According to the State of the World 2014, citizens around the globe have been disappointed by lack of leadership from governing bodies. This has led to the sustainability movement being led by citizen groups, women’s organizations and grassroots movements around the world and these efforts are often in opposition to government and corporate agendas.
This year’s report, published by Worldwatch Institute, marks the organization’s 40th anniversary. The study looks at what governing for sustainability really means. Authors highlight the responsibility of political and economic actors to achieve sustainability measures. They also noted that to be effective, governance systems must be inclusive and participatory, allowing members to have a voice in the decision making process.
“Governments today cannot consistently control themselves because they are decimated by a plague of corruption that devours the public interest in virtually every political system,” said David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and State of the World 2014 contributing author. “Effective government, in its various forms, will require an alert, informed, ecologically literate, thoughtful, and empathic citizenry.”
Authors also examine the potential for improving governance by analyzing a variety of trends, such as local and regional climate initiatives, energy democracy, and corporate responsibility. Several authors posit that sustainability depends on action in both the economic and political spheres; financial industries need to serve as public stewards again; unions can help ensure that the transition to sustainability is socially just; and citizens must take responsibility and empower themselves.
State of the World 2014 co-director Tom Prugh notes, “Ultimately, it seems to us, all governance begins with individuals in communities. Humans are no more isolated actors in politics than they are the independent molecules of mainstream economic theory.”
“Pressure to improve governance, at every level, can come only from awakened individuals, acting together, dedicated to making their communities sustainable places,” adds State of the World 2014 co-director Michael Renner. “From there, it may be possible to build communities in a way that affords every person on Earth a safe and fulfilling place to live, and offers future generations the same prospect.”