During an interview and discussion with the audience at the annual World Goodwill seminar in London, STWR highlighted the increasingly urgent need for concerned citizens to demand that governments enact the pressing structural reforms needed to address interconnected social, political and environmental crises.
On 14th November 2015, World Goodwill – a global network of citizens that seeks to stimulate awareness of major world problems and foster a universal spiritual perspective about humanity’s future – convened their annual seminar, which took place simultaneously in London, Geneva and New York. Separately at each venue, contributions were provided by a range of speakers from spiritual and business backgrounds as well as representatives from civil society organisations, including Share The World’s Resources (STWR) who participated at the London event.
A recurring point of discussion at all three venues was the ethic and practice of sharing, which was referred to by a number of speakers in relation to pressing social and economic concerns (such as sustainable development and the climate crisis), and also in terms of how embracing the principle of sharing is pivotal to our continued evolution and progress on Planet Earth.
Speaking in French during the Geneva seminar, Daniel Hersann argued that diametrically opposing world views are confronting each other at this critical moment in history: an emerging understanding based on group collaboration and sharing is challenging the predominant view that human beings are naturally exploitative, competitive and individualistic. He went on to suggest that the inequitable distribution of planetary resources cannot be resolved unless our willingness to share overpowers the pervasive desire for material accumulation that characterises the modern world.
Also speaking in Geneva, Thomas Bohrn noted that sharing is fundamental to physiological processes, particularly in relation to the distribution of oxygen and other nutrients that takes place at a cellular and atomic level. Bohrn questioned whether such elemental systems of sharing have been sufficiently recreated in the world around us, and concluded that economic systems are largely incompatible with the principle of sharing at present as they fail to freely distribute resources in the same way that nature always has.
At the seminar in London, STWR’s Rajesh Makwana (who’s contribution was in the form of an interview and discussion with the audience) responded to questions about the commons movement, the sharing economy and the role that not-for-profit enterprises can play in the ‘great transition’ that lies ahead. He also explained that systemic forms of sharing must be implemented on an international basis if governments are to finally end extreme poverty, noting that around 46,000 preventable deaths occur each day mainly because millions of people still cannot access to the essentials of life: nutritious food, clean water and basic healthcare.
Makwana also asserted that we are in the midst of what can only be described as a global emergency, adding that many millions more concerned citizens must therefore demand that governments enact the pressing structural reforms needed to address interconnected social, political and environmental crises. He also stressed the vital importance of heralding Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, which is a proposition that is explored in detail in a study by STWR’s founder Mohammed Mesbahi.
The theme of sharing was further examined in a presentation by representatives of WYSE International, a voluntary organisation providing training opportunities for young people seeking to make a positive impact on world problems. Highlighting the urgent need to address pressing global crises such as the overconsumption of natural resources, WYSE’s Hilary Harvey emphasised the crucial role that education can play in this regard, especially at a time when half the world’s population is under the age of 35. Clarence Harvey drew attention to how people of goodwill are increasingly embracing core human values such as sharing and nobility, which he suggested are embodied in the idea of the Bodhisattva – the one whose heart is opened and whose mind is illumined.
Alluding to the confluence of global crises during the seminar in New York, Jimena Leiva Roesch of the International Peace Institute explained that the Sustainable Development Goals hold the potential to establish a new paradigm in international relations by integrating the social, economic and environmental aspects of development. According to Roesch, 2016 will be a pivotal year when the United Nations will have a historic opportunity to combine the sustainability and climate agendas and create a unified vision of human progress and environmental regeneration.
The seminars, which also included a number of meditations and presentations from other insightful speakers, provided an important contribution to the emerging discourse on the need for wealth, power and resources to be shared more equitably at across all levels of society – locally, nationally and globally. In particular, the combination of spiritual and civil society perspectives on this central issue was notable at a time when people everywhere are recognising the need to move beyond intellectual silos and unite on common platforms for transformative change.
STWR would like to thank World Goodwill for their kind invitation to participate in the London seminar.
Photo credit: Esparta, flickr creative commons