Discuss different economic approaches to further a more ethical basis for the relationship between humanity and Earth
UN HQ, New York, 22 April 2013
Written Statement by Member Organizations of the Working Group on Sustainable Development and the Integrity of Earth
Thank you Mr. Secretary General and Mr. President for the opportunity to make a brief written statement on the occasion of the Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day.
We write to you on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Sustainable Development and the Integrity of Earth. Our constituencies are found in all continents, and many are experiencing first-hand the devastating impact of human interference in the natural rhythms and cycles of Nature. The conclusions from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, RIO + 20, reiterated that global sustainability is now critical for human development in our world. The urgency of recognizing global sustainability as an integral part of individual, societal and world development rests on scientific evidence that humanity has indeed exceeded a number of planetary boundaries – namely, climate change, biodiversity loss and nitrogen emissions. It is abundantly clear that we need to recognize that human and natural systems are interdependent and intimately linked with social, ecological and economic systems. In this regard, the Secretary General’s 2012 Report, “Harmony With Nature,” (A/67/317), reminds us that “…humanity needs to recognize that it is time to serve the Planet, rather than using the Planet to serve our economic goals. Humankind and its economic goals must be seen as part of the earth system, as part of an integrated whole, rather than as a separate entity, divided from the Planet and its changing environment. When science is taken into account, it is clear that damaging the environment to serve the needs of the human economy only serves to damage ourselves…Properly grounded, a more ecologically informed economic system would provide clear rules for sustainability.”
In “Realizing the Future We Want For All,” the report t5o the Secretary General from the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, it is noted that the “continuous striving for improvements in material welfare is threatening to surpass the limits of the natural resource base unless there is a radical shift towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production and resource use…Business as usual thus cannot be an option and transformative change is needed.”
In this spirit, then, we strongly urge Member States to :
v Responsibly and urgently realize the ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns to ensure global sustainability and to enable just, fair, and equitable sustainable development within planetary boundaries.
v Shift from an ethic of exploitation to an ethic of right relationship; an ethic based on the rights of the human and of Earth, as essential for individuals, society and the Planet to flourish.
v Acknowledge that the GDP cannot be the strategic marker of development to the exclusion of all other indicators. We recommend the use of alternative indicators that not only measure economic growth, but also measure social development and environmental sustainability.
In conclusion, we turn once again to the Secretary General’s Report, and his reference to the late author Thomas Berry : “In the twentieth century, the glory of the human has become the desolation of the Earth. And now, the desolation of the Earth is becoming the destiny of the human. Henceforth, the measure of all human institutions, professions, programmes and activities will be the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.”