Summer Conference 1999: Science, Ethics & Human Destiny

Governance and Vision: Will global interdependence be our destiny?


[Note: Several questions were posed from the floor at a time, then answered by the speakers.]

What are your ideas on an development of an ethic for civil governance, for the rule of law, for democratization? Given that we’re talking about science, what about the role of traditional indigenous knowledge and how that will be included, because that’s a topic that hasn’t really been raised yet in terms of how is science defined and is there non-traditional ways of defining it? How do you protect that and keep that in some way connected to the peoples where it originates.


I’d like to hear some specifics of what kinds of actions you think global actors could take. For example, you’re talking a lot about what seems to be redistribution of income. Are you proposing such things as a Tobin tax, capital controls, or other methods of redistribution such as a global tax? If so, doesn’t that run in a sense counter to the model we have that does generate the most wealth, which is the United States which has the lowest tax rates, the least government intervention. Are you risking killing the goose that lays the golden egg?

Serageldin: The question of distribution of income is not a matter of transfers of income between the North and the South, although I personally believe that the less than .3 of one per cent of GNP is a disgrace. The offer of .7 could be maintained, it has been maintained, exceeded by the Nordic countries The Netherlands has never fallen below it and their economies are doing reasonably well.

The question of what happens in the United States as a model is a model on one side, which is the side of increasing the pie.

If you read the Bread for the World report out of the United States that shows over 20 million people still going malnourished in the United States, it does raise questions on the social policy and welfare aspects of the United States.

Therefore, the question of what is the right balance between the two sides of that equation is one that each country would have to find for itself.

I’m not suggesting a global government of transfer payments. I’m suggesting that we open up avenues that empower the poorest people to actually take charge of their own destinies and to improve their well-being. It is not impossible to do, but it requires a proactive attitude .

We should not allow at the end of this century the revival of the old trickle down theory under a new guise. The trickle down theory was just take care of increasing the pie and the poor will benefit as the rich to get wealthier and wealthier and then there will be trickle down for the poor. Well, that doesn’t work. We know that.

In fact, if we look at the industrial revolution, Marx predicted the popularization of the proletariat. What he did not predict was the massive redistribution within the capitalist system, which Henry Ford and others were the protagonists of, to allow his workers to buy his cars. The net result of that was the creation of the middle class.

At the same time, the Rockefellers and the Fords did not become paupers, either. So, I’m thinking it’s been a benefit for everybody in the creation of the middle class and on a global sense you cannot accept the affront to our common humanity that I’ve been talking about.

Thus, we need to help some of those countries I’ve been talking about to effectively take charge of themselves.

It is feasible. China has reduced poverty from 42 per cent to seven per cent of the population with 1.2 billion people. Thailand and Korea have in one generation massively improved their well-being. It is not just a matter of external assistance, it’s domestic assistance.

Just compare two countries, both Asian, both aligned with capitalism, both receiving a lot of support from the United States, both having miliary presence of the United States, both having dictatorships with varying degrees of corruption: the Philippines and Korea.

A generation ago the Philippines had three times the per capita income of Korea. Today, Korea has more than six times the per capita income of the Philippines.

So there’s a lot that has to come from the countries themselves, but a little bit of help is there and a little bit of caring should be there.

On the question of science, I just say one word on that. I think there is an organizational framework for science and the practice of science which cannot be minimized.

Indigenous knowledge is extremely valuable because it’s honed by insights of practice over generations and we must find a way of ensuring that, whether it is new varieties of plants that have been helped by the poor people, or identification of therapeutic qualities, they must benefit from it. Most of the time they have not in the past.

Strong: On the question of indigenous knowledge; knowledge by definition should not be interpreted as meaning only modern generated knowledge. Knowledge is a body of knowledge which very much has its roots in traditional knowledge.

I spent yesterday morning with the Board of Directors of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and they were reviewing some of these same issues. I was pleased that they were reminding themselves that they have to take more cognizance of traditional knowledge.

In our review of international agricultural research we really stressed the need in the agricultural field to marry traditional knowledge and experience with modern knowledge and experience. There should not be that Chinese wall between them. There should not be that absolute dichotomy. Knowledge is knowledge from whatever source it emanates.

On the question of income redistribution, I don’t think it’s feasible to simply redistribute income in the sense of two individuals. You have to redistribute opportunity. Give people access to the opportunity to earn their livelihoods. That also requires some direct financial assistance, like small loans, which gets credit down to the level of people. So there’s a lot that can be done to help give people the opportunities.

But, if you simply give up and say the only way you can deal with them is by putting them on a permanent dole, that doesn’t work. You may do it temporarily, but it is not a solution.

To actually manage the global level to provide the revenue that permits international co-operation to take place on a whole spectrum of issues requires global co-operation.

[We need] some form of levied tax on movement across the international commons areas, Tobin tax if you will, on movements of finance, some form of income generation from the actual use of the global commons from those who actually benefit from these services would be inevitable at some stage. It’s not politically acceptable at the moment, but I think you need to distinguish that from simply redistributing the world’s income.

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My question is about the redefinition of Gross Domestic Product, as an indispensable item in taking an economy that is blind to the effects of human endeavor on human societies and also on the Earth communities. I was there when a 12-year-old made her famous speech exhorting the adult population to set a better model for its children and Vice-President Gore, who was then a Senator, came by and said it was the best speech he’d heard in Rio.

Al Gore wrote the book, Earth in the Balance in 1992, wherein he said about GDP redefinition: there is no excuse for not redefining the GDP.

Would you comment on the idea of redefining the GDP, first of all, and secondly if you’d comment on the apparent paralysis of those wonderful individuals who find themselves in positions of power, not as free as they were when they were not there?

Strong: Al Gore recognizes that you can’t become president of the United States based on a single issue, even as important a one as environment. It’s illustrates that all power is with the people. Leaders, however well-intentioned, cannot do things that are not rooted in a sufficient degree of public understanding and support.

Neither can leaders who are not concerned about the issue fail to respond to it when the people speak.

Remember it was President Nixon, certainly no environmentalist, who enacted what is still the most progressive environmental legislation that the U.S. ever enacted. He didn’t do it because he was an environmentalist, he did it because of popular pressure. He read the signals from the people. That’s the primary source of all political power and let’s never forget it. No well-intentioned person, vice-president, president or prime minister, can do it without that kind of support.

I believe we’‘ve got to create a massive movement and I think it’s possible to do that.

On the GDP, I think you mean the gross domestic plunder.

We have to recognize that if we were accounting for the Earth the way you account for a corporation, if we look at it as Earth Incorporated, much of what we count as income, or GDP, is in fact liquidation of capital. It’s basically undermining the capital base. We have to run the Earth with a depreciation, amortization and maintenance account. We’re not. And the GDP is the evidence of that.

We need better indicators. One of the many things I have not done, but still would like to do, is popularize what I call an Earth Index [by which] people can actually measure their impact on the Earth and they can challenge politician: what’s your Earth Index?

We do need better indicators. The present one is certainly misleading and it’s contributing to the continued substitution of the plunder of the Earth for what we consider to be wealth creation; that wealth creation is not a sustainable process.

Serageldin: I’ve been working quite hard at trying to deal with changing the measure of sustainibility because the measure of sustainibility that was given b y the Bronfman Commission was a very attractive one, but I think one [that] took us to an operational dead end.

When you start defining needs it may be all right for some of the people who are starving, or have no access to water, etc. but what about the family that has two cars and three televisions? What is it’s meaning of meeting their needs?

It is those families that consume over 85 per cent or more of the world’s output every year. Unless you’re going to tackle that reality you don’t get away from it.

One way of doing that was to change the idea of sustainibility as opportunity, which is to say we would like to give future generations as many opportunities as we’ve had ourselves, if not more.

It’s close enough, philosophically, but it makes all the difference in terms of measurement, because opportunity can be measured in terms of capital per person.

If my son has more capital than I’ve had he has more opportunity to generate an income and services stream than I’ve had. It takes into account population growth, because you’re talking on a per capita basis.

The question of capital, then, needs to be expanded to include not just the conventional measure of capital, which is the economic measure of capital, but also natural capital, forests, water, soil conditions, etc. And it needs to take into account human capital which is investment in education, health, which is embodied in individuals, and social capital that ties people together.

Now, these four forms of capital together, growing, interact with each other to enable processes to work. It also resolves the question: yes, non-renewable can be used.

For example, it does make sense to withdraw a tonne of copper from the ground in Zambia and invest in educating little girls. You’re substituting one form of capital for another, but it doesn’t make sense to withdraw it and just throw it away on consumption elsewhere.

So, these issues of moving towards a capital account become important, expanding the measure of wealth to include all these features. It is here that the definition of GNP comes in. The problem we have is that GNP as it stands is a measure flow. And it just measures the flow of activities. The reason it continues to succeed is that it has certain real values for politicians, including the fact it is closely related to job creation.

The question, of course, is whether jobs are to chop down trees or to clean up waste, or all sorts of things. If you want see whether, in fact, employment is going to likely increase, a rapidly expanding GNP is a measure that you will have employment opportunities created.

The question it doesn’t answer is what kind of employment opportunities are being created in what sectors and what for. And what are they actually doing to the long-term effect on the economy.

So, the promotion of this new concept of sustainibility as opportunity, which brings in stock notions and capital notions, complements what Maurice was saying about the need for a capital account in managing the Earth’s affairs, as well as the flow accounts which exist and which are very imperfect.

But they’ve been around for 65 years. As a result, they have a staying power. And those of us who want to change it, we need a major effort to bring in the other type of accounting on stream.

Finally, it will make a lot of headway if we cannot just provide a measure, but link that measure directly to policies that politicians can actually act upon...they know about deficit, they know about tax rates, there’s actions that they can take.

So part of the design of the measures has got to be not only scientifically correct, not only administratively easy and robust, but also linked to real policy levers because that’s when we as citizens can demand action in relation to changes on this indices.

So it’s not just descriptive indices, but actually indices that can be linked to action. And that’s going to be a big challenge, but that’s what we should be working on.

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What incentives do you propose to bring change about so we call all survive?


What about a world government?


It is unusual to have somebody who would change the world go from the World Bank to UNESCO. I would like to have an idea how UNESCO could change the world? What will be the role of the corporation in this new role given the civil society and sometimes it includes, or sometimes doesn’t include, the corporations in the UN system?

Serageldin: The reason I want to leave the World Bank and go to UNESCO is because I think many of the issues of our times are within the mandate of UNESCO.

Article 1 of UNESCO’s Constitution states that it’s there for the promotion of peace and security through extensive collaboration, education, science and culture, in order to promote the rule of law, fundamental justice and human freedoms without regard to race, sex, religion or language.

That is to me the complex of issues that we’re talking about.

The World Bank is a financier of projects and I see that at UNESCO, which has this mandate, this enormous legitimacy; 186 countries have ratified the Charter. The United States will rejoin I am sure in a matter of a year or two.

But it’s [at UNESCO] that you can frame the problem, agree on the priorities and define the common ground for action.

Once that is done you can mobilize the entire development community, including the World Bank and the regional banks and others to finance parts of it. It doesn’t have to be done by UNESCO.

A key example of that would be the World Bank when it started in education. We never funded basic education, girls’ education and the like. But the World Bank today is the largest financier of basic education – $900 million a year going for basic education with a focus on girls’ enrollment.

That $900 million doesn’t have to come from UNESCO. It doesn’t have to go through UNESCO even, but UNESCO can help frame the issues.

Unfortunately, it has not been as active as it could be on a number of other issues and we would be able to tackle them and bring them into this overall picture. Since this is a conference on science, I will use an image from science.

Human beings and chimpanzees differ only in 1.8 per cent of their genetic code and everything that humanity has achieved is from that 1.8 per cent of the genetic code.

The question, therefore, becomes, can an institution like UNESCO position itself within the international system to be the equivalent of that 1.8 per cent of the strategic genes, or will it be just another part of the 98 per cent that are just like all the others?

And that requires that it reaches out to the national commissions because it has an enormous reservoir of goodwill, it is the natural constituency to deal with international centres, university systems, intellectuals, educators, scientists, people involved with culture and communications around the world. It is their institution, thus linking up to them becomes an essential part.

The civil society, the private sector, have a major role to play. It is the predominant force in employment creation, creation of well-being and in driving the economies of the world. And whatever they can do can dwarf whatever the public sector can do. But they do not function, except within the framework of incentives. And when the incentives are correct, which is public action affected by citizens and public opinion, as Maurice was saying, then the private sector responds.

We’ve been working on water, Maurice and I and others recently. We were looking at the fact that in the United States there’s been a massive reduction in per capita water withdrawals over the last 15 years.

And where did it come from? The net result was that it came from the Clean Water Act, where people were being told you have to pay; the polluter pay principle, and rather than simply putting in scrubbers and cleaners they’re actually using technologies that uses a lot less water.

So you can imagine how much better we would be if we had had an input price for water as well as an output price for emissions. You’d see the technology transform itself much more effectively.

The framing of the incentive structure is where ethical views of the citizens have to come into effect and where the civil society and the decision-makers play a role; where the international agencies, because they bring developed and developing countries together.

Strong: I don’t believe world government is either necessary, or feasible.

A world system of governance, however, is indispensable. And we have the ingredients of that in the organizations of the UN and the international, multilateral system.

But it’s the newest level of governance, the level that is most fragile, the level that has least power, no taxing power, no direct access to its constituency.

We need an enforceable rule of law. International agreements should be, must be respected, not selectively as some of the great powers do today, selectively observe Security Council resolutions, selectively decide to adhere to or not international treaties.

Unless we have a regime of enforceable, international law and a much strengthened international institutions as the instruments of co-operation, we will not have a system of governance.

But that does not mean world government. There has to be a link right from the global to the individual level. And until individuals start to see their interests and their future and that of their children as directly linked to some of the larger global issues we will not get action on those global issues.

So, what are the challenges we have to do. In our Earth Council our purpose is to link people, to empower people at the grassroots level, to link them with the larger decision and policy processes which affect their future and into which they should have their input.

We have to create a system of governance, not just another level of governance.

Finally, on incentives. One of the basic needs that we have to push governments to adopt is to change the system of incentives and penalties by which governments motivate the behaviour of corporations and individuals.

A study we did recently shows that in four sectors alone: transport, water, agriculture and energy there’s over $700 billion a year spent by governments subsidizing activities that are contrary to sustainable development; actually provide incentives to move against sustainable development.

The money is in the system. There is no way in which can say we have to generate more wealth before we can deal with these issues.

It’s how we deal with our existing wealth. We need to shift to a system by which our present wealth is deployed and that is the primary role of governments. Individuals and corporations will respond to a changed system that will [be an] incentive [for] the kind of behaviour that we all believe is essential for the future of our society.

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If we take the case of Africa, there have been some recent initiatives by the computer and telecommunications industries. What’s your view about whether these will make a significant impact, even if only in the urban areas of Africa? What would be the role of the UN in leveraging these private sector investments to facilitate economic growth in Africa?


In the absence of a world government, how can we develop a single world vision that can tackle these problems? There is such a variety and hodge podge of economic and political systems in the world, resident in different national governments, each of which defines the problem differently. Unless we have a common definition of the problem, I don’t see how we’re going to come to a common definition of the solution. What would you recommend in terms of developing a consensus?


There’s been a lot of talk lately about the importance of corruption, both private and public sector corruption as a factor influencing development. Can you comment on that and what do you think are the most important forms of corruption and what forms are most amenable to remedy or action?


Some people feel one of the major obstacles to bringing about the vision you’ve described is the fact that too much of the task of global governance is still invested in those gargantuan, closed bureaucracies created over half a century ago, in 1944 and 1945. I imagine it’s not easy to take an institution like the World Bank and have it sort of focused on a new comprehensive development strategy.

The question is that if we look at the response of the bank, the Fund, the community, to the global financial crisis of the past couple of years and that enterprise of creating a new international financial architecture, do we see that we have really made much progress in inculcating the core principles and ethos of sustainable development as we create that new architecture?

Strong: To attempt to get a world government would divert our energies unproductively. Maybe we’ll evolve into some form of world government, but the real need is a world system to strengthen the institutions, improving the institutional mechanisms, making them more transparent and accountable, including the World Bank.

Strengthening the rule of international law, making international agreements enforceable, the ability of developing countries to actually respond to those agreements; strengthening that whole system of co-operation could be a prelude to some form of world government.

I believe in less government, but government to do the things that only governments can do, to lead, to set the regulatory framework, to provide the fiscal incentive framework. All of these things that provide a dynamic and support for private initiative.

Incidentally, let us not think we ought to agree on everything. One of the most important things is to decide on those issues on which we do have to agree for our common survival and well-being; what I call the fundamental boundary conditions that prescribe the limits beyond that we cannot afford to go without limits to all of our futures. And those are the issues on which we should co-operate.

Serageldin: On the question of knowledge-based economy and whether the cable will help in Africa or not, I think the technological fix is secondary.

The real challenge of the knowledge-based economy is that you’re going to confronted with a situation where those who can master the tools of knowledge and manipulate it well will have greater chances of improvement in much more competitive situations than existed before and those who don’t will be left further and further behind.

We have to invent new ways of trying to get that benefit to many of them and that will require, therefore, a massive upgrading of the quality of education.

The little children in a school with a tiny piece of a backboard and no books: how do you expect out of those the computer programmers and software designers of the future who compete in a world where e-commerce will be running in the trillions of dollars, where your competitors not going to be the guy next to you, but it’s going to be some person sitting at a terminal in Singapore, whose manipulating funding from Europe with production from India and distribution in Lagos, that becomes your real competitor?

More and more its going to be that way in the future.

The in-depth transformation of the educational system seems to me one of the fundamental conditions without which you cannot reach very large numbers of people and out of those, of course, will emerge the talent. The technologies will be easily amenable afterwards to do that.

We’re beginning to witness this in the outsourcing, for example, of significant parts of large accounting firms and so on to developing countries where it’s done more cheaply. You begin to see pockets of mini-silicon valleys developing in developing countries where talented people can get together. So there are possibilities that are there, but the education system is going to be a central part of that.

The international agencies have a role in creating the space in which some of the countries will do better than others. The example I gave you between Korea and the Philippines over a 30-year period is a prime example, where given the same opportunities, one country is much better than the other in terms of improving the well-being of their people.

That’s what these can do.

I agree there’s no notion of world government. I believe that’s feasible, but I do believe it’s an area of concern that the U.S. Congress needs to be more aware of the rest of the world.

In a seminar I gave at the U.S. Congress, one Republican said: "One third of my colleagues have never got passports. They never left the United States, they don’t understand what you’re talking about, they haven’t seen any of that stuff. They don’t even understand what a U.S. consulate does for American business and, thus, they’re slashing the budgets for the U.S. State Department; forget about helping the starving poor that you are talking about."

I think that is an issue that’s very important for all of us, but again it’s an issue for the civil society and every change that has occurred in the world has been by the involvement of the civil society in bringing forth the issues and basically creating the alliance.

Look at the environmental movement. Maurice was secretary-general of both the Stockholm and the Rio summits. At the first one he had three heads of state, but at the second one he had 114.

What happened in those 20 years between 1972 and 1992?

Well, the environmental movement happened. It became an issue that people couldn’t ignore any more; that politicians would respond to and engage with. And I think this where we’re going to do it in terms of dealing with the education of the powerful in dealing with these issues.

I just want to say one word about World Bank and the IMF in reworking of the new financial architecture.

I think what is happening is that we have lived a very peculiar period of about seven or eight years, from the collapse of the Soviet Union in ‘91 to the East Asia crisis, where there was kind of an end of history mentality; private markets will solve everything, governs best that governs least, just get out of the way.

I personally have always maintained that this was insane. In fact, I’ve said I’d like to abolish the word free markets from our vocabulary, because what we want are competitive markets.

If you think Wall Street is a free market. It’s not. It’s a very highly-regulated market. The financial accounts that you have to put out in order to be listed; if somebody buys five per cent of a corporation it has to be made public.

Insider trading is criminalized and prosecuted; there’s a whole system of contractual law that’s behind it; brokerage behaviour is governed by the SEC; there’s an anti-trust regulation that’s even taking on Microsoft, that took on AT&T and IBM earlier.

There’s a whole regulatory structure. All of those interventions are intended to increase competitiveness.

Compare that with the crony capitalism that goes on around the world. Free markets is the rule of the jungle and we saw that in Albania, where it almost resulted in civil war.

Strangely enough every country, Canada, the United States, Germany has regulatory structures for its own markets, but when it came to this international flow everybody was saying, no, you can’t intervene with anything.

Now, finally they’re saying well maybe we should begin to look at it a little bit better.

The question on corruption?

Serageldin: Corruption is basically affecting public decisions for private gain. And surprise, surprise the rich are the ones who benefit from it; the poor are the ones who suffer the most from it and because they have no access to the decision-makers.

As a result, of course, there’s no possible decision that would justify tolerance of corruption in any system.

There’s been a tremendous amount of hypocrisy, especially in Europe on this point. And this is a case where one must salute the United States for having taken the lead on the corrupt practices act for many years.

But in some countries in Europe there are still justifiable tax deductions for a company to bribe somebody in a developing country. The strange thing, and this again is the importance of this holistic view of ethics, that they wouldn’t tolerate it if it was done inside Germany or inside France; that would be prosecuted.

But if you do it outside in the poor countries that’s all right. That’s a business expense. That’s deductible.

I think we should say that’s not all right and that is not acceptable.

The kind of issues I mentioned about transparency, accountability, pluralism, etc. are all means that expose corruption and reduce opportunities for it and open up the system, keep it more transparent. A vigorous civil society and free press are essential tools to attack that.

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I was born and raised in a so-called underdeveloped country. I would like to know how are we going to conciliate the fact that if we want to meet the needs of all the poor people on this planet; needs like a simple house, a fridge a stove, electricity, sewage, a car and a computer. How will we conciliate that with the effect it is going to have on the environment?


The magnitude of the problems and challenges you described are just enormous. Maurice spoke about the popular power of the people. As an ordinary individual I feel very powerless, particularly in light of globalization, large multinational corporations, etc. I’d like to know what I as an individual can do right now to make a difference that really counts?


You both talked about the rule of law and also about motivation.

I would like to suggest we stop using the term the rule of law. The reason is that generally speaking law is seen as a fear-inducing mechanism and fear is a drug of addiction and you’ve got use increasing amounts of to have the same effect.

It’s been very unsuccessful in motivating people do what we hope we will all do in terms of being kind to the planet.

Also, there is as I know you’re aware this great concern that human rights is a Western imperialist concept, a kind of intellectual colonization of other societies. I think there are ways we could get away from that.

I suggest that if we start talking about a concept of human ethics, and see as subsidiary of that; on one side human rights and on the other side human responsibilities, which are implied in human rights but haven’t been articulated to the same extent.,

Then, if we see law as one mechanism for implementing human rights and human responsibilities, but recognize that actually ethics is a more powerful mechanism, that I think we’ll design a different system for achieving some of things we want to achieve that may better accommodate the broad range of factors you’ve raised this morning.

Strong: On the question about what can individuals do? I used to ask myself that question when I grew up in Manitoba in the Depression. I heard about the UN. I have found it is possible for an individual to get into a position to do something about it. The best place to start is not to aspire necessarily to go the UN, because if we’re right that all action has to be rooted at the local and personal level, then there’s a lot you can do locally.

You form a local committee of the Earth Charter, because it will link you with people everywhere. It doesn’t try to homogenize your values, it tries to distill those values which can transcend individual ideological and religious differences and create a common set of values to which we can all adhere for our common good.

How can poor people meet their economic needs without destroying the environment? In fact, they are driven to destroy the environment but the main destruction of the environment has come from us in the North in the process of creating the unprecedented levels of wealth we have.

We couldn’t run the world if everybody made the same demands on the environment that we in Canada and the United States make. It wouldn’t be a viable world. We’ve got to reduce ours and help the poor to get the financial support and the means to make their own living.

You don’t find much waste in poor communities, every single little thing is used. It’s we who are wasteful. It’s not the poor who are wasteful.

Let’s not think that enfranchising the poor is going to destroy the environment. In fact, the environment will be destroyed if we continue our wasteful habits and if we do not help them to follow livelihood patterns that will meet their needs in sustainable ways.

Serageldin: On optimization in economic analysis, I think the answer to that is very simple: it’s what we refer to in economic terms as internalization of externalities. Once you do that, when you internalize what is now treated as externalities, you get the prices for environmental and social costs internalized in decision-making.

The World Bank has made some movement in this direction. We have done it successfully at the level of individual projects within national boundaries. The question of internalizing the externalities of the global environmental impacts on a national level, raises an ethical issue, because the World Bank provides money for the poorest countries.

By definition the moment a country reaches a certain level it stops becoming a borrower from the World Bank.

So the issue becomes: do you want to impose on the poorest countries, who are the least capable, decisions that have not been legally binding on them in the past and that the North is not applying to itself, either?

So we’ve been actually just computing it, but we haven’t been implementing the global part. But the local part is done. In day to day terms it translates into a very simple logic: polluter pay, user pay.

Unfortunately, most of the time the polluters and the users are rich people who manage to twist the arms of regulators and get away without paying it, or the fines are so small they don’t mind paying the fine and continuing to pollute.

So, you need that kind of a balance to build on it. It’s not really a magical new analysis that is required...[it] requires decision-making in the governments.

I would like to come again to the issue of meeting basic needs.

I think the issue of meeting basic needs is not that expensive. The human development report last year is overwhelming on this. About $65 billion can actually deal with all the needs of people in terms of education, water and sanitation and basic health; raise everybody to a minimum level.

Sixty-five billion dollars sounds like a lot of money. It isn’t. It’s what the world capital markets transact in an hour; an hour and five minutes to be precise.

We have to ask questions.

Let me come back to what individual citizens can do.

You have to ask questions. Why are governments willing to invest so much in war and in a peculiar logic that avoids developmental activities?

If somebody had gone and said before the Kosovo crisis, you know if were to spend $5 billion in dealing with Yugoslavia’s problems I think we could have a good settlement for everybody in Yugoslavia.

People would say who’s going to come up with $5 billion?

I don’t know how much the cost of the actual war is going to come up to in terms of all the sorties and the bombings and so on.

The cost of the reconstruction of Yugoslavia and Kosovo, whenever that starts being done, and [when] you add all of those costs; somehow we always find it within our hearts to do.

But when it comes to a preventative measure, it is very difficult to get that.

Private citizens are the ones who effect these choices. You can get in league with others around you, you can write to your local paper.

Educating people is absolutely important. Legislation without that doesn’t work. Legislation is important. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, legislation will never change the hearts of people, but it can restrain the heartless.

I think that’s very true.

It’s important that legislation, ultimately comes from the feeling of the people.

Two examples I think are stunning. One is the experience of the United States with Prohibition in the early part of this century. It gave us in the Roaring ‘20s, the speakeasies and Al Capone.

Compare that with what happens with smoking.

Smoking has been really a public education campaign over a 30-year period. Who would have imagined the extent to which the pendulum would swing against smoking in the United States in the last 15 years. It’s far more profound than anything that could have been done with the prohibition from a top-down approach by a vigorous few on a Constitutional amendment.

It’s public education; people who do it in their local communities, who act together. That’s extremely important.

Again I go back to Margaret Meade’s statement. I profoundly believe we would have no environmental movement today in the world if it were not for people like yourselves, who basically decided to do something about the environment, who responded to the call of Rachel Carson and others.

That’s what we need more of in terms on the issues of human rights; in terms of how the priorities of governments are set. In the end people make all the difference.

And we all share our common humanity. That’s the question we mustn’t forget.

Couchiching Online History Table of Contents 1999 Summer Conference