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George Porter



historical perspective - past, present and future
to guide actions and relationships and provide a basis for judgements.
to determine human performance in meeting individual and collective responsibilities towards one another and our common habitat
perceptions of a good society


A growing gap between rich and poor combined with accelerating environmental and social disintegration offers powerful testimony to the failure of conventional development practice in countries of both South and North. This failure has given birth to global effort to build commitment to an alternative citizens' vision of human progress grounded in commitment to just, inclusive and sustainable human societies. This effort has been handicapped in its confrontation with the forces of the status quo by its lack of an alternative theory and practice.

Humanity has arrived at a moment of critical choice that presents a unique challenge to its collective intelligence and the technical and social advances it has so far achieved. A choice for status quo solutions will almost certainly lead to accelerating social and ecological disintegration. It could lead to the end of human civilisation and even the extinction of our own species. The alternative, a choice for transformational change, can be more than an act of collective survival. It may also set the stage for the next step in life's evolutionary journey.

The major hope for mobilising social forces behind the affirmative choice is found within an awakened global civil society; an awakening already taking place. The energies unleashed by this awakening are coalescing around a people-centred citizens' vision of just, inclusive and sustainable human societies dedicated to enhancing the social, intellectual and spiritual growth of all people, celebrating the unity and diversity of life and maintaining a sustainable balance between the human uses of natural wealth and the regenerative limits of Earth's living ecosystem. This vision calls for an end to social and environmental exploitation by the powerful at the expense of the powerless. In their place it envisions societies that empower people through economic and political decentralisation to regenerate the local communities and ecologies that such exploitation has devastated.

The status quo solutions are backed not only by powerful institutional interests, but also by supporting economic theories operationalised in a system of national income accounting widely accepted as the authoritative measure of human progress and well-being. Most of human society has become so culturally conditioned by these theories and measurement practices that even those of us who espouse the need for alternatives easily slip into the embrace of their underlying assumptions. Those who call for transformational changes will remain severely handicapped within the larger development debate until they are able to counter mainstream thinking from a strong theoretical footing and offer an alternative operational measurement practice.

The following pages offer an ethical foundation for the awakened society.


  1. Adoption of a global perspective in examining issues and situations.
  2. Acceptance that the increasing interdependence of nations and emergence of worldwide problems pose predicaments beyond the capacity of individual countries to solve.
  3. Recognition of the interdependence of, and interrelationships between, the components of the natural world and of human communities.
  4. Thinking holistically and seeking a deep understanding of interactions within the tangle of contemporary problems.
  5. Focusing on issues in a longer term perspective than seems possible by governments preoccupied by a desire to stay in power.
  6. Recognition of the finite nature of the planet and the need to achieve a state of equilibrium in which the resources of planet Earth and the needs of non-human life forms are in harmony with human demands.



  • Reverence for life and the integrity of the natural world.
  • Cooperation towards common goals
  • Peace and harmony in daily living.
  • Equal opportunities for all.
  • Honesty in all human relationships.
  • Satisfaction of human needs and aspirations.
  • Long-term human and environmental security, including freedom from personal threats and the maintenance of law and order.



  • Sustainability as the overriding principle underpinning the continuity of life.
  • Recognition of the finite nature of natural resources and ecosystems and their intrinsic value.
  • Acceptance that the current rate of natural resource extraction, its processing and use, and absorption of wastes back into the environment is currently approaching, and in some cases already exceeds the capacity of natural systems to sustain.
  Notes: New studies make it clear that world food production will not be able to provide sufficient sustenance for the numbers anticipated in the next century without major changes in human thinking and the structures of world governance and current economic policy and directions.

Equilibrium is a state in which the components of the natural world and the needs of humankind are in permanent balance. Such a state requires management of the global economy and the allocation of resources for the common good.


Human Development

Development to be seen as a movement towards improvement of the human condition, including increasing quality and efficiency in meeting long-term human needs.

Equitable Decision Making

Subsidiarity - the devolution of decision-making to the lowest practicable level, should be followed, though not at the expense of the public good.


Processes, structures and institutions involving people and their interrelationships shall be democratic, participatory and transparent.

Dispute Settlement

The peaceful settlement of disputes, from personal to global, shall be settled according to accepted modes of behaviour, and to the law.


Self-reliance at all levels - personal, local, regional, national and global, while accepting the need for interactions between systems and their interdependence.

Self-reliance requires the breaking down of oversized social, economic and political structures and is related to subsidiarity.


The preservation of diversity of all life forms and human cultures and traditions.

Conservation and Preservation

Whenever possible, preservation of the natural world as close to its natural state as possible so as to ensure the conservation of ecosystems and preservation of habitat for non-human life forms.

Valuing Resources

The inclusion in financial assessments, valuations, pricing and indicators of wealth involving natural resources and ecosystems, of the true value of those resources.

Access to Land

As the common heritage of humankind and other creatures, the sharing of land and its resources, according to the needs of all.

Equitable Public Revenue and Collection Management

The State as the representative of all people in their respective countries, should seek revenue in accordance with the capacity of each person, household, and firm in such a way that encourages individual enterprise but discourages the unnecessary use of resources, and health harming processes.


Accountability of decision makers including politicians and public institutions and individuals for their policies and actions individually and collectively.


Note: Rights and responsibilities are complementary. A right carries with it a corresponding responsibility. A responsibility, in turn, confers a corresponding right. Rights are held by individuals and other life forms, and private institutions. People and institutions also have responsibilities to one another and to nature. Government, as representative of people, and corporations have only responsibilities (Note: The US Supreme Court ruling several decades ago that corporations have the rights of an individual, has been responsible for the power of corporations getting out of hand).

Specific rights and responsibilities are enshrined in the following declarations and charters.

  • The United Nations Charter
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights
  • The Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child


Responsibilities of Governments and their agencies are to:

  • act in the interests of their people and the mandates imposed on them through the democratic process.
  • co-operate with other governments in matters of common interest and concern.
  • avoid conflict and use of arms.
  • accept responsibility for their actions and policies affecting communities and the natural environment and resources.
  • uphold international law and agreements.
  • support the United Nations and contribute to its work to ensure sustainable human security.
  • adhere to the other provisions of this document.

Responsibilities of individuals and private organisations shall be to recognise, support and adhere to the other provisions of his document.


Rights reinforcing the UN Charter and UN declarations are:

  1. Equal rights for all citizens including the dispossessed, the disadvantaged and the needy.
  2. Special protection of human rights of indigenous people living on tribal land in accordance with traditional cultures and life-styles.
  3. Democratically elected governments and democratically operated institutions.
  4. Equal opportunities, consistent with corresponding responsibilities.
  5. People to be consulted on issues of major importance affecting communities and the environment.
  6. Access for all peoples to the global commons, as the common property of humankind - including the oceans, seas and rivers, space, the polar regions, primary forest reserves and wilderness areas, subject to the overall need for the preservation of natural ecosystems and indigenous people's habitats.
  7. Adequate opportunities for relaxation, exercise and contemplation including contact with nature.
  8. Equitable treatment before the law.
  9. Equal access to legal services.
  10. Free access to public information.
  11. Entitlement to an adequate reward for labour and contribution to society, but not to income or goods not earned or resulting from the labour of others or the appropriation of property.
  12. To share Earth's natural gifts.
  13. Ample employment, just rewards for human labour, and care in times of need.
  14. To take action against any government, institution, private company, agency or individual without exception, that creates or causes, social, environmental, health or other problems having significant negative international or regional consequences, through procedures that facilitate this process, including access to information.


A World:

  • In which sustainability, efficiency, sufficiency, justice, equity and community are high social values.
  • Consisting of mutually caring and supportive societies - based on trust, co-operation, understanding and mutual respect rather than on competition and self-assertion.
  • Of democratic governments at all levels of society and of institutions, both public and private, accountable to the citizens of each community and nation.
  • With a system of world governance dealing with issues of common interest in which political boundaries recognise common ethnic and cultural traditions and interests and the need for sharing of vital resources.
  • With a global economy based on the principle of distributive equity, sustainable management of resources, freedom from the threat of armed conflict.
  • In which international corporations and institutions and individuals are subject to Codes of Conduct and International Law preventing the accumulation of excessive or monopolistic wealth, power or influence.
  • In which print and broadcast media reflect the world's diversity and at the same time bind together the cultures of the world with relevant, timely, accurate and intelligent information set into its historic and whole-system context.
  • In which the application of science and technology serve the human community and the health of the planet, rather than individual and corporate profit.
  • In which armaments are outlawed.
  • In which international trust and co-operation replace suspicion and conflict.
  • In which nuclear technology is severely circumscribed .
  • Which outlaws the use of animals for research purposes.
  • In which human society and nature are in balance - that is in state of economic equilibrium - and in which needs and aspirations of people are in harmony with the natural world and recognise this dependence in using resources wisely and fairly to ensure humans and other species can live satisfying and full lives.

Societies that ensure:

  • The prime concern of government is to ensure material sufficiency, conditions for personal fulfilment; the practice of human rights; law and order and personal security for all.
  • An economy that serves people and society in general; that distributes income and wealth according to need, skills, enterprise and effort, rather than one in which economic and material growth and the accumulation of personal and corporate wealth is the main objective.
  • Recognition of the integrity of ecosystems and natural processes and the essential diversity of both nature and culture; and the essential relationships and interdependence between component parts of the natural world.
  • The environment and its resources are cared for and used on a sustainable basis, by achieving a balance between the level of resource extraction; the capacity of sinks to absorb waste; and the regenerative capacity of ecosystems.
  • Individual and collective responsibility to strive for the sustainable use and distribution of Earth's resources.
  • Education at all levels is available to all, and that recognises the need to understand and operate the democratic process to protect and respect the natural world.
  • That people accept responsibility to make social choices; to have a high life expectation; low birth rates and stable population.
  • There is an absence of crime and other antisocial behaviour.
  • No one possesses natural resources beyond their reasonable needs. The environment is free from advertising and promotion techniques that are aggressive, strident, untruthful or likely to cause offence or visual disharmony.
  • That work dignifies people; is available to all; and provides incentives to people to give of their best.
  • A high value is placed on conservation that encourages efficiency, avoidance of waste, the reuse of materials, avoidance of unnecessary production, and discourages promotion of obsolescence and changing fashion aimed at increasing production levels. Freedom to pursue technical and other forms of innovation and creative skills for social purposes other than the pursuit of financial gain.
  • Adequate opportunities for relaxation, exercise and contemplation, including contact with nature.

Prepared by the Pacific Institute of Resource of Management.

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