Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, suggests seven key concepts for transitioning from the illusion of "endless growth" to a realistic goal of "thriving in balance" for humanity and the human habitat:
1. Change the goal -- from GDP to Doughnut.
2. See the big picture -- from self-contained market to embedded economy.
3. Nurture human nature -- from rational economic man to social adaptable humans.
4. Get savvy with systems -- from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity.
5. Design to distribute -- from 'growth will even it up again' to distributive design.
6. Create to regenerate -- from 'growth will clean it up again' to regenerative by design.
7. Be agnostic about growth -- from growth addicted to growth agnostic.
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How to Achieve the SDGs by 2030 ~ Lessons from 50 Case Studies
Originally published by
Deliver 2030, 10 May 2017 under a Creative Commons License
The SDGs risk losing momentum in 2017, as President Trump slashes funding to UN agencies and the international political scene appears in disarray. To stay on track, we need to focus on what works.
ODI’s Development Progress initiative looked at more than 50 cases across Africa, Asia and Latin America where progress was faster than expected. Here’s what worked and what got in the way.
1. Strong leadership and vision can drive progress with public support
Progress is faster where clear priorities are linked to a broad national development vision driven by committed political leaders. This is particularly powerful when part of a long-term cross-party consensus widely endorsed by citizens. Public support can spring from a particular political moment or widespread debate. Support for national leaders can be important, in some cases alongside active social movements pressing for change (Tunisia).
2. Local ownership supports innovation and accountability
Governments should mobilise staff towards a clear goal without imposing a blanket approach, as evidence from China and Burkina Faso shows that local expertise responding to local conditions leads to innovation and more effective solutions. Decentralised decision-making also helps tailor services to local needs, improves accountability, and can enhance progress in some sectors. Effective management, performance-based incentives and tackling front-line corruption and absenteeism can enhance delivery.
3. Funds come from many places, but must be well managed
Policy priorities must be properly funded to achieve good results, even in resource-constrained countries. Citizens have been successful in pushing for better public services where policy innovation is supported by additional funding. This investment can come from exports (Mauritius), better management of national budgets (South Africa), economic growth (Vietnam), or international support (Rwanda). Resources should be channelled through strong institutions, which may need reconfiguring in line with priorities.
4. Flip flop policies and political patronage slow progress
The absence of a long-term vision for development can result in erratic policymaking. Policy reversals mean some interventions do not survive long enough to deliver sustained progress, while budgeting failures leave others financially unsustainable. National policy may not translate into local action due to conflicts of interest and weak coordination and monitoring. Harmful patterns of power coupled with a lack of oversight and accountability undermine progress. Implementation becomes inconsistent, hampered by political favours and a lack of transparent systems.
5. Progress not driven by or for people can be reversed
Countries lacking a strong civil society face challenges pushing for sustained investment in a particular policy area. Progress that does not promote socio-economic transformation can also reinforce and widen existing inequality, causing tensions and leaving the poorest and most vulnerable behind. Reversal of progress is more likely where limited structural change has been achieved. Where fertility rates exceed economic growth, public services can be put under unsustainable pressure. Coupled with high youth unemployment, this can be destabilising.
6. External factors play a big part in a country’s progress
External risks and events can have a profound effect on a country. Climate change is a prime example with widespread negative consequences. Other external shocks may affect exports, impacting the income of producers and their families, economic growth and tax revenue. This can have damaging implications for public services and undermine progress across a broad range of areas. Changes in donor priorities and funding behaviour can also have major implications for aid dependent nations.
What we know for sure
Progress can be made in the most unlikely of places and toughest of issues. It mostly boils down to political leadership. Leaders need to be clear about what they want, if there is any hope of delivering the SDGs. Priorities should reflect a country’s financial resources, policy preparedness and institutional strength. They must be widely communicated, properly funded, and provide clarity about the task at hand and the vision for the future.
What we know for sure is that where there is shared national vision, progress is strongest. In highly contested areas, public communication campaigns can help shift public opinion, alongside legislation and careful monitoring. Partnerships with civil society and international development agencies can also support home-grown innovation, and technical support – provided in the right way – can be effective too. Some policy areas will progress more quickly than others, but the hard work on all areas must start now!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Bird is a Research Associate at https://www.odi.org/Overseas Development Institute.
The current occupant of the White House wants to build a “real,” “big,” “serious” wall. To avoid a government shutdown, the administration wavered on the timing of funding. But that does not mean a wall, or walls, will not be built. Walls are material structures, and — maybe more importantly — they are metaphors. They promote ideas like possession, property and separation, as well as mine, yours, who belongs, and who doesn’t belong. They create emotional responses: safety, trust, envy, frustration, fear, anger, dread, hostility. The wall on the border between the United States and Mexico is both material and metaphorical. If you have not looked at pictures of the walls, fences, or barriers already installed on some 650 miles of the 2,000-mile border, you should do so right now. Considerable damage to the environment, the economies of border communities, and individual human lives has already been accomplished by the militarization of the border.
In 1961, the Berlin Wall appeared almost overnight. It was physical and metaphorical, carrying a weighty ideological message to Western “fascists,” who, according to the U.S.S.R. were trying to destroy the socialist state. From the West’s perspective, the purpose of the wall was to deny people access to the West and, importantly, to its message of freedom. All walls carry multiple messages depending on your point of view. The wall on the border with Mexico has different meanings depending on which side of the physical and metaphorical wall you are on. Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions has different ideas about the wall and the people it prevents from entering the United States than do the ranchers and farmers whose land is often divided by a river that does not respect human boundaries.
While construction may be impeded, the idea still exists. It exists as part of an “unconscious system of metaphorical thought,” according to Tom Vanderbilt, in a November New York Times essay about the insidious power of ideas. As a metaphor, the idea of a “wall” is the centerpiece of the new administration’s approach not just to the border, but also to the rest of the world. More barriers along the border could have dire environmental consequences for specific species and the biodiversity of the region. As an environmentalist, I am horrified at this scenario and, yet, I believe that the idea of the wall is as pernicious a consequence of the election as these material impacts.
Everyone is building walls. In Eastern Europe and the Middle East, walls are being built at an exceedingly rapid pace. Vanderbilt cites geographer Elisabeth Vallet’s survey of the 50 actual walls that currently exist, 15 of which were built in the last few years. They are a response to the crisis of immigrant and refugee migration and reflect, as well, the different belief systems — religious and political — that fuel various regional conflicts. A similar surge of nationalist ideology is evident in the United States, too, as “build that wall” became a rallying cry among Donald Trump’s supporters. Those who approve of both kinds of walls exhibit fear and racism. Others believe the myths about job loss or the illusion of physical walls as a solution to a variety of social problems. Nationalism, sometimes labeled populism, has always bubbled under the surface of political discourse in the West, and such rhetoric now has “legs.”
Meanwhile, people who oppose the wall and the immigration policies it represents have also built walls. Articles in Slate, Huffington Post, and elsewhere all carried unforgiving tirades against people who voted for Trump after November 8. This divisive landscape and tendency to build walls represents a crisis for social change activists in engaging a majority of the people to support movements for change.
In the 2001 book “Doing Democracy: The MAP Model of Organizing Social Movements,” veteran social movement activist and trainer Bill Moyer wrote that, “the central task of social movements is to win the hearts, minds and support of the majority of the populace.” After 40-plus years of participating in, planning, training, and analyzing social change and the role of social movements, he stressed the important role of ordinary citizens in successful movements for change. Moyer believed that people would respond to violations of “their deepest values” and that social movements were, in fact, a primary way for people to “challenge unjust social conditions and policies.” As the editor and a co-author of “Doing Democracy,” I too believe that values are at the core of social movements. That is why our political and cultural polarization — that is, the “metaphorical walls” — concerns me and raises questions like: What are these “deepest values?” How do they relate to our “democratic values?” And how many of us share them?
If social movements are to continue to be a “means for ordinary people to act on their deepest values,” as Moyer thought they did, then we need to ask questions about our current culture and the dynamics that are creating more walls than ever before. Are there, in fact, universal values that are widely held today? Numerous authors and many activist groups still cite the Movement Action Plan, or MAP, as a model in understanding the typical stages of social movements on the road to success, the strategies and tactics useful along the way, and the roles that individuals and organizations play in accomplishing movement goals.
Since we completed “Doing Democracy,” I have not encountered any references to the last chapter, titled “Toward the Future.” That chapter encapsulates discussions that Moyer had with many people over the years, and with me during the last several years of his life, about the underlying philosophy of our beliefs and values and knowledge emerging from psychological and sociological research about how we change beliefs and behaviors. Moyer’s analysis of the need for personal and cultural transformation, including the transformation of movement cultures, has not engaged people as much as the “Eight Stages of Social Movements” and “Four Roles of Social Activism” — reflecting, perhaps, an emphasis on strategy and tactics instead of the more personal challenges of being effective change agents by grappling with the philosophical and psychological aspects of social change.
Some will say these considerations sound too individualistic or academic and ask why they are important given the absolutely frightening challenges we face today. In response to this challenge, my colleague Jim Smith and I wrote the forthcoming book “Still Doing Democracy! Finding Common Ground and Acting for the Common Good.” In it, we focus on questions about values, about understanding different beliefs and about how we negotiate the boundaries that different perceptions of the world create so that we can build broader coalitions to support progressive change.
We are once again in an era of large demonstrations that engage the public’s attention. This is good. Some of these events may help groups gain traction in establishing a campaign and building the next movement moment. As longtime organizer and Waging Nonviolence columnist George Lakey has pointed out, protests do not a social movement make. I contend that after the “trigger” events, after the mass demonstrations, and after the first flush of success, such groups will persist in the long struggle to facilitate change only if they are able to engage the “hearts, minds, and support of the majority of the populace.” That is, only if they are able to have a conversation about values and how current conditions violate widely held values. This conversation needs to take place with those with whom you marched, with those who did not march, with those who did not vote (over 42 percent of eligible voters), with those who do not participate in civic life at all, and even with those who voted for the other candidate.
Despite the elation over mass turnouts at recent protests, beginning with the Women’s March, I fear that too little attention is being paid to the more nuanced and disciplined work of listening and learning that’s required to “win the hearts, minds, and support of a majority of the populace.” Unless we are determined to have real conversations — where we are not talking past each other because we are speaking a different language, while using the same words — I believe we will fail.
“Still Doing Democracy!” takes the question of having authentic conversations seriously. Partisans on either side of the progressive/conservative wall use the same language in talking about democratic values. For example, “freedom” is a commonly expressed value that has widely divergent meanings depending on which side of the wall you are on. On one side, being free means to be able to choose to buy or not buy healthcare. On the other side, it means having access to healthcare that you can actually afford to buy. This is not a conversation; there is no common ground here. There is certainly not a shared belief in healthcare as a human right. The belief system and value differences are not only external to the progressive movement world.
Jonathan Matthew Smucker’s analysis of Occupy Wall Street in “Hegemony, How-to: A Roadmap for Radicals,” shows how movement groups create walls that keep them from collaborating with natural allies. I look at the signs at the various marches since January and see a plethora of issues and value statements. But what do these value statements mean? Do people mean the same thing by the words “freedom,” “justice” or “fairness?” Do the people standing next to each other at demonstrations share the vision in “Doing Democracy” of a “civil society in a safe, just and sustainable world?” What kinds of personal and cultural characteristics would describe such a world? These are the questions we need to consider in our groups and in our efforts to engage the “majority of the populace.”
The building blocks of metaphorical walls are the ideas and beliefs that reinforce them. They can be as impenetrable as brick and mortar. Thinking and feeling our way around — through, or over walls — is not always easy, but it is necessary to contribute to real change in a world characterized by diversity of beliefs, perspectives and life experiences.
My approach comes out of a tradition that approaches social problems by asking epistemological questions and analyzes issues through the lens of critical theory. No one needs a degree in philosophy to use these tools — they are everyday skills. Whenever you ask someone where they got a certain idea from, you are asking an epistemological question. What is the source of the information? Is it from the news, their family or the Bible? How firmly do they hold it? Is it an opinion, a belief or, perhaps, “the truth”? As you listen, and this is key, you will learn whether you can have a real conversation. Of course, you must be willing to be similarly transparent, and we must each ask ourselves the same questions. Where do my ideas and beliefs come from? Are they tentative frameworks for making sense of the world, or are they my version of the “truth”?
When you look at social problems through the lens of critical theory you are also asking questions about beliefs. A basic question must be: “Are the people benefitting from this situation, or is some power holder making out like a bandit?” This is the beginning of strategic issue analysis, and it too must include close scrutiny of the stories that substantiate the walls of political belief systems. Our approach brings new insights to the analysis of issues in a social, political and cultural environment that is clearly more complex and fragmented than ever before.
In Lakey’s review of Smucker’s book, he suggests that we have, perhaps, not been bold enough in promoting movement values as the new standard worldview. I suggest that we need to engage in an ongoing conversation about values because we live in a world that has significantly changed since the 1960s, when many of these commitments were first framed as “universal values.” We hope “Still Doing Democracy!” will promote these conversations by helping engaged citizens develop an appreciation of different, disparate, competing or conflicting beliefs and learn how to overcome the barriers they create. We need to add these tools to our list of strategies at every stage and as skills to develop in whatever role we are playing.
We must not build new walls. Instead, we should be echoing an earlier call, “Tear this wall down.”
China's Tian Shan Mountains Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by the European Space Agency (ESA)
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) has been working for more than a decade to open access to Earth observation data and information, and increase awareness around their socioeconomic value. As GEO moves into the second decade four new global partners are announced to help support GEO’s vision.
The GEO community has been building a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that links Earth observation resources worldwide across multiple Societal Benefit Areas (SBAs). These SBAs range from Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sustainability, Disaster Resilience, Energy and Mineral Resources Management, Food Security, Infrastructure and Transportation Management to Public Health Surveillance, Sustainable Urban Development and Water Resources Management. The SBAs serve as lenses through which the Member governments and Participating Organizations (POs) that constitute GEO may focus their contributions to GEOSS, with a goal to make the open EO data resources available for informed decision-making.
The four organizations include Conservation International (CI), Earthmind, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Each organization has now joined GEO as a Participating Organization, taking the total number to 110 working internationally to advocate, engage and deliver on open EO data.
“CI empowers societies across the globe to sustainably care for nature through science and partnerships. We are excited to join the GEO community, which has long recognized the power of collaboration in leveraging earth observation to benefit humanity.” Said Daniel Juhn, Senior Director, Integrated Assessment and Planning Program at Conservation International. “Though we face obstacles to achieve the SDGs, we are at a critical juncture where the science of valuing ecosystems, and understanding the full services nature provides to people expands our knowledge and options. We hope this partnership exemplifies bringing together that science, the right policies, necessary collaboration, and advanced technologies to generate the solutions we need to tackle global sustainability challenges.”
“Earthmind supports positive efforts by private, public and non-profit stakeholders to conserve and responsibly manage nature. As one of our main programmes is to recognise conservation in the areas where people live and work, we are most honoured and indeed excited to join the GEO community. In so doing, we hope to further encourage voluntary efforts to observe how we managing our planet in order to take better care for it.” said Francis Vorhies, Founder and Executive Director of Earthmind.
“GEO, its Members and the broad new set of tools provided by geodata constitute a fantastic step forward in the quest to help farmers from all corners of the world improve their yields and Governments to improve their policies to further stimulate agriculture in their respective countries. This is why GODAN is very glad to become part of GEO and to count the GEO partnership among the GODAN network. We believe that this collaboration will be most fruitful for all parties involved” said André Laperrière, Executive Director of the GODAN Secretariat.
"UNICEF has learned through experience that problems that go unmeasured often go unsolved,” said Toby Wicks, Data Strategist at UNICEF. “We will work with the GEO community to link the needs of the world's most vulnerable populations to a rapidly expanding set of data informed solutions, including GEOSS. This partnership signals an effort to build a world in which a near real-time understanding of risks and global challenges, particularly water resources management and disaster resilience, allows us to work harder and faster, for children."
The key engagement priorities for GEO in the coming years involve using open Earth observations to respond to a number of global policy issues. The priorities are tied to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These new partnerships will complement existing ones and also help deliver in line with the GEO engagement priorities.
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO)
GEO is a partnership of governments and organizations creating a future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations. GEO Member governments include 104 nations and the European Commission, and 110 Participating Organizations comprised of international bodies making use of or with a mandate in Earth observations. GEO’s primary focus is to develop a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to enhance the ability of end-users to discover and access Earth observation data and convert it to useable and useful information. GEO is headquartered in Switzerland.
For English-language media enquiries, please contact:
Katherine Anderson – Communications Manager, Group on Earth Observations
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the guiding framework for international development until 2030 and are intended to provide a reference for setting national policy priorities.
This unique, searchable database provides a snapshot of what those national priorities are. Users can compare existing national targets with the ambition of the SDGs. We intend this to be a living document, supplemented and kept up to date by crowdsourcing, and we encourage others to send us new information on national goals to update the tracker.
Over the last two centuries, the impact of the Human System has grown dramatically, becoming strongly dominant within the Earth System in many different ways. Consumption, inequality, and population have increased extremely fast, especially since about 1950, threatening to overwhelm the many critical functions and ecosystems of the Earth System. Changes in the Earth System, in turn, have important feedback effects on the Human System, with costly and potentially serious consequences. However, current models do not incorporate these critical feedbacks. We argue that in order to understand the dynamics of either system, Earth System Models must be coupled with Human System Models through bidirectional couplings representing the positive, negative, and delayed feedbacks that exist in the real systems. In particular, key Human System variables, such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration, are not coupled with the Earth System but are instead driven by exogenous estimates, such as UN population projections. This makes current models likely to miss important feedbacks in the real Earth-Human system, especially those that may result in unexpected or counterintuitive outcomes, and thus requiring different policy interventions from current models. The importance and imminence of sustainability challenges, the dominant role of the Human System in the Earth System, and the essential roles the Earth System plays for the Human System, all call for collaboration of natural scientists, social scientists, and engineers in multidisciplinary research and modeling to develop coupled Earth-Human system models for devising effective science-based policies and measures to benefit current and future generations.
"C-ROADS is an award-winning computer simulation that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It allows for the rapid summation of national greenhouse gas reduction pledges in order to show the long-term impact on our climate." For more information, click
Abstract: The authors seek to briefly
address the persistent challenges of applying general systems principles to our
human cultural systems. We identify individual and cultural worldviews which
continue to cause us to resist integrating diverse human perspectives and
cultural systems in relevant and meaningful relationship. We introduce dialogue
methodologies which can lead to cultural praxis toward a more unified and
‘whole’ global humanity which not only retains our individual and cultural
diversity, but celebrates and integrates this diversity into ever-increasing
relevant and meaningful relationship. The authors introduce the five global
ethics identified by the Institute for Global Ethics as the "centralizing
influence" which can guide our inter- and intra-cultural dialogues.
General System Theory would seem to point out the obvious
reasons for humanity to value, and thus seek out Unity in Diversity. Further, to
even carry on a dialogue on the topic within the systems research communities
should seem trivial: We understand the value of diversity. We understand the
principles which govern a complex, open system to be stable and sustainable over
time. We, as systems researchers, should readily conceptualize a complex global
human system, made of increasingly specialized and diverse individuals,
communities, countries evolving in ever increasing integration and relationship,
and evolving around influential centers which continually catalyze our increased
organization. As systems researchers, a conference on Unity in Diversity should
seem like a kindergarten reunion; an exercise in ‘preaching to the
And yet here we are, still reconciling what we have
learned through empirical systems research with what we have learned through
personal experience. And for many of us, influenced by the wisdom and
understanding of the new sciences, we find ourselves still reconciling the
experiential and the empirical with new, relativist or postmodern perspectives.
We continue to struggle to validate and honor our own diverse ways of knowing
(Earley 1997; Harman, 1998; Stalinski, 2001) along with the diverse perspectives
of others. The struggle comes from trying to choose between perspectives;
an ingrained insistence that we must choose one perspective or another, rather
than holding diverse and multiple perspectives simultaneously and then seeking
Jay Earley (1997) articulates the same fundamental
processes of integration as von Bertalanffy by concluding that "differentiation
(complexity), autonomy and wholeness are the three basic tendencies of
evolution." The authors propose that in and among human systems, this process
happens concurrently at the level of individual consciousness and the
societal/cultural levels. It seems significant however to remind ourselves that
this evolution—increased wholeness and individuation (unity)--happens through
the relevant, effective and right relationship of increasingly diverse
(differentiated and autonomous) components (Bertalanffy, 1968). The evolutionary
process is not reliant merely on differentiation, but on the appropriate
relationship of differentiated systems components; whether biological,
organismic or human perspectives.
Human evolution likewise follows this principle—human
perspectives which drive human behavior—is the process of evolving individual
consciousness and the inevitable concurrent evolution of our social systems and
their cultures (Banathy, 2000; Earley, 1997; Harman, 1998). Rose (1998), Gebser
(1949/86) and the authors (Benking & Stalinski, 2001) argue that this
process is central to being, and emergence of evolved consciousness (and thus
the integration of human culture) is an experiential, "concrete," as well as
conceptual reality. Earley likewise calls for the integration of "participatory"
and "reflexive" consciousness—again underscoring the integration of the
experiential, rational and spiritual towards increased individual and cultural
The evolution of consciousness is not a process so much
of changing perspective and personally held meaning and worldviews, as it is a
process of integration (Gebser, 1949/86, Rose, 1998; Benking & Stalinski,
2001) and finding internal congruency among what we know empirically,
experientially and from our understanding of meaning (Stalinski, 2001). Our
cultures then are the lived and experienced reflection of our individual
consciousness and awareness and thus likewise, cultural evolution is a process
of living and experiencing both internal and external differentiation,
integration and congruency. Often our contemporary cultures express
contradictory and conflicting values internally, and even as we ignore these
internal conflicts, humanity seems to be striving for a more global wholeness
Within our human communities—whether local, societal or
global—the unity or ‘wholeness’ of the systems complex of diverse individuals
and sub-systems is centralized by shared meaning and value. Human cultures are
value-guided systems (Laszlo, E. 1996; Banathy, 1996, 2000) and we learn through
personal experience and cultural influence to value that which benefits our
ability to not just survive, but thrive as individuals and social
systems. The cultures within our small local geographic communities or larger
societal systems evolve around the ‘highly influential centers’ (Bertalanffy,
1968) of the values adopted by and the norms agreed upon by the system. And yet
central meaning, values, and norms are rarely reflected upon and evaluated at a
In the process of evolving to a more unified, whole
systems complex of diverse cultural, socio-economic, religious, psychological
individuals and social systems, it is dialogue which can enable us to discover
the relevant and integrated interrelations which will make us a more autonomous
individually, and more unified globally. This dialogue may be internal as we
seek congruency between what we know empirically, experientially and from our
understanding of meaning for our individual and collective lives. This conscious
reflection of personal values and meaning impacts our behavior choices,
especially in how we view and perceive others who may seem different from us,
and cause discomfort. The willingness to engage in external dialogue – the
co-creation of meaning with others—becomes an exploration in discovering how we
fit together, as individuals, communities, cultures and nations (Bohm &
Peat, 1987; Lopez-Garay, 2001; Christakis, 2001). The level and focus of
dialogue may require various dialogue methodologies, a few we introduce here
with encouragement for further exploration:
Models, Maps & Metaphor
That which we experience in life: the tactile, sights,
smells, sounds, tastes and emotional feelings make up the strongest sense of
understanding our human experience. While we may sometimes use our capacity to
reason to try to understand these experiences, it is often difficult to argue
rationally against what is learned experientially. In dialogue, we can create
valuable experiential learning through our senses and emotions by languaging
with the concrete. The use of models, maps and metaphor are strong tools for
sharing verbally, in writing and outside the parameters of our symbolic
languages. (Benking 1996, 1997; 2001 Rose, 2000; Stalinski, 2001)
The purpose of dialogue is to create shared meaning.
Since we currently experience life within the constraints of linear time, it is
important that diversity is nurtured by enabling diverse participation in
equitable ways. Time-sharing roundtable exercises enable participants to reflect
the other perspective and at the same time practice "communion" through
empowerment, giving voice and sharing empathy in a process of establishing
shared meaning. (Judge, 1994; Benking, 1998; Bohm [online]). The theoretical
framework for embodied shared meaning was established by Hellmuth Plessner who
re-established our ability to take on other viewpoints with the definition of
"eccentric positionality." (Benking & Rose, 1996)
The Design Conversation
Dialogue which seeks to create, redesign or refine human
systems requires competence in the area of design. The design conversation
engages participants in both generative and strategic dialogue in order to gain
design competence and effectively conceptualize and create complex human
systems. (Banathy, 1996; Laszlo, Laszlo, et al, 1996; Stalinski 2001)
Computer-Aided Dialogue for Addressing Complex
Complex systems can be challenging to design, and quite
impossible to fix when they are not functioning optimally. Addressing the
systemic mess of complex organizational and societal issues, as well as
designing ways to re-create them to be healthy, viable and sustainable can be
aided with the help of computer software technologies. (Christakis, 1996, 2001;
The Influential Center of a Global Dialogue:
Systems evolve around ‘instigating causalities’ which
influence and catalyze the organization of a system (Bertalanffy, 1968). In our
cultural systems, these influential centers are the values which define the
cultural system and the norms and behaviors which reflect these values are
catalyzed by our cultural leadership. By understanding the role of leadership as
"centralizing" and influential for the application of a culture’s values,
leadership can be seen not as a "dominant" role, but a "predominant" role which
empowers integration and interrelationship among all system members to create a
more unified and individuated ‘whole’ culture (Stalinski, 2001). At a global
level the Institute for Global Ethics already lists five values identified
around the world: respect, honesty, compassion, fairness and responsibility
(Glenn & Gordon, 2001). These fundamental, life-affirming values, by being
integrated within cultural dialogues at all levels of the global human systems
complex, can provide a meaningful and valuable ‘centralizing influence’ as we
strive for an increased unity, bound and influenced these central values, and
expressed in myriad diverse cultural, ethnic, and even religious
Heiner Benking and Sherryl Stalinski are independent scholars. Heiner Benking is part of the Commons Alliance within UN-ECOSOC and served in international development since 1977 and environmental programme projects since 1998. He served Dr. Noel Brown, director of UNEP-RONA and in the UNEP-HEM harmonization project and was later around before and after Rio. He is a trained technician and engineer and studied geosciences at the University Hamburg. He worked in management, marketing and strategy, later data-management consultancies, and in the 80s in sales and marketing of the founding computer-graphics indutry (vector- and rastergraphics). He holds verious positions in NGO's in the youth and educational sector worldwide, is associate of the Global Agoras in the field of deliberation, peacemaking, and multi-track diplomacy, works for an Institute for Sustainability in Education, Work and Culture. He established youth media agencies, works as a journalist and blogger, and has been curator of the Global Change exhibition since 1990.