Sustainable development in a wider perspective (updated version)   (Published: 18.11.2018)

The world has been changing from the very beginning although people and other creatures on the earth have not been able to witness it as the human beings with concept of time, various technologies and documentation capability have structured and described reality in a way enabling exchange of information about this surrounding change.

The ancient civilizations with remaining physical relicts and objects, cultures on the earth with objects and historiography have upgraded the “story telling” of the change process at immaterial layers of dialogue between human beings and peoples. This immaterial dimension of perceiving the surrounding reality and information exchange has been a necessary stage for the current global consciousness building. 

The Mongol Empire created in the in the 1200s has been the largest man-made empire in history, extending over 32 million square kilometers in Asia and Europe. Almost half of the Earth population then lived in its area. The empire had a supremacy in military technology and warfare compared to other state systems of that time. Also, it performed functions providing benefits to own and individuals of other regimes, it supported cultural exchange and innovation spreading, as well as safeguarded movement of goods between regions and within the own empire.

The end of the religion-based world order and the ecclesiastical state system at the end of the Middle Ages marked the beginning of a new development in the world. The Renaissance in the arts liberated human energy in which temporal orientation emerged and became reality that also had the new future dimension instead of the monopoly past. Great discoveries and the emergence of scientific thinking through the discovery of the laws of physics was a new beginning and foundation of the contemporary way of thinking.

That development also had its dark site – an era of colonial policy emerged. For a stronger law, the leading countries in Europe, from the 16th century, extended their economic activity and legislative powers to apply on territories outside their territories in Europa. Initially, these overseas territories were settlements for commerce and economic activity, and at a later stage they were formed colonies with own colonial legislation and jurisdiction regulating majority population living conditions.  At the same time, the Russian state expanded to Siberia over the mountainous Urals of the European and Asian border.

In colonial policy there was a form of interaction that was different from the usual and millennial approach, which was not based on equal partners' partnerships. It ended most of North and South America in the late 1700s and early 1800s. However, colonialism grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when colonial powers took over almost all of Africa, a large part of Asia and all the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Russia also expanded its territories in the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as in the region of West coast and Alaska in North America.

In the early 1800s took place Vienna Conference 1814 – 1815 introducing new procedures between the state institutions to regulate world affairs that in today’s world are known as diplomacy.  In the same century, there was also an ideological breakdown between different social philosophies, shaping the secular state institutions in a certain direction. After that ideological breakdown, the evolution took place either from bottom to top or from top to bottom – both schools, however, acted their way of life under concept of democracy.

1992 was an important year in world evolution history. First, the New Year's speeches were opened in the new post-Soviet independent states in a different way than during the FSU era they were accustomed. From the 19th century on, ideological competition between the ideologies of two leading positions in power ideology had come to an end. However, intervention to support transition in the FSU and inter-linked economies took place without an adequate situation analysis by donors. 

The western market mechanism countries wnted to replace the socialism values with their own comprehension and social setup.  The Soviet Union did not have anything to teach them that could be a case in less developed countries, if not applicable in the more developed and private ownership-based societies.  Russia and the FSU had their lessons learned in mathematics and natural sciences, although the political systems did not allow the innovative approaches in managing socio-economic change in centrally planned state system. In the present environmental catastrophe, there is a demand for such a natural sciences knowledge. It is responsibility of Russian state whether this knowledge could be at disposal of the others.

Since Rio de Janeiro Conference 1992, the world development community has design global development programs.  Under UN cooperation modalities are the environmental programs following the environmental issues and trying to find adequate approaches to them. In addition to these, the socio-economic issues were also included in the Agenda 21 joint document associated with Rio de Janeiro Conference. In addition, there are two more comprehensive global programs: The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000 – 2014 and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.

In addition, there are other ongoing programs in numerous fields of global cooperation e.g. education sector development by international development organizations with a unified and standardized methodological approach. Since the early 1990’s those programs are based on holistic top-down approaches to needed changes in global thinking. In addition, more inductive locally driven approaches also do exist to change knowledge management with a bottom up and localized needs as a priority approach to education sphere.   There is still much to be done to strengthen the equal opportunities in access to education and restructuring social dimension of knowledge growth on the globe.

Thinking patterns of the world development community require a comprehensive streamlining process.  Things should be related to the world evolution in the past wider perspective also in the socio-economic sphere, not only in the environmental affairs.  One of the first priorities is to restore independent and poor states’ trust in the methodology and practices used in management of change globally giving something also for them. Since establishment of OECD DAC a great number of achievements have been achieved. It does not prevent new initiatives from outside sources with new funding and supervising mechanisms.

At the same time, perhaps the entire development process has become a more single-minded and focuses too much on inter-governmental cooperation with donor-prioritized initiatives at expense of the beneficiary communities and sectors of socio-economic development.  The present the Agenda 2030 for SDGs requires also streamlining effort to reflect better the emerging systems thinking in perceiving the global priorities of the governmental and non-governmental provisions in sustainable development design, delivery and assessment processes. There is no time left too much – action is needed.  

The wedding ring is ringing, the church is full of celebrities - nothing happens. Why is there no escort to the bride who would guide her to a groom waiting in front of the altar? Could sustainable development and the break-out of old roles bring people and nations together in a new way?

Addition to text:

The above text is the last public assessment of Asumer Oy in the Global Change / Sustainability Assessment effort, which started in 2015. The text identifies eight areas that are problematic for the Agenda 2030 for SDGs design and implementation:

1) Agenda 2030 for SDGs is not sufficiently tied to the political and economic development of the world. It is detached from the great steps in world development, which still have an impact on things and provide the ingredients for re-evaluating the current situation.
2) The change management of industrialized countries and its methodological standards differ from the approaches, management and control of change applied by the UN and the World Development Community (IFI), especially in provision of ICT development/digitalization in the second half of the twentieth century.
3) ICT / Internet, digitalization and programs funded by the World Development Community are designed to meet end users and statistical needs, while in industrialized countries, information management is a key objective.
4) Due to this diverse targeting of IT projects, the practices and method standards of both major IT schools and systems architecture and compatibility are still unresolved.
5) There is a rush to find a solution to this, because the smaller countries participating in the SDG program will have to solve what architecture and ICT platform they will be building on their development and digitization program.
6) Each country participating in the SDG program must make a choice on what kind of funding, management philosophy, IT architecture and platform they are building on their country's development.
7) In some countries, an "interoperability" approach has been created to provide IT infrastructure / compatibility. Each country should be able to choose the means by which they implement IT compatibility in their country.
8) Agenda 2030 for SDGs with its 17 objectives and 169 sub-targets is too broad to be managed by the current management mechanism - it should be divided into three content clusters and one cluster in the practical implementation of the program including ICT/digitalization.

Asumer Oy is looking for partners and funding for professional identification paper making. It could be delivered to the UN body responsible for the SDG program. In the course of the investigation, it would also be possible to evaluate the possibilities of non-governmental development of the Sustainable Development Assessment Panel. The panel would develop new perspectives on the content and implementation of sustainable development.


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