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Earth Democracy: Institutionalizing Sustainability and Ecological Integrity

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The central problem faced by the Global Ecological Integrity Group, or any other initiative towards a sustainable future, is not so much ecological integrity or sustainability itself, but how to achieve agreement. The importance of this point cannot be overstated. For it is not that we generally have no solutions to the problems of carbon emissions, global poverty, wealth inequality, resource depletion and so on. We do and anyone doubting this should ask themselves what sort of information they rely on. The point is that we are failing, as a global community, to agree to implement those solutions.

Generally speaking, the chances for agreement depend on what participants feel most strongly about. If the economy is seen as paramount such view will dictate the extent to which environmental concerns can be accommodated. At present, the main actors of the global community are corporations, professional networks, states and their organizations at international level. They all see the world through economic lenses focused on finances and growth. This does allow for a view sympathetic to sustainability, but only as a balancing act of economic, social and environmental issues. From this perspective, there is no need for readjusting priorities (the “weak” sustainability model).

By contrast, most people do not see the world through economic lenses. Their perspective is wider and more receptive to fundamentals such as social security or environmental sustainability. To most, economic prosperity is important, but not at all cost. There is a widespread feeling that political leaders and corporate managers, in their money and power games, are too preoccupied to notice the real needs of people and the planet. As we are heading for social and ecological disaster, our leaders ought to take a broader perspective and be more responsible. Such view would consider sustainability as more important than economics (the “strong” sustainability model; Bosselmann 2009).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law
    Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law is the latest product of research by the Global Ecological Integrity Group (, an organisation that has been meeting annually since 1992 to discuss scientific, philosophical, political and legal aspects of ecological integrity. This collection examines various aspects of governance from the standpoint of integrity: from democracy, to forms of Native governance, from globalization and neocolonialism to specific human rights to food, water and climate.
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