Great Transition The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead PAUL RASKIN TARIQ BANURI GILBERTO GALLOPÍN PABLO GUTMAN AL HAMMOND ROBERT KATES ROB SWART Great Transition The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead

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Great Transition The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead PAUL RASKIN TARIQ BANURI GILBERTO GALLOPÍN PABLO GUTMAN AL HAMMOND ROBERT KATES ROB SWART Great Transition The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead PAUL RASKIN, TARIQ BANURI, GILBERTO GALLOPÍN, PABLO GUTMAN, AL HAMMOND, ROBERT KATES, ROB SWART A report of the Global Scenario Group Stockholm Environment Institute - Boston Tellus Institute 11 Arlington Street Boston, MA Phone: SEI Web: GSG Web: SEI PoleStar Series Report no. 10 Copyright 2002 by the Stockholm Environment Institute Cover: Stephen S. Bernow Devera Ehrenberg ISBN: C Printed on recycled paper To our grandparents, who labored and dreamed for us. To grandchildren the world over, for whom we labor and dream. Table of Contents Acknowledgements vii Preface ix 1. Where Are We? 1 Historical Transitions The Planetary Phase Branch Point Where Are We Headed? 13 Many Futures Global Scenarios Driving Forces Market-driven Development and its Perils Barbarization and the Abyss On Utopianism and Pragmatism Where Do We Want To Go? 31 Goals for a Sustainable World Bending the Curve Limits of the Reform Path From Sustainability to Desirability How Do We Get There? 47 Strategies Change Agents Dimensions of Transition Values and Knowledge Demography and Social Change Economy and Governance Technology and the Environment Civilizing Globalization vi Great Transition 5. History of the Future 71 Prologue Market Euphoria, Interruption and Revival The Crisis Global Reform Great Transition Epilogue The Shape of Transition 91 References Acknowledgements We are grateful to each of our Global Scenario Group colleagues who joined us over the years in an exhilarating exploration of the global past, present and future Michael Chadwick, Khaled Mohammed Fahmy, Tibor Farago, Nadezhda Gaponenko, Gordon Goodman, Lailai Li, Roger Kasperson, Sam Moyo, Madiodio Niasse, H.W.O. Okoth-Ogendo, Atiq Rahman, Setijati Sastrapradja, Katsuo Seiki, Nicholas Sonntag and Veerle Vandeweerd. This essay is a manifestation of that joint effort. We thank the Stockholm Environment Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, and the United Nations Environment Programme for major funding for GSG activities over the years, and Steven Rockefeller for both inspiration and a grant for the early stages of writing. We are deeply indebted to Eric Kemp- Benedict for invaluable contributions to the research and modeling, Faye Camardo and Pamela Pezzati for rigorous editing and David McAnulty for publication assistance. We appreciate the comments of the many reviewers of early versions of the manuscript, and particularly wish to thank Bert Bolin, Michael Chadwick, David Fromkin, Nadezhda Gaponenko, Gordon Goodman, Roger Kasperson, Lailai Li, Madiodio Niasse, Gus Speth and Philip Sutton. We hope the product honors the many wellsprings of collective insight that flowed into it. But any remaining errors of fact, lapses in judgment and failures of imagination are the responsibility of the authors alone. vii Preface The future is always present, as a promise, a lure and a temptation. Karl Popper The global transition has begun a planetary society will take shape over the coming decades. But its outcome is in question. Current trends set the direction of departure for the journey, not its destination. Depending on how environmental and social conflicts are resolved, global development can branch into dramatically different pathways. On the dark side, it is all too easy to envision a dismal future of impoverished people, cultures and nature. Indeed, to many, this ominous possibility seems the most likely. But it is not inevitable. Humanity has the power to foresee, to choose and to act. While it may seem improbable, a transition to a future of enriched lives, human solidarity and a healthy planet is possible. This is the story elaborated in these pages. It is a work of analysis, imagination and engagement. As analysis, it describes the historic roots, current dynamics and future perils of world development. As imagination, it offers narrative accounts of alternative long-range global scenarios, and considers their implications. As engagement, it aims to advance one of these scenarios Great Transition by identifying strategies, agents for change and values for a new global agenda. The essay is the culmination of the work of the Global Scenario Group, which was convened in 1995 by the Stockholm Environment Institute as a diverse and international body to examine the requirements for a transition to sustainability. Over the years, the ix x Great Transition GSG has contributed major scenario assessments for international organizations, and collaborated with colleagues throughout the world. As the third in a trilogy, Great Transition builds on the earlier Branch Points (Gallopín et al., 1997), which introduced the GSG s scenario framework, and Bending the Curve (Raskin et al., 1998), which analyzed the long-term risks and prospects for sustainability within conventional development futures. It has been two decades since the notion of sustainable development entered the lexicon of international jargon, inspiring countless international meetings and even some action. But it is our conviction that the first wave of sustainability activity, in progress since the Earth Summit of 1992, is insufficient to alter alarming global developments. A new wave must begin to transcend the palliatives and reforms that until now may have muted the symptoms of unsustainability, but cannot cure the disease. A new sustainability paradigm would challenge both the viability and desirability of conventional values, economic structures and social arrangements. It would offer a positive vision of a civilized form of globalization for the whole human family. This will happen only if key sectors of world society come to understand the nature and the gravity of the challenge, and seize the opportunity to revise their agendas. Four major agents of change, acting synergistically, could drive a new sustainability paradigm. Three are global actors intergovernmental organizations, transnational corporations and civil society acting through non-governmental organizations and spiritual communities. The fourth is less tangible, but is the critical underlying element wide public awareness of the need for change and the spread of values that underscore quality of life, human solidarity and environmental sustainability. Global change is accelerating and contradictions are deepening. New ways of thinking, acting and being are urgently needed. But as surely as necessity is the spur for a Great Transition, the historic opportunity to shape an equitable world of peace, freedom and sustainability is the magnet. This is the promise and lure of the twenty-first century. 1. Where Are We? Each generation understands its historic moment as unique, and its future as rife with novel perils and opportunities. This is as it should be, for history is an unfolding story of change and emergence. Each era is unique but in unique ways. In our time, the very coordinates through which the historical trajectory moves time and space seem transformed. Historical time is accelerating as the pace of technological, environmental and cultural change quickens. Planetary space is shrinking, as the integration of nations and regions into a single Earth system proceeds. Amid the turbulence and uncertainty, many are apprehensive, fearing that humanity will not find a path to a desirable form of global development. But a transition to an inclusive, diverse and ecological planetary society, though it may seem improbable, is still possible. Historical Transitions Transitions are ubiquitous in nature. As physical or biological systems develop they tend to evolve gradually within a given state or organization, then enter a period of transformation that is often chaotic and turbulent, and finally emerge in a new state with qualitatively different features. The process of movement from a quasistable condition through an interval of rapid change to re-stabilization is illustrated in Figure 1. This broad pattern is found across the spectrum of natural phenomena: the forging of matter in the instant after the big bang, the phase shifts between different states of matter as temperature and pressure change, the epigenesis of individual biological creatures and the evolution of life s diverse forms. With the emergence of proto-humans some 5 million years ago, and especially Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago, a powerful new factor cultural development accelerated the process of change on the planet. Cultural change moves at warp speed relative 1 2 Great Transition Figure 1. Phases of Transition Indicators of development Stabilization Acceleration Take-off Time Based on Martens et al. (2001) to the gradual processes of biological evolution and the still slower processes of geophysical change. A new phenomenon human history entered the scene in which innovation and cultural information, the DNA of evolving societies, drove a cumulative and accelerating process of development. With the advent of historical time came a new type of transition, that between the phases of human history that demarcate important transformations in knowledge, technology and the organization of society. Naturally, the course of history is not neatly organized into idealized transitions. Real history is an intricate and irregular process conditioned by specific local factors, serendipity and volition. The historic record may be organized in different ways, with alternative demarcations between important periods. Yet, a long view of the broad contours of the human experience reveals two sweeping macro-transformations from Stone Age culture to Early Civilization roughly 10,000 years ago, and from Early Civilization to the Modern Era over the last millennium (Fromkin, 1998). We are now in the midst of a third significant transition, we argue, toward what we shall refer to as the Planetary Phase of civilization. Where Are We? 3 Historical transitions are complex junctures, in which the entire cultural matrix and the relationship of humanity to nature are transformed. At critical thresholds, gradual processes of change working across multiple dimensions technology, consciousness and institutions reinforce and amplify. The structure of the socioecological system stabilizes in a revised state where new dynamics drive the continuing process of change. But not for all. Change radiates from centers of novelty only gradually through the mechanisms of conquest, emulation and assimilation. Earlier historical eras survive in places that are physically remote and culturally isolated. The world system today overlays an emergent planetary dynamism onto modern, pre-modern and even remnants of Stone Age culture. Three critical and interacting aspects at each stage are the form of social organization, the character of the economic system, and the capacity for communication. Novel features for each of these dimensions are shown for four historical eras in Table 1. Organization Economy Table 1. Characteristics of Historical Eras Stone Age Tribe/village Early Civilization City-state, kingdom Modern Era Nation-state Hunting and Settled Industrial gathering agriculture system Planetary Phase Global governance Globalization Communications Language Writing Printing Internet In the Stone Age, social organization was at the tribal and village level, the economy was based on hunting and gathering, and human communication was advanced through the evolution of language. In Early Civilization, political organization moved to the level of the city-state and kingdom, the basis of economic diversification was the surplus generated by settled agriculture, and communication leapt forward with the advent of writing. In the Modern Era, political organization was dominated by the nation-state, the economy became capitalist with the industrial revolution its apotheosis, and 4 Great Transition communication was democratized through printing. Extending this typology to the Planetary Phase, emerging political, economic and communications features are, respectively, global governance, globalization of the world economy, and the information revolution. Numerous additional dimensions could be added to characterize the differences in historical eras, such as changing features of art, science, transportation, values, war and so on. But the schematic of Table 1 at least suggests how various aspects of the socio-economic nexus cohere at different stages in the process of historical evolution. In the transition from one coherent formation to another, each of the dimensions transforms. We can follow this process by looking across the rows of the table. Social organization becomes more extensive tribal, city-state, nation-state and global governance. The economy becomes more diversified hunting and gathering, settled agriculture, industrial production and globalization. Communications technology becomes more powerful language, writing, printing, and the information and communication revolution of the current phase. Societal complexity the number of variables needed to describe roles, relationships and connectedness increases in the course of these transitions. Each phase absorbs and transforms its antecedents, adding social and technological complexity. In a heartbeat of geological time, the scale of organization moves from the tribe to the globe, the economy becomes increasingly differentiated, and the technology of communication develops from the capacity for language to the Internet. Not only does social complexity and the extent of spatial connectedness increase from one epoch to the next, so does the pace of change. Just as historical transitions occur more rapidly than natural evolutionary transitions, historical transitions are accelerating. This is illustrated in Figure 2, which represents schematically the evolution of complexity of the four major historical phases. Since the time-axis is logarithmic, the repetitive pattern suggests that change is accelerating in a regular fashion. The duration of successive eras decreases by roughly a factor of ten the Stone Age lasted roughly 100,000 years, Early Civilization about 10,000 years and the Modern Era Where Are We? 5 Figure 2. Acceleration of History Planetary Phase Modern Era Complexity Early Civilization Stone Age Time some 1,000 years. Curiously, if the transition to a Planetary Phase takes about 100 years (a reasonable hypothesis, we shall argue) the pattern would continue. The Planetary Phase Scanning the broad contours of historical change suggests a long process of increasing social complexity, accelerating change and expanding spatial scale. A premise of much of the contemporary globalization discourse is that humanity is in the midst of a new historical transition with implications no less profound than the emergence of settled agriculture and the industrial system (Harris, 1992). The changing global scene can be viewed through alternative windows of perception disruption of the planetary environment, economic interdependence, revolution in information technology, increasing hegemony of dominant cultural paradigms and new social and geopolitical fissures. Globalization is each of these and all of these, and cannot be reduced to any single phenomenon. It is a unitary phenomenon with an array of reinforcing economic, cultural, technological, social and 6 Great Transition environmental aspects. At the root of the diverse discourse and debate on globalization, and transcending the differences between those who celebrate it and those who resist it, one theme is common. The hallmark of our time is that the increasing complexity and scale of the human project has reached a planetary scale. Of course human activity has always transformed the earth system to some extent, and the tentacles of global connectedness reach back to the great migrations out of Africa, to the spread of the great religions, and to the great voyages, colonialism and incipient international markets of a century ago. Capitalism has had periods of rapid expansion and integration of regions on the periphery of world markets. It has also had phases of retraction and stagnation associated with economic, political and military crises. The international system and its institutions have been restructured and dominant nations have been displaced (Sunkel, 2001; Ferrer, 1996; Maddison, 1991). At the end of the nineteenth century, the international integration of finance, trade and investment was comparable to contemporary levels when taken as a percentage of the much smaller world economy. The claim that a planetary phase of civilization is taking shape does not deny the importance of economic expansion and interdependence in earlier eras. Indeed, the increasing imprint of human activity on nature and the expanding reach of dominant nations were necessary antecedents of globalization. The essence of the premise of a planetary transition is that the transformation of nature and the interconnectedness of human affairs has reached a qualitatively new stage. Growing human population and economies inevitably must butt against the resource limits of a finite planet. The increasing complexity and extent of society over hundreds of millennia must at some point reach the scale of the planet itself. That point is now. Planetary dynamics operating at global scales increasingly govern and transform the components of the earth system. Global climate change influences local hydrology, ecosystems and weather. Globally connected information and communication technology penetrate to the furthest outposts, changing values and cultures, Where Are We? 7 while triggering traditionalist backlash. New global governance mechanisms, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and international banks, begin to supersede the prerogatives of the nation-state. The stability of the global economy becomes subject to regional financial disruptions. Excluded, marginalized and inundated with images of affluence, the global poor seek immigration and a better global bargain. A complex mix of despair and fundamentalist reaction feeds the globalization of terrorism. All of these are signs that we have entered a new planetary phase of civilization. These phenomena are the legacy of the Modern Era of the last thousand years, which brought us to the threshold of planetary society. From the first flickering of the humanistic sensibility nearly a thousand years ago, through the intellectual and theological upheaval of the scientific revolution, to the firestorm of capitalist expansion, modernism challenged the authority of received wisdom, the paralysis of birth-right and class rigidity, and the economic stasis of traditionalism. The culmination was the Industrial Revolution of the last two centuries. It fused a host of modern developments law-governed institutions, market economies and scientific ingenuity and tapped into the human potential for accumulation, acquisition and innovation. A permanent revolution in technology, culture and desire spawned an explosion of population, production and economic complexity. Ever hungry for new markets, resources and investment opportunities, the self-expanding and colonizing industrial system began its long march toward a world system. The world has now entered the Planetary Phase, the culmination of the accelerating change and expansion of the Modern Era. A global system is taking shape with fundamental differences from previous phases of history. We would search in vain for a precise moment that demarcates the origin of the new era. The past infuses the present. Surely the growth of world trade a hundred years ago, the two world wars of the twentieth century and the establishment of the United Nations in 1948 were early signals. But the primary phenomena that constitute globalization emerged as a cluster ov
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