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Articulating the "Way Forward"


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Prepared as a contextual statement (see others) on the occasion of the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) for the International Facilitating Committee for the Independent Sectors in the UNCED process (Geneva). Portions of the text were published in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1994-5, vol 2) and in the online version of its commentaries (to which links below are made) shaping the global network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral issues. [IFCD51F ]


1. We should move away from mere reiterations of our sectional concerns and interests.

2. We should aim to deepen our understanding of the perspectives, the objectives, and the implications of our own sectional interests and positions. This itself would be achieved by willingness to subject those interests and positions to candid and rigourous examination in a collegial climate.

3. We should aim to deepen our appreciation of the perspectives, the objectives, and the implications of the sectional interests and positions of others. This is inevitable in a process where all ideas contend and all voices are heard in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance.

4. We should seek to recognise the points of convergence: the concerns which are shared, the issues which unite, and the universal interests which energise us all. This would be a natural result of deepening understanding of one's own as well as others' positions.

5. We should attempt to go beyond recognizing merely the least common denominators and seek also to isolate the points of divergence: the concerns and interests which separate us and which therefore do not lend themselves to unified or collective actions and approaches. It is understandable that there will be an irreducible set of concerns and interests around which there is and can be no consensus. This is inevitable given our different cultures, background, motivation, and life situation. It may even be desirable that this be so, as a way of preserving individuality, diversity, and group identity. All the more reason that the points of divergence be analysed, isolated, understood and respected in our continuing dialogue.

6. We should seek to identify the milestones of progress relating to the concerns and interests which are shared, as well as the various routes by which we might get there.

7. We should aim to agree about the prospects for and the specifics of action which should be undertaken, wether individually or collectively, in order to reach those milestones.

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