1. Suggestions for Prayer, Study, and Action
"Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love;|
according to your abundant mercy, remove terror from our lives.
"Consecrate our memories, O Lord,
when we call to mind those who suffered and died
as a result of September 11th and its consequences.
"Bless us as we experience anew the pain of loss,
and as we work to prevent such tragedy from happening again.
"Arouse our gratitude as we recall the quality of support and caring
extended to those who were injured, in shock and in mourning.
Inspire us to provide that quality of care whenever people are in need.
"Bring us together in love. Let not nation lift up sword against nation,
nor culture against culture, nor religion against religion, nor person against person.
-- World Council of Churches, 11 September 2011
The Earth Charter Initiative
Values and Principles for a Sustainable Future
CLICK HERE TO EXLORE THE EARTH CHARTER HOME PAGE
CLICK HERE TO READ THE EARTH CHARTER
"The mission of the Earth Charter Initiative is to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace."
2. News, Publications, Tools, and Conferences
TOOLS & DATABASES
CONFERENCES & JOURNALS
3. Advances in Sustainable Development
"The Getulio Vargas Foundation Law School in Rio de Janeiro (FGV DIREITO RIO) and the Program in Law and the Environment (PDMA), in partnership with other institutions, seeks to encourage open debate on themes related to the discussions set for the Rio + 20 Conference in 2012. The objective of the site is to provide an interactive environment for discussion in set phases, so that at the end of this process, certain recommendations may be made both to the Brazilian government, on themes of particular interest for Brazil, as well as to Secretariat General of the UN formed for the Rio + 20 conference preparations, which will receive recommendations until the 1st of November, 2011."
Three phases have been designated for the discussion:
1) Phase One: from the 25th of July to the 4th of August
Objective: identify the most relevant topics that require further development for their: a) regulation on a national level; b) regulation on an international level; c) effectiveness. Steps: a) voting in order to ensure a topic is debated; b) indicating topics that may be missing from the site; c) identify subtopics that may not have been foreseen.
Phase One - Summary Results: "An overall assessment reveals that sustainable development received the most votes among the general topics, followed closely by general principles. Within the subject of a green economy, sustainable production and consumption were most popular, followed in third by biodiversity and compensation mechanisms. In the realm of sustainable development, the liability of businesses and the liability of states received the most votes, followed by access to information, environmental education and the liability of financial institutions. Under the heading of new environmental conventions, the idea of a draft convention on environmental evaluation gained the most votes. Finally, non-regression principle in environmental law was the most popular of the general principles."
2) Phase Two: from the 10th of August to the 28th of August
Objective: conduct an open debate, in Portuguese and English, on every topic designated during the first phase. The objective is to discuss why and how a topic should be dealt with on the national and international levels and what mechanisms could lead to greater effectiveness in a certain area. The recommendations made during the debate phase will form the basis for the drafting of recommendations to be made at the end of the process.
Steps: debate in Portuguese and English on: a) how a topic should be regulated nationally; b) how a topic should be regulated internationally; c) which mechanisms could ensure greater effectiveness in a given area.
3) Phase Three: from the 14th of September until the 2nd of October
Objective: produce a working draft based upon the discussions in Phase Two. The working draft will draw together and organize possible inroads for producing a final draft of the recommendations. The objective here is to provide commentary on the working draft to consolidate proposed additions.
Documentation ~ Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, UNCSD, 2011
Phase 1 Results ~ Rio+20 Sustainable Development Forum - Phase 1 Results, Carina Oliveira, FGV, August 2011
Forthcoming ~ Phase 2 and Phase 3 Results ~ See also the Earth Summit 2012 Stakeholder Forum
4. Advances in Integral Human Development
Shaping the Future: A Proposal to Hasten a Global Paradigm Shift for the Security and Well-being of All Children Everywhere, Judith L. Hand, August 2011.
About the FACE (For All Children Everywhere) paradigm: "To shift the current paradigm from domination by force to one that abhors violence, FACE's underlying esprit de corps must spring from the female side of our biology because that is the side that most strongly favors nonviolence. It is also the side most consistently concerned with community, family, and children's wellbeing. Ideally the movement would be officially constructed to ensure that through the years, the majority of the top leadership remains slightly female. Failing that, the historical record indicates, and our biology dictates, that the movement will ultimately slip back under the sway of urges for domination and control coming from the male side of our biology, and concern for family, community, and children will eventually take second place. Over time, ignoring this fact of our nature will erode any progress we make now." For more, click here.
Sustainable Human Development in the Twenty-First Century: An Evolutionary Perspective, Ismail Sirageldin. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. EOLSS, June 2011.
Why should men and women be involved as allies in peacebuilding?, New Tactics in Human Rights, 7 February 2011.
5. Advances in Integrated Sustainable Development
The Venus Project
Beyond Politics, Poverty, and War
The following description is reprinted with permission from The Venus Project
The Venus Project is an organization that proposes a feasible plan of action for social change, one that works towards a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative to strive toward where human rights are no longer paper proclamations but a way of life.
We operate out of a 21.5-acre Research Center located in Venus, Florida.
When one considers the enormity of the challenges facing society today, we can safely conclude that the time is long overdue for us to re-examine our values and to reflect upon and evaluate some of the underlying issues and assumptions we have as a society. This self-analysis calls into question the very nature of what it means to be human, what it means to be a member of a "civilization," and what choices we can make today to ensure a prosperous future for all the world's people.
At present we are left with very few alternatives. The answers of yesterday are no longer relevant. Either we continue as we have been with our outmoded social customs and habits of thought, in which case our future will be threatened, or we can apply a more appropriate set of values that are relevant to an emergent society.
Experience tells us that human behavior can be modified, either toward constructive or destructive activity. This is what The Venus Project is all about - directing our technology and resources toward the positive, for the maximum benefit of people and planet, and seeking out new ways of thinking and living that emphasize and celebrate the vast potential of the human spirit. We have the tools at hand to design and build a future that is worthy of the human potential. The Venus Project presents a bold, new direction for humanity that entails nothing less than the total redesign of our culture. What follows is not an attempt to predict what will be done, only what could be done. The responsibility for our future is in our hands, and depends on the decisions that we make today. The greatest resource that is available today is our own ingenuity.
While social reformers and think tanks formulate strategies that treat only superficial symptoms, without touching the basic social operation, The Venus Project approaches these problems somewhat differently. We feel we cannot eliminate these problems within the framework of the present political and monetary establishment. It would take too many years to accomplish any significant change. Most likely they would be watered down and thinned out to such an extent that the changes would be indistinguishable.
The Venus Project advocates an alternative vision for a sustainable new world civilization unlike any social system that has gone before. Although this description is highly condensed, it is based upon years of study and experimental research by many, many people from many scientific disciplines.
We proposes a fresh, hollistic approach - one that is dedicated to human and environmental concerns. It is an attainable vision of a bright and better future, one that is appropriate to the times in which we live, and both practical and feasible for a positive future for all the world's people.
The Venus Project calls for a straightforward approach to the redesign of a culture, in which the age-old inadequacies of war, poverty, hunger, debt, environmental degradation and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as avoidable, but totally unacceptable.
One of the basic premises of The Venus Project is that we work towards having all of the Earth's resources as the common heritage of all the world's people. Anything less will simply result in a continuation of the same catalog of problems inherent in the present system.
Throughout history, change has been slow. Successive groups of incompetent leaders have replaced those that preceded them, but the underlying social and economic problems remain because the basic value systems have gone unaltered. The problems we are faced with today cannot be solved politically or financially because they are highly technical in nature. There may not even be enough money available to pay for the required changes, but there are more than enough resources. This is why The Venus Project advocates the transition from a monetary-based society to the eventual realization of a resource-based global economy.
We realize to make the transition from our present culture, which is politically incompetent, scarcity-oriented and obsolete, to this new, more humane society will require a quantum leap in both thought and action.
An Obsolete Monetary System
The money-based system evolved centuries ago. All of the world's economic systems - socialism, communism, fascism, and even the vaunted free enterprise system - perpetuate social stratification, elitism, nationalism, and racism, primarily based on economic disparity. As long as a social system uses money or barter, people and nations will seek to maintain the economic competitive edge or, if they cannot do so by means of commerce they will by military intervention. We still utilize these same outmoded methods.
Our current monetary system is not capable of providing a high standard of living for everyone, nor can it ensure the protection of the environment because the major motive is profit. Strategies such as downsizing and toxic dumping increase the profit margin. With the advent of automation, cybernation, artificial intelligence and out sourcing, there will be an ever-increasing replacement of people by machines. As a result, fewer people will be able to purchase goods and services even though our capability to produce an abundance will continue to exist.
Our present, outmoded political and economic systems are unable to apply the real benefits of today's innovative technology to achieve the greatest good for all people, and to overcome the inequities imposed upon so many. Our technology is racing forward yet our social designs have remained relatively static. In other words cultural change has not kept pace with technological change. We now have the means to produce goods and services in abundance for everyone.
Unfortunately, today science and technology have been diverted from achieving the greatest good for reasons of self-interest and monetary gain through planned obsolescence sometimes referred to as the conscious withdrawal of efficiency. For example, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, whose function is presumed to be conducting research into ways of achieving higher crop yields per acre, actually pays farmers not to produce at full-capacity. The monetary system tends to hold back the application of these methods that we know would best serve the interests of people and the environment.
In a monetary system purchasing power is not related to our capacity to produce goods and services. For example, during a depression, there are computers and DVD's on store shelves and automobiles in car lots, but most people do not have the purchasing power to buy them. The earth is still the same place; it is just the rules of the game that are obsolete and create strife, deprivation and unnecessary human suffering.
A monetary system developed years ago as a device to control human behavior in an environment with limited resources. Today money is used to regulate the economy not for the benefit of the general populace, but for those who control the financial wealth of nations.
Resource Based Economy
All socio-economic systems, regardless of political philosophy, religious beliefs, or social customs, ultimately depend upon natural resources, i.e. clean air and water, arable land and the necessary technology and personnel to maintain a high standard of living.
Simply stated, a resource-based economy utilizes existing resources rather than money and provides an equitable method of distributing these resources in the most efficient manner for the entire population. It is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter, or any other form of debt or servitude.
Earth is abundant with plentiful resources; today our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival. Modern society has access to highly advanced technologies and can make available food, clothing, housing, medical care, a relevant educational system, and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy such as geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, etc. It is now possible to have everyone enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities that a prosperous civilization can provide. This can be accomplished through the intelligent and humane application of science and technology.
To better understand the meaning of a resource-based economy consider this: if all the money in the world were destroyed, as long as topsoil, factories, and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we choose to build and fulfill any human need. It is not money that people need; rather, it is free access to the necessities of life. In a resource-based economy , money would be irrelevant. All that would be required are the resources and the manufacturing and distribution of the products.
When education and resources are made available to all people without a price tag, there would be no limit to the human potential. Although this is difficult to imagine, even the wealthiest person today would be far better off in a resource based society as proposed by The Venus Project. Today the middle classes live better than kings of times past. In a resource based economy everyone would live better than the wealthiest of today.
In a resource based society, the measure of success would be based on the fulfillment of one's individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property and power.
The Choice Is Ours To Make
Human behavior is subject to the same laws as any other natural phenomenon. Our customs, behaviors, and values are byproducts of our culture. No one is born with greed, prejudice, bigotry, patriotism and hatred; these are all learned behavior patterns. If the environment is unaltered, similar behavior will reoccur.
Today, much of the technology needed to bring about a global Resource Based Economy exists. If we choose to conform to the limitations of our present monetary-based economy, then it is likely that we will continue to live with its inevitable results: war, poverty, hunger, deprivation, crime, ignorance, stress, fear, and inequity. On the other hand, if we embrace the concept of a global resource-based economy, learn more about it, and share our understanding with our friends, this will help humanity evolve out of its present state.
For more information about this project, click here.
6. Sustainability Games, Databases, and Knowledgebases
Interactive Map and Rankings for the 2011 Failed States Index, Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace, August 2011
The World Top Incomes Database, Paris School of Economics, 2011.
Sustainable Development Policy & Practice Knowledgebase, UNCSD/IISD, 2011.
Environmental Knowledge, Maps, and Graphics Library, UNEP/GRID-Arendal, 2011.
7. Visualizations of the Sustainable Development Process
Protecting Our Commons
By Sarah van Gelder and Doug Pibel,
Yes! Magazine, 29 July 2007
Water, forests, and other natural "commons" provide the necessities of life. Shared stories, music, and knowledge enliven our cultures. Today, corporations are trying to enclose these and other commons—or externalize their costs onto them. But a movement is gaining momentum to protect our commons for generations to come.
For an animated chart where you can hover over the symbols to learn more about our commons, click
There are links in the same web page to download 8.5x11 and 11x17 posters.
Courtesy of Yes! Magazine.
8. Sustainable Development Modeling and Simulation
Energy infrastructures as socio-technical systems
Simulating Energy Transitions, Emile Chappin, Delft University, 16 June 2011, Figure 1.2, page 3.
Electricity and CO2 prices and CO2 emission levels for three carbon policies
Simulating Energy Transitions, Emile Chappin, Delft University, 16 June 2011, Figures 4.13a and 4.13b, page 110.
9. Sustainable Development and the International Community
Millennium Development Goals for 2015, Gateway to the UN System's Work on the MDGs.
Education for Sustainable Development, United Nations "Decade of Education for Sustainable Development" (2005-2014), UNESCO.
Are We Learning to Change?
Mapping Global Progress in Education for Sustainable Development, Daniella Tilbury, UNESCO/IRIS, 2011.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17)
Durban, South Africa, 28 November to 9 December 2011
South Africa plays host to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will be held in Durban from November 28 to December 9, 2011. With slow progress having been achieved at previous meetings, expectations are high for the talks to usher in a just, equitable and binding international agreement to deal, decisively, with the threat of global climate change. Consider the ethical dimensions in climate change debate. See Negotiators should resolve political issues ahead of Durban climate talks, by Christy van der Merwe, Engineering News, 19 July 2011. Visit the conference website.