Issue #34

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Where on Earth are We Going?

By Maurice Strong
Forward by Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations

456 pages
Ph: 415-753-6668

Where On Earth Are We Going?
Senior Advisor to the United Nations and World Bank -- and organizer of the Rio Earth Summit -- offers candid insight into where today's environmental movement is heading -- and whether the planet is on course for disaster.

"I have worked with him for many years and have always valued his advice, enjoyed his friendship and admired his commitment to international cooperation and to multilateralism's main instrument, the United Nations. I have no doubt that readers will find in this book the same qualities that have made Maurice Strong's unique and important force in our lives, they may also, not least, derive some hope for our shared future." -- Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Maurice Strong is one of the most influential men in the world. He is a senior advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and former senior advisor to the President of the World Bank. When media mogul Ted Turner wanted to give the United Nations $1,000,000,000 to work on finding solutions for international conflict and environmental decline, he first consulted Strong. In the past thirty years, no single person has done more for the environment movement -- and provided a platform for change -- than Strong.

With the publication of Where On Earth Are We Going?, Strong reveals his pivotal role in the political and environmental activist movements, and talks plainly about what remains to be done. And there remains much to be done. Strong provides a historical context by which to judge our progress in the struggle to save the planet from environmental degradation, and lends insight as to where we are heading.

Strong takes us behind the scenes of several of the most important events in the international environmental movement over the last three decades, including the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, for which he was the principal organizer. He speaks frankly about how little success there's been in reversing the trends of environmental decline in the years since Rio. To combat the situation, Strong draws upon his years of experience as a corporate leader and political organizer and offers advice for saving Earth from ruin in the crucial decades ahead.

Starting with a grim scenario in which world hunger, global warming, environmental destruction, political turmoil and other ills are allowed to run unchecked, a worst-case illustration of his belief that "the environment is not just an issue but a symbol of the way industrial civilization has gone terribly wrong," he presses the case for nations and corporations to adopt eco-friendly policies of sustainable development, offering several concrete methods for reversing the planet's decline. He also discusses the crucial role the UN has to play in this movement -- what it can do to help and, just as importantly, what it cannot.

Where On Earth Are We Going? also allows Strong to share his remarkable life story with readers. Born in rural Manitoba during the Depression, Strong landed his job with the newly formed United Nations when he was only eighteen. After a while, realizing his limited education would prevent him from advancing further, Strong went back to Canada where, over the next few decades, he became one of the nation's most powerful businessmen, rising to the top of several major Canadian power companies and eventually returning to the UN as an undersecretary-general in the early 1970s to lead the pivotal first conference in Stockholm on the environment.

When Maurice Strong speaks, the world's financial and political leaders take notice. Now you, too, can hear what he has to say about our planet's toughest crises. Hardheaded, practical, and impassioned, Where On Earth Are We Going? serves as a call to action for the twenty-first century that cannot be ignored and will be much debated

from Where On Earth Are We Going? by Maurice Strong

  1. Promote the "greening" of the market system
    You can have environmental efficiency and profitability. The short-term effort is worth the long-term results.
  2. Revamp subsidies
    New sources of financing are important, but there is even greater potential in making better use of existing resources.
  3. Full accounting of environmental costs
    We must take up the challenge of revamping and reorienting the existing fiscal, tax, and policy system to internalize environmental costs and tie positive incentives to the kind of behavior and practices by corporations and people required for the transition to a sustainable way of life.
  4. Accelerate the transition to environmentally sound energy
    Earth simply cannot sustain another traumatic round of undisciplined growth, a repeat of the unthinking exploitation that marked the first industrial revolution -- and that, to an alarming extent, continues unabated.
  5. Close the "knowledge gap"
    Developing countries need to be able to participate fully in industrial and technological progress.
  6. Move away from "foreign aid"
    For development to be successful, it must be homegrown, rooted in the political and economic management of each country, its own social mores and disciplines, its own policies and priorities, and driven by the shared aspirations of the people and their willingness to accept the attendant responsibilities.
  7. Move to more flexible, incentive-based regulation
    As the process of globalization has created new dimensions of interdependence, there has been a need for a much greater degree of international cooperation and agreement to provide for harmonization of international regulations and standards.
  8. Provide more effective exercise of trusteeship over the global commons
    Common global issues are bound to be among the items at center stage in the drive for more effective governance at the global level in the period ahead.
  9. Prepare for natural disasters and extraterrestrial threats
    Some potential disaster areas have increasingly high populations, making the human and economic cost of disasters that do occur that much heavier.
  10. Rejoice in diversity and encourage it
    The diversity of human society is its most precious characteristic. Our challenge is to protect and enhance this diversity while cooperating in those areas essential to the sustainability, security, and well-being of all human life, present and future.
  11. Encourage lifestyles of "sophisticated modesty"
    Also known as "simple abundance," this stripped-down approach to living is increasingly popular.
  12. Learn from those in "enclave communities"
    Communes and other planned communities may have a lot to teach us about how to live in harmony with our environment.

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