Save the Planet, Protect the Future, No Excuses for Inaction: Eight policy measures that governments should take.

Joint message of World Future Council members and Right Livelihood Laureates to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27).

“Planet Earth is facing existential threats from human impact on the land, sea and air – on its ecological systems and its many forms of life, but there are effective policy measures that could Save the Planet and Protect the Future” say Members of the World Future Council and Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the ‘Alternate Noble Peace Prize’) in a joint message Save the Planet: Protect the Future / No Excuses for Inaction presented today (November 15) to the COP27 conference in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.

The message calls for “urgent action to shift from dead-end, unsustainable, exploitative relationships with the environment and with each other, to relationships based on earth trusteeship/stewardship, rights of nature, human rights including rights of future generations, and common security.”

“Just as we humans have the capability to destroy, we too have the capability to change and create just, sustainable and equal societies,” says climate activist Greta Thunberg, 2019 Right Livelihood laureate and endorser of the message. “For that to happen we need to be brave, and we need to hold those in power accountable.”

The message puts forward eight policies to protect the climate, prevent armed conflict, strengthen the legal responsibility to protect planet earth and future generations, enhance the concepts of Rights of Nature and Earth Trusteeship in our political and legal systems, ensure that corporate and economic interests adhere to human rights and environmental protection principles, support sustainable agriculture and facilitate fair representation of indigenous peoples, women, and vulnerable groups in the development and implementation of climate, peace and security policies.

But adopting and implementing these policies will require governments to “end the excuses for inaction and minimal stop-gap measures, and to instead make the real changes required.”

Governments collectively spend $2 trillion per year preparing for and engaging in war and destruction, while neglecting to invest in peace, the climate and sustainable development’ says Alyn Ware, 2009 Right Livelihood Laureate and Member of the World Future Council. “These massive military investments increase tensions and stimulate armed conflicts, which contribute further to carbon emissions and thwart the achievement of sustainable development goals. We must strengthen the United Nations and other common security mechanisms in order to replace the ‘law of force’ with the ‘force of peace and law.’ ”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing severe human suffering, as well as having a significant global impact on the climate agenda, energy and food security,” says Angelina Davydova, Co-host of The Eurasian Climate Brief and Member of the World Future Council. “It is becoming clear that decarbonization, energy transition and local sustainable agriculture are crucial priorities for societal development of the future. This should be framed both by the political measures and by a greater role of civil society and local communities”.  

A promising proposal for upscaling sustainable agriculture practices, put forward by Right Livelihood Laureate Helmy Abouleish, is to establish ‘Economy of Love carbon credits’ sourced from verified organic agriculture projects. “Through this fair compensation, organic farmers can sell their goods at conventional market prices, allowing everyone to purchase healthy and organic food, to improve livelihood of farmers and to mitigate climate change,” says Mr Abouleish, Chief Executive Officer of the SEKEM sustainable farming and production company in Egypt and also a Member of the World Future Council.  

“One of the quickest and lowest cost ways to restore landscapes is through creation of enabling policies – policies which give land users the assurance that they will benefit from their work,” says Tony Rinaudo, Natural Resources Management Specialist for World Vision and a Right Livelihood Laureate. “Favourable polices should be high on the priority list of climate action.

The joint message focuses strongly on the climate crisis, noting that a climate catastrophe can only be prevented if we move to cutting carbon emissions at their source – the mining of fossil fuels. “It’s time to move from regulating carbon emissions to ending the fossil fuel economy. We encourage countries to join the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance and to negotiate a Fossil Fuel Treaty in order to end all fossil fuel extraction and to support transition to fossil free economies.

“Staying within the 1.5ºC limit is an absolute imperative,” says Saber Chowdhury, Honorary President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Member of the World Future Council. “We must thus stop expansion of all new coal, oil and gas projects and commit to a global, rapid just and equitable transition out of fossil fuels”.

The Paris Agreement and COP process are insufficient to facilitate this change. They are constrained by corporate and political interests in the fossil fuel economy, say the joint message endorsers. In order to effect change, we need to “elevate the legal responsibility to protect planet earth and future generations: This includes adhering to the outcome of precedent cases such as Urgenda v Netherlands and giving support to the initiative to take the issue of climate change to the International Court of Justice, in line with the recent recognition of the Right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a fundamental human right.”

This will require some attention to the economic disparities between the rich and the poor, according to the endorsers. “It is not [all of] humanity who have created the climate crisis,’ says Greta Thunberg. “The richest 10% are responsible for 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions, while those suffering most of the consequences have contributed the least to the problem.”

“There is an urgent need to establish a financial mechanism for loss and damage to allow vulnerable countries in the developing world to cope with the devastating effects of climate change,” says Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd UN General Assembly and Member of the World Future Council.

“The above measures, though by no means a complete list of what needs to be done, are essential to avoid a planetary breakdown,” concludes the joint message to COP27. “We call on States to take firm and concrete actions for real, radical, and transformative change.”

Neshan Gunasekera, Councilor, World Future Council and Chair of the Earth Trusteeship Working Group, Right Livelihood College, calls on governments at COP27 to “Act on our shared consciousness of one Earth Community. Act on the principles of international environmental law, including that of Earth Trusteeship and Inter-generational equity.  May our decisions today be infused with the wisdom of those gone before us, those who are here and now and those who are yet to come“.