Editorial Essay: Integral Human Development for an Integral Ecology
Voices of the Poor, by Elizabeth Stuart
The Corruption of Economics, by Martin Adams
Disposable Planet, by George Monbiot
Can Humanity Survive the 21st Century?, by Julian Cribb
Climate Change: Unwelcome Guest in Galapagos, by Bud Ward
The Economic Bubble and Its Measurement, by Carmine Gorga
Catastrophism Is as Much an Obstacle to Addressing Climate Change as Denial, by Stephen Jackson
Unwinding the Human Predicament: Part 1 - Dangers that must be avoided, by Jack Alpert
The Struggle to Integrate Social and Ecological Science: Its critical importance to the future of human society, by Karl North
Sustainability of Local and Global Food Chains, by Gianluca Brunori and Francesca Galli
Patriarchy as Negation of Matriarchy: The Perspective of a Delusion, by Claudia von Werlhof
Five Considerations for National Evaluation Agendas
Informed by the SDGs, by Ben Tritton
Human Development, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs: How are they Connected?, by Selim Jahan
Why We'll Need a Universal Basic Income, by
Gender Dogmatism, by Hassanal Noor Rashid
Population Growth in the Philippines: "Three Is Enough", by Julia Carreon Lagoc
Advances in Sustainable Development
Directory of Sustainable Development Resources
Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability
Best Practices for Solidarity and Sustainability
Fostering Gender Balance in Society
Fostering Gender Balance in Religion
Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature
Integral Human Development for an Integral Ecology
"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
From the system sciences we have learned that, for all but the most trivial systems, the total is more than the sum of the parts. In other words, complex systems exhibit modes of behavior over time and space that would be unexpected by considering each one of the parts in isolation from the others. With the advent of globalization, the counterintuitiveness of world system response to human actions has become more observable, but most people still tend to think in terms of simple "global solutions" to complex global issues.
The encyclical Laudato Si', published by Pope Francis in 2015, is an admirable statement on the complexity of the current human predicament, and an even more admirable admission that neither traditional sources of wisdom, nor technological fixes derived from modern science, will suffice to ensure the sustainability of human civilization. In fact, they may not be necessary either, and can even be counterproductive, because we are facing a situation never before faced by humankind. Recent compilations of all available evidence, such as the Handbook of Sustainable Development and the Handbook of World-Systems Analysis, make it abudantly clear that old ideas and tools are incapable of facing newly emerging global issues, let alone provide effective solutions.
Since 5000 BCE or so, developments have been mostly driven by the rule of brute force. The origins of this cultural megatrend is lost in human prehistory, but the events of history show insignificant evolution in the behavior of homo sapiens since the agricultural revolution. As they say, "big fish eats small fish," i.e., the strong dominates the weak; physically strong humans dominate weak humans, rationally strong humans dominate everything else in the biosphere. After the industrial revolution, the decisive effect of human power in human/human and human/nature relations has been exacerbated by the cheap concentrated energy contained in fossil fuels.
So it may be that Pope Francis is right in suggesting the need for a "bold cultural revolution." (LS 114) He goes on to suggest that nothing short of a renew of humanity will be required: "There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself." (LS 118) But, specifically, what kind of revolution and what kind of renewal? It is becoming increasingly clear that it is not a matter of new policies or technologies within the same cultural framework; a "new NATO" will not do it, and even less so would new electronic artifacts, big or small. A significant evolution in human behavior is required, locally and globally, in all dimensions of human life.
A biological mutation of homo sapiens leading to a new homo super sapiens is not to be counted upon in the next few millions of years, if ever. However, a conscious cultural evolution from homo economicus to homo ecologicus is conceivable. If homo sapiens became homo economicus, then homo sapiens can become homo ecologicus, meaning a human civilization guided by the principles of solidarity and sustainability in all human relations. The transition from domination to solidarity, and from exploitation to sustainability, can and must be experienced between man and woman, humanity and nature. After the abolition of legalized slavery, the next step going forward is the abolition of gendered discrimination (the most universal form of domination) in all human institutions. It is noteworthy that this transition was implied/foreseen by the founders of both modern sience and modern economics:
"Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses." Francis Bacon, Essay 8 ~ Of Marriage and Single Life, 1625
"The legal subordination of one sex to another – is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and ought to be replaced by a system of perfect equality, admitting no power and privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other." John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, 1861
But gendered domination remains the principal obstacle to social and ecological justice:
"Human development, if not engendered, is endangered." Mahbub ul Haq, Human Development Report, 1995
"How do we build a more equitable world? If you want a formula from me, I would say first: ensure there is gender equality." Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Elders, 2012
Repeatedly in Laudato Si', and especially toward the end (LS 137ff), Pope Francis calls for an integral ecology. The word "integral" means that a whole is made of parts and neither the parts nor the whole can be fully functional unless all the parts function well together, as a whole. The fundamental idea of integral ecology is that living organisms must live in harmony with each other and with their natural habitat. Humans are not excluded. But how can humans live in harmony with each other as long as gendered domination trumps interpersonal solidarity between the two halves of the human species? Actually, how can humans be integrally human as long as gendered domination prevails in human relations?
Archbishop Tutu is right: an integral ecology requires integral human development, which in turn entails the masculine and feminine dimensions of humanity to become a "unity in diversity," just as other forms of "unity in diversity" (racial, ethnic, etc) are required for the human system to be fully functional. Old habits die hard but, after 5000 years or so of legalized patriarchy, it is time for a "renewal of humanity" that includes cross-gender solidarity. This is the "bold cultural revolution" that is required at this point in human history; the ecological crisis is a catalyst to make it happen, and it can happen via a conscious cultural evolution in human relations, away from patriarchy and toward an egalitarian mindset in family and society, and a planetary consciousness that transcends national borders.
Voices of the Poor
This article was originally published in
Deliver 2030, 23 September 2016
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“Listen to us. Don’t talk about us without us.”
Among the speeches of the UN Secretary General and World Bank President at this week’s UN General Assembly meeting on refugees and migrants, Eni Lestari Angayani Adi, from the International Migrants Alliance, made a powerful call for the marginalised to be included at the highest level.
This may seem self-evident. It’s obvious that it would be, at best, distasteful to focus the highest levels of political attention on an issue and not have those at its heart in the room, actively contributing.
It’s not unreasonable for political meetings to be dominated by political figures. Their purpose is to make governmental and intergovernmental commitments, so it’s right that the majority of those in the room be official representatives and their advisers. But you still need people speaking from the front line, both to give clarity to the issue, and to remind negotiators that real people’s wellbeing is at stake, not just a government’s geopolitical dignity.
And it’s better than it used to be. Until relatively recently, it was viewed as acceptable to have high-level politicos as the only ‘experts’ in the room. More progressive people at the UN had to fight to have, say, a midwife from a developing country speak at an event on African healthcare, or a teacher from a developing country at an event focusing on getting children around the world into school. That is no longer the case (and hopefully the representation that there is is not tokenistic. A panel with a last minute addition of a refugee/poor person is little better than the all-male panel (or ‘manel’).
But even more important than improving inclusive representation in New York or other international gatherings – although that’s important – is that the policy those political representatives are negotiating or announcing at these meetings be informed by opinions, concerns, priorities and preferences of the people most affected.
Too often this isn’t happening. Extraordinarily, it has been more than seven years since arguably the last major effort to listen in depth to the concerns of poor people. Voices of the Poor was a World Bank exercise conducted to inform the 2001 World Development Report. It gathered the experiences of more than 60,000 poor people in rural areas in 15 countries. In 2009 Moving out of Poverty was a large-scale comparative research effort. More recently, more than one person in every thousand in the world has completed the MY World survey, answering which six out of 16 development priorities are most important to you and your family, although while this gives a snapshot, it wasn’t designed to give an in-depth understanding.
Listening to the voices of the poor and marginalised will be particularly important to achieve the leave no one behind ambition of the SDGs. This also has read-through to the refugee debate (even if in the nomenclature of the World Humanitarian Summit, the term ‘leave no one behind’ has a slightly different meaning to that of the SDG text: it refers to addressing forced displacement, whereas in the SDGs it means ensuring that progress is speeded up for people – and groups – left furthest behind by progress). The fact that what constitutes a left-behind group will fluctuate over time, as is itself demonstrated by the rapid flux in migrant populations, clearly underlines why it is unlikely that policy interventions will succeed unless designed with a thorough understanding of changing dynamics of what the people themselves want and need.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Stuart is head of the Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).