| Developing ideas: Issue 5 |
A bi-monthly Digest by IISD
International Institute for Sustainable Development
D.I. September/October 1996 Issue 5
Developing Ideas is a bi-monthly publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Our aim is to provide a snapshot of the most influential ideas shaping the international sustainable development dialogue every couple of months. The information contained in Developing Ideas is gathered from formal and informal surveys of opinion-leaders and literature in the field. IlSD's Information Centre serves as a clearinghouse for major sources materials. This information is supplemented by contributions and insights from IlSD's global network of partners. IISD is a UNEP Collaborating Centre for International Environmental Assessment, Reporting and Forecasting.
Copyright © 1996 International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) IISSN 1025-6636
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This issue of Developing Ideas is about new ways of thinking about the security of people - and their environment- in the post-Cold War era. Now that worries about spies and subterfuge need not occupy our every thought, a new trend is emerging that sees security in broader brushstrokes than mere brute force. This idea of common security is that peace can be strengthened by cultivating networks of healthy ecosystems and societies and though this may seem fairly obvious, it is only now being treated with much seriousness.
Our latest line-up of hot ideas in SD begins with a deeper look at the notion of common security itself (DI #1). We then explore two of the chief mechanisms being used by decision-makers to achieve this new vision of security multi-stakeholder processes for building agreement among competing interest groups (Dl #2), and Internet openness for public tracking of otherwise private decision-making (DI #3). Which nations are actively developing a national vision for common security? This is the question we try to answer in our look at 'sustainable nations' (and unsustainable ones) (DI #4). Finally we examine emerging water conflicts and new regional resource sharing arrangements as one of the critical challenges in the field of common security.
As ever, we hope you en joy the latest of Developing Ideas and look forward to hearing your thoughts for future issues.
What you're about to read could well be the future of international security. Security used to have everything to do with defending nations. But now that the Cold War has thawed and conservatives have gone green, national security is in many circles being interpreted as having more to do with building partnerships than defending borders. Common security is where human and ecological security meet - where forging alliances takes precedence over fortifying divisions. Take the newly minted Arctic Council - a regional alliance being announced this fall between Russia, the USA, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Canada. Where icy suspicions and isolated settlements once cooled any sense of regional cooperation, the countries now hope to work together on sustainable development strategies for the Arctic - whether to conserve the ecologically fragile North or to develop trade, eco-tourism and community development programmes for aboriginal and other local people. Aboriginal groups within the countries wanted their voices to be heard. The problem was overcome when it was agreed that three aboriginal organizations the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Saami Council and Russian Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia and Far East - would receive permanent (but non-voting) representation. The one item the Council will not address, at least for the time being, is military security in the Arctic - it's still too sensitive politically. With time and luck, however, the countries may find their new common-sense approach to security makes old-style military security models all but obsolete Who knows, we could even end up with a Common Security Council at the UN. [a new model of post-military security]
Hard regimes n. governments that adopt strong-arm tactics in a desperate attempt to relieve environmental and social insecurity.
Preventive diplomacy n. resolving disputes before violence breaks (a recently reincarnated idea receiving new currency).
Human security n. the social side of common security's social-ecological equation, strongly promoted by the UNDP.
ul Haq, Mabub. New Imperatives of Human Security: a Policy Paper Commissioned by the UNDP for the World Summit for Social Development. Copenhagen, March 1995. New York: United Nations Development Programme, 1995. 12p.
Homer-Dixon, Thomas Fraser. Environmental Scarcity and Global Security. Headline Series No. 300. New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1995. 80p.
NOT HOT - Military Insecurity
Feeling a little amiss about missile silos? Blue about bombs? Anxious about nuclear annihilation? Relax! You're probably just suffering from an end-of-the-millennium hangover called military insecurity. The onset of the condition occurs when a nation/ruler/drug dealer spends billions building up an arsenal, but still feels besieged. Some cases in point a governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia that can't feed their people yet dish out a fortune on the latest weapons. What good is a fortress if its inhabitants are hungry and unhappy? Fortunately, the condition can be cured. The first step of treatment requires that the boys put away their toys. A lengthy program then ensues that involves addressing real people's needs - with determination, it may lead to a brighter future based on common security.
On world peace and sustainable able development
Case studies of environmental insecurity
http://www.library. utoronto.ca/www/ pcs/state.htm
Who would have thought that a new methodology for reconciliation would become so popular? Broadly speaking, the methods fall into one of two categories: learning how to agree with others before conflict arises, or trying to patch things up after conflict has reared its ugly head. In the pre-conflict category, sustainable development councils (or round tables} are a recent historical arrival in a long line of methods for developing eye-to-eye understanding. SD councils bring a diverse range of individuals or interests together as equal stakeholders in discussions to resolve potential disagreements. Precursors include the African palaver where a reconciliation of hearts and minds is encouraged, followed by a meal taken together, or Native American circles where elders listen and then advise, or Quaker processes where moral objections serve as immediate vetoes. SD councils have sprung up in countries from the Philippines to the USA, and are being actively promoted by the Costa-Rica-based Earth Council. Of course, such dialogue circles are easier to initiate and manage before any lines get drawn in the sand. If conflict is already a factor, 'multi-stakeholder' processes can still occur but the stakes rise and the model changes to conflict resolution. Here the options include bargaining, third-party mediation or other dispute resolution techniques. While multi-stakeholder models may have only a limited role to play in resolving violent conflicts, they remain a versatile tool for keeping people talking and reminding everyone their adversaries are human too. These processes are certainly no panacea. But in their own modest way, they can help construct common security (see Dl #1) out of otherwise stressful situations. ['by the people for the people']
Peace-building n. UN-ese for bolstering the chances for peace after violence, not the prevention of conflict to begin with.
Human world order n. a new framework for 'global governance' (see Dl Issue 2) involving fairer institutional, economic and political relations.
Roseland, Mark and others, guest eds. Shared Decision-Making and Natural Resource Planning: Canadian Insights. Environments Special Issue 23 (2: 1996).
Not Hot - When Consensus Cooks Miss Crucial Ingredients
Achieving agreement often sounds easier than it is. Round tables may be a cinch to set up, but too often they miss the crucial elements required for success. Take the case of Canada, which pioneered the idea but where few round tables survive today. Why did some fail and others succeed? The answer lies in two key factors. First, successful round tables require top-level buy-in from those capable of making the final decisions. In Canada's provinces, then, the participation of provincial premiers was crucial to creating the 'can do' atmosphere necessary for progress. The other major factor contributing to a dynamic outcome is the production of an identifiable output that the round table 'owns' and feels comfortable promoting, even if the political powers-that-be aren't terribly supportive. Without at least one of these ingredients, the result is likely to just be a wishy-washy soup of suggestions - and a shortened lifespan for the round table.
Earth Council http://terra.ecouncil.ac.cr/
National Round Table on the Environment & Economy (Canada)
US President's Council for SD
Virtual transparency - or electronic openness on the Internet - is a hot new trend among organizations. What's great about it is the accessibility to (normally closed) decision-making processes that it provides, whether for governments, businesses or civil society. Accessibility brings accountability, because flagrantly unsustainable decisions become harder to pull off when others are watching. Perhaps the surprise in all of this is how well some governments are taking to this latest vehicle of democracy. So often maligned as slow and unresponsive, many governments are nonetheless creating public e-mail pathways to parliamentarians, 'lobbying-loops' or public feedback channels to government departments, and even on-line 'cyber-discussions' for drafting future policy. On a global level, a campaign against land mines involving over 30 countries is showing the power of international pressure mobilized by e-mail on the Internet. When politicians in Germany and Canada made noises about possible restrictions on land mines, local activists let their worldwide partners know immediately. The result was instant and resounding: faxes flooded in to cheer the politicians on. Non-governmental organizations are rising to the challenge of the new technology and using it to bolster their role as watch-dogs of the public interest. Though the medium is not perfect (much of Africa is excluded for instance, because of poor phone lines and computer access), few would disagree that virtual transparency is one way of working toward the goal of common security . [ Internet - aided accountabiIity ]
Information famine n. lack of access to electronic and other forms of knowledge, particularly acute in Sub-Saharan African.
Internet accountability n. on-line electronic reporting that increases the transparency of decision-making.
Hamelink, Cees J. World Communication: Disempowerment and Self-empowerment. London: Zed Books, 1995. 168p.
NOT HOT - Open for Business! Closed to Scrutiny!
Some organizations are opening up to 'virtual transparency' and letting people peek in on once-secret decision-making. (Certain companies for example put their annual reports on-line for all the world to see.) But many organizations are more circumspect about allowing public scrutiny of key decisions even when sustainability is at stake. Should invitations for public feedback become the norm before crucial decisions get made? As new environmental management systems like ISO 14000 evolve, it remains to be seen whether government departments, nongovernmental organizations, companies and other agencies will use the Net to increase their accountability to the public.
Physicians for Global Survival - Campaign Against Land Mines
Earth Negotiations Bulletin & Linkanes
http://www. iisd.ca/ linkages
First the bad news: Not one of the world's 200-some countries is as yet what we would call 'sustainable'. The good news is that at least some seem to be heading in the right direction. 'Sustainable nationhood' requires not only international security but also internal security. Among the cognoscenti with a degree of domestic vision for crafting common security at home, we count: Costa Rica with its 'SD Charter' and plan for 'Peace with Nature'; the post-civil-war Philippines with its pro-active peace-building dialogues between the military, churches, and student and indigenous groups; Pakistan with its high-minded National Conservation Strategy, and Canada with its stress on multi-culturalism. Most countries are strong in some aspects of internal security but weak in others. Germany for instance deserves kudos for its leadership in ecological security, but lower marks for human security with the resurgence of violence directed at ethnic minorities. The ecological security of Pakistan and Costa Rica could still be undermined by social and ethnic strife. And the strides in cultural tolerance made in Canada might still be sidelined by an addiction to over-consumption of energy and material goods. But sustainable nations also require secure borders. Some countries are promoting common security regionally as well as at home. The Costa Rican government, for example, championed the peace process in Central America. And a citizen's movement in Europe is helping to bolster regional security with a continent-wide campaign to decrease consumption. While progress is to be applauded, there remains a long way to go. The majority of the world's people still live in nations where domestic security is but a dream. [lighting the way for the rest of us?]
Sustainable social system n. cultures, traditions and social institutions with 'staying power'
Friends of the Earth Europe. Towards Sustainable Europe: The Study. Luton, UK: Friends of the Earth. 1 995. 215p.
Pakistan Environment and Urban Affairs Division and lUCN-The World Conservation Union. The Pakistan National Conservation Strategy. Karachi, Pakistan: Government of Pakistan 1992. 378p.
NOT HOT - When National Vision Fails
We've reviewed the nations that possess a spirit for sustainability. Now let's examine the duds. Environmentally speaking, perhaps Russia, China and India take the cake for their resolute disregard for adopting greater caution in the manufacture of CFCs that threaten the Earth's atmospheric ozone. Politically and socially, the cultural intolerance of ethnic minorities in Rwanda, China, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia demand special attention. Economically, misguided Canadian and American policies for subsidizing cheap energy at the expense of the global environment also deserve dismay.
UNDP Human Development Index
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Many people believe water scarcity is the main security issue of the future. The long-standing tensions between Israel and the Arab world are perhaps the most famous of these water tussles. But rest assured, the well of examples runs deep. On the Indian sub-continent, the flow of the Ganges is being disrupted by tree-felling in the Himalayan foothills - and the livelihoods of 300 million Indian farmers downstream hang in the balance, along with the welfare of Bangladesh which is threatened by increased flooding. Other flash-points include the Danube in Europe, the Zambeze and Nile in Africa, the Rio Grande in North America and the Mekong and Indus in Asia. As water resources become increasingly scarce in the face of growing population numbers and increased industrialization, water is becoming a supreme testing ground for the development of common security (see Dl #1). While some see it as a potential peace-building tool, others see water scarcity as creating war. Can Israel and Jordan learn to share their liquid gold? Can nations use multi-stakeholder processes to negotiate international agreements that recognize the rights and responsibilities of all sides, as the USA and Canada did with the Great Lakes, or mainland Europe did with the once-revolting Rhine? In this, the UN Decade for Water, it makes sense to ponder questions like these. Argentina is hosting a conference on Pan-American water concerns this month, and we expect similar meetings will follow on other continents. If recent predictions are any indication, we could be faced with worsening water wars before we know it.
[sink or swim: the next -treat international security challenge?]
Water shock n. to the near future what the 'oil shock' was to the recent past?
Postel, Sandra. Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity. New York: W.W. Norton 1 992 238p.
Rached, Eglal and others, eds. Water Manaqement in Africa and the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities. Ottawa, Ontario: International Development Research Centre, 1996. 294p.
NOT HOT - A Washed Up World
Some water policies are enough to bring tears to your eyes. California needs a good splash in the face to make farmers wake up to the wastefulness of transporting water hundreds of miles over mountains to grow crops in the desert. Water policies that promote thrift among home-owners but ignore the enormous costs of artificial industrial incentives are all wet. And industrial effluents that increase river temperatures and threaten natural fish habitat should really be landing some companies in hot water.
Mega-cities poised for 'water shock'
http://merlin.nando.net/newsroom/ntn/health/060 596/health21 _27974.html
Attacking underlying causes of water conflict in South Africa
How Well Has the World Press Covered Common Security Issue ?
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
It's Time We Took Back Our Water by Eddie Koch October 13, 1995
A thoughtful and considerate analysis of the reasons underlying South Africa's water crisis, with useful lessons for other regions. The writer argues that outdated government policies have made water an even more contested resource than land - and that laissez-faire management should be replaced with greater state control and planning. Otherwise, he cautions, the country's mighty rivers might just as well be sewers.
China's Challenge by Thomas Homer-Dixon September 4, 1995
A refreshing piece of journalism that analyses China's national security from the rare perspective of the environment. At a time when most press types write about China in the clichÃ©d terms of an 'economic miracle', the author argues that the world's most populous country is more aptly described as a seething cauldron of population pressures, social inequities and resource shortages.
Far Eastern Economic Review
Soldiers and Civilians Vie for Command by Rodney Tasker, J. Mcbeth and Bartil Lintner January 18, 1996
In Asia, military might is slowly giving way to democracy and economic development. The coverage compares the trend in three countries - Burma, Indonesia and Thailand. As generals live out the dying days of once-great army glory, the Review concludes that Chairman Mao's dictum that power grows out of the barrel of a gun is taking on a distinctly dated tone in Asia.
The Coming Anarchy by Robert D. Kaplan February 1994
An apocalyptic vision of nations under siege by environmental insecurities. If the intention is to shock readers, the article succeeds brilliantly. If the idea is to offer up positive suggestions for avoiding conflict, the piece falls short. Perhaps it is the tone that is odd - still bogged down in old-style ideas of military security.
Playing the Power Game by Axel Krause May 20, 1996
A perfectly well-written piece of rubbish. The security of Europe is defined solely in terms of its military strength - and its ability to match the USA in pistol-pointing. Chairman Mao's dictum is wholeheartedly endorsed and a "strong, viable European base" is taken to be the obvious goal of any thinking European.
Coverage of water politics in Southern Africa
http://www.mg.co.za: 80/mg/news/oct13 water1.html
Further Readings on Common Security
Buitenkamp, M. and others
Action Plan: Sustainable Netherlands. Amsterdam: Friends of the Earth Netherlands, 1993. 186p.
Explores the practical implications of sustainable development on the national level. Based on the principle that the earth has a limited amount of 'environmental space'.
Canada 21 Council
Canada 21: Canada and Common Security in the Twenty First Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1994. 85p.
Assesses Canada's international policies and the challenges and opportunities presented by increasing globalization. It examines ways to ensure the security of Canadians and others, details choices and identifies policies for managing common security.
Conca, Ken and others, eds.
Green Planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Rio. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995. 328p.
Examines the competing visions, values, and interests that shape the international environmental debate and sometimes lead to conflict.
Engelman, Robert and Pamela LeRoy
Sustaining Water: Population and the Future of Renewable Water Supplies. Washington, D.C.: Population Action International, 1993. 56p.
Examines per capita national water availability and use as indicators for a range of likely economic, social and health risks faced by nations with insufficient fresh water. Includes an index of water scarcity based on data from 149 nations.
Lonergan, Stephen C and Brooks, David B.
Watershed: The Role of Fresh Water in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1994. 310p.
Examines the geopolitics of water in the Middle East, the economic importance of water, problems of water supply and water quality and regional conflicts over water.
Global Ecology: a New Arena of Political Conflict. London: Zed Books, 1993. 262p.
Exposes for public scrutiny the new language of the rising breed of environmental professionals and the political conflicts and cultural contradictions looming behind the official discourse on global ecology.
The World Trade Organization & Sustainable Development: An Independent Assessment
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is barely two years old. It will convene its first meeting of the world's trade Ministers in Singapore in December 1996. That meeting will review progress of the implementation of the commitments made in the Uruguay Round. It will also consider the report of its Committee on Trade and Environment.
The idea of sustainable development is also in its youth. Spawned by the Brundtland Commission and the Earth Summit in 1992, sustainable development is included in the preamble to the Uruguay Round Agreement. The Ministerial session seems a good time to review the progress of the WTO in linking trade and sustainable development.
Sustainable development touches on the work of the WTO in many ways, this report deals with the organization as a whole, rather than dwelling solely upon the work of the Committee on Trade and the Environment, the most important body for sustainability within the Organization.
Contact the IISD to order copies of the full length ($14) or summary version ($10). Orders from DI subscribers are entitled to a 20% discount.
See our Trade and Sustainable Development Program work at IISDnet:
Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide: An Introduction to Sustainable Development Planning
With forewords by: Maurice Strong & Elizabeth Dowdeswell
The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide presents the planning elements, methods, and tools being used by local governments to implement the concept of sustainable development in their communities. The 200 page Guide is based on more than five years of experience from cities and towns in all world regions, which have begun the challenging process of integrating planning and action across economic, social, and environmental spheres. By drawing general conclusions from the work that is already underway at the local level, the Guide offers tested, practical advice on how local governments can implement the United Nations' Agenda 21 action plan for sustainable development and the related UN Habitat Agenda.
The Guide outlines five planning elements (partnerships, community-based issue analysis, action planning, implementation and monitoring, and evaluation and feedback) and uses figures, worksheets, case studies, and appendices to help illustrate how different concepts and methods can be applied at the local level A reference list of publications, manuals, and contacts for further information about specific methods or Local Agenda 21 campaigns at the national and regional level is also included.
Price: $35.00 USD ($48.00 CAD)
Available From: ICLEI's World Secretariat City Hall, East Tower, 8th Floor Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
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