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For a Sustainable Global Society:
Learning for Empowerment and Leadership (2012)

Environment Proposal 2012--Key Points

Download the full 2012 environment proposal in pdf format

In this proposal, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda offers specific suggestions for consideration at the Rio+20 Conference (June 20-22, 2012), concentrating on three broad areas:

  1. To begin establishing a set of shared objectives for a sustainable future

    A new set of sustainable development goals--as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals--should be a catalyst promoting positive change among people toward the construction of a global society.

    A visionary commitment to the welfare of all of humankind and the global community of life should be at the heart of such objectives. Core concepts could include human security, soft power and the green economy. The new goals should focus on the community as the key site for action.

    New sustainable development goals should also include targets related to cities, linked with a system enhancing cities' ability to share with one another technical knowledge and best practices. Examples of the proactive engagement of local communities might include:
    -- afforestation projects to protect the local ecology
    -- citizen-centered efforts to create more disaster-resilient communities
    -- linking up with other communities to increase the degree of local production and consumption
    -- making waste reduction and recycling an intrinsic part of people's lives
    -- encouraging the introduction of renewable energy

  2. To establish a new international organization through the merger of United Nations agencies in the fields of the environment and development

    A "global organization for sustainable development" is called for that would be the outcome of a bold, qualitative transformation of the current system along the following lines:

    • The consolidation of relevant sections and agencies, including UNDP and UNEP
      We need to develop the institutional capacity to implement comprehensive responses that prioritize the actual and expressed needs of people and build the foundation for lives of dignity.

    • The participation of all interested governments in the new organization's deliberations
      At present both UNDP and UNEP are structured so that only those states that are members of the respective governing councils can have a final say in decisions. In light of the importance of sustainable development and the wide range of issues and sectors involved, we must ensure that all states that wish to may participate in full.

    • A fully collaborative relationship with civil society
      The Rio+20 Conference should be taken as an opportunity to place collaboration between the UN and the full spectrum of civil society actors including NGOs, businesses and academic and research institutions at the heart of any institutional restructuring.

    • The active participation and involvement of youth
      A "committee of the future generations" should be set up as a forum in which representatives of the youth of the world can consider paths to a sustainable future and advise the new sustainability organization on its annual plans and policies.

  3. To recommend to the UN General Assembly the establishment of a further educational framework promoting sustainability

    An "educational program for a sustainable global society" starting in 2015 should follow the work of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–14). The successor framework to the Decade should be focused on fostering the capacities of large numbers of people who can be genuine change agents, spreading waves of transformation within our communities and societies.

    Qualities of community-based education for a successor framework include:

    • It should not stop at simply providing knowledge of the natural environment, customs and history of the local community, but should encourage the determination to treasure it.

    • It should inspire deep appreciation for the ways in which the surrounding environment, including the productive and economic activities of others living in the community, enhances our lives: it should encourage action based on that appreciation.

    • It should enable people to consider the issues of the local community in terms of what we must protect for the sake of future generations and the kind of society we wish to construct.

The overall aim is to enable people to move from empowerment to leadership within their respective communities, and to encourage individuals to act as protagonists and treasure the inalienable dignity of all people and the irreplaceable value of all that surrounds us.

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In all these proposals, the core focus is on the kind of empowerment that brings forth the truly limitless potential we all possess.

Although physical resources are finite, human potential is infinite, as is our capacity to create value. The real significance of sustainability is as a dynamic concept in which there is a striving or competition to generate positive value and share it with the world and with the future.

It is crucial to be grounded--to find a standpoint from which one can sense the impact of one's actions and feel one is making concrete progress in transforming reality. This is the role of the local community. If we cannot establish something within our immediate relationships and environment, we cannot hope to do so relative to the entire planet or the distant future.

We must not consider the pursuit of sustainability as simply a matter of adjusting policies in order to find a better balance between economic and ecological imperatives. Rather, sustainability must be understood as a challenge and undertaking requiring the commitment of all individuals. At its heart, sustainability is the work of constructing a society that accords highest priority to the dignity of life.

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