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Saving our Skins by Saving the World
Alex Steffen, 12 Jan 05

Nothing is more worldchanging than holistic approaches to innovation. Case in point? The latest Worldwatch State of the World report, which aims to redefine our understandings of both security and sustainability by looking anew at issues like transnational crime and terrorism, epidemics, environmental refugees, the connections between population and unrest, food security and water supply, nuclear proliferation, the environmental impacts of war, and post-conflict disarmament  and nationbuilding.

In his foreword, Mikhail Gorbachev (who I am ashamed to admit I thought had passed away), says we need to integrate approaches to security, development and sustainability:

"Humankind has a unique opportunity to make the twenty-first century one of peace and security. Yet the many possibilities opened up to us by the end of the cold war appear to have been partially squandered already. Where has the "peace dividend" gone that we worked so hard for? Why have regional conflict and terrorism become so dominant in today's world? And why have we not made more progress on the Millennium Development Goals?

"The terrible tragedies of September 11, 2001, the 2004 terrorist attacks in Beslan in Russia, and the many other terrorist incidents over the past decade in Japan, Indonesia, the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere have all driven home the fact that we are not adequately prepared to deal with new threats. But better preparation means thinking more holistically, not just in traditional cold war terms.

"I believe that today the world faces three interrelated challenges: the challenge of security, including the risks associated with weapons of mass destruction and terrorism; the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment; and the challenge of environmental sustainability."

It's important to recognize that we're in the midst of a sea-change in understanding of global security issues, especially in the U.S., with figures as diverse as military strategist Thomas Barnett, former anti-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, economist Jeffrey Sachs and out-going Secretary of State Colin Powell all embracing the idea that security, development, human rights and sustainability are all inextricably bound together. That's worldchanging.

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PS: Hi Alex - it's foreword, not forward (sorry, this has been driving me nuts since that Gill Hope thread on and Bill Gates' foreword of her book). :)

Posted by: Niny on 13 Jan 05

You're of course absolutely right. Change made. Thanks. Forward!

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 13 Jan 05

this is the first time ive visited this site that too by mistake . i was searching for info on environment. i like this site.

Posted by: aahana on 13 Jan 05



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