e – DISCUSSION ON ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
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:
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
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
last summer we created an ad-hoc side-event to revisit international
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
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:
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]
F) EXPO 2000, concepts behind the Visitors Information
System for world exhibitions and the Global Dialogues, Hannover,
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
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 LITERACY – FLAT 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
Roundtable learning from experience during the last 40 years and new ideas
Stumbling blocks preventing true dialog, peace-making, and reconciliation:
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
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.
Board Member and European Representative of IHTEC.org (ECOSOC and DESD)
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.
AMR Part II (25 February - 14 March)
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?
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:
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/
the Original Prospectus of the Club of
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
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….
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Voice: +49 30 793 2230 or Skype me at: heiner.benking E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Again: here the linkd to the sources and context:
Summary of eDiscussion on Achieving Sustainable Development
see all this here:
Part One Responses:
Glenn Okun, USA
Nick Surr USA
Chamari Karunanayake, USA
Iyad Abumoghli, Lebanon
Eric Belvaux, Canda
Bremley W. B.
Dr J G Ray India
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
Whitney D.W. Smith,
Dze Nguesse Guy Antoine, Cameron
Eric Belvaux, Canada
Amadou Makhtar Diop, USA
Adil Najam, USA
Eric Belvaux, Canada
Harvey W. Parker,
Dr J. G. Ray, India
Noura Fatchima Djibrilla, Nigeria
Soe Thant Aung,
Ramit Basu, India
Mengue Oloumou, Cameron
Joseph Ray, India
Boengiu Constantin, Romania
Victoria Hickman, UK
Dr. Jose j. Jimenez, Mexico
Varsha Ajmera, Malaysia
Bertha Garcia Cienfuegos, Peru
Kodakkal Shivapraszad, India
Aminul Islam, Bangladesh
Madame Rachel Mamba, CAR
Part Two Responses:
Justin D. K.
Dr J G Ray,
Nzoa Gervais, Cameron
Sarah Atkinson, Australia
Amitava Mukherjee, Thailand
Dr J G Ray,
Yusef Alhadri, Yemen
Kathleen O'Halleran, USA