Wednesday, November 23, 2011

UN overhaul required to govern planet's life support system

EurekAlert: Reducing the risk of potential global environmental disaster requires a "constitutional moment" comparable in scale and importance to the reform of international governance that followed World War II, say experts preparing the largest scientific conference leading up to next June's Rio+20 Earth Summit.

Stark increases in natural disasters, food and water security problems and biodiversity loss are just part of the evidence that humanity may be crossing planetary boundaries and approaching dangerous tipping points. An effective environmental governance system needs to be instituted soon, according to independent experts commissioned by organizers of the huge “Planet Under Pressure” conference in London March 26-29, 2012.

As policy-makers gather in Durban, South Africa, for the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Planet Under Pressure consortium today released the first five of nine policy briefs on key issues. The briefs deal with biodiversity and ecosystem services, food and water security, interconnected risks and solutions, and a topic common to all: reforming environmental governance from the local to the global level.

Prof. Frank Biermann of VU University Amsterdam in The Netherlands, director of the Earth System Governance Project of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) wrote the policy brief on institutional reform with 29 fellow social scientists and governance experts around the world. Says Dr. Biermann: "Societies must change course to steer away from critical tipping points that lead to rapid and irreversible change. This requires a fundamental transformation of existing practices. The international governance system must change."

"In the 1940s, large parts of the world lay in ruins amid fears of further political conflict. International systems were inadequate to deal with the global challenges then. Decision-makers created in very short time new organizations and global standards, including the U.N., the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later the World Trade Organization), and others. The current destruction of the Earth's natural systems warrants today a similar 'constitutional moment' to revise and transform the architecture of global governance."...

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