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Rebuilding For A Better Future

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This training explores the multiple converging crises facing our world with the lens of the important work our Citizens’ Climate International team is leading and calls on us to reinvent what is possible, through understanding and collaboration. 
TOC and Guide Section

The future is in our collective hands. When the IPCC reported on the perils of global warming of 1.5oC, the COP plenary was stilled by solemnity, and focus. The weight of responsibility was clear. Co-creating a livable future is everyone’s business. We are the crew on this spaceship called Earth, and everything we care about depends on whether we can achieve climate resilience.

  1. We are all future-builders — Everyone’s empowerment and agency have real value for everyone else.
  2.  Leave no one behind — Include everyone in the future.
  3.  Design to transcend crisis — Adaptive, inclusive, resilient prosperity is
    within reach, if we work to eliminate critical system failures.
  4. Honor the resilience imperative — To recover from and transcend our current multi-faceted crisis, we must rebuild for a better future.
  5. Health is a fabric of wellbeing and value — Human health, economic health, and planetary health are inextricably connected to justice and prosperity, and their benefits enhance and reinforce each other.

How deep is the crisis? 

The difference between 1.5 C warming and 2 C warming matters deeply:
  • Ecosystems on every continent are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate —putting us in the midst of the 6th mass extinction in earth’s history.
  • Persistent extreme poverty and worsening income inequality are undermining human development in countries rich and poor.
  • Direct COVID response has cost more than $10 trillion so far; global economic losses are projected to reach more than $70 trillion in just 5 years.
  • Food insecurity is worsening around the world, with the number of people living with acute hunger expected to double this year, to more than 260 million.

Our food system is failing 

  • Every year, 11 million people die prematurely because they are not eating the healthy food they need.
  • Food is also the leading cause behind transgressing five of the nine planetary boundaries, and the primary cause of the 6th mass extinction, a major source of carbon emissions, as well as the single largest contributor to global deforestation, overuse of freshwater and eutrophication of our aquatic ecosystems.
  • As it stands, the food system is gravely harming human and environmental health, and undermining the resilience of nations.
Macro-Critical Resilience 
  • We cannot afford to keep pursuing limited short-term gain at the expense of everything that underlies value creation.
  • “Macro-Critical” forces are dynamics of everyday life, economics, and geopolitics, that shape the overall potential for thriving.
  • Health and resilience form a continuum—fabric of health and resilience that permeates the interacting systems of which our world is made.
  • Health and resilience are, by their nature, multi-system, multiscale, interactive, and compounding.

A Livable World 

  • Climate disruption no longer threatens to undermine the foundations of ecological health and resilience.
  • Prosperity is shared and pollution-free. All people enjoy the benefits of a world that consistently, creatively, and cooperatively moves toward sustainable prosperity for all people, in all societies.
  • Health is accessible to all human minds, bodies, and communities, through the experience of everyday life.
The Value Of Better
Human Development
  • To have the greatest chance at sustained prosperity, we need everyone to have access to high-quality education and the fulfillment of their personhood. 
  • That right of access naturally includes a right to nutrition, a right to health, and a right to the full protection of the law. 
  • The free and full development of an individual person is a complex integration between multifaceted dynamic systems. 
  • We must be conscious of these complex (and compounding) interactions, if we are to succeed in making reliable human development possible, and sustainable. 
  • The Sustainable Development Goals are not a list of lofty aspirations or best-case scenarios; they are metrics for our collective progress toward resilience. 

All That We Do Not See

  • Without knowing how wealth is distributed, it is impossible to know whether GDP is indicative of deep-rooted economic health. 
  • If, for instance, GDP expands while 80% of GDP is the trading of financial instruments, and the result is a significant increase in the wealth of the wealthy, even as the relative share of new income going to 90% of the population decreases, then that is the opposite of good health. 
  • If our metrics do not understand what would make small farms viable, and healthy food affordable for the poor, then we are not seeing the food economy clearly. 
  • If we do not have means of aligning financial gain with an expansion of both human capital and natural capital, that blind spot could cost us everything. 

The Right To Know

  • Our wellbeing—both collectively and as individuals—depends on the integrity and resilience of complex multilayered natural systems. 
  • We have a right to know whether we are improving, or undermining, our relationship to those systems. 
  • We have a right to know whether food we take into our bodies is improving, or undermining, our health. 
  • We have a right to know whether decisions taken by powerful institutions, commercial or governmental, help or harm us. 
  • The right to know is not exclusive to health and safety; it is inclusive of all elements of the decision matrix that shapes our access to wellbeing. 

 A World That Works

  • Treating food, income, education, air and water quality, and the right to access information as distinct and isolated concerns has exacerbated inequality and environmental risk. 
  • Everyone is ultimately less secure, if millions, or even billions of people must endure extreme poverty and vulnerability. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has made this startlingly clear, but subtler, less universal demand shocks can also put lives and livelihoods at risk. 
  • Just as human capital—the degree to which people are empowered to fulfill their aims and potential—has inherent value, there is inherent value in a world that works well for everyone. 
  • The collaborative accumulating value available to all of us in such a world will far exceed anything we can obtain in a world of hapless or enforced scarcity. 
  • A world that works... works for everyone. 
The Value Of Better
  • At the heart of every conversation about economics, there is an unspoken truth that is beyond ideology, methodology, or modeling... 
  • Food, health, and energy systems, cannot be designed to fail, because they are so vital, they will always have value. 
  • The financial system is a next-layer system—necessary because we make it so, and defined by its ability to succeed or fail on these other goals. 
  • Better systems have more value, because they are more sustainable, cost less to manage, harm fewer people, and generate less chaos. 
  • The value of better should be built into everything; we need to make sure when we talk about value creation, we mean the value of better. 
Embrace Complexity 
  • It is no longer feasible to avoid dealing with these pervasive hidden costs.
  • The COVID crisis means we must deal with deeper and more complicated disruption.
  • We need to find new leverage for transformative innovation—urgently.
  • The need for resilience-building investment is now universal.
  • Being cleaner, more sustainable, more resource-efficient, more equitable in your strategy and investment choices, will greatly increase your chances of success because both geophysics and the human dynamics of our moment demand it.

Main Street Geopolitics 

Choosing isolation over cooperation cannot deliver prosperity. 

  • Many aspects of transnational trade focus on lowest cost to narrow interests. This has the effect of reducing standards and expanding the space for impunity.
  • We need better geopolitics. We cannot achieve reliable, secure, adaptive prosperity in local communities, or as nations, unless we have international cooperation of the kind that raises standards and fosters good outcomes for all.
  • This is possible—we have to value the better outcomes, concretely.
Getting Involved

World At A Crossroads

Global heating is driving an unprecedented die-off of species, and disrupting life-sustaining ecosystems. Food security is already at risk and everything we strive for will be harder to achieve.

We need smart incentives to catalyze economic transformation, climate-smart investment and development, while reducing the risk and enhancing the sharing of benefits of diplomatic cooperation.

Citizens’ Climate International’s Focus Areas Ahead of COP26:

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Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

The Future Is In Our Hands

Macro-Critical Resilience

The Value Of Better

Embracing Complexity

Citizens' Climate International COP26 Goals
  • Joe Robertson

Download the PDF Slides for the presentation.

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Press play to start the audio (45m 10s)
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Audio Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

The Future Is In Our Hands

Macro-Critical Resilience

The Value Of Better

Embracing Complexity

Citizens' Climate International COP26 Goals
  • Joe Robertson
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Climate Policy
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