Premises for an Inter-Sectoral Dialogue
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Prepared as a contextual statement (see others
on the occasion of the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) for the International
Facilitating Committee for the Independent Sectors in the UNCED process (Geneva).
Portions of the text were published in the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential
(1994-5, vol 2) and in the online
version of its commentaries (to which links below are made) shaping the global
network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral
issues. [IFCD51A ]
1. Meaning of "the way
forward": There is a need to articulate understanding of what could be
meant by "the way forward" in an inter-sectoral context.
2. Seeing things whole:
There is a need to explore new ways of seeing things as a whole -- without
losing sight of the parts for which each sector is responsible. Agenda 21 does
not contain a single visual aid reflecting new systemic understanding of
3. Inter-sectoral maps:
There is a need to come to an understanding of where each sectoral concern is
located on a map of the functions essential to sustainability -- functions
which, when pursued to excess, result in unsustainability.
4. Overall pattern: The
complex of issues under discussion should preferably be viewed as forming some
meaningful overall pattern. Individual issues can usefully be seen as pieces of
a systemic "jig-saw puzzle" that we do not as yet fully understand
how to put together -- or what the completed "picture" might look
like. It would clearly be a mistake to limit the focus to the "laundry
list" schema of Agenda 21 -- whatever the priorities or validity of the
5. Beyond isolated bargains:
There is a need to move beyond isolated bargains -- often only achieved at the
price of unsustainable compromise in other areas. In this sense
"local" (namely sector-specific) agreements tend to be achieved at
the price of "global" disagreement.
6. Function of differences:
There is a need to acknowledge the function of differences between sectors.
This contrasts with the hope that the differences can be rendered insignificant
within a global consensus -- thus making any such consensus a competitive
exercise in tokenism.
7. New patterns of
communication: There is a need to struggle with the challenge of
understanding and articulating new patterns of inter-sectoral activity, namely
new patterns of communication to sustain sustainability -- conceptual "ley
lines". These need to enhance understanding of the whole rather then
focusing exclusively on links between selected and privileged parts.
8. Necessary sectoral
constraints: Unless each sector recognizes the conditions under which its
action should be constrained, a culture of sectoral self-righteousness
prevails. This imperils the emergence of any sustainable global pattern of new
9. Challenge to comprehension:
Unless a sector can recognize how it is part of the problem, it must
necessarily be unable to understand the nature of the sustainable solution
10. Collective learning: The
inter-sectoral challenge may be seen as a challenge of designing a collective
functionally, act strategically
globally, challenge locally