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  • Published on: 30 Nov 2011
  • Source: ForUSA.org / By Rene Wadlow
  • More information

Dai Dong (A World of Great Togetherness)
I was recently in Vietnam to give a series of talks at the University of Hanoi on ecologically-sound development and poverty reduction, in light of the Earth Summit organized by the United Nations to be held June 2012 in Rio. The conference is popularly called ?Rio plus 20? as it will be held 20 years after the first Rio conference on sustainable development. As I was preparing my talks, I reviewed some of my files on the first U.N.-organized conference on the ecology ? Stockholm 1972 ? and the intense efforts to put ecology on the ?world agenda? ? that small list of issues on which governments focus and cooperate. Thus I thought back to the Fellowship of Reconciliation?s Alfred Hassler and the Dai Dong The Gioi organization, and to related efforts in Geneva in which I had participated (1).

Dai Dong (A World of Great Togetherness)
By
Rene Wadlow
on
Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 1:00pm
Dai Dong (A World of Great Togetherness)

I was recently in Vietnam to give a series of talks at the University of Hanoi on ecologically-sound development and poverty reduction, in light of the Earth Summit organized by the United Nations to be held June 2012 in Rio. The conference is popularly called ?Rio plus 20? as it will be held 20 years after the first Rio conference on sustainable development. As I was preparing my talks, I reviewed some of my files on the first U.N.-organized conference on the ecology ? Stockholm 1972 ? and the intense efforts to put ecology on the ?world agenda? ? that small list of issues on which governments focus and cooperate. Thus I thought back to the Fellowship of Reconciliation?s Alfred Hassler and the Dai Dong The Gioi organization, and to related efforts in Geneva in which I had participated (1).

While Dai Dong as an independent organization lasted only six years ? 1970-1976 ? it played a large role in building awareness both among governments and in a broader public, especially in the USA, which had started to be concerned with damage to nature by human misuse of technology and chemical products (2).

In practice, but not in theory, there is only one major topic on the ?world agenda? per decade. Thus for the 1960s, after the independence and entry into the U.N. of the African states, the terms of trade between developed and less developed countries was the issue on the world agenda. This concern was manifested in 1964 by the first U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, followed by the creation of a large UNCTAD secretariat in the U.N. to help developing countries on conditions of trade, prices of raw materials, and the transfer of technology. These are still important issues, but have become ?routine? and do not hold center stage. Trade and development may not have been central on everyone?s mind during the 1960s. I recall chatting with Ernesto ?Che? Guevara in the halls of the Palais des Nations during the first UNCTAD when he was the Minister of Commerce of Cuba. While recognizing the importance of trade, he probably had other aims in mind.

The 1970s was the decade of ecology, intellectually highlighted by Rene Dubos? Only One Earth (3).

The 1980s agenda was East-West nuclear policies in Europe, the end of the Berlin Wall and of Soviet power.

The 1990s focused on the violent rise of ethnic-based separatist movements, basically the break up of former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union ? the nature and future of such movements.

The 2001-2011 Decade: The United States hoped that the focus would be on the ?War on Terror? and the rise of violent Islamic groups. In practice, these issues were of interest only to a small number of countries which were directly involved. However, with the U.S. focused on the War on Terror and Russia on re-shaping its own economy, no group of states could propose an alternative decade-long focus. The U.N. tried to provide a focus with the ?Millennium Development Goals? agreed to in a 2000 U.N. summit conference. However, the Millennium Goals are a ?grab-bag? of diverse development issues. While each is important, there are too many to provide a clear ?vision? on which governments and non-governmental organizations could cooperate.
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