Five Enabling Measures: Outline of Contributions
Enabling Measures (EM) are broad indirect measures that are required to activate the proposed twenty Platform for Survival policies. In this sense they are unlike the twenty planks that are designed to directly address five existential threats. The EM are, therefore, more complex and less precise in their formulation. They may describe clear policy change, but they are also inevitably about large-scale framework adjustments and structural shifts.
For example, whereas plank #9 calls on all states to “adopt norms and procedures for the production, recovery, and recycling of materials”, the related enabling measures could include #21, financial institutional support for a recycling transition, #22, civil society involvement in stimulating and monitoring governments, #23, cities and provincial/state level articulation and implementation of policy, and #24, activist shareholders pressing for changes to corporate standards. There are even broader security implications that relate through EM#25, including a durable global survival ethic.
Not every policy proposal among the core twenty (#1-#20) contemplates collective transformation at the “enabling” level (#21-#25), but the latter are integrally linked with each other and all the existential threats. Global change will require both a practical and philosophical shift in governance and public attitudes. Similarly, publics will affect and be impacted by governments.
The five enabling measures cover wide swaths of categories and were developed to collect and integrate dozens of individual proposed “measures” into coherent groups. This effort was not without some controversy, but the logic of the resulting “five” is worth thinking deeply about. They are, paraphrased, covering these constituencies: Sustainable finance; civil society influence; sub-national governance; investment decision-making; and security. All have bottom up and top down relevance and implications, but citizens must encourage (by voting, through activism and advocacy) and governments must act (on their own, by leading, and in cooperation with others at the local, regional and global levels.)
We have solicited a series of essays by experts and activists that are stand alone or collected into longer essays that cover our five enabling categories. They develop arguments that may continue further (which is an intention of the Platform for Survival), and they may open up fresh, future debates. There may or may not be full consensus on specifics of any of the 25 planks that are proposed; the five EM may also be too brief or covering only a representative sample of ideas, and not full comprehensive arguments. These are intentional compromises. However, we believe the options on offer here will be useful. Indeed, if the beginning of a shift in the direction of our enabling measures would be enacted, this would substantially signal changes that will reduce the risks our globe currently faces. Similarly, a refocusing of global priorities towards sustainable common security would also alleviate the danger of nuclear war. A refocusing of global priorities towards sustainable development goals would alleviate global poverty, the spread of pandemic diseases, conflict, and the many threats of climate change.
Here, then, in this umbrella outline, is a brief snapshot and introduction to the several Platform for Survival essays produced to illustrate the EM categories:
Shane Roberts outlines the UN Sustainable Development Goals and offers examples of how they pertain directly to the Platform for Survival’s existential threats, and why they need to be addressed at the global level.
The SDGs are a constellation of entwined objectives for making a better world for all – a multi-pronged approach to interlocking problems confronting societies in greater and lesser degrees around the globe. While achieving any Goal will have monetary costs, they are non-monetary ‘instruments’ for transferring to have-nots various non-capital equivalents of “wealth” tied to quality of life. At the same time, the aim of many Goals is to empower individuals and communities to be able in the future to earn/acquire wealth (or what it can buy) on their own and maintain an ongoing capability to do so in an eco-sustainable way.
SDG#13, action against climatic change, may be one of the globally most strategic priorities for peace as well as prosperity. And without transferring ‘wealth’, in the form of techno-scientific expertise, technology for clean energy, and ‘defenses’ against the impacts of global warming in the interim, the developing world is going to be a ‘breeding ground’ for risks to us all.
In his essay “The Tobin Tax is One Painless Way to Redistribute Global Wealth”, Robin Collins outlines the original proposal to tax global currency transaction, and how it evolved and developed into a wider array of “sin taxes” that might be used to fund globally useful projects. Discussed is the feasibility of enforcing Tobin-like revenue generators given expected resistance from the investment and speculation community. It is pointed out that national variants of the tax have been implemented is several centres, such as Hong Kong, Seoul, Mumbai and Johannesburg. There is also support for plans within the EU, and there has been broad support for the idea within several European countries. The essay concludes, optimistically: “Few objections on moral grounds deserve the undue attention of critics of international taxation schemes if the cause is human survival. Such a tax is cost effective and saves money in a relatively short period of time; it can be virtually imperceptible, and its “burden” is shared by the international community. What’s not to like?”
Myron Frankman in his defence of a Universal Basic Income, argues that breakdowns of many sorts will become generalized before long, and a planet-wide basic income, to be topped up locally as appropriate, will become essential. We must recognize that humans are a single species and we can only survive by cooperating as fully as possible. “A planet-wide unconditional citizen’s income and open borders are critical conditions for human survival in a world where we are connected electronically but physically separated by border walls and increasingly subjected to unpredictably destructive natural forces which humanity has unleashed.”.
A fundamental premise of UBI is that a better way to distribute wealth is needed to ease conflict, save the planet, and deliver income and jobs more fairly to reduce poverty. Basic Income is a “regular income paid in cash to every individual member of a society, irrespective of income from other sources and with no strings attached.” Globalization is accentuating the polarization of these processes. There is an earnings divide, producing extreme wealth for a relative few, and huge resentments for those who are impoverished and losing ground on the job front. It is expected that the new wave of automation will worsen disparities within countries and between countries. Five fundamentals of Basic Income are: Periodic: it is paid at regular intervals; Cash payment: It is not, therefore, paid either in kind (such as food or services) or in vouchers dedicated to a specific use; Individual: it is paid on an individual adult basis—and not to households; Universal: it is paid to all, without means test; Unconditional: it is paid without a requirement to work or to demonstrate willingness-to-work. Key challenges to UBI and responses to them are also very briefly discussed.
Beginning with a description of the breadth of multilateral institutions and the nature of international civil society, the essay How Do International Civil Society Alliances Influence
Multilateral Institutions in the Pursuit of Justice? (with contributions from Robin Collins, Karen Hamilton and Fergus Watt) offers a number of “takeaways” identifying how civil society can usefully contribute to policy adoption by global institutions. (These institutions include those linked through the UN, international financial institutions, legal, climate, disarmament treaty and regional groupings, etc.)
Among the core proposals for enabling civil society to have influence on multilateral institutions are:
- Civil Society should concentrate on informing the public, to pressure governments;
- Civil society alliances must understand how multilateral institutions make and alter policy;
- International civil society, working with small and medium governments, can drive change;
- Civil society organization is much more effective when there is broad, prior agreement on objectives.
There is both a tension and collaborative aspect to governments considering and accepting civil society priorities and influence. Sometimes initiative towards change originates in government policy discussions and is then expanded and publicized by civil society. Other times CSOs have the expertise, and propose goals, and then try to bring governments onboard.
The essay explores in some detail the experience of disarmament groups pressing for weapon bans (antipersonnel mines, cluster munitions, nuclear weapons, lethal autonomous weapons). A significant role is said to be played by middle powers (intermediate-sized states in bilateral relationships with larger states), often championing new international norms, particularly since the end of the Cold War, and willing to work alongside NGOs committed to disarmament or climate, development and redistributive goals.
The Paris Agreement is a key example of civil society groups (through the Climate Action Network – International) combining with the expertise of climate scientists (IPCC) to influence governments at the international decision-making table (2016 goal); with actual outcomes likely critical for our globe, but yet to be seen.
An outline of civil society influence on the creation and development of the International Criminal Court follows. The Court is mandated to try individuals, including military and political leaders, for the worst criminal offenses under international law – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. Important to success was the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), which kept the idea alive and promoted commencement of treaty negotiations, resulting in the successful Rome treaty conference in 1998. With a few minor exceptions, all the main CICC requirements for a good treaty outcome were achieved. After the adoption of the Rome Statute, civil society was again instrumental in the campaign to bring the treaty into force. As noted, the ICC treaty was a remarkable achievement; it also served as an example of successful civil society mobilization.
Ecumenical and Interfaith Coalitions have also influenced global institutions. Some have been in existence for decades, such as the World Council of Churches and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Their messages are distributed through public statements, the mobilizing of their constituent base and direct contact with global organizations including the UN. They focus on a variety of issues, including ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and relationships, and the ameliorating of conflict amongst faith traditions, but they all have a very strong focus on justice. Concrete work is done on the crucial issues of war/nuclear war and climate change. Interfaith summits, paralleling G8 and G20 meeting, have been active on three issues in particular — all relevant to the Platform for Survival’s existential threats – the Millennium Development Goals/SDGs, justice and peace with a concrete focus on small arms, and climate change.
Nation states may have much of the political clout, argues Metta Spencer in her essay on subnational governments and non-state actors, but provincial and state legislatures build express-ways, control electrical grids and enact laws that lower emissions standards for cars. City councils run the bus and subways systems, collect and dispose of trash and enforce building codes that affect the global carbon footprint. Subnational governments, overall, may have as much control over outcomes delimiting global warming than national governments.
Individual states or cities sometimes join forces when pressing for better environmental policy; they share information and resources. They set standards that influence multilateral institutions. For example, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a network of 94 megacities, and one in twelve citizens is represented by a mayor in that organization. The ICLEI (also known as Local Governments for Sustainability) is a global group of sub-national governments founded in 1990 and working for a sustainable future.
The United Nations Compact comprises cities but also corporations, formed at the initiative of (then) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1999, to promote corporate social responsibility. The Compact’s 13,000 corporate participants and stakeholders in over 170 countries support the Principles for Responsible Investment and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Because it is not legally binding, the Compact is sometimes the recipient of criticism implying that businesses are involved mostly to “greenwash” their practices.
Mayors for Peace originated in 1982 at the UN 2nd Special Session on Disarmament. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki invited every mayor to join M4P, which sponsors workshops on peace, disarmament and security issues, but also broader issues such as famine, refugees, human rights and the environment. They also promote the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was adopted in 2017.
Provinces and states often implement change more easily than at the national level. In the United States this is evident where many mitigation innovations towards addressing climate issues are being introduced by states, such as California. At the local city and state level, improving the efficiency of electricity generation, such as a shift to 100% carbon-free power, and through expansion of public transportation, would create millions of jobs.
The Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA), a UN service, has noted that 2,500 cities, 209 regions, 2,100 firms and almost 500 investors have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint. The concern remains that many pledges are not specific or quantifiable, and without measures for progress. Nonetheless, subnational actors such as these may be the main forces that drive national governments to move faster.
There are many debates around the kind of economy the globe needs to best service a growing population of seven billion people, in over 190 countries, with a wide range of talents, cultures, laws and levels of democracy. This plank is not intended to solve the problem of economic systems.
Instead, this plank begins with a very brief outline of the UN Global Compact and its ten principles, from human rights to labour to environment. It is noted that none of these deals directly with nuclear weapons non-proliferation and disarmament. But they do focus on taking strategic actions to advance broader societal change, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation. The philosophy of the UNGC is that public-private collaboration will resolve “pressing global problems”.
While the International Labour Organization (ILO) develops and promotes international labour standards, and most countries align by membership to the ILO and its principles, implementation of codes and standards are fundamentally dependent on the willingness of nation states to comply. The modern ILO, like all United Nations affiliated organizations, sees its mission interwoven with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It has projected the future of work to be therefore integrated through this framework, and has established the DW4SD Platform, a guiding context for the provision of “decent work” (DW) standards. The UN Charter has a number of Articles related to human rights and freedoms that broadly speaking reference labour standards, quality and safety of working life, and equal rights at, and to, work. While ILO standards are “adopted” when 2/3 of the ILO constituents agree (2/3 of 187 states) they are also written in such a way to be flexible for differing country cultural, legal, and development contexts. The essay looks at two elements of the ten DW4SD standards in more detail: Ratification and application of international labour standards; and Strong and representative employers’ and workers’ organizations. Climate change and the future of labour is discussed briefly as well.
Fair Trade is a shift in focus towards justice, changing conventional trade systems by putting people (not profits) first, and is believed to be a significant potential “contribution to the fight against poverty, climate change and economic crisis.” Buying fairly traded products is largely a consumer decision and it is mostly based on the optional buying choices and power of countries in the global North buying from countries in the global South. While the World Bank counts 31 countries as being “low income”, more than half of them (18) had 135 fair trade certified producers. The Fair-Trade movement is closely linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). About a quarter of Fair-Trade farmers and workers are in low-income countries, whereas 80% are in low or lower-middle income countries. By region, the countries with the bulk of producers are in Latin America and the Caribbean (just over half), while Africa and the Middle East had 29 countries involved, and the Asia and Pacific with 20 countries. The Doha Development Agenda goals (i.e. the WTO negotiations) include “increased duty-free access for developing countries; lower tariffs on agricultural products, textiles and clothing; and the reduction of trade-distorting subsidies from developed countries.”
Alyn Ware offers a strong argument for Moving the Money spent on nuclear weapons to sectors that address real global human needs. Ware begins: “Over the next 10 years, governments plan to spend a staggering $1 trillion on nuclear weapons globally. That’s $100 billion annually. Meanwhile the core budget of the UN is just $5 billion. Peace, health, education, climate protection and sustainable development are all underfunded while nuclear weapons budgets continue to rise.” The Move the Money campaign focuses on:
- Promotion of cuts in nuclear weapons budgets
- Divestment from nuclear weapons
- Reinvestment in socially responsible and ethical investment
An essay by Peter Meincke shows how investors can encourage businesses to comply with the UN Global Compact. Examples of shareholder proposals on climate change, for instance, are given along with the responses of businesses. Suggestions are made about ways to improve and increase the effectiveness of such shareholder activism.
Sustainable Common Security (SCS) is a progressive security synthesis drawn from common security and its focus on preventive measures, interdependence and mutual vulnerability, as well as the deeper-cause sustainable security perspective. It is an organizing principle, an umbrella approach to gathering movements together for common cause. SCS is an all-encompassing wholistic platform plank of key global systems: ecological, war and peace, economic, human rights, and legal. These shared global systems cannot effectively be addressed in isolation or by any one state alone, nor with coercion and traditional military approaches.
SCS is a fresh “security” paradigm because it challenges the war framework (including related industrial conversion and economic transformation) but also because it contemplates a “one-world” cosmopolitan perspective, builds solidarity, and clarifies links between broad global risks, including planet-wide climate crisis, insecurity and inequality. Our survival may depend on acceptance of a deeper cooperation and multilateral commitment to a rules-based global system that embraces the United Nations as central to the peace process, and to shared priorities. A more effective, full-funded UN is critical. Peter Langille’s essay “It’s Time to Pull Together for Sustainable Common Security” surveys a range of progressive security options and perspectives. The essay outlines the origins and development of the comprehensive SCS model. It is a work in progress, but SCS has received support within civil society networks and organizations in Canada, while elements of it (such as the related UNEPS proposal) have generated debate more broadly.
SCS is intended to build solidarity in a wider movement of movements, (movements such as the Green New Deal, the New Peace Deal, the Progressive Alliance). It foresees a need to seize electoral moments such as are in play in the next few years in many countries, in order to stave off disaster (political, military, ecological, and even existential.) Sectors that must step up include youth and students, unions, nonviolent mass movements, independent research centres and academic programs. Among its many elements, SCS proposes immediate attention be given to key steps, such as these:
- Encourage Leaps and related systemic shifts
- Ensure human rights are defended, particularly for the most vulnerable
- Encourage society-wide empowerment of women and sustainable living wages for all
- Revitalize work on military transformation and economic conversion
- Promote disarmament and demilitarization
- Renew efforts toward a global culture of peace and non-violence
- Develop and finance a stronger United Nations
- Embrace a One-World perspective
- Initiate a global peace system
SCS is, at its foundation, a new, broad-concept security program, and it illustrates many of the necessary transitions required to address global existential threats. Any new world order that displaces the current, flawed, war system will inevitably redirect our global community to a “destination yet unknown.” But it will certainly require progressive leadership, committed and sustained political will, and a unifying framework that wins broad public and government support for urgently-needed shifts. Sustainable Common Security may be the critical perspective and central enabling measure we need.