Serious flaws in the system for tracking progress on the Sustainable Development Goals have been uncovered in a newly published collection of stunning, provocative research by eminent developing policy specialists.
They are finding that the lofty visions that produced the SDGs, now in their fourth year of implementation, have from the start been undercut and tarnished by political manipulation and a simplistic reliance on metrics — numbers — based often on dubious or unrealistic data.
After years of public commitments in the United Nations to human rights and the centrality of women in development, gender-specific promises have been watered down by the SDGs. Human-rights issues are barely mentioned as well, especially those applying to women, both in the home and in the community, experts found.
The specialists, from academia as well as a few UN agencies, have raised fundamental questions about how the SDGs, also known in their entirety as the 2030 Agenda, deal with a range of contemporary issues, among them gender equality, access to justice, definitions of quality education and the growing phenomenon of extreme inequality.
The analyses were firstpublishedin late January in a special issue of the scholarly Global Policy Journal, titled “Knowledge and Politics in Setting and Measuring the SDGs.” On March 8, the research was highlighted at a panel discussion held at the UN, which brought together some contributors to the publication.
The SDGs were not a remake or a sequel to the Millennium Development Goals. They were a whole new idea, aframeworkto be created and monitored not by UN specialists but by governments around the world, with no North-South divide. The goals were designed to be much more than a plan to end poverty, as they are often wrongly described.
The ambitious 17 goals and 169 targets were adopted in 2015 by the UN’s 193 member nations after intense, sometimes stormy negotiations. But real trouble exploded when an expert group appointed by governments devised indicators to track the commitments. They adopted 230 markers.
Serge Kapto, a specialist on data for development at the UN Development Program, recalled in a commentary on the newly published findings how fireworks erupted at the first meeting of the expert group at the UN, which could have been a monumental occasion.
“But from the beginning,” he wrote, “sparks flew, and the meeting descended into a shouting match, chaotic at times, between technically minded statisticians eager to get started and political minded diplomats just emerging from a bruising though ultimately successful negotiation of the 2030 Agenda.”
It was an ominous beginning. Since then, Kapto added, the expert group “has carefully avoided meeting in New York.”
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, the director and a professor at the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs at The New School in New York, and Desmond McNeill, director of the Center for Development and the Environment at the University of Oslo, organized the special Global Policy project and the UN event on March 8 with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s New York office.
The two scholars wrote a comprehensive introduction to the findings, touching on the major issues involved in the broad research. (PassBlue is affiliated with The New School.)
Fukuda-Parr, the primary author of the UNDP Human Development Reports from 1995 to 2004, is a leading researcher and author on human rights and development, global health and global goal setting.
“Until the SDGs, development agendas were qualitative statements of important social and political priorities,” she and McNeill wrote. “Quantitative targets were often included in these agendas, but only selectively on a few actionable priorities.
“The SDGs were the first to use goal setting as a process for elaborating and negotiating a UN development agenda, and deliberately adopting the language of numbers to articulate global norms. . . . But the reliance on targets and indicators can distort the meaning of social norms, create perverse incentives, frame hegemonic discourses and disrupt power structures,” the authors said, adding that indicators, “unwittingly or not,” can lead to misinterpretation and modification of a goal’s intent.
Other examples of flaws cited in Global Policy include:
• Margaret Satterthwaite, a professor of clinical law and director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, and Sukti Dhital, deputy director of the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights at the law school,wrote:
“The choice of SDG indicators has important signaling, knowledge and governance effects. These effects may be especially pronounced for issues that are newly on the global monitoring agenda. This is especially true for the core human rights issue of access to justice set out in SDG 16.3. While the official indicators for this target capture essential criminal justice phenomena, the exclusion of access to civil justice is so severe that it must be corrected.
“What’s needed is the adoption of an indicator for which data can be gathered through a well designed, inclusive survey module that assesses the ability of ordinary citizens to obtain resolutions to their everyday justice problems. . . . Only once those challenges are targeted and measured will we be able to build equitable and dignified justice systems for all.”
• Shahra Razavi, the chief of research and data at UN Women, commenting on the Global Policy papers from her perspective,wrotethat the “slippage in ambition” in the SDGs “certainly applies to in the case of women’s rights, with the ambition to have gender equality as a cross-cutting issue sometimes evaporating as the targets were set and the indicators selected.”
The goals most relevant to women, Razavi added, were often “gender sparse” or “gender blind.” She cited Goal 6 as an example. It covers ensuring water and sanitation for all.
“Not only are safe drinking water and sanitation essential for the full enjoyment of life and human rights, they are particularly important for women and girls who most often are the primary users, providers and managers of water in their households,” she wrote. “When safe drinking water is not available at home, women and girls are the ones who are forced to travel long distances to fetch the water.”
• Sara Burke, the senior expert on global economic policies at the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in New York, and Bettina Luise Rürup, executive director of the FES office at the UN, provided an overview of the Global Policy Journal. Theywrotethat the publication of the collected research papers shows how the SDGs have been “consistently watered down and even distorted in the power struggle over who defines development.
“The roots of the power struggle over global goals lie in conflicting theories of economic and social change embraced by different development actors: national governments, civil society groups, multilateral agencies and the private sector. . . . Like a Trojan horse, each indicator conceals the theories of change and development that lie within, exerting their interpretive influence,” the authors wrote.
“While we all enjoy a good mystery, we are not detectives and cannot yet know the overall impact this power struggle over indicators is having now on the SDGs. However, this special ‘political thriller’ issue of Global Policy Journal reveals the dark underbelly of competing interests in the 2030 Agenda and their sometimes mysterious unintended consequences.”
Climate change talks this year aimed at keeping global warming in check need to consign coal power to history, the British president of the upcoming United Nations’ conference said on Wednesday.
By Nina Chestney
Tagline: This story originally appeared in Reuters and is published here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
Britain will host the next U.N. climate conference, called COP26, in November in Glasgow, Scotland.
The meeting aims to spur more ambitious commitments by countries following their pledge under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to keep the global average temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius this century. The measures are aimed at preventing devastating and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, colder winters, floods and droughts.
“I’ve been very clear that I want COP26 to be the COP where we consign coal power to history,” Alok Sharma, UK president for COP26, told journalists in an interview with Reuters and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now.
Coal is the most polluting energy source if emissions are not captured and stored underground. While that technology lags, most coal units around the world produce not only carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming, but other pollutants harmful to human health.
The Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged to scale up technologies and policies that accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, including ending new government support for coal power by the end of this year, but many countries still finance and plan to build new coal plants.
After catastrophic floods swept across northwest Europe last week and as wildfires continue to rage across southern Oregon in the United States, energy and climate ministers of the Group of 20 rich and emerging nations (G20) will meet this week in Italy to try to increase emissions cuts and climate finance pledges.
“I think the G7 has shown the way forward,” Sharma said, adding that island nations he has visited this year such as in the Caribbean, want the biggest emitters of the G20 to follow suit.
A tracker run by groups including the Overseas Development Institute shows the G20 has committed at least $296 billion for fossil fuel energy support since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and $227 billion for clean energy.
“Many of these countries are already very ambitious in terms of abating climate change. But for it to make a difference in terms of the weather patterns that are hitting (countries), they need the biggest emitters to step forward and that’s the message that I’m going to be delivering at the G20,” he added.
One of the biggest challenges facing the UK COP26 Presidency will be to persuade countries to commit to more ambitious emissions-cut targets and to increase financing for countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Long-held disagreements over the rules which will govern how carbon markets should operate will also need to be overcome. The rules, under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, are regarded by many countries as a way of delivering climate finance.
“I’ve said to ministers that we need to move beyond people restating their long-held positions. I think we have to find a landing zone,” Sharma said.
The panel has published an analysis that highlighted five ocean-based options able to meaningfully decrease global carbon emissions:
ocean-based renewable energy (wind and wave)
decarbonization of ocean-based transport
conservation of existing blue carbon in coastal and marine ecosystems
shifting of diets to sea-based protein
carbon storage in the seabed (the only option that requires further study)
Implementing all five actions could deliver roughly 20% of the greenhouse gas emission cuts needed by 2050 to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the panel’s analysis.
“Most of the international climate policy world focuses on land-based mitigation — transportation, buildings, energy generation,” Lubchenco told the virtual workshop participants. “The ocean has been out of sight, out of mind; based on this analysis, it needs to be squarely at the table.”
Future of food from the sea
Lubchenco further highlighted how ocean-based food security is on the rise. The 2006 overhaul of fisheries reform, she noted, is one of the least appreciated environmental success stories of the last few decades. In 2000, there were 92 overfished stocks; by 2019, that number had been slashed to 46.
“It is possible to end overfishing,” Lubchenco said. In addition, as of 2019, 47 stocks had been rebuilt amid a 21% increase in catch.
The ocean panel also looked at the future of food from the sea to publish a white paper (and subsequent peer-reviewed Nature study) that calculated the ocean could supply over six times more food than it does today — as a result of fisheries reforms as well as aquaculture, namely for bivalves such as mussels, oysters and clams.
To that end, Lubchenco mentioned an innovative new partnership among 10 top global companies called SeaBOS, or Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship, which is working to realize sustainable seafood production.
Report suggests big payoffs to ocean investments
Pivoting to how the ocean offers opportunities for an equitable, sustainable blue recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic, she noted that the ocean panel released a report in September detailing how investments in coastal restoration, seaweed or bivalve aquaculture, sewerage for coastal communities, renewable energy and zero-emission marine transport could pay off five-fold.
‘The ocean is so central to our health, prosperity and well-being, it’s too big to ignore.’
— Jane Lubchenco, former NOAA administrator
“The ocean is so central to our health, prosperity and well-being, it’s too big to ignore,” said Lubchenco.
She added a teaser for the Dec. 3 release of the ocean panel’s final report and a major policy announcement. Interested journalists can register for a Dec. 1 embargoed press conference by contacting Lauren Zelin of the World Resources Institute.
Later in the SEJ workshop, Lubchenco fielded questions on a range of topics including the scientific integrity of NOAA, the future of aquaculture, greater protections for marine reserves and U.S. readiness for sea level rise.
Ocean-related actions to mitigate climate change. Image: High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Click to enlarge.
Asked to comment on the appointment and nomination of climate change deniers to key posts at NOAA, she expressed grave concern.
“When there are people in high-level positions that have the power to suppress, cherry-pick or distort information, it undermines the confidence Americans can have in NOAA,” Lubchenco said. Scientific progress, she noted, requires dissent or thinking out of left field, but it must be credible.
“The people nominated and appointed recently are not even in left field, they are miles from the ballpark,” Lubchenco said, adding they posed a real threat to the nation.
She encouraged journalists to stay alert and file FOIAs to unearth any shenanigans that might be playing out.
Aquaculture needs clearer governance
Lubchenco also highlighted the status of aquaculture. Fish farming — specifically aquaculture that must be fed, such as salmon — continues to face significant environmental challenges.
In recent years there has been progress to reduce the amount of wild-capture fish needed to feed carnivorous farmed fish, she noted, but it is not yet considered sustainable.
Fish farms have also made modest improvements in dealing with diseases and waste. Lubchenco argued there’s so much more potential and so many fewer problems with bivalve aquaculture — for example, mussels, oysters, clams — because they feed on plankton in the water.
“The future, especially with climate change, will be on non-fed species,” added Lubchenco.
That said, she highlighted how it’s become clear that there is ambiguity over which federal agencies have the authority to manage aquaculture in federal waters — specifically to what extent the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law that governs fisheries, also applies to aquaculture.
‘We are not well prepared at all for
sea level rise, as a nation or as a world.’
— Jane Lubchenco, former NOAA administrator
In the end, Lubchenco predicts Congress will have to weigh in and create a law to govern aquaculture.
Lastly, Lubchenco responded bluntly to a question from Portland-based journalist Lee van der Voo, about U.S. preparedness for sea level rise.
“We are not well prepared at all for sea level rise, as a nation or as a world,” she warned. While some states — notably California and New York — are addressing the issue, Lubchenco said the country needs to take parallel actions to mitigate the consequences of sea level rise in parallel with rapid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And to that end, she added, “we need federal government that is enabling that to happen, not preventing it from happening and not making it worse.”
The workshop was moderated by Robert McClure, co-founder and executive director of InvestigateWest, and an on-demand video is available to registered conference goers on the #SEJ2020 Whova app. Plus, check out this page of additional links and resources.
Virginia Gewin is a freelance science journalist based in the Pacific Northwest who covers climate change, agriculture, conservation and diversity in STEM. Her work has appeared in Nature, Science, Discover, Popular Science, Washington Post, Modern Farmer, Portland Monthly and many others. Follow her on Twitter at @VirginiaGewin.
"We need to findmore effective ways to amplify the stories of solutions"
Mr. Savory we know historically that the deterioration of food production systems in past civilizations and their inability to cognize encroaching complexity of population growth and governance in a holistic context leads to unbroken chain of civilizations’ collapsing. Do you think we still have time to avoid this on a global level now? Is there a way to create a new hope and new vision?
We we do not know, but Britain did not know if they could survive after the fall of France and most of Europe – but with good leadership, pushing aside egos and personal gain and acting on a war-footing they more than survived. Never has human civilization faced a graver danger than now with global finance and ecological illiteracy of our institutions driving the massive environmental degradation destroying our only habitat. Ordinary people know that all species, including humans cannot survive without suitable habitat. If world leaders (heads of governments and UN) put the massive environmental degradation that culminates in global desertification and the climate emergency on a war-footing and lead we have great hope for future generations.
Can you elaborate on the different impacts that ‘policy’ vs. ‘practice’ has on this impending problem of reforming agricultural systems worldwide?
Yes. Without agriculture there is no city, church, university, army, business or government – no civilization. Without a new regenerative form of agriculture (not crop production, but the production of food and fibre from the world’s land and waters) global civilization will fail. This is because all forms of agriculture historically have led to the failure of civilizations in all regions of the world and now the same threat is global. Few things in my life have taught society more clearly how interlinked our survival is than the present pandemic. Armies change civilizations. Farmers, foresters, fishermen, pastoralists destroy civilizations. So, we face the situation in which mainstream institutional, industrial agriculture led by our universities, governments and corporations supported by global finance, is the most destructive and extractive industry ever in history. And all forms of organic, sustainable, permaculture, grass production of livestock ever known led to failure of many civilizations in all regions long before chemicals and machinery.
So, if we keep discussing different practices and people keep vying for validity and funding for their favoured practice we know we will fail. What world leaders on a global war-footing need to do is to address agriculture at the policy level by focusing on the cause of agriculture, throughout history, being so environmentally, socially and economically destructive (while feeding ever growing numbers of people).
By governments and all large institutions addressing at policy level the cause of the ever-growing environmental destruction reflected in global desertification and climate change all nations will rapidly develop the required new regenerative agriculture. Very little new knowledge, not already available amongst the world’s farmers, fishermen, foresters, wildlife and livestock managers, universities and environmental organizations, is required. We do not lack detailed knowledge, we lack the ability to manage the social, cultural, environmental and economic complexity. That ability we only gained in 1984.
“If the Greta Thunberg generation are to have any hope I am again going to use my statement “We have no option but the unthinkable. By every means possible we have get enough public demand to force quicker change by insisting institutions develop policies to address problems in a holistic context.”
We know most of the organized structures of our modern world can be represented as silo’s, inhabited by true believers(Eric Hoffer author), and authoritarian demagogues. Do you believe that Holistic Management training will become widely acceptable at upper levels of organizations or will occur because of collapsing regional agricultural ecosystems at the level of farming being our next crises?
I don’t know. All we do know, from good research and history, is that when counter-intuitive or paradigm-shifting change is involved, it is impossible for democratic leaders or any organization (institution) to lead. No change is possible until public opinion shifts and demands that change. And this holds no matter how serious, no matter how many million lives are lost or what the economic cost. Institutions, including elected leaders of such, take on a life of their own as complex systems. Institutions reflect the prevailing beliefs of society and lead the way with such thinking. However, when truly new knowledge emerges (which has happened very few times in history – Coppernicus, Galilleo, Semmelwiess are examples) institutions lead the ridicule and rejection until public opinion shifts. I cannot find any case in history of any institution accepting paradigm-shifting change ahead of its public.
Addressing the cause of all that ails us involves two paradigm-shifting concepts – known and developed by thousands of people over sixty years, including thousands employed in institutions but acting independently of their institutions – the Holistic Management framework has been blocked from rapidly gaining public awareness by the world’s institutions that became aware of it – environmental and agricultural organizations, universities, governments and international agencies. Only time will tell if programs such as this interview, social networking and the efforts of many people mainly engaged in developing regenerative agriculture will prevail over institutional aggression and inertia.
How isthe lack of validation affecting positive change in local communities to holistic principles?
Firstly, there is really only one holistic principle. Intuitively known by all earlier people who in most cultures recognized humanity’s inseparable tie to our habitat. And the principle was brought into Western thought in 1926 by Jan Smuts who wrote Holism and Evolution. That principle is that nature works in wholes and patterns – not as mechanistic world-view and science believed. Knowing all they did, including Native Americans thinking seven generations ahead before taking any action, did not help them. Wherever humans were we still damaged our environment and least so in regions of perennial humidity. This was brought about by two things. First human decision making has always been to meet our needs, desires or to address problems basically. Reducing the unavoidable web of social, cultural, environmental and economic complexity to such things as the reason or context for management and policy is “reductionist” in a holistic world. What we finally discovered in 1984 after decades of work, was how to address the cause of past and present failures – by going to where the rubber hits the road.
That point is where actual decisions are made in any policy or management practice. Here, two points become important for the survival of civilization. One- all management and policy needs to be in a holistic context. Second -it is simply not possible, as tool-using animals, for humans to prevent or address global desertification and thus climate change using the only tools institutional scientists who advise world leaders accept or recognize. Those tools available to institutional scientists (and world leaders can only act through institutions) are technology in its many forms, fire, or conservation (resting our environment to recover). Three tools. That is why in a 2013 TED Talk I said “we have no option, but the unthinkable, and that is to use livestock as a tool to address global desertification.”
So, yes, none of this can come about until we have a better-informed public insisting that our governments and large environmental organizations in particular develop policies in a holistic context. It cannot be done until there is public insistence is what we learn from both research and history. So this we need to focus on.
After so many years of educating farmers has a training model emerged that can be web based and integrated into real time data collection to establish the validity of rethinking management in agriculture?
We do have a great deal of training material from simple self-help to more sophisticated coaching and mentoring in collaborating groups of people and organizations that are beginning to change. That can and will keep growing. However, that is the normal process of incremental change against institutional blocking and according to research we can expect to take about 200 years. Just to get the Royal Navy to accept lime juice would end scurvy cost over a million sailors lives and took 200 years – and nothing has changed in institutions since.
If the Greta Thunberg generation are to have any hope I am again going to use my statement “We have no option but the unthinkable. By every means possible we have get enough public demand to force quicker change by insisting institutions develop policies to address problems in a holistic context.”
The downside of public demand for this is Zero – there is absolutely no risk whatsoever and the only blockage is professional and institutional egos. Over now sixty years of development there has never yet been any financial vested interest oppose or ridicule the idea of managing or developing policy holistically. The upside is that we might just address global human habitat destruction in time to save civilization as we know it.
One of your key observations that attracted me years ago to your work was the “herd effect” and grasslands regeneration. Has that observation become an empirically established fact at this time?
When I consider this question, I ponder whether it is an empirically established fact that water flows downhill? Science is fundamentally a process of observation, interpretation, deduction and experimentation to gain knowledge of nature. That enabled us thousands of years ago to accept water flows downhill and later the theory of gravity, and experimentation there gave explanation as to why water flows downhill.
By this “scientific” process over thousands of years before academic scientists people developed all the domestic varieties of plants and animals making civilization possible. Since the recent dominance in management by academic scientists we are losing species, losing languages, losing cultures and accelerating human habitat destruction.
It was a simple observation by me over twenty years of tracking people and animals that where people, or animals, crowded in one another’s body space or were hungry, lost or wounded the effect on the soil and vegetation was different – more soil surface disruption, more course plants trampled more dead plant material laid horizontally on the soil ( slowing water flow, slowing rate of application of water from rainfall to the soil surface, increasing water penetration,..) more seedlings, closer plant spacing holding litter – all of this dramatically affecting the ease or otherwise of tracking. How much easier tracking was where fewer herds, more fire, more bare soil, more erosion and so on. And it was simply observation that any large herbivores (buffalo, bison, elk or whatever) when not apprehensive and defensive against pack-hunting predators spread, walked gently, did not tramp on course plants, did not lay much litter, etc. etc. And from there we simply recognized if we are to use animals as tools we have to do so largely through behaviour and their feet not mouths, and not mere presence. I have frankly not wasted my time worrying about empirically proving any of this that can be observed at any time – just like water flowing downhill. That academics sitting in offices relying entirely on peer-reviewed publications have a problem with this I have no doubt. Thank goodness the pioneers like Leopold, Smuts, Bennet, Howard and others engaged in science mostly in the field as did my own mentors.
Where you aware of the fact that research based on NASA satellite sequential space photos of the Great Plains area in the United State, a major bread basket of the world, is showing a significant destabilization of grass cover? Desertification is a major issue isn’t it.
I was not aware, but am not surprised. The desertification of the United States is terrible and is a major contributor to climate change as well as the increasing droughts, floods, poverty, collapse of the Western Culture (which will eventually be kept alive only by rodeo athletes and cowboy poets). I have always been saddened by the extreme opposition to my work from cattlemen’s organizations and environmental organizations in the US. But again, people are not being bad and are not to be blamed – that is what institutions do -ridicule and oppose any truly new insights.
Could you explain what sustainability means in a holistically managed paradigm, and what that would look like in greening the planet?
Let me try. First I must say it will not be Holistic Management because that is not agriculture but is purely a way to manage complexity in anyone’s life or business. It will be a new agriculture (crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and wildlife management) that regenerates the world’s living soils and biodiversity on the land and in our waters including oceans. Regenerating societies, cultures, towns and economies based, as they need to be, on the photosynthetic process – not paper wealth or wealth based on extractive industry. This new agriculture will be made up largely of many of the practices we see today in organic, sustainable, permaculture, pastoralism, wildlife, fisheries and forestry management. It will include some new practices (like the Holistic Planned Grazing process or holistic policy development) to reverse desertification that only became known and possible with the development of the Holistic Management framework. The practices that will “float to the top” as it were will be those that are socially, environmentally and economically sound both short and long-term all determined by policy developed in a holistic context reflecting what all humans want. Regenerative agriculture is what it will be. Management and policy developed in a global holistic context is how it will come about.
How can farmers best usher in a post industrial ecologically balanced food system?
They can do their best to learn how to manage holistically ensuring those practices that improve their own immediate environment, society and economy as many are doing today. However, this will not succeed because, as the corona pandemic has highlighted, we are a global community. Most of our population lives in cities and the economic and political power has shifted to cities totally disengaged from ecological literacy and ability to connect the dots. Corporate, shareholder, political game playing, celebrity desire for popular appeal, institutional and professional egos will persist in supporting veganism, vilifying meat, investing in manufactured meat, factory production of animals, university/corporate led crop production based on chemistry and marketing of technology (not on biological science) and of course planting billions of trees. All of which is leading to climate change and none of which addresses the cause. And the UN will continue to promote its 17 Sustainable Development Goals that almost all address the symptoms of desertification and not the cause and so are doomed once more to failure.
With such facts the best we can strive for is to use social media to educate the public in cities as well as rural environments to the fact that agriculture has to be regenerative and can really only be brought about in time by demanding policies be developed in a global holistic context – soaring above politics, stock markets, national power aspirations – to what all humans want and need for civilization to survive.
In addressing a world audience what would you say is the most important take away from your many years of astute observations of regeneration of natural systems?
My view is coloured by my years of struggle to first understand, and then find solutions to why humans so consistently destroyed their own environment or habitat. A struggle that led to me from being a government research officer to being an independent scientist, a farmer, rancher, game rancher, international consultant, soldier, member of parliament, president of a political party, exile while throughout collaborating with thousands of concerned individuals in all walks of life. From that broad perspective enjoyed by few if any scientists the two most important thoughts I would love to convey would be:
That we have to work at scale through governments and that all forms of governance -communism, socialism, capitalism, dictatorships, populism – have failed us. Our best hope lies in democracies but only when democracies ban all political parties that make it impossible for democracy to function. In this view I was preceded by George Washington (with some parallels in our lives) some 200 years ago.
Secondly governments need to form all policies in a national holistic context to ensure that all people feel well governed and secure, without which no one is.
If these come about I can see the human spirit fly as never before. If we continue supporting political parties and reductionist management and policy the future will be grim beyond imagination and the greatest suffering will be in cities.