The theme for the 2008 AMR is "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to sustainable development".

A moderated e-discussion on Achieving Sustainable Development is being jointly organized by the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UNDP from 4 February to 14 March 2008 as part of the larger global consultation process for the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review. Experts, practitioners and policy-makers, from within and outside of the UN system, will interact within this online forum to share relevant experiences and generate practical input towards this year's AMR. Hosted on MDGNet - http://www.un.org/ecosoc/newfunct/amredis.shtml

See here all the contributions and the summary:

Summary of eDiscussion on Achieving Sustainable Development

see all this here:

·  Letter of invitation from Assistant Secretary-General Jomo Kwame Sundaram to participate

·  Pre-launch message from Mr. Sha Zhukang, Under-Secretary General, UN/DESA, and Mr. Kemal Derviş, Administrator, UNDP

·  Responses in full (part I)

·  Responses in full (part II)  -

·  Summary of eDiscussion on Sustainable Development  (PDF)



I. Challenges countries face in integrating the goals of economic growth, social development and environmental protection. 1


II. Concrete policy initiatives that can help States to achieve sustainable development. 5

Contributions from Heiner Benking, Berlin    see: SUMMARY BELOW !!

I. Challenges countries face in integrating the goals of economic growth, social development and environmental protection.



Dear colleagues,

I feel humbled and honoured to be asked to add my views to this prestigious eDiscussion enterprise where policy makes and leaders look into not just devising regionals, national, local plans and  programmes, but care for the global whole and alternative futures.


We used with a G7 -  EEES Environmental Experts of the Economic Summit and later UNEP mandate and project from the 70ies (meta-data Environmental Information Harmonization Project)  managed by UNEP-HEM in Munich in the late 80ies/early 90ies) the governing citation “Much is known, unfortunately in different heads”. So what? HOW CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER AND OLD AND NEW “OTHER” APPROACHES and bring them down to Earth ?

In this UNEP project I learned that there are so many lessons learned and good news, but the access, bridging and digestion is missing and little is put into action. With these views and experience I read the contribution in this eDiscussion very carefully, but have little time on the last day (AMR, section I  May 22)  to respond, but will update this collection, as a co-laboratory work hopefully elsewhere.


Here are my conclusions and recommendations in a nutshell:

Subsuming and resonating with the contributions in the eDiscussion makes one feel down. The danger is to get stuck with pointing at what is wrong, with lamenting and analysis, but not moving on to new frontiers, synthesis and therapy and positive outlooks which keep “realities”, contexts, and episodic and epochal changes in mind. It seems to be fashionable now to speak about holistic and deep-ecology. But is meant and understood and goes beyond plastic words (empty words without meaning more mis-used than used in edutainment, politainment, and modern “science”. WE tried some systemic clarification in this ongoing  Wholeness Seminar.


Only few people are used to and dare to step back and try to confront the issues and consequences at stake from a birds-eye view and with facetted eyes. (Pls. see “House of Eyes” and World-House as oikos, ecumene, ecudomy) [more].


Since C. West Churchman we aware of the “enormous problems” and neglect and ignore any alternative, new and old, systemic approaches.

What is missing seems to be an orientation in “common frames of references”, unifying multi-modal visions, and an integration of sign and cultural systems, concerted efforts for positive outcomes, including the beauty of difference and the minority views. Please [see more].


Many contributions wholeheartedly and with much merit and sincere effort try to confront and tackle one issue or element, and all too often argue for fashionable new terms and approaches.

But what we learned from Noel Brown, UNEP-RONA was that for Rio ’92 there was no talk about Agenda 21, Biodiversity or Climate Conventions, but that some original ideas at that time were to step back and confront the whole and the commons from a higher stand. Same as the founders of general system sciences repeatedly highlighted that for their subject area nobody feels “in charge” – as nobody is trained for the broader issues that connect.


At UN-CSD-15 last summer we created an ad-hoc side-event to revisit international environmental gatherings: Stockholm 1972, Hamburg 1988, Rio 1992, Berlin 1995, … with people who had been there and “in charge” for certain aspects in certain functions at that times...

Some of us thought that all this “new” is not really making enough progress and much of the “old think” is lost or forgotten. I opt for a combination and to venture a little into the impossible as the perplexity in view of this complexity is blinding us and dumping us down.


The only way of discovering the limits of the possible

is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Arthur C. Clarke


So let us start with revisiting and tackling some old maybe lost opportunities: See below:

٭ enormous problems” and a unifying framework, *  inter-sectoral strategic dilemma & groupthink and spreadthink *) harmonisation of environmental data, … and then explore and propose some more comprehensive “out of the box” thinking and paradigm mapping and shared dialog and decision culture approaches as we need to go beyond without loosing tough and ground. So what we will do in 5) and 6) is revisit the general model theory (UNESCO 1964) and sign theory C.S. Peirce and see how that can help us to use other ways to communicate, construct, share “realities”.

Finally, all the perspective outlooks building blocks below need to be combined to go beyond a certain signs, symbols, meanings, disciplines, languages, cultures, scales … if we want to take the “Rio ’92 mandate” of “common frames of references” for real and shared scales, proportions, consequences and actions – AND look into truthing and fidelity, what and how we can communicate and share, and how we can avoid the Charlatan comparison of the incompatible. See proposal below for the Euro-Mediterranean region Anna Lindh Foundation  (References below) and the need to have not just ecological resource or consumption “footprints”, but fidelity and repeatability of densities and how they overlap and interact. (see A)  the Retrospective of the Predicament of Mankind Club of Rome report below).


Please note: The author worked in the last 40 years in construction, planning, design, environmental management and education and very much resonates with the Global Change Agenda since the Global Change Exhibition in 1990 – a time when the term “glocal” was coined and for G7 – UNEP exercises to Harmonize Environmental Information in the late 80ies – early 90ies.


Maybe visit beforehand  this article for Lynton Caldwells “Is Humanity destined to self-destruct” with the title “Show or Schau”? APLS Politics and Life Sciences, 2000 or start directly with the “building blocks” A) – N) below:


A) “enormous problems” and a unifying framework (Churchman, Ozbhekan, Warfield, Christakis)

The “enormous problems’ of Churchman became the “Problematique” of Ozbekhan, and remerged as the science of generic design of Warfield and the Structured Dialogic Design Process (SDDP) of Christakis, representing a continuum of systems thinking with the common vision to engage stakeholders in addressing the Predicament of Humankind through participative democracy.

See Club of Rome’s  Predicament of Mankind (PDF)  1970 and a A Retrospective Structural Inquiry of the Predicament of Humankind: Prospectus of the Club of Rome, 2004, Harness Collective Wisdom, 2004


B) UNU and UIA prep-work for Rio’92, see: Anthony Judge  inter-sectoral strategic dilemma, The Encyclopedia of World Problems, Human Potential, Actions, Options, Strategies (see: documents relating to World Problems 1971-2006) and IBIS (Kunz/Rittel) Vicious Problem Cycles and the Quality of Statements, and the International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (more below).

C) CAPACITY TO GOVERN, Yehezkel Dror, Club of Rome Report 1995, extra summary points at UN Climate Summit 1995, Berlin to include inter-sectoral strategic dilemma and common frames (recommendation 6 and 7) * Research into spatial metaphors supporting local and global governance by enabling understanding of intersectoral strategic dilemmas of action and results chains in a symbolic and trans-cultural form, for shared exploration of issues and evaluation of proportions and consequences with differentiation between data, conjectures and 'noise' in policy information.  * Further development of a conceptual superstructure as a reference paradigm to ease access to salient data while avoiding unnecessary redundancy and overloads. [more]

D) Cyberculture, UNECO Culture of Peace, Humane Information Society 1992 -2008  [more]


E) General Model Theory UNESCO and Herbert Stachowiak -  Create and move boundaries in agreed upon shared realities and virtualities (general model theory).


F) EXPO 2000, concepts behind the Visitors Information System for world exhibitions and the Global Dialogues, Hannover, Germany, See Expo-Info-2000.

G) EFFE und Multi-Media – Tangible Education From the Senses to Meaning, Reason, and Sensibility -  From Culture to Cyberculture?

H) Knowledge Organisation and Navigation, and Metaphors, see Dahlberg (ISKO), Judge, UIA (above), Veltman, MMI, and the work of the author. Pls. see ISKO, infoterm, SUMS.


I) paradigm Mapping and Out of the Box Thinking Seminars developed by Kurt Hanks for foreign students in the US and widely applied to relate positions, viewpoints, assumptions and learn to see, relatem and combine  with “other eyes/models”…. (call it mental mobility and the negotiation of different schemas. See: Sharing and Changing Realities with Extra Degrees of Freedom of Movement  (Fig. 1, 2, 6).


J) INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM SCIENCES ENCYCLOPEDIA and outlook by the editor in chief Charles François when introducing the 2nd edition AND the contribution of NEW TERMS like cognitive panorama” and “mental models” by the author and contributions in the 5 volumes: The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View


K) GLOBAL EMBODIED COVENANT  - see EARTH CHARTA open-space presentation, TEC presentation, and GEIG (IUCN – WHO – etc.)….


L) Future of Modern Media and Data, ICSU CODATA (1992-2006), see also Systems and Sign Theory 2006 and Quo vadis Cybernetics ?


M) Earth Literate Leaders and Modern Media & Maps & Models – see Map Analphabetism and UNESCO’s Literacy programmes. About World Map truth, truthing, fidelity and visual demagogy in computer graphics and visualisation. See LITERACYFLAT WORLDS and the models and cosmologies connected to it, and what it means to ecological footprints and thematic densitiy maps, and the relation and overlap of issues. See here the problem maps of the Club of Rome’s Predicament above (Christakis). 


N) Proposal for Anna-Lindh-Foundation,  European – Mediteranian Countries, Berlin-Alexandria 2008. Transcultural Dialog and Peace-Making

Roundtable learning from experience during the last 40 years and new ideas


Stumbling blocks preventing true dialog, peace-making, and reconciliation:

1) we fight over words but do not check the meaning,

2) we do not question and compare the values attached to statements and attitudes,

3) we do not contextualize and embody concepts and meaning, do not check the sectors, regions, scales, proportions and consequences of alternative actions,

4) we do not give voice, empower, listen, cherish and cultivate difference or variety in dialog and decision making,

5) Disorientation and dumbing-down in Cyberculture and a mis-administered and misunderstood, intangible “Globalisation / Glocalisation”: Where we get overloaded by communication noise (sign/symbol melange) and media demagogy which means: no trust and fidelity in the statements and no ways and means to check the credibility and impact/relevance, and get lost between the scales, brackets, and sectors.

6) The above incompatibility and incomparability opens the door for over-claims and oversimplifications. Leaders use intangible jargon (plastic-words), neglect impacts and avoid instead of exploring differences and alternatives.


Whoever imagines mental barriers 
which actually do not exist 
and then thinks them away, has understood the world. 
As space is entrapped in geometry's network of lines, 
thought is caught in its (own) inherent laws. 
Maps make the world comprehensible to us; 
we are still waiting for the star-maps of the spirit. 
In the same way that ambling through fields 
we risk getting lost, the spirit negotiates its terrain.

Friedrich Rückert, Wisdom of Brahmins


There is no doubt that we have ventured into new realms of realities and possibilities, but are stuck in old ways and means. Some say we should venture into “new thinking” some believe in the old and traditional, but all this are one-way orientations which can only blind us and prohibit going into the lateral, the across, the other, and the beyond. Why not consider Maps and Models “Supersigns” L) – instead of fighting over words, labelling living things into dichotomies or grids, fighting for “mine” or “yours”, forgetting the other, and building walls between symbols and images ?

This collection is a quick attempt between “Clubs”, “Times”,  Disciplines”, Languages and Signs.  It is not meant to be complete or final – just another piece to add onto more comprehensive and tolerant views, approaches, communications, and actions. For the author Space, Scale (with proportions and consequences), Sign Systems, and the issue of outline, overview, and orientation are most critical items in times of over-claims and over-simplifications.


The author works the last 20 years on education, working with youth and promoting Energy and Education Round-Tables in Germany and Canada. This are his first quicky “5 cents” on boundaries, semiphors, vistas, transcendence, and challenges. He hopes that the AMR eDiscussion contributions will be available online. Add-ons will make this piece a “living” document, which can be improved and expanded through the times at this site: www.quergeist.net/AMR-2008/


Please excuse my “Krauts”-English - without Editor and proof-reading -  in these seasons and hours of the times…. But I think in the sense of the Arthur C. Clarke’s citation above, many small, facetted and connected steps are needed to tackle the Problematique mentioned above.



Heiner Benking, Consultant and Facilitator

Secretary of the Council on Global Issues and the Tagore-Einstein-Council

Board Member and European Representative of IHTEC.org (ECOSOC and DESD)

Consultant to International Youth Community Services  and Founder of The Open-Forum

http://quergeist.info  and http://benking.de



This is the “overnight” version of the author. This piece will be discussed in the eDiscussion and in an open-format forum were [bracketing] and other tools, ways and means can be used for in-depth discussion and changes. Please come back and see the Open Theory Discussion and Editing Forum: here. Valid changes of the text will be marked in further versions as updated above.



Heiner Benking, Berlin

AMR Part II (25 February - 14 March)

II.     Concrete policy initiatives that can help States to achieve sustainable development.

Question 2: 

What specific initiatives can ECOSOC promote to be launched to facilitate realization of the goal of sustainable development? How can we foster human and institutional competencies to execute supportive policies?


Dear Colleagues,


Revisit the mandate: Harmonisation of Environmental Information.

The Environmental Experts of the Economic Summit of the G7 (EEES) issued in the 80s a mandate for the Harmonization of Environmental Information. (We remember that in 1975 the G7 was founded in Rambouillet, France, to tackle issues of global responsibility, and this can surely be seen in view of the “Problematique” raised a few years earlier (see below)).

Unfortunately, the idea and project to bridge incomparable information and to link information from a high level and agreed-upon reference schemas were not followed up on in the early1990s. Central is the concept that information with different granularity--from different sign-systems and cultures, in different languages, and from various spatial and temporal scales--can be related in “common frames of reference”.

Pls. see the “manager” Noel Brown of Rio’92 re “common frames of reference” and ideas behind tHe Earth Summit.

Noel Brown 1994 requested from scientists (surveyors and remote sensing specialists in particular) to:

  • establish common frames of reference to better gauge the human prospectus,
  • develop a common understanding of the state of the environment,
  • ****

quoted from: http://www.ceptualinstitute.com/genre/benking/melbourne.htm

Unfortunately, in the early 90s technology only allowed one to develop “meta-data” systems and so the concept to maintain “information about environmental information” (meta-information) was discarded in favor of the technological “quick-fix” of handling just “hard and dead data. “ Every organization was in this way encouraged to develop and maintain their own repositories, instead of looking into bridges between sectors, times, and scales. Remember that the Internet was not yet on the horizon, and it was very typical to keep and maintain ones “own” data.   But what is needed is the in-between, the how-to of dynamic patterns, overlap and interactions. Storing only “compatible” data, not comparable information, was what was possible, but not what is needed. See Patterns and Scales in the International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics. But this has changed in the last 20 years! We have collected ways and means for an International Council of Scientific Unions, CODATA conferences: please follow the papers from 2005, but also go back to annual CODATA symposia from 1994, and 1992:  http://benking.de/systems/codata/


Revisit the Original Prospectus of the Club of Rome, and our present Dialogue and Decision Culture. Consider how we today  include minority views and come to consensus and shared actions, options and strategies.

Why?  There is more to Future Studies than looking into prospective futures (scenarios, models). There are also participative and normative dimensions to be included. Creating models is good and needed, but to be relevant, they have to “touch base” by checking the norms and values, what is said, written, and meant and how it is done by some against the odds.

Please revisit my AMR 2008 section I (“Challenges” contribution, part (A, B) as there are intersectoral strategic dilemmas and problem clusters as we know, not only from the studies for Rio 1992, but as have been revisited by Christakis as a review of the Original Problematique, or Prospectus of the Club of Rome 1969-1970 (see A).

Please compare this with research and cuuricula done in Germany in the last years is to look into syndromes, see: SYNDROME CONCEPT  http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_syndromkonzept_en.html, These syndromes give good examples but provide no context or help to see the issues in relation and perspective, and do not check vicious-problem cycles and how their feed-back. Even more recent work on a global orientation frame for education (2008), outline only for example the challenges of vertical and horizontal integration (across scales and sectors) but do not give a clue on how to tackle the issues in a coherent, concrete and repeatable way for learners and policy makers. See new German report “Orientierungsrahmen” KMK-BMZ 2008 (translation in progress).

It appears to me that the consideration of any Big Picture view is neglected and avoided by all means – but cant we create, compare, and relate various “big pictures and stories”? Isn’t man a “model-making” being?. Any approaches in this direction over the last 20 years have been ignored, but I feel should be revisited by a body in charge for a higher stand.

Above examples by institutions are symptomatic for staying on the surface – not questioning relations, depth, interactions, leverage or tipping points…

Examples on how to make a difference was presented since the late 80’s in the papers below. I feel there are many more examples when we can search for common patterns “between” the ivory towers of our artificial scientific enterprise, which cuts with artificial “boxes” and walls into living, dynamic matters. Pls. see: Geo-Eco-Dynamics: - Geo-Object-Coding: - Global Change:  - Emergence and Systems: - Spacial or Spatial: - Show or Schau: - Global Covenant: 

The dilemma why above concrete proposals, even when done for premier institutions worldwide seems to be in the avoidance of anything “beyond the box” providing overview, and the known “quick-tech-fix” solutions which are readily available and modern in their times, but focus only on what is tchnically feasible and “state of the art”, instead of  what is needed and wanted.


The above two proposals for the AMR 2008 are examples to look into deeper connections, and not get distracted by beautiful pictures or numbers. The author has worked for 20+ years on visualization and media demagogy; he feels that any argument and issues need to be “rooted” in their specific situation and context. Maybe check: Environmental Data Visualization and Visual Demagogy, Springer Scientific, 1987.

The core issues seem to be overclaims and oversimplification without overview and orientation and the accelerated use of technology as a way to ignore looking into the “Problematique”. See ROBUST PATHS TO GLOBAL STABILITY, Section I, the Global Challenge and the elements for Section I of this AMR 2008: (A, B, C).

Instead of lamenting over obsolete reality maps we should establish also “externally related workplaces of the mind  (please see this paper - [more] and see how exploring alternative dialogue and decision cultures (N) possibly can help us to go deeper.

It is a moment to question central assumptions--like how we outline and share a commons and allow us to expand our reality maps and open the door  for new approaches to the environment and our picture of our and other’s places in the greater commons. Pls. see a proposal for a conference in June 2008 Exploring & Negotiating Old & New Reality Maps/Models, New Ideas and Spaces for the Council of Europe in 1996, and the Elements outlined in the Challenges Part I of this AMR 2008.


Note: The above two Initiatives proposed are central and critical ones, because the moment you start questioning “everybody knows” standards, the door is wide open to address diversity, quality, trust and fidelity issues. It is important how we include vague data, minority views and other ways to speak, think, express, display, and share. This has to do with creativity and cognition, and bigger, shared, and negotiated commons which can be placed between categorical extremes, the dualistic approach of higher versus lower, good or bad, given or not-given, material-immaterial….


Heiner Benking

Consultant and Facilitator

Berlin, Germany

Maybe visit: www.quergeist.info, www.benking.de, www.in-betweener.org, www.open-forum.de

Voice: +49 30 793 2230  or Skype me at: heiner.benking  E-mail: heiner@benking.de




Again: here the linkd to the sources and context:

Summary of eDiscussion on Achieving Sustainable Development

see all this here:

·  Letter of invitation from Assistant Secretary-General Jomo Kwame Sundaram to participate

·  Background note

·  Pre-launch message from Mr. Sha Zhukang, Under-Secretary General, UN/DESA, and Mr. Kemal Derviş, Administrator, UNDP

·  Part I launch message from Moderators

·  Part II launch message from Moderators

·  Responses in full (part I)

·  Responses in full (part II) -

·  Summary of eDiscussion on Sustainable Development


See: Hosted on MDGNet - http://www.un.org/ecosoc/newfunct/amredis.shtml         



Contributions received with thanks from


Part One Responses: 

Ejembi John Onah, USA

Glenn Okun, USA

Nick Surr USA

Chamari Karunanayake, USA

Iyad Abumoghli, Lebanon

Eric Belvaux, Canda

Bremley W. B. Lyngdoh, UK

Bakhodir Ganiev, Tashkent

Marianne Fernagut, Norway

R.J. Onno Gaanderse, Canada

Andrew McEwan, Australia

Adewole Taiwo, Nigeria

Dr J G Ray India

Mary Ennis, Canada

Steve Bass, UK

D. B. Dalal-Clayton, UK

Gregory Borne, UK

Sheng Fulai, Geneva

Rita Cooma Rahi, 

Henry Ekwuruke, Nigeria 

Eric Lemetais, France

Dai Ming, China

Angelica Lusigi, Kenya

Raul Montenegro, Argentina

Teresa Flore, Bolivia

Nick Surr, USA

Lee Chan, Canada

Joseph A. Giacalone, USA

Dai Ming, China

Kanan Ajmera, USA

Dai Ming, China

Benedict Osakwe Odigwe, Nigeria

Alicia Villamizar, Venezuela

Samir Aziz, Morocco

J.G. Ray, India

Whitney D.W. Smith, 

Mary Ennis, Canada

Meltem Yilmaz, Turkey

Kodakkal Shivaprasad, India

R.J Onno Gaanderse, Canada

Michel Allaire, Canada

Jan Roberts, USA

Benedict Osakwe Odigwe, Nigeria 

Dze Nguesse Guy Antoine, Cameron

Bruno Mupinganayi, Republic of Congo

Bashir Jama, New York

Eric Belvaux, Canada

Amadou Makhtar Diop, USA

Adil Najam, USA

Eric Belvaux, Canada

Harvey W. Parker, 

André Francisco Pilon, Brazil

Dr J. G. Ray, India

Noura Fatchima Djibrilla, Nigeria

Kathrine Raleigh, Spain

John Musemakweri, Rwanda

Ropate Qalo, Fiji Island

Soe Thant Aung, Angola

Mary Rose Kaczorowski, USA

Ramit Basu, India

Mengue Oloumou, Cameron

Abimbola Akeem,

Joseph Ray, India

Boengiu Constantin, Romania

Victoria Hickman, UK

Dr. Jose j. Jimenez, Mexico

Ram Shankar, Maldives

Fulai Sheng, Geneva

Ross Ashcroft,  Australia

Francis Stuart, UK

Rongming Wu, China

James Greyson, USA

Jon Hobbs, UK

Edgar Göll, Egypt and Germany

Mimi Zarina Azmin, Malaysia 

Joseph Marquez Aquino, Philippines

Varsha Ajmera, Malaysia 

Bertha Garcia Cienfuegos, Peru

Nzoa Gervais,

Kodakkal Shivapraszad, India

Aminul Islam, Bangladesh 

Heiner Benking, Germany

Madame Rachel Mamba, CAR


Part Two Responses:

Teresa Flores, Bolivia

Justin D. K. Bishop, UK

Dr J G Ray, India

Eric Belvaux, Canada

Rongming Wu

Nzoa Gervais, Cameron

James Greyson, UK

Tim Garbutt, UK

Nurjemal Jalilova, Turkmenistan

Sarah Atkinson, Australia

Amitava Mukherjee, Thailand

James Greyson, UK

Iyad Abumoghli, Lebanon

Daniela Piffer, South Africa

Dr J G Ray, India

Michael Massey, London

Rongming Wu

Mary Ennis, Canada

H.M Ibrahim, Malaysia

Henry Ekwuruke, Nigeria

James Greyson, UK

Graham L. Twaddell, USA

Robson Mello, USA

Matilde Gomes Mendes, Guinea Bissau  

Tim Garbutt, UK

Yusef Alhadri, Yemen

Kathleen O'Halleran, USA

Heiner Benking, Germany

Mrs. Rachel Mamba, Central Africa

Rongming Wu, China

Ulrike Maschke, Germany



Questions of eDiscussion