A pilot project was planned for the establishment of a local sustainability center somewhere in Tanzania. The project had to be postponed; however, the concept paper prepared for the project could give useful ideas as to how any sustainability center could be established in any local area in the developing world, and is reproduced and updated here. The principles outlined in this entry could also be applied in the developed countries with necessary modifications.
Purpose: How could we create or rebuild communities to be ecologically sustainable, peaceful, democratic, healthy and happy? The purpose is that communities are both environmentally sustainable and socially peaceful but also that they can contribute to global sustainability, that sustainable employment could be created and maintained, and inhabitants in communities can get appropriate training, health and cultural services.
Basic problem: Each community can make a number of improvements to its living conditions. Often, however, improvements are conditional on decisions of other communities, and actions taken by county-level, national, regional and global decision-makers (public and private). As the globe will reach its ecological limits soon, or has done so in some respects, each community has a role and even a moral obligation to contribute to the global survival of the human race. This will, on the positive side, empower the poorest communities as they have an important role to contribute to a global strategy for survival and take immediate action. This mission will also need the creation of clusters of new humanity, renewal of the best religious, spiritual and humanistic values stressing that we are a global, interconnected village, and that the survival of the human race will depend on each of us, and that a change has to be peaceful, increasing happiness in us as well as in the world.
Tools: we need;
- Knowledge of the global predicament (this kind of information is, for instance, given in the book Crisis of Sustainability and in its endnotes);
- Know-how and technology: information about various ways to build ecologically sustainable buildings, infrastructures and whole communities as e.g. in the examples given in Blue Economy, the book by Gunter Pauli referred to in Chapter 3 of Crisis of Global Sustainability);
- Intelligence and creativity: as you have to apply all of this knowledge and know-how to your community;
- Social intelligence and activism: as you have to convince others that we need new models of social behavior and quick action – globally, regionally nationally and locally;
- New humanity values which stress peaceful change through personal transformation and growth – this could be called neogrowth (concept by Prof. Pentti Malaska described in Chapter 3 of the book); a move away from quantitative economic growth measured by GDP to human growth and growth of sustainable villages, communities, cities and nations.
Possible steps to be taken in a locality such as Tanzania (and in any other communities – physical or virtual – around the globe):
1. Make an evaluation of the sustainability and survivability of the community, its weak and strong points, its connectivity to other communities and the rest of the world, as well as opportunities and risks involved.
How have climate change and other environmental problems affected the community and how are they likely to affect it in the future; how dependent is the livelihood of the community on trade, the prices of commodities and what is the availability (now and in the future) of oil or other energy sources?
What is the employment situation, particularly among the young?
What is the status of health of the population and what social and cultural services are available?
What is the state of democracy, participation, racial, tribal and religious relations in the community and in its surrounding communities?
What are the crucial elements in the life of the community that would need outside expertise and financial or other assistance
- Create a local sustainability center (in some Western communities these could be virtual but in Africa mostly physical)
Small start-up loans for sustainable employment;
Training for the management for small business in sustainable projects and initiatives;
- Health advice and services;
- Training for human rights, democracy, conflict prevention and peace-building;
- Cultivation of arts and new humanity; and
- Initiation, coordination and participation in conflict prevention and peace-building activities in creating sustainable societies.
- Establish electronic, wireless and multimedia links among people in the community as well in other sustainability centers and global networks; and
- Provide analysis, early warning and networking services to local community, nationally and internationally.
- Start creating projects on sustainable employment, democracy, conflict prevention and cultural services. The best projects could combine many of the above functions.
- Start contributing to peaceful change for long-term sustainability locally, nationally and globally. Each community has different roles and opportunities. There are also non-local communities like professional associations, a group of friends on Facebook, etc. Make a list of possible options and opportunities, for instance:
- Ensure that elections are free and fair and corruption is minimized;
- Educate politicians, civil servants and corporations about their global and local responsibilities in creating sustainable business practices;
- Take peaceful civil action (like peaceful demonstrations) against non-sustainable business practices and initiatives (those that pollute locally, nationally or globally); and
- Create media and internet and social media campaigns for sustainability.
Start of a pilot project:
- Select a village or other community (or a couple of these) for a pilot study. If it is feasible to select a few then one could be part of the city, as its problems and opportunities are different from rural areas;
- Convince local and national politicians and civil society that they should help;
- Seek assistance from a country team of the UN and other international or regional organizations;
- Enlist support of local, national and multinational corporations and civil society organizations;
- Make a project proposal and seek funding; and
- Start implementing and report constantly to this blog/website.