematic food-water-energy nexus it’s going to take more than good a CSR policy to reverse current bleak projections.  The green economy path published by UNEP provides (on theoretical base) the mechanism/tools/remedies to current carbon based thinking.  Some deniers would attest that it’s only a theory!  I would argue that current capitalism was established on Adam Smith notion of free markets, theorized by neoclassical economist, and others, and pushed by politicians and marketers.  And I would add, stop the nit-pick and deal with the problems at hand, we are we are because of the unconditional support to the global industrial complexes. 

As theorized by UNEP, an annual 2% of global GDP to green practices would ease economies into green outcomes without economic slowdown on the medium and long run.  The multiplier of government spending is different among different sectors however, the overall projection is that we will be able to cater to ever growing hungry global population, deal with diverse population problems and address the energy poverty dilemmas.  There is no trade-offs in “industrialization and growth” and in “ecological scarcity”.  We have alternatives.  And so, any depletion rate of nonrenewable resources is not acceptable at this point; the global regenerative capacity of renewable sources is diminishing beyond critical mass!  We can look at alternatives, i.e., renewable energy. 

In my contribution to The Economy of Green Cities – A World Compendium on Green Urban Economy by Springer Local Sustainability 3 http://www.springer.com/environment/sustainable+development/book/978-94-007-1968-2  I enlist seven necessary and sufficient conditions to wean the world from carbon-based practices to green growth outcomes through the adoption of renewable energy.  They are: political fiscal and monetary commitment, vibrant legal foundation, proper financial instruments, technology viability for a given local conditions, human capital formation, ability of governments to adapt, and establishing a common metrics to measure progress. These are the enablers of green economic path with a win: win outcomes.

The problem that most developing countries are facing is making a viable business case for renewables’ adoption.  There is a general perception that the technology is infant, untested, shortage in know-how, and the technology lacks economies of scale compared to carbon-based activities.  In addition, the global north has a head start in capability formation and the price of knowledge is usually high.  One has to recognize that ecological scarcity and environmental calamities are not local to the Global South and problems migrate.  Therefore, there has to be global commitments to make a change for an acceptable price.  Short of this, there are no winners and losers in sustainable development – only losers.   

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