United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Commons Cluster

Statement to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on November 27, 2013.
by Dr. Lisinka Ulatowska,
Coordinator of the Commons Cluster.
Thanks you, Mr. Co-Chair.
This statement builds on that made by Dr. Bradley. Also on those by Switzerland, Turkey, Spain and Italy on joint action by all stakeholders. It also is rooted in the sense of urgency expressed by the Children and Youth Major Group.
Mineral, hydro, air and bio-masse energy are parts of one single Earth Energy System. Human beings and their energy are an integral part of this. The sustainability of this system is being determined by all people together unconsciously. Energy is therefore, whether we know it or not, already a global commons.
It is essential that we build any future plans for the generation of sustainable energy on the management by all people of their individual impacts on the integrally interrelated parts of the Earth’s Energy System.
In this context we can consciously take a number of steps. At the UN Intersessional Meeting (22 Nov. 2013) participants in the Commons Cluster suggested the following.
1. The Earth’s System is proclaimed a global commons to be managed by and for the benefit of all people and nature.
2. Ecocide would be considered a Crime Against Peace.
3. The use of depletable resources are strictly capped.
4. Each person (country or both) could be apportioned a non-transferable share of the global footprint that would guarantee that human’s impact would stay within pre-1950 limits (that of the Holocene Era.)
5. Instead of being taxed on our work, we would pay a fee for the use of any part of the global commons.
6. The monies collected would go to a Fund to restore any local damage, any damage to the global commons and a possible basic income for all people.
7. The Fund could be administered by the UN’s Trusteeship Council.
Here are two steps to consider in the context of the management by all of their impact on the Earth’s Energy System (of which humankind is an integral part.)
1. Apportion each person a fair share of the available sustainable energy and
2. Provide them with the education necessary to keep their impact within that allowed them within Holocene Era Planetary Boundaries. That would include education in sensing and intuition, traditionally the domain of women, people in non-industrialized communities (including Indigenous Peoples) and artists. For intuition is our umbilical chord to the promptings of nature.
There are towns, cooperatives of all types and even states and nations, that are putting aspects of the above steps into practice. Scientists, lawyers, educators and other members of civil society from around the world are looking at how this form of management of energy from local to global levels could be implemented. Some steps can be taken piecemeal while suggestions made by Governments and civil society at today’s UN meeting can help to smoothe the way to the full transition.
Yet the time for incremental change has passed. Human survival is at stake. By 2050 the Earth’s temperatures may no longer support human life. And that affects almost each one of us here personally. There will then be no future generations!
Governments, corporations and other groups consist of individuals. Many of us in this room joined Governments or Civil Society Organizations because we wanted to make the world a better place only to become intimidated by the myth that Governments, Corporations, or other groups are overwhelmingly powerful monolithic entities. This myth only serves to disempower us. In the 43 years I have been associated with the UN, I know that individual delegates and CSO representatives have much lea-way to bring about internal change.
Each one of us individually as delegates of Governments, CSOs and members of the UN Secretariat are constantly choosing either for life-supporting energy or the narrower, short-term interests that are destroying the Earth’s Energy System. As alternatives become available the choice to support life becomes easier. It is useful to bear in mind that no entity however powerful they may seem to be can survive without support of people worldwide and above all of Nature herself. It is therefore in the interest of all of humankind as a whole that all people be enabled to manage their impact knowledgably for the benefit of us all. If enough of us act in our various contests to protect the Earth’s Energy System, we shall find that Nature of her own accord will quite naturally support our actions.
We should be glad to put anyone interested in this approach in touch with others who are working on aspects of above plan.
Both the Earth’s System and Education are cross cutting issues. Nevertheless Commons Cluster participants have draft SDGs on these subjects.
Thank you, Mr Co-Chair. ClickHere for SDG Educating for the Commons Click Here for Creating an SDG that Recognizes the Common Heritage of the Earth
For more information or to contact people working on above steps, please call: Myra Jackson commonsactionun@gmail.com