Earth Summit Traps and Opportunities
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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
1. Believing that everyone can and should agree on a
single set of principles and guidelines, whether in the form of a charters,
declarations or pledges.
2. Believing that it is useful to label some
perspectives as wrong or inappropriate, especially in the absence of any sense
of a global functional context.
3. Believing that the way forward is simple and that
any perceived complexity is the product of inappropriate understanding.
4. Believing that unpleasant issues can be postponed
or treated as irrelevant.
5. Believing that it is only a media exercise and that
people are not increasingly impatient with expensive exercises in collective
6. Believing that symbolic processes are a substitute
for effective interaction.
7. Believing that the diversity of positions does not
call for designing in healthy disagreement to maintain a pool of alternative
8. Believing that it is appropriate to marginalize
bodies and cultures representing alternative perspectives (whether by use of
geographical distance, procedural or linguistic devices).
9. Believing that collective learning, even at the
highest policy levels, is not vital to the emergence of more appropriate
structures and processes.
10. Believing that it is sufficient to wish to be
"on the other bank of a river" and that the technical challenge of
"bridge construction" can be ignored.
11. Believing in the adequacy of the "one
answer", whether problem-specific, technocratic, spiritual, ethical, or
based on common sense, or on particular values.
12. Believing that no major breakthrough is possible,
despite the prevalence of short-termism, tokenism, opportunism, cynicism, and
out-dated modes of thinking.