A world that will work for everyone

Ross Jackson offers a plan for radical economic and political reform that would replace current global institutions with ones that support sustainable economies, uphold human rights and respect environmental standards

Our global civilisation is on a highly destructive track, with multiple threats hanging over our heads; not only runaway global warming but also resource depletion, toxic pollution, social unrest due to growing inequalities, widespread starvation, uncontrolled genetic manipulation and a rate of species extinction not seen in 65 million years.

And yet, political leaders in the US and EU, who we might reasonably expect to show global leadership on these issues, consistently ignore the warnings of our best scientists. They continue to promote more economic growth when, according to WWF, we are already consuming 40% more each year than nature can replenish. That is to say, we are consuming not only the yield of our natural capital, but also the capital itself, the basis of all life, and we call this growth.

The breakaway strategy

In my new book, Occupy World Street, I put forward the outline of a new, sustainable and just global system of governance and propose a strategy to get it underway.

The design phase, including a new economic system and new international institutions to replace the WTO, IMF and World Bank, is the easiest part. The most difficult part is to plant the seed for this new framework without the support of, and possibly with opposition from, the strongest industrial states.

I call this new framework the Gaian world order; the name echoing Gaia theory, which proposes that all organisms on Earth are part of a single and self-regulating complex system that maintains the conditions for life.

With the objective of ensuring the survival of the human species, this new framework would allow solutions to gradually unfold in a co-operative effort by governments, the business community and civil society.

To make this happen we need a breakaway strategy, where a few independent, smaller states break away from the oppressive system that is holding them in bondage and move towards a sustainable future with real development and self-determination.

It would be the beginning of a multipolar world of many self-determining, co-operating small sovereign states under a common umbrella of protection of the environment. This scalable prototype would consist of a new set of international institutions, under the umbrella of what I call the Gaian League, a democratic organisation specifically designed to satisfy the needs of all 7 billion world citizens.

Such a design must allow each member state to be master of its own fate, having full control over its own economy and cultural priorities, with only two exceptions. A degree of sovereignty must be delegated to the Gaian League in the areas of sustainability and human rights.

In this way, a flowering of diverse cultures respecting local preferences and priorities will be allowed to evolve within a structure that guarantees long-term survival and basic human rights.

Such an overall structure would be independent of ideology and states would determine their own preferences for rule, whether it be capitalist, socialist, religious or something else, as long as they respect the rights of others to do the same.

Once formally established, other states will be invited to join the Gaian League as equal partners. But at this stage, the breakaway states will need allies. These allies are ready and willing to be called upon, namely those that the Occupy movement calls ‘the 99%’ across the world. The role of protesters would be critical in their home countries in order to pressure their political leaders to hold a national referendum on joining the Gaian League.

In this way, collaboration between a few small states and reform-willing citizens across the world can hopefully accomplish what neither could do alone: create the framework for a world that will work for everyone.

Ross Jackson PhD is founder-chairman of Gaia Trust and director of Urtekram, Scandinavia’s largest wholesale organic-food company.

Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform will be published by Green Books on 22 March, 2012.