UN Charter for Ecological Justice

The prevailing global growth culture makes it impossible for us to protect the biodiversity on which all life depends. The depth of this cultural barrier, and the resulting injustice is elaborated in this brief article; which also proposes that a wisely worded Charter for Ecological Justice can serve to unite humanity in an aspiration to eliminate global ecological overshoot. This concept underpins the submission to the High-Level Advisory Board to the United Nations regarding ‘A Framework for Maximum Mitigation‘.

The UN Commons Cluster have justified these ideas in their submission to the High-Level Political Forum 2022. Their paper warns us that increasing our GDP aggravates all of the key drivers of human induced ecological damage (see Preface). The concluding section talks about the need for socio-economic transformation to address excessive ecological footprint, in order to eliminate the global ecological overshoot and thereby achieve sustainability. The UK is offered as an example of a country which operates well over the biocapacity within its borders (300%). Using the example of the UK the paper recommends these steps:

  • Raise Awareness An awareness campaign equivalent to that achieved for the COVID emergency. Advising UK citizens that climate and ecological collapse is now underway. Advising them that in order to mitigate the long-term impact it is not wise to try to maintain all aspects of the way of life that the UK have enjoyed in recent decades. The ecological cost of that life-style was never sustainable. 
  • Emergency Government Create a cross-party emergency government. This will ensure that the responsibility for the difficult decisions that need to be taken is shared. It will also send a powerful message to other world leaders, that we regard the Climate and Environmental breakdown as both real and urgent. 
  • Ecological Objectives Make the UK the first country to rewrite its objectives from the perspective of an ecological budget rather than a financial one. 
  • Embrace Degrowth Make the UK the first country to actively seek Degrowth as part of its emergency damage limitation exercise with regard to the ongoing and rapidly accelerating Climate and Ecological collapse.

Pandemics, resource wars, economic migration and monetary inflation are all symptoms of escalating ecological collapse.  The paper from the UN Commons Cluster recommends that we urgently rethink the STEM education system, with a view to unlearning the sense of ‘entitlement’ which still dominates in many of the countries which became rich through colonisation and extractive economics. It is suggesting we need to reconnect with Nature and recognise our dependence on healthy eco-systems.

The paper is intended to inspire humanity to collaborate collectively to restore ecological balance by embracing the Degrowth ideology which has been evolving for several decades. Different aspects of Degrowth have recently been popularised and explored in books like ‘Less is More’ by Jason Hickel, ‘Post Growth’ by Tim Jackson and ‘Doughnut Economics’ by Kate Raworth.  The proposed Charter for Ecological Justice will focus our endeavours on shrinking our combined ecological footprint until we no longer exceed the capacity for Earth to absorb the impact of our behaviour.

Unfortunately affluent men and women have lost their way emotionally in recent decades, wanting bigger and better and seeking unattainable concepts like perfection and excellence. We have lost sight of the simple joys of being in Nature and the importance of ecological balance. We have sought to dominate the natural world rather than living in balance with it. The emotional transitions that are required to acquire the Degrowth mindset are explored here

Imagination is essential to achieve the paradigm shift of the magnitude required to embrace a concept as far reaching as the UN Charter for Ecological Justice, many ideas to stretch your imagination are provided in the book which is free to download from here.