Our true nationality is mankind.
H. G. Wells
Last month I had the pleasure of participating in the development of the Salzburg Statement on New Governance for Sustainability, among a unique gathering of people from across the world at a fabulous lakeside palace in Salzburg, Austria. The venue, and the event, is part of the Salzburg Global Seminar, an organisation that has been hosting world changing discussions since 1948 in a palace formerly belonging to the actor-director Max Reinhardt.
The Seminar’s mission is to “…challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern.”
The topic of discussion was Global Governance for Sustainability. Given the nature and scale of the current and likely environmental and social challenges we face, the seminar explored whether existing global approaches to tackling problems such as inequity, climate change, democratic representation and biodiversity loss are fit for purpose.
The event, chaired by James Bacchus – who also chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council – had input from such luminaries as Elizabeth Thompson, Martin Lees, David Runnalls, Kate Raworth, Bernard Lietaer, Nikhil Seth, Richard Gardner and many, many more too numerous to mention here.
I was privileged to be asked to present our modest proposal for an IPO for the Earth – a creative thought experiment designed to drive innovation in investment and finance so that we might value and invest in the future of the planet and its inhabitants. Here are my slides and audio.
“Finite Planet, Infinite Potential” — The Salzburg Statement on New Governance for Sustainability
Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.
The seminar explored a myriad of topics under the umbrella of sustainability governance, from new models for: valuing environmental integrity, protecting the rights of future generations, ensuring the representation of all parties within decision making and driving meaningful responses to the existential challenge of climate change. Ultimately, of course, our species share a single, finite planet, solutions for the planet require us to recognise that humanity is a common endeavour.
Of course these issues were unlikely to be solved at stroke by a group of people gathered in rainy Austria. However, the goal of the session was the development of a collaborative Finite Planet, Infinite Potential – Salzburg Statement on New Governance for Sustainability.
Produced last week, just days after the seminar itself ended, the statement – “Finite Planet, Infinite Potential” – was the genuinely collaborative product of all 50 of the seminar’s participants.
Covering both the need for radical change, and also the areas of action required for meaningful, planetary action on planetary problems, the statement is intended to support and inspire action for new approaches to the global problems we all face.
Humanity is a common endeavour – new models of economic and social governance
We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
With the global scale and cross border implications of almost all sustainability issues, our current approaches to international negotiations and agreements often seem to be designed to deal with the problems of the past rather than those of the future.
A sense of belonging is a fundamental element of our sense of well-being as a species, whether it be to our beliefs, our families, our communities, our countries and ultimately our humanity.
However, in order to survive and thrive in the coming decades we need to be able to balance our identities and sense of belonging as national citizens with the identity we all share as members of one species.
Surviving together as a species and as individuals, balancing and reinforcing both common and private good requires an evolution of the way we think and organise ourselves.
The Salzburg Statement represents a small yet powerful contribution to this challenge.