June 12, 2011

The Stockholm Memorandum - It Is Time To Simplify



It looks like the NBA blog is in good company, although you don't need to be a genius to know that the planet is in trouble and needs our help, pronto. But some of our greatest minds did put their heads together recently, and came up with a few recommendations for saving the world.

The 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability took place this May, and brought together more than twenty Nobel Laureates, leading policy makers, and some of the world's most renowned thinkers and experts on global sustainability. Participants agreed that the basic analysis is beyond question - environmental stresses are reaching a breaking point, and the time for action is now.

The Stockholm Memorandum: Tipping The Scales Towards Sustainability, states in part:
"Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. We can no longer exclude the possibility that our collective actions will trigger tipping points, risking abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems. We cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial."
The symposium recommends urgent and far-reaching actions for decision makers and societies to become active stewards of the planet for future generations.

  • Environment and development must go hand in hand.
  • Develop new welfare indicators that address the shortcomings of GDP. 
  • Keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius
  • Environmental sustainability is a precondition for poverty eradication, and social justice.
  • With almost a third of the world living on less than $2 per day, we must, as a priority, achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Foster a new agricultural revolution where more food is produced in a sustainable way on current agricultural land.
  • Inspire and encourage scientific literacy especially among the young.
After putting their heads together, the concerned participants concluded that human pressures are challenging the resilience of the planet, while inequalities remain high. They maintain that the only way to move towards fair and lasting prosperity for present and future generations is along a pathway of environmental sustainability.

One thing I notice in the Stockholm Memorandum is that they are describing, without naming, voluntary simplicity as a solution to our most pressing problems. If high-consumption nations took up this call for action, and adopted voluntary simplicity as a solution, many problems concerning environmental degradation and inequality would be addressed.

You don't need to be a genius to see that we are destroying the only planet that we have, and that in order to turn things around we will require different models for living. Voluntary simplicity is such a model, and one that this forum is not the first to allude to. Gandhi knew decades ago that we can provide for every one's need, but NOT everyone's greed.

Let's not wait. This is not the time for continued denial and procrastination. This is the time for action. We would be wise to adopt the motto of H.D. Thoreau, "Simplify, simplify, simplify", as soon as possible.

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