No one group or any individual has the solution to all of the environmental and social problems facing us and our planet, but here at http://civismundi.net there might be a spark of an idea as to how we might empower the people so that we (the meek, the weak, the underdogs, the ignored) have some say in our questionable future here on earth.
That’s it! It is all about empowering people on a worldwide basis. It’s about the development of one place where all social and environmental issues can be listed, categorized, prioritized and presented in a systematic and orderly manner for action in a long range plan. Imagine, people-powered action directed to all 190 nations, based on the wishes of the people away from the intrigue, influence and self-interests of politicians, oligarchs’, and corporations.
If this idea sparks your interest, I invite you to offer your input and advice.
Signed – Matthew Foster – civismundi (aatt) civismundi.net
Why we need to unite people (and NGOs) worldwide
I would imagine that it was fairly easy to form the organization we call the United Nations. One national leader suggested the concept to another and the idea escalated until all 190 plus nations were together under one roof trying to find ways to keep some semblance of peace on the planet. This is all well and good but what happens when the planet’s seas, fresh water, atmosphere, soil, biodiversity etc. are so badly degraded and poisoned that all life is threatened and diminished? On top of this we have rapid breakdowns of human rights, diminishing democracies, the increasing concentration of media and information, population problems, nuclear concerns, genetically modified organism concerns, and a plague of plastic turning the oceans into a toxic soup. In this dire and ever-expanding situation the people desperately have formed literally millions of NGOs and countless activist groups in pretty much every community on earth as they try to persuade our elected political representatives to please do something.
While we frantically organize and chaotically struggle for corrective action, we are hassled, hampered and patronized by moneyed market forces which have a strong interaction and collaboration with politicians and political parties, not to mention despotic leaders in non-democratic countries. (Where they trample on human rights, steal resources, expropriate the people’s commons and ignore environmental laws and practices.)
We socially and environmentally minded individuals and groups are completely fragmented and disorganized beyond all belief; consequently and regrettably we have little hope of effectively impacting on any of the disasters facing us unless we somehow find a new innovative way to make a significant number of our diverse and scattered world’s citizens collectively more influential and forceful. We have the will but we have yet to find ‘the way’. It as if we are knocking on closed and locked doors trying to be heard all at the same time. We are ignored while our political representatives and corporate power are inside forging our destiny without any significant input from us.
This dire situation could be much improved if we could just get ourselves established into a powerful enough cooperative worldwide organization with a shared universal mission.
The first questions we need to ask ourselves are “must we do something and is it worthwhile” To this I think it is obvious. Is success attainable? I think that it really is, providing we put the power of united world citizens both before and behind corrective initiatives and bypass the naysayers.
NGOs would still operate their organisations independent of any new org. They could collaborate if they wish, and together sort the issues and put them in order. They would be free to independently offer advice to legislations when it became apparent that the people are demanding action and that their expertise is needed to implement such action.
If the United Nations was seen as the hope for peace then why do we not see the need for a similar group; possibly called United World Citizens or something similar; as a means to correcting pressing social and environmental issues?
Let’s assume for a moment that we could somehow bring all of the problems to one place. What would we need to do?
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEMS
Collect and write out all of the problems that need addressing so that the depth of the overall situation is clear to one and all. I can guarantee you that there are more active NGOs then there are problems, and that there are many problems that have no defenders or representatives whatsoever.
CATEGORIZE THE PROBLEMS
Next we need to put the problems (separate issues) into categories. I am going to suggest that there are be no more than 26 categories for reasons that will be apparent later although this is not absolutely essential.
PRIORITIZE THE PROBLEMS
Prioritize the issues within each category and put them into a 25 year plan. Don’t worry, as the priorities can be changed and rearranged as data comes in and membership grows.
CHOOSE THE FIRST ISSUES
It may be best to put something relatively simple at the top of the list rather than the most ominous issue/problem, remembering that it will take time for this new organization to gather significant worldwide member support. (I will put examples for a single category at the end just to show how this would work)
Simple mathematics will now show that we have 26 X 25 issues to put to the membership for their personal input and consideration – the total equals 650 separate issues spaced over 25 years. (A good start)
USE EXISTING INFORMATION
NGO’s and other groups have a lot of information in their data bases with which we can make informed decisions. These groups will be important to the new organization and movement as they can help with identifying and prioritizing and establishing the first and subsequent issues that will be put forward.
PUT THE CATEGORIES INTO A REPEATING ORDER
Take the 26 or so categories and put them into a sequence so that they can be presented to the membership for input and consideration one at a time. If we use 26 categories, and allow a two week period between publication and email distribution of a new petition to the membership, we can address an issue in each and every category in each year of the plan. (This is not absolutely essential)
ESTABLISH A SET TIME FRAME
It is important that the membership is not overwhelmed with action requests too frequently. A minimum of a 14 day interval is suggested as this allows time to research, ponder and sign. Also, governments receiving such petitions will not be overwhelmed on a daily basis from multiple sources.
PUT THE WORLD ON NOTICE
Remember that we must visualize the whole world and all the people as one community with all problems affecting all its citizens’ welfare. Once the categories and issues have been established, the whole world including business leaders and politicians everywhere on the planet, will effectively be put on notice that we are determined to press for remedial action now and in the foreseeable future, or until the job is done. Anyone, anywhere, will be able to see for themselves what is in the proverbial “pipeline” and slatted for corrective action.
SEND E-PETITION TO THE LEADERS OF EVERY NATION
Email the petition to every member for consideration and signing. If the member agrees with the suggested petition’s objectives then it is signed and the totals tabulated. After a designated time frame the signed e-petition is sent to every political legislative power in each and every country.
I personally have a great desire to see reductions in the unrestrained use of PLASTIC for reasons I will make clear below. Alternatively hormone-mimicking chemicals in products create a host of problems beyond the scope of this paper. I also have concern for FOOD safety. In the category of HUMAN RIGHTS I would like to see a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation. Therefore, I would enthusiastically subscribe to the categories of PLASTIC, TOXINS, FOOD and HUMAN RIGHTS. With these choices I would then be asked to participate and consider only 4 petitions per year. If I choose to support others in their causes, I could then simply change my settings to include or perhaps exclude categories at any time. Someone who hates the phony governments produced by plurality/majority voting might sign up for DEMOCRACY/VOTING as they push for proportional representative voting. The same person may dislike nuclear power plants and add NUCLEAR ISSUES to his or her list. Another might prefer WATER RESOURCES and LAND/SOIL LOSS DEGRADATION as they push for natural burial of the human body to prevent formaldehyde from leeching into ground water. Another might choose POPULATION CONCERNS as it gets little attention from anyone. Eventually all categories would have their champions.
SET CRITERIA FOR PETITIONS
Most groups that currently use e-petitions are reacting to human rights violations within single nations. Other petitions may be to protect a species like a butterfly (always the Monarch) or bees and other pollinators. (Category SPECIES) Our petitions however must meet more stringent criteria. I suggest that the following two questions be asked before an issue is put to the members.
Does this action benefit the welfare of the planet?
Does this action undo or prevent an injustice against all humankind?
DEVELOP MULTI LANGUAGE CAPABILITIES
As this is a global effort we need to have multi-language capabilities just like the UN. As the movement grows, volunteers would provide translation services.
AVOID POLITICAL AND MARKET FORCES
The UN is awash with political intrigue and corporate pressures. Powerful nations exert their will on the less powerful and use money, economic pressure and veto power to get their own way. Assassination is also now an accepted policy of many nations which includes all of the permanent Security Council. This new organization must avoid such outside influence and stick with the concept of one member, one vote. Every citizen on the planet can participate if they have access to social media.
STEAL GOOD IDEAS FROM OTHERS
AVAAZ and others use e-petitions quite effectively. They also have a good record for gathering members to the cause. They have an enviable 42,000,000 members at last count. Unlike AVAAZ we would cover all 26 categories and e-petition all 190 plus nations whereas they cover only a few categories and e-petition single legislations or corporations.
EXAMPLE OF HOW THIS MIGHT WORK
As an example of how this might work, let’s assume that in step one we decided that PLASTIC was a distinct and separate category that needed to be addressed. If you watched a recent documentary regarded the pollution of the oceans with plastic you might agree that this would be a suitable and essential category. The program suggested that the problem lies in the world’s recycling and waste management programs. This is a grave error in judgment as plastic and the manufacturing in plastic is the problem itself. It is a problem so harmful that it potentially threatens all that exists.
Can we eliminate all manufacturing in plastic? – Not realistically or likely! Can we eliminate manufacturing of drinking straws from plastic? Why not? Using straws made of waxed paper would not diminish my lifestyle at all, but it would be a small step for correcting earth’s ecosystem. So, we make it an issue for inclusion and our collective attention somewhere in the 25 year plan.
Using the above logic, after demanding “No manufacturing of plastic straws” we could combine several related issues and demand “No manufacturing of plastic net bags for citrus, onion and garlic.” Manufacturers and suppliers could revert back to twisted paper code bags. Sure, some manufacturers will cry foul and that is unfortunate. We survived the problems they created when they destroyed our shoe industry, our appliance industry, our textile industry, our ship building industry etc. They will adjust just as they forced us to adjust.
Next might come “No excess plastic may be used as fillers in packaging of food products.” My life style would not be diminished.
As we progress we might demand “No manufacturing of toys in plastic”. Kids would still have toys to play with, as manufacturers look to alternative material. Life would not be diminished what-so-ever.
Let’s try attempting something that might be more contentious. “No packaging of toothpaste in plastic tubes” I’m not sure that this could ever be accomplished but really, if my tooth paste came in powder form in a little tinned or cardboard container I’m sure I could cope. Also, billions of empty non-biodegradable tubes would be essentially removed from the ecosystem each and every year, forever and ever. (Imagine the number of albatross that might survive because there were billions fewer plastic caps to feed (and kill) their fledgling offspring)
Here are a few more to consider. (You are welcome to offer more.) “No plastic in razor manufacturing”, “No plastic coat hangers”, “No plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables”, “No plastic inserts in bottles”, “No plastic to be used in vegetable/olive oil containers” “No injection molded chairs” etc. Again my life style would not be diminished.
We eventually get to harder and harder issues. It we look to the problem with manmade fibers we will find a singularly horrendous problem. All clothing and carpets break down and shed fibers. Millions of tons of these fibers are washed into the oceans where they become part of the food chain that reaches ever upwards. This ocean of toxic soup is a crisis that can be reduced because we know what is causing it. We have about 35 natural plant and animal fibers that can be used as replacements to synthetics. We just need to accept the obvious and make some dramatic changes.
In this exercise, I have addressed only one category of problems and only a few issues within said category. NGOs, individuals and other groups could put together a much more comprehensive list.
In conclusion, the people themselves must become united and empowered if we are to make any headway. To do this we need an organization free from intrigue and political posturing; one where the meek, the weak, and the marginalized become willing to participate in the process and forge their own destiny, free from market and political influences.