United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
Proactive Actions of Responsible World Citizens
for Global Sustainability
-- The wisdom of the middle path and real-life practices --
Chairman and Executive Director of 2012 World Summit of Love and Peace
Zhang-men-ren of Tai Ji Men
President of Federation of World Peace and Love
Honorary Vice-President and member of Advisory Board of
Association of World Citizens UN/NGO/DPI/ECOSOC
June 20, 2012
All too often, mankind only confronts his problems in the wake of tragedy. Only armed with strong physical body and mind, unwavering faith, and a clear understanding of the meaning of life can we survive in the difficult living environment.
In 2002 when the World Summit was held at Johannesburg, I proposed three actions for the sustainable development. Ten years have gone by and regrettably the issue of sustainable development has only gotten more attention instead of more action. Our living environment is deteriorating at an alarming speed. This year, the Rio+20 conference will surely encounter more difficulties in integrating different opinions and ideas. Life will find its way out. Any actions in violation of the law of nature will be subject to the rebalancing forces of nature.
Human beings have crossed the critical tipping point of global environmental balance, endangering world security. What are the capacity constraints of the Earth? Imagine how mankind will treat the Earth if we know her capacity constraints? Would we use precision calculations to extract maximum value without breaching the capacity constraints so we can all live and prosper? The Earth is not in immediate danger of collapse. But we should try to change the way we treat it. Human beings are very good at scientific calculations and precision measuring to determine casualty risk. That needs to be changed. We need a fundamental restructuring of the way we see the world. We have made impressive progress in scientific research and scholars have provided us with a glimpse of the future world.
Water is an especially precious resource in the world, and it is becoming scarcer through various chain reactions. Some have argued that the 21st century will witness fights for water resources. Local communities need to develop strategies when national coordination is lacking. Social tensions will be stirred up over the control of water. The fact that agriculture is subject to severe climate patterns conceals the immediate dangers and we still have business people who try to profit by manipulating food prices. Research has found that people are not aware of the direct impacts of climate change on local communities.
This Rio+20 is convened to integrate global opinions and consensuses on these important issues. In nations below sea level, people are living in anxiety over the potential risks of tsunami and earthquake. While we are drinking bottled water, some African residents have to sip muddy water through the roots of reeds and live with many serious diseases such as cholera, dysentery and AIDS. We have to think of the misery of the children, seniors, discriminated women and handicapped when we enjoy a good meal. Global resilience to man-made calamities and natural disasters needs to be beefed up. The world is one big family and there is no reason why anyone should be excluded and left behind.
I would like to suggest three approaches
Approach 1: United and hands-on. We have to make sure the resolutions made by the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be carried out both within the UN and outside the UN. United and hands-on involvement by responsible people is necessary to ensure complete implementation of programs from policy formulation to executions in the field. This will create global exposures and further cement partnerships. The approach is equally applicable to other global issues.
Approach 2: Action and involvement of the young, the youth and the middle-aged generations. The future belongs to these generations and this is a critical time for the young, the youth and the middle-aged generations to stand up and act. Creating a future for the children is too distant of a project. If no constructive actions taken within the next 20 years to ensure sustainable development, the next generation will be ill-equipped to cope with the perils of living in the ever-challenging environment. Everyone fighting for environmental justice and sustainable development should have a right to share. This is how we collect information and listen to voices on the progress of energy use and efficiency, and sustainability in order to form the consensus. We have to avoid the situation where one generation dominates the decision making process. The youth are capable of providing opinions and comments. Effective communication is also required so as to facilitate inter-generational discussions. It is indeed important for humanity to make the right decision in 2012 to pave the way of long-term sustainability.
Approach 3: Sharing and spreading. The consultant firm, Arthur Anderson, presented a matrix K=(P+I)S to measure the success of a knowledge management system, where K denotes knowledge management, P is people, I is the combination of information and technology, and S measures the times of sharing. The key here is S, the number of times the knowledge is shared and spread. The more the knowledge is shared and spread, the greater influence it will achieve and the more successful the knowledge management system. The concept is similar for sustainability, we can have sustainable development=( resolutions + information technology)^(number of times resolutions being spread). We all hope to achieve a synergy where the results of our efforts become exponential in influence rather than linear, that is where by working together, our efforts are amplified. It is this multiplier effect that transforms everyone’s small efforts into big impacts on the Earth. The current tendency is for many world leaders to prioritize economic development when making decision. This strategy may appear beneficial for developing a country; nevertheless, it also puts the whole of human survival at stake, and this is the challenge the world faces now.
According to Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of Rio+20, “The involvement of civil society is critical for the success of Rio+20. Through social media, we hope to reach an ever growing number of people regarding the importance of the Conference and the need to take immediate action to advance sustainable development.” As such, the sharing and spreading of the important message to a wider number of people is critical to ensure the success of sustainable development.
The American movie, “12 Monkeys” depicts the world of 2035 when human beings are forced to live underground because the earth’s surface was contaminated by a deadly virus that had killed 5 billion people. Despite of the endeavors of time travel, the devastation in the future cannot be undone. However, we are still deeply moved and inspired by the great efforts to save humanity. The lesson we learn from the movie is that we have to do what we can now, that is: stopping further exploitation of the Earth, to avoid regret in the future.
What would you do now to stop the world from collapsing in the future if you know what the future held? An important message delivered in the movie is to not to be a man with regret. The exhibition of famous French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a United Nations Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador, opens the “Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development". For over two decades, he as been photographing the Earth and many of his works over the past 20 years are displayed in Rio+20 to raise public awareness of sustainable development. In 20 years, the warning signals have multiplied, even if the picture is not entirely negative. Every one of us must act now. This Rio Summit, will host more than 80,000 people from 195 nations. The pictures of Yann Arthus-Bertrand are warnings to the world, beautiful but sad. They are the real depictions of the state of the Earth and uncomfortable truth we have to deal with.
Environmental protection is more important than economic development and people need to change ways of consumption for putting sustainability into practice. The People’s Summit will take place in the Flamengo area of Rio de Janeiro in parallel to the official Rio+20 Conference. It aims to articulate alternative visions and strategies to address the multiple crises facing the international community and to transform Rio+20 into a moment of opportunity to address the serious problems.
We respect the rights of every individual and organization to voice their opinions. Culture is the foundation of a nation and a people. The world would not be what it is today without cultures. Preservation of culture is important and should be carried out around the world. At this stage, the young, the youth and the middle-aged should be given the opportunity to exercise their strengths. The leaders, at the same time, should attend to global affairs, guide these generations and employ tools for sustainable development with the concept of “oneness”. It is believed the Rio+20 and People’s Summit will be equally successful.
Paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another, which can better help us to see the changing world and to seize more opportunities. In environmental protection science, a great example of paradigm shift is the change from the popular thinking of “Man’s determination will conquer nature.” to the new paradigm of “All creatures follow the rule of nature and the origins of the universe and mankind are one.” Achieving the state of “perfect harmony between human and Heaven” requires collective efforts to make the paradigm shift seamless. I would like to give you a good example of the paradigm shift in recent years.
The three organizations I lead -- UN NGO Association of World Citizens, Federation of World Peace and Love, and Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy—are undertaking the project of paradigm shift. It’s called “mindscape.” This paradigm shift is gathering influence and momentum among NGOs and around the world. No weapons or armed forces can achieve the power of love and peace.
UN NGO Association of World Citizens, Federation of World Peace and Love, and Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy have actively participated in UN agendas, international conferences and cultural exchanges and held many summits of love and peace and ceremonies of ringing the Bell of Peace around the world. The cultural goodwill group of love and peace has visited more than 40 nations on 5 continents, sharing the message of love and peace with heads of state and government and elite leaders and promoting education of peace, human rights and world citizenships. The goal is to consolidate the forward-moving momentum through the wisdom of tai ji yin-yang philosophy, inspiration of cross-cultural exchanges and collaboration of peace-loving world citizens.
In the many rounds of dialogues of wisdom with global leaders, I have shared how to exercise the balanced wisdom of tai ji yin-yang philosophy to improve physical and mental health and to solve problems in family, society, politics, ethnics, and economic and cultural development. In addition I share “Wisdom is the best conflict-resolution tool” and its applications in governing a nation and living. In the course of dialogues, we have accumulated many macro perspectives and real-life experiences of caring for life and attending to people’s needs.
The Association of World Citizens, Federation of World Peace and Love, and Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy have visited many people from different corners of the world. We have seen their needs and aspirations and the efforts of people trying to achieve sustainable living. The world needs us to play well different roles and fulfill our respective responsibilities. With a deep understanding of the balanced harmony between human beings and earth, we have suggested the paradigm shift of love and peace, and it has been proven right. We have witnessed the miracles from dialogues with heads of state and government, NGO leaders and the grass roots around the world.
In this chaotic world, people need positive energy to lift them up and to move towards goodness. We are making friends with the world and a world of brotherhood is attained. A responsible world citizen’s actions have to glean wisdom from the balanced middle path and real-life practices. Let this be the motto of sustainable development for all.