It has now become clear and well acknowledged, thanks to the Covid-19, that if we pay attention solely to the GDP, as advocated by the neoliberal approach, that is, to economic growth at the expense of human development, we will not have at our disposal the human, technical and financial resources to be able to deal with pandemics, fires and other natural disasters, to extreme poverty... and yet we continue to invest huge amounts on military activities and the production and stockpiling of weapons, without questioning the perverse proverb, which we have repeated since the beginning of time: "If you want peace, prepare for war". There are still arsenals crammed with bombs and garrisons of soldiers, while an increasing number of forests are devastated by fire, and there are not enough fire brigades and technical personnel to foresee and to fight fire efficiently…
Multiple anachronistic parades and missions to Mars and the Moon are still being organized - with space excursions for super millionaires included - at a time when "missions to Earth" as well as lack of solidarity, immigrants and refugees call for urgent solutions. I never tire of insisting that it is ethically intolerable to see everyday thousands of people dying from hunger, most of them boys and girls ranging from one to five years old, while more than 4 billion dollars are invested in defence.
The Covid has given us the opportunity to reflect, to become aware of a lot of things that are considered in “normal life” as inescapable, and to see that the vast majority of citizens are not actors but rather mere spectators of what is happening, stunned and abducted by the media, most of which try to encourage citizens to follow the guidelines of publicity and to pay for consumption and “well-being” that have both been designed at the highest levels of economic power.
Since quite some time now we have been rejecting very sensible proposals urging us to redirect the ongoing trends that have forced us to accept a plutocratic governance and an absolute hegemonic dominance, thus giving rise to a two-pole situation with omnipotent and omnipresent giants (digital companies, in particular) at one end and, at the other, the marginalized, whose number has progressively increased as has the extent of the social gap. But now the radical changes, that have been avoided so many times, have become most urgent than ever because, for the first time in history, mankind is facing potentially irreversible processes - such as the melting of the Arctic Ocean - and today the possibility exists of reaching in just a few years points of no return in the habitability of the Earth.
Already in 1947 the UNESCO created the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as well as a series of international programmes (geological, hydrological and oceanographic) whose aim was to give consistency to scientifically proved measures that could efficiently tackle these phenomena. The great UNESCO’s program Man and the Biosphere was very soon supplemented in 1972 by the first publication of Aurelio Peccei, at the Club of Rome, entitled The Limits to Growth. In 1979, the United States National Academy of Sciences informed that carbon dioxide emissions had not only experienced an increase but the oceans re-uptake capacity was also significantly decreasing (deterioration of the phytoplankton). This clear warning was not only ignored, but large oil companies - Exxon Mobile - created foundations that were immediately supported by Gulf countries with the evil purpose of spreading adverse messages.
In year 1972 the Summit of the Earth was held in Rio de Janeiro under the auspices of the UN and the smart and enthusiastic direction of Maurice Strong. The Earth Agenda - wisely reflected in the excellent Earth Charter, presented at the dawn of the century and of the millennium as a major reference for the Earth - was progressively marginalized, as were the Millennium Development Goals for years 2000 to 2015 by precisely those who had entrusted governance on a global scale to oligarchic and plutocratic groups. First to the G6 in the late 1980s. Then to the G7, the G8... and the G20 in 2008 on the occasion of the financial crisis... As always the Republican Party of the United States rejected democratic multilateralism and favoured USA power, including nuclear weapons. During the "Cold War", the global fight for power between the United States and the Soviet Union allowed to "justify" the nuclear threat at a global level and the possession of the most destructive war devices. However - I had the opportunity to follow very closely the meeting between President Reagan and President Gorbachev in Reykjavik in October 1986 - the unexpected and historic conversion of the USSR into a Commonwealth of Independent States did neither dispel the misgivings of United States nor allow the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the effective functioning of a democratic multilateralism, which is more necessary than ever.
President Barack Obama managed not only to ease global tensions such as the relationship with Islam, etc. but also to get the United States to sign in 2015 the Paris Agreements on Climate Change and the United Nations Resolution Transforming our world by means of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This was a period of hope... that quickly came to an end when, shortly after becoming President of the United States, Donald Trump unambiguously announced that he would not implement neither the Paris Agreements nor the SDGs, while giving further impetus to a neoliberal economy based on speculation, production offshoring and war, thus rendering totally ineffective the excellent Lisbon proposal of year 2000 which promoted a knowledge-based economy for sustainable and humane development.
The confinement imposed upon us by the Covid-19 may at last redirect the political drift on a global scale, and therefore satisfy the aspirations of so many citizens who are convinced that it is now possible to invent a different future that will prevent us from reaching points of no return, that will put an end to the extremely dangerous outbreaks of supremacism, dogmatism and fanaticism that have emerged everywhere, without taking into account the tragic consequences that such a behaviour had in the germination of the Second World War.
Now that citizens have at last the capacity to express themselves freely, to know what is happening elsewhere, to take action on a totally equal footing without any discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, ideology, belief, sexual sensitivity, lineage... it shall be incumbent on “We, the peoples” - as we are so wisely and prematurely referred to at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations - to make the decision to participate, to be co-responsible for the global governance.
I do understand how discouraged many can feel when they realize that actions taken to trigger the most urgent changes have quickly fallen into oblivion and have been inadvertently submitted to “the lumbering pace of so much weary blood”, as accurately set forth by the poet Miquel Martí i Pol (1974).
Only an efficient democratic multilateralism - coupled with a worldwide citizenry who has had the opportunity, during the pandemic, to think about itself and about future generations, and is willing to act as a whole - can achieve the eradication of tax havens, of the various and abhorrent forms of trafficking, and of any behaviour that is not worthy of human dignity.
All of this is part of a new concept of security that concerns not only territories and borders, but also citizens who live in them, ensuring access of everyone to the six priorities of the United Nations: food, water, health services, protection of the environment, education for all throughout life and peace.
We must enter a new era. And this new era must be built on completely different pillars. Not with more bombs. But rather with much more fire brigades, with people trained to deal with the different features of the new world we have longed for, knowing that it is at last the responsibility of each of us to shape the future.