Magazine article UNESCO Courier

A Shared Future or No Future

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

A Shared Future or No Future

Article excerpt

Day by day our planet is shrinking. Today it is smaller and more fragile than yesterday. And yet are we really any "closer" to each other?

The interdependence of the peoples and nations making up our world has become self-evident. No country, however powerful in terms of its economy or population, can any longer get by completely on its own. Transnational problems - whether they be environmental, cultural or economic - can no longer be solved at the national level. It is through international strategies, through concerted action between states and between regions that such problems can be addressed. Poverty, Aids, pollution, climate change, drugs and violence know no boundaries, whether national, ethnic, natural or political.

Globalization also means that the issues are interconnected. The sectoral, specialized, discipline-specific approach has shown its limitations, and these are becoming more and more of a constraint as real life, or at least our awareness of it, grows in complexity. Bioethics is an obvious example of a domain that "cuts across" several disciplines. If we wish to influence reality, we must adopt a transdisciplinary approach that makes use of all available expertise and skills.

This awareness of the interdependence of human beings and of the interconnectedness of the issues they face has become clearly apparent in recent years at the highest levels of political action and in global forums. Within the United Nations system, a series of major conferences has highlighted the connections between the various challenges we must take up - between environment and development, for example, and between education and population. Jomtien, New Delhi, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing are among the cities that have hosted these global summits.

Too long overlooked or neglected, the human dimension is once again compelling recognition as the measure of all things. In the United Nations system, the approach to social development, to human development has become broader, more diverse and more flexible. Human beings, with all their unfathomable qualities, their strengths and weaknesses, are again moving to the centre of the economic stage.

And yet . . . compare the hundreds of billions of dollars siphoned off by the arms or drug trade with national education budgets! …

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