The Forum: May 30-31

Adopted by Preparatory Committee on Feb 12, 2018 | By Metta Spencer

Forum: 9:00am, May 30 – 5:00pm, May 31, 2018
Room 140, University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7

Purpose:

The project’s aims are:

to facilitate discussions among experts, NGOs, and concerned citizens about ways of reducing the risks of (a) war and weapons – especially nuclear; (b) global warming; (c) famine; (d) pandemics; (e) massive radiation exposure; and (f) cyber attacks, whether for military, criminal, or disinformation purposes; and

to produce a “Platform for Survival” with 25 public policy proposals on one sheet of paper where each proposal occupies no more than one line of 12 point Garamond print.

This list shall be developed in consultation with experts and activists, and adopted at a forum to be held in Toronto on May 30 and 31, 2018. Organizations and individuals will have an opportunity to sign and ratify it, thereby becoming signatories to the document, which they may then promote as their jointly shared agenda for action. The Platform will propose measures aiming to reduce the risk of all six threats, as well as certain additional policy proposals aiming to enable and facilitate support for those threat-reducing measures. These “enabling measures” may promote political, economic, and organizational changes such as democratization and international taxation schemes.

The final version of the Platform for Survival will be available to all signatories to use as they see fit, so long as it is not altered or abbreviated. The entire collection of submissions will remain available on the website, along with all footnotes elaborating grounds for approving of particular submitted items.

After an interval to be determined at the forum, the signatories may convene again with a view to updating the Platform and/or developing additional forms of cooperation.

Organizational Structure:

The project is sponsored by Science for Peace, initially in cooperation with Physicians for Global Survival; the Group of 78; the Canadian Pugwash Group; the World Federalist Movement of Canada; the Ontario Chapter of the Sierra Club; the Hunger Project; NorthWatch; 350.org; PACS-Can; and the Canadian Chapter of the Internet Society. Except for Science for Peace, these groups are not yet officially co-sponsors. Each group that chooses to become a co-sponsor will incur some responsibility for producing the forum and will be expected to contribute at least $100 toward its costs. Other organizations may also become co-sponsors with the consent of the organizing committee.

The Organizing Committee initially consists of

  • Metta Spencer (chair)
  • Rob Acheson
  • John Bacher (global warming)
  • Barbara Birkett; (war and weapons)
  • Robin Collins (war and weapons, esp. nuclear)
  • Dale Dewar (radiation exposure)
  • David Harries (Cyber attacks)
  • Vinay Jindal (pandemics)
  • Melanie Klein (famine)
  • Katie Krelove (global warming)
  • Evan Leibovitch (Cyber attacks)
  • Gordon McBean. (Outreach to organizations)
  • Phillip M. Rawkins (Enabling Measures)

The committee meets approximately every two weeks by Zoom video and phone conferencing. They agree to check their email every day, since some decisions may have to be made that way.

Production Teams: The PrepCom decided to create the following committees and identify potential members to recruit to staff these groups.

At the Forum: May 30 and 31

Registration

Tickets will be sold only for the entire two-day program. Everyone serving on a team or as speaker or resource person will be admitted without charge and issued a badge with a distinctive color. (There should be no more than about 30 such persons with free admission.) Everyone is expected to wear a badge and to have paid the following fees through Eventbrite in advance: $120 for regular admission; $50 for students and unwaged [follow this link]. An early bird rate is in effect up to the end of April.

Box lunches (if desired) and the price of dinner at the banquet can also be purchased through Eventbrite when registering. We cannot be responsible for trading or refunding those supplementary tickets and cannot refund registration money unless notified of cancellations by May 25. We will provide coffee and cookies at breaks during the program but otherwise will provide no meals or beverages. We cannot promise to sell any admission tickets on the days of the forum unless we have vacant seats that Eventbrite has not sold. We won’t over-book.

Formulating and Adopting the Platform for Survival:

Over a six-month period, thoughtful people will have suggested a list of public policy changes as short sentences that fit on one line of Garamond 12-point type (i.e. no more than 15 words). Each sentence should identify the organization to be responsible for effecting the proposed change, such as the UN General Assembly, the World Health Organization, or all national governments. As we receive the submitted proposals, we add them to the list shown on our website: http://tosavetheworld.ca .There may be more than 100 such proposals on the list when the forum begins, many of them redundant. We hope that everyone attending the forum on May 30 and 31 will have studied several of the proposals and any criticisms against them, plus some of the articles and video recordings on our website. The credibility of the Platform for Survival will depend on the wisdom of its contents. The process must be democratic, but the ideas should not be adopted on the basis of mere popular appeal. If we are to save the world, we must think seriously first!

Accordingly, those submitting proposals for the Platform are welcome to attach commentaries which will be shown as footnotes on the website, though not on the final one-page Platform for Survival. We also offer a bibliography of relevant papers and links to videos on the website. Moreover, we shall be presenting a series of weekly one-hour-long interviews on Science for Peace’s Facebook page; these will be livestreamed at a regular time (see our website for details: tosavetheworld.ca ). Metta Spencer will conduct the interviews with persons who are familiar with various proposals for the Platform. Viewers are invited to join in the last half hour of the conversation, either by participating by Zoom (our videoconferencing platform) or by typing comments on the Facebook video site. The speaker will reply to as many of these questions as possible, during the one-hour program. Afterward, the video will be kept on Facebook and on the website tosavetheworld.ca along with numerous other relevant videos.

On the first day of the forum, May 30, there will be speeches from experts about some of the key proposals and a plenary session for choosing the Enabling Measures Platform items. On the second day we, May 31, we will hold two successive breakout groups to discuss each category of threat and the proposals that have been submitted to solve it. All the lists recommended by the second breakout groups will be compiled. Then in a plenary, the coherence of the entire set of proposals chosen will be reviewed: Does it make sense as a single package? This is a challenging phase in the process, for it may involve negotiation and compromise. Certain items may have to be dropped so as to gain wider support. For example, some delegates may be unable to support the whole document if it includes a proposal that their organization officially opposes. On the other hand, the plenary may decide to keep a controversial item even if it reduces the number of signatory groups. The enabling measures will be discussed and chosen entirely in the plenary.

After the final version of the Platform for Survival has been formulated, there will be no voting for or against it. However, two lists will be compiled — one for organizations and one for individuals—and every registered participant in the forum will have the opportunity to sign one or both of these lists. An organization will be listed temporarily if its delegates sign for it but, if so, it must subsequently ratify its membership by sending a letter from their president to Science for Peace within three months. Thereafter, it will be listed as a signatory organization unless it subsequently sends a letter of withdrawal to Science for Peace. Other organizations are also invited to become signatories by sending a letter of ratification to Science for Peace. No signatory may, however, alter or delete any portion of the Platform for Survival, which is to be commonly shared by all members.

We intend to livestream the forum, including some of its breakout groups, and we hope that people around the world watch our event. Distant viewers may submit questions during the discussions that we will attempt to answer, either online or to the whole audience. Remote viewers may become signatories at the end of the events, when other participants are signing the Platform for Survival, and other individuals, as well as other organizations, may also join later as well.

The whole list of submissions for the Platform for Survival will remain available on our website for anyone to inspect. Most of the one-line sentences will have a footnote from its author or someone else elaborating the rationale for adopting it. Those footnotes may be only a paragraph long or may extend for many pages. Someone may, in fact, write a whole book about the project and the grounds for considering particular proposals important.

The Forum Program:

Except for the Enabling Measures Platform items, which will be chosen in a single plenary:

  1. There will be two breakout sessions for each of the six threats.
  2. Any registered participant may attend any of those breakout sessions or may stay in the same one for both sessions;
  3. The two breakout sessions on the same topic may be chaired by different persons;
  4. However, we hope there will be at least one expert on the topic acting as a “resource person” in each breakout session. That may be the same person in both sessions or there may be changes and additions of experts who can answer questions.
  5. During each breakout session, the group will decide which items to put on the final version of the Platform for Survival. Votes may be taken or the consensus may be so obvious that no voting is required. However, these opinions should accumulate over the two sessions. Though the final recommendation will be that of the second breakout group, it will reflect views of the first breakout group as well. If there is no consensus, the plenary will make the final choice of items for that stream’s Platform proposals.

Tentative Program:

Wednesday

(All speakers have yet to be confirmed.)

9:10 – 9:30am
Welcoming, orientation
9:30 – 10:00
Keynote: on war and weapons
10:00- 10:20
coffee break
10:20- 11:00
Keynote Pandemic
11:00 – 11:30
Keynote on Cyber
11:30- 12:00
Keynote on Global Warming
12:00 – 1:30
Lunch (go out or order box lunch)
1:30 – 1:45pm
short talk on famine
1:50 – 2:10
short talk on radiation exposure
2:10-2:30
short talk on UN reform
2:30: 2:45
short talk on UN peace service?
2:50-3:10
short talk on international finance
3:10 – 3:30
Coffee
3:30 – 4:45
Plenary: Choose enabling measures items
4:45- 5:00
plenary (feedback, planning ahead)
6:30 – 9:30
Banquet with speaker: (Confirmed): Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail. (Extra charge for this dinner.)

Thursday

9:00 – 12:00
First breakout group session
12:00 – 1:30pm
lunch
1:30 – 2:45
Second breakout group
2:45- 3:00
coffee
3:00- 4:30
Review entire Platform, sign it
4:30 – 5:00
David Harries: Strategic foresight; Where do we go from here?

Future Cooperation?

While NGOs and professionals can unite on a common platform of public policies, it is questionable how much their organizations benefit by joint actions. The forum will ask: How much—and how — do we want to work together in the future? We may decide to hold “review conferences” in the future. Do we want to develop step-by-step plans for achieving the ambitious (arguably even Utopian) elements of our Platform for Survival? Whether or not we plan future joint activities, we will have become aware of our partnership in a common project—to save the world in a hurry—and of our unified support of public policies for doing so.

2 comments

  1. Hello. I would like to attend as Media. I serve as the Editor-in-Chief of Waterfront Magazine. Although my publication is essentially a lifestyle magazine, my own agenda is to address issues of an environmental nature. In fast, for both the spring and summer issues, I have created a new section titled “A Practical Guide to Saving the Planet.”

  2. It’s great that you’re doing the new Practical Guide. I am not sure about the media passes. I think we set the registration price so low that we may wind up in the hole — even if we sell every seat. Hence I am cautious about offering free tickets, even though I would like to.

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