RETHINKING THE GLOBAL NARRATIVE – Choosing “winners and losers”

RETHINKING THE GLOBAL NARRATIVE – Choosing “winners and losers”


By Steve Busch


A mere four years ago, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA) treaty was signed by leaders from 193 nations, including President Barack Obama.  However, the outlook for reaching any of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) over the course of the next 11 years are increasingly pessimistic.  If you are not familiar with these 17 goals, please click here.


A recently completed project entitled Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, prepared by The World in 2050 Initiative, outlines 6 EMERGENCY steps that are absolutely essential to achieving the 2030 SDA treaty objectives. The World in 2050 “experts” outline drastic and immediate changes to societal, cultural, economic, and governance institutions which are imperative if the treaty is to be realized.


According to projections, even if extended out to the year 2050, global compliance appears to be beyond the reach of the vast majority of nations.  New and more persuasive mechanisms are necessary if the world is to meet the agreed upon objectives.


“To meet the SDGs within planetary boundaries by 2030 and 2050 will require major changes across all human activities, lifestyles and values, and cooperation from national to global scales. This said, we have identified six major transformations – encompassing human capacity and demography, sustainable consumption and production, decarbonization and energy, food, biosphere, water and oceans, smart cities, and digital revolution – that empirical evidence, global assessments and analyses, show are necessary and potentially sufficient to attain the SDGs on a sustainable planet.


To help insure success and create stronger support among the masses, treaty advocates are using every available avenue to project a positive picture of sustainability across the globe and create what they term, “attractive future narratives”.


“Peace” is considered an essential requirement for the success of the global sustainability agenda.  Therefore, in anticipation of the inevitable “push back” emanating from those who may oppose “transformational change”, a renewed commitment towards a global “peace-keeping” force will be necessary to handle the expected political and civil unrest created by imposition of the SDA.


In other words, global propaganda efforts need to be stepped up so that populations will be more supportive and less resistant to drastic lifestyle changes and/or perceived threats to life and liberty that go far beyond mere personal inconvenience.


“Current governance models and arrangements, whether global, regional, national or institutional, are ill-suited to develop, oversee or implement truly integrated, multi-dimensional sustainable development agendas such as proposed by the SDGs.”


The experts assert that, “Only with transformational changes will humanity be able to close the sustainable development gaps. But such deep change can be a double-edged sword – changes will imply winners and losers.”


Even to the casual reader, the phrase “winners and losers” sounds a bit ominous.  Who really thinks that empowering any earthly authority to choose “winners and losers” on a global scale is a good idea?   Perhaps folks should take a step back and consider what the phrase, “major transformational change” really portends before jumping on the sustainability band wagon.


Any major changes to our current economic and governance systems have the greatest potential to elicit conflict.   The “experts” repeatedly acknowledge that resistance to the imposition of the sustainability agenda, which hinges on “de-carbonizing the energy system” and completely “revamping the global economy”, will likely lead to civil disobedience and violent protests.  Conflict is an expected outcome as world leaders begin to enforce the obligatory and painful transformations necessary to achieve global sustainability.


Granted, we Americans have been historically wary of royal decrees coming down from dictators and kings.  But our resistance to autocratic impositions that are deceptively labelled “sustainable” appears to be crumbling as more and more of our fellow citizens stagger through life dead drunk from imbibing too much green Kool-Aid.  Those of us who remain sober enough to see through the lies surrounding the sustainability agenda are being ridiculed and systematically disenfranchised.  This is, of course, all going according to plan.


The six transformations to sustainability require profound governance changes that are likely to challenge existing power constellations, create uncertainties and thus foster instability.


Yeah, first they hit prosperous nations with an avalanche of guilt because of our prosperity. At the same time they create envy among less developed nations.  Then they hit all of us with a doom and gloom scenario based on myths about our climate destroying reliance on “fossil” fuels, meat consumption, and market economies.  And finally, they paint a rosy picture of what the world will be like under their enlightened leadership.  They never mention the inevitable loss of independence and freedom that will accompany their autocratic system.


I’ll leave the reader to ponder a few selected excerpts from the “Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” chapter on Governance, which begins on page 107.   The entire document is a must read, and can be viewed here.

  • Transformations to sustainability are likely to be disruptive and, thus, could even trigger violent conflict. In history, most great transformations were accompanied by violent conflict, including war (Osterhammel, 2009). Although a peaceful transformation to sustainability is the role model for the 2030 Agenda as TWI2050 we need to consider scenarios, which take into account potential outbreaks of conflictive dynamics…
  • Whether democratic regimes are better suited to foster sustainable development than autocratic regimes is an ongoing debate. Empirical studies yield mixed results, which suggest that democracies do not outperform autocracies with regard to development results, for instance, the provision of public goods such as education or clean water and climate-friendly policies (Stepping and Banholzer, 2017).
  • Holding governments and their institutions to account for deviating from their commitments requires the existence of effective sanction mechanisms. Effective accountability hence both involves the obligation of public officials to inform about and explain their actions, as well as the capacity of citizens and accounting agencies to punish those in power if they violate their public duties (e.g., Behn, 2001; Schedler, 1999).


GOVERNANCE REFORMS – [Where to focus efforts]

  • Earth system responsibility
  • Global commons perspective – transnational fairness & justice
  • Anticipate impacts of decisions for many generations to come
  • Culture of global cooperation and norm diffusion through transnational governance.
  • Demonstrating success
  • [Creating] Attractive future narratives


Yes indeed, creating “attractive future narratives” is vitally important to achieving the goals of the SDA, no matter how false those narratives turn out to be.


Sources for this article include:

Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Report prepared by The World in 2050 initiative


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