I read the paper here: Rio+20: who owns the Green Economy? | Opinion | Whitsunday Times and I’m worried (also see the other document from the parallel People Summit at Rio “Another Future is Possible” which is referenced from that “Tragedy of the Commons” blog post of the School of Commoning).
I’m worried because, like so many expert advices in organizations and governments, it’s unheard by those in a position to lead the change. To the best case, it will end on presidential desks and maybe will be read by them. To the worst, it will be forgot or even fuel that “tragedy of the commons” we’re experiencing regarding ecology on a global level where the more pressing the situation is, the more pushy ecologically aware people will become, thereby making leaders resist.
To me, the problem is two-fold: 1) experts having a non systemic perspective and 2) experts pushing leaders to change using fear.
Let’s look at these.
Experts having a non-systemic perspective
As usual, experts are experts in their field. Of course it could hardly be differently. Though, it’s a well-known fact that 1) everything’s connected to everything else, and 2) that new Information Communications allow for shorter feedback and vast amount of exchanges between people. I find it sad that these IC facilities are not leveraged when they could be use to connect and exchange information among so different fields and find transversal solutions, innovate, etc.
Further, ecologists are maybe the most natural systems thinkers on the planet (connecting growth and technology to ecological consequences), yet they are those that least use that capacity of thinking systemically to connect fields. Indeed, they may be more seen as “centric” rather than systemic, where their center is ecology. I’m not advocating against removing ecology from the center. I would only like that the links ecologists make between sciences and ecology, for instance, serve as models for identifying what links exist between economy and science, or social problems and science, etc.
Government leader usually have a good view of all the parts making their country as a system. But I have yet to see them connect the part in order to improve the whole. They usually stick to improving the parts on their own, hoping the whole to improve as well. We know that doesn’t work.
Pushing leaders to change using fear
What motivated leaders to step up for their country? What motivate people to change? Not fear, for sure!
Indeed, fear isn’t a strong motivator to change (it’s well know since quite some time now).
Vision, hope and optimism are.
Why don’t we, ecologists and systems thinkers use it in our address to world leaders? I don’t mean that we should only browse a nice picture of how the world could be better if we’d all take care of it. Everybody knows that already. I mean that leaders themselves need to create their own vision for their countries, and in-between countries, for a what a better world would be.
Some years ago, David Cooperrider, “creator” of Appreciative Inquiry, facilitated a workshop with UN leaders to the delight of UN’s Secretary General of the time, Kofi Annan (see all corresponding documents here).
The purpose of such an event is to have participants inquire into what worked for them in the past and what a common dream could be, based on their respective strengths. M. Kofi Annan himself was delighted by the workshop so we might have a great supporter here for trying it once more time, but maybe at a more global level.
I see this happening in two phases. First at national levels where most stakeholders of that nation’s system would be invited in order to thoroughly represent all Social, Economical and Ecological aspects (SEE) of the nation. Second, at a global level by inviting representatives of the member nations to some global AI summit at UN headquarters, so refract the national vision into a global co-created vision.
The benefits of such a way of action are manifold. To name a few:
- each nation would be reassured that its local yet national summit would represent its own interests,
- all stakeholders would be involved (and provisions for extending invitations to people not thought previously could be arranged) ensuring that any resulting propositions have the requisite variety to deal with issues local to the nation,
- being an appreciative inquiry, it would build on 1) what motivates people and 2) what they already know how to do, in order to do more of that. Building on the appreciative is better at leveraging experience than building on problems and fear.