One World Week's 2018 Theme:
The World is Changing - How about us?
“We are the first generation to know that we’re undermining the ability of the Earth system to support human development…. This is a profound new insight and it’s potentially very, very scary … This is also an enormous privilege because it means that we are the first generation to know that we now need to navigate a transformation to a globally sustainable future.”
Rockstrom, J. The Great Acceleration.
Lecture 3 in Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities. 2014
Quoted in Raworth, K. Doughnut Economics (2017) p55
At the start of the 21st century, we now know that we cannot continue to extract resources and dump waste into the ecosystems of our planet without the very real risk of a shift away from the stable conditions of the last 12,000 years in which humans developed agriculture and civilizations flourished. Since 1950, we have been pursuing a path of economic development to fuel lifestyles which have demanded a dramatic increase in the use of Earth’s resources (population x 3; GDP x 7; energy use x 4; fresh water use x 3; fertiliser x 10).
In last few years we have become aware of changes in weather patterns: extremes and irregularities in droughts and floods, melting icecaps, polluted oceans and air; dying coral reefs and a rapid rise in species extinction all indicate that human activity is destabilising Earth’s systems.
“It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change … In a single lifetime humanity has become a planetary geological force – this is a new phenomenon” (Will Steffen- 2015, a scientist who has been documenting these trends)
The surge of industrial capitalism which successfully lifted billions out of poverty, extended human lives, and connected a global community, has also fostered growing inequality leaving billions of people without their most basic needs; financial crises threaten to bankrupt businesses and whole countries. We need to change to an economic system that acknowledges that human activity depends on sustainable interactions with Earth’s systems, and has the goal, as Kate Raworth in her 2017 book, “Doughnut Economics”, puts it: to achieve human prosperity in a flourishing web of life.
And this change is beginning. The alternative goal to pursuing profits at all costs is investment in the welfare of people and the environment and choosing technologies that are kinder to the planet and its people. Examples include:
- renewable energy offering a real and potentially planet-saving alternative to fossil fuels;
- new businesses starting up with the aim of putting the welfare of their workforce and the health of the environment before their shareholders profits;
- local currencies ensuring that local enterprises flourish;
- degraded land being transformed back into productive farmland with terraces and organic methods;
- people in run down areas of cities working together across cultural divides to build communities that meet their common needs;
- people eating less meat, growing vegetables on their roofs and underground and reducing plastic waste;
- widespread committment to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Seeds of hope across the world are growing technologies and changing mind sets to be fit for a 21st century world.
In OWW 2018 we hope to see local events and dialogue in social media which recognise the difficulties humanity faces, enable people to see alternatives which inspire them to make changes in their own lives and support joint actions. We can act individually and together to achieve human prosperity in a flourishing web of life.
At OWW we are working on developing these ideas further and will offer suggestions for events and resources in the near future. We welcome your ideas, suggestions of resources and examples. We can change better together! So please contact us