Justice-Based Ideas Can End World Hunger
|October 17, 2002||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Justice-Based Ideas Can End World Hunger
The Waterperry Declaration
In September 2002, immediately after the World Summit on Sustainable Development, students of philosophy and economics in the School of Economic Science met at Waterperry House, Oxfordshire, England for a conference entitled “The establishment of justice and equity for the welfare of humanity in the universe now”. Participants came from all over the world and included economists, attorneys, engineers and other concerned citizens.
This Declaration applies their understanding to the realm of economics and international public policy with particular reference to the crisis in world food management. The Waterperry Declaration sets out the essence of the problem and proposes urgent research, study and action.
People prosper where justice and equity are honoured. Today a fifth of the world¹s population lacks the means to feed itself. This injustice and inequity will be resolved when the recognition of our common humanity becomes the foundation of our conduct.
There are now 820 million people suffering malnutrition or starvation, whilst elsewhere in the world there are considerable surpluses of food. People go without, even as their own countries send food abroad. Countries import food, even as their own producers slide into poverty.
In some countries, a lack of good government creates conflict or corruption.. Together with ecological damage, this makes the poor more vulnerable to disaster. The exploitation of new technologies threatens to upset forever, long established relationships between communities and the natural world. The current opening of developing markets to international trade, secures neither prosperity nor social harmony for those living in them.
At the heart of all this is the exploitation of political power and of control over resources, combined with an unwillingness to address market failure. Unchecked, it endangers our entire world.
This planet and its people are one. Our physical environment functions as a single, self-sustaining system, easily capable of supporting the whole human family as part of itself. Our intellectual and spiritual life forms a single vibrant ocean from which we all draw.
There is therefore no justice at all, unless there is justice for all. Whilst any are in poverty, we are all impoverished. That the actions of some cause the deprivation of others is a poverty of culture for which compassion, justice & equity are the remedy.
Together we all create the atmosphere in which governments, businesses and other organisations operate. We are all responsible for the state of the world, from the families that comprise our communities, to entire nations and continents. The intentions and attitudes of us all are critical, as they direct our actions.
Justice and equity require that we ensure the opportunity for all humanity, now and in the future, to develop spiritually, intellectually and physically, as conscience and custom direct. In short, we must serve others as we ourselves wish to be served.
We need to examine our own intentions and actions and ask — are these consistent with this full development of humanity or, although benefiting some, will they harm others or damage the planet? Governments act when their people compel them to do so. Businesses act when their customers, shareholders and employees compel them to do so. As people of the world and members of the human race, we have the future in our hands.
As stewards, not owners, of the earth¹s resources, our role is to nurture, not to exploit. We must develop technologies and ways of living which leave no permanent footprint, but rather leave a generous heritage for future generations.
Humanity must recognise that good government is founded on principle and law, not the aggregation of individual human desires. Only through law can the good of all, not the interests of a few, be secured. Principles do not change, but good governance requires that the policies to implement them must be framed according to time and place. Sovereign governments must have this power.
To this end, the following actions are urged:
That universities & schools, and religious, philosophical and spiritual leaders, use every opportunity to educate and remind all people that we have a single future, which we will build together for better or for worse, for ourselves and those to come;
That governments together take the necessary steps to ensure safe and sufficient food for all and to place this above every other political and economic consideration;
That the United States of America and the European Union implement immediately their existing commitments to the reduction of food production subsidies and the removal of import quotas; and that they make further rapid progress in this area;
That the WTO, IMF and World Bank reassess the universal application of free trade policy as the basis for development, and focus instead on programmes which facilitate local self-sufficiency and local trading;
That governments cancel the debt from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries;
That governments review their policies on agriculture, energy and transport to ensure they meet the principle of stewardship, and restrain the pattern and levels of consumption of developed nations;
That governments in the developed world assist the developing countries to establish the institutions and infrastructure required for good governance, ensuring that these respect local traditions and customs, and are appropriate to the countries’ state of development;
That governments and international institutions work with the developing nations to implement a programme to enable them to be financially sovereign and recover & maintain control over their currencies, their taxation systems and the use of their land and natural resources;
That governments act to ensure just and equitable access to the key assets of the world land, natural resources and knowledge — and in this light review international assumptions about land ownership, intellectual property, and credit;
That governments address environmental depletion and pollution through programmes of change with clear aims and targets, which ensure that polluters pay.
That business leaders commit to these principles and actions, and recognise that the future of business depends on them, and is in the balance.
The School of Economic Science is located at 11 Mandeville Place, London W1M 6AQ United Kingdom, or on the WWW at http://www.schooleconomicscience.org
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