Sustainable blues


There’s one stand out feature in the mentality of people working for NGOs. They always seem to be in perpetual state of emergency. Sometimes it is merely a matter of organizing local kids to do some charity work or to clean up trash piled up at inappropriate place: you don’t need anything but some good will and spare time to bring that about. Yet from NGO perspective it is a life or death task to be accomplished under constant pressure, with tons of paperwork, justifications of spending funds on that one extra chewing gum for that one extra kid that volunteered at the last moment, reprogramming of budgets and so on, and so on. Clearly then, the emergency perspective of foot soldiers of sustainable development is not caused by the nature of problems they try to solve, but by the problems which are created for and, sometimes, by them.

As above, so bellow. The Mother, or at least Stepmother, of all NGO’s in the world, UN, if we are to judge by documents it produces, suffers from the same “state of emergency” malady. As this article is being written, the august assembly on New York’s East River, reaffirmed for zillionth time that “The End is still at hand if we don’t act now”. We are referring, of course, to inauguration of new installment in the series of agendas to bring about the only hope of (wo)men(transsexual)kind – the implementation of sustainable development. The “UN post-2015 development agenda” or Agenda 2030 is a mercifully short, yet condensed, document devised to be the final Agenda to end all Agendas. It sets 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” and 169 targets to be met in the definite deadline, i.e. in 15 years. Well, it’s nice to see UN getting all concrete and businesslike, opting for a change to skip vague rhetoric and commit to some tangible effects. Maybe they’ll even turn NGO work into real job and, consequently, let NGO employees loosen up a little? You know how it is, when you do something real you simultaneously realize how essentially unimportant it is on the grand scale, and that relieves the tension even more than puff of ganya or getting laid during the lunch break.

Is it possible that saviors of the world finally realized that they can let the damn thing take it’s own course and shoot some breeze?

Alas, no. Now they have a definite deadline.

As far as the content is concerned Agenda 2030 brings nothing essentially new to the series of UN advertised policies of social engineering initiated by Stockholm Conference on Human Environment in 1972., and codified twenty years later on Rio Summit in the form of voluminous Agenda 21. Sure, they are seemingly not so big on population control anymore – meaning: they don’t point it out in every few passages, they made terminology more hip – meaning: equity, economy and ecology are every now and then formulated as something being right, smart and necessary, they are more concrete – meaning: they name states and their governments as main “stakeholders” in implementation of sustainable development; yet, with all novelties we’ll try to point out in the lines to follow, the song remains the same. We still got that ole’ Agenda 21 blues. Only, this time around they pledge the world will be transformed in no less than 15 years.

Agenda 2030 was submitted to UN Secretary General together with recommendation on it’s implementation by international all-stars band named “High level panel of eminent persons”. Namely, this outfit consisting of 27 hip businessmen, academics and heads of states, ranging from Liberian President all dressed up like a Christmas tree to conservative suit-and-tie UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, issued a letter-report named “A New Global Partnership: eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development”. This 69 pages long document expands on suspiciously short Agenda 2030 (35 pgs.) and in effect explains it’s main tenets, even featuring little symbolic picture for each of 17 goals to be met by 2030. This children textbook moment, characteristic for all UN public relations-cum-programmatic documents is aesthetically much akin, as Patrick Henningsen from 21stCentury Wire rightly pointed out, to symbolism we see every day in public toilets. So, for instance, when “eminent persons” get into recommending how to implement “universal access to water and sanitation”, the idea is reinforced by little image of hand, drop of water and water tap. This indicates to one essential feature of UN agendas, namely that they are written for adult children or, which is more or less the same, infantile adults. We are, by text and image, sold on idea that until 2030. the world will finally be transformed and that all poverty will be eradicated, nothing more and nothing less. Well, this author can only point out that anyone who can accept this on face value, even if he has an excuse of not at all being acquainted with nuts and bolts of globalization, has a mind of twelve year old at best.

Agenda 2030’s claim of completely reorganizing and transforming the world is subsumed under two auspices, to wit: eradication of poverty and implementation of sustainable development. To remind the reader, sustainable development is an activity of standardizing the systems of society, economy and environment into dynamic – yet controlled – system of perpetual change. The image of looming environmental catastrophe, introduced in 1972., serves mainly as an outside boundary every artificial system needs; it is the only unforeseeable contingency the sustainable development allows – unforeseeable yet inescapable and ever present, be it overpopulation, global cooling, global warming or, as they now call it, climate change. Bearing in mind that sustainable development must always be in perpetual change, the great environmental Osama bin Laden is necessary to keep it going as a sort of bogeyman hiding in the sustainable ikebana forest encircling our sustainable habitats. The standard definition of sustainable development as one “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” is a sales pitch for gullible still sucking on their thumbs, yet it is at least one clear definition reader can found in Agenda 21. The new Agenda gives us no definitions of concepts, but we are informed that it is an Agenda “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Now, as it is fairly safe to make a bet that only infinitesimally minuscule number of people even heard of, let alone read, the document and surely not single one uninitiated average Joe voted on anything that’s written in it, one has to ask what this really means. Does this Lincolnesque definition means that we are all together on the path of transforming our world? Yes it does. Does it mean that we have a say about how it’s going to go down? Only if we share the same vision, err … obey executive decision, formerly known as “party line”. The world will be transformed whether anyone likes it or not along the lines of 17 goals of Agenda 2030. These goals are fairly standard UN’s fare, familiar to anyone who read Agenda 21, worked in NGO sector or been exposed to too much talk by UN or EU bureaucrats on TV. What makes this “call to action” stand out is it’s intensity – beefed up by existence of strict time table – and the way in which it is to be implemented. Namely, although every UN agenda is formally taken to be something necessary national states should implement, until now these activities were not overtly but covertly brought about through work of NGO’s and media changing the language in which we describe social problems, transforming them in the objects of sustainable development. For instance, there was a time, not so long ago, when no government could sell it’s citizens on idea that there should be an Ombudsman for equality of sexes, yet now it is something we take more or less for granted. This came about by constant, decade or two long, manufacture of consensus that “gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls” (see Agenda 2030, Goal 5.) is a real goal “of the people, by the people and for the people” whereas it is in reality anything but. The consensus is in fact media, academia and political consensus which, when more or less reached, incites the introduction of new laws or rephrasing the terminology of old ones, provokes foundation of new institutions and lines of financing, and hypertrophy of NGO’s competing on the market of government and corporate grants. NGO’s in effect serve to simulate vox populi and provide further justifications for constant reforms in postmodern Western societies. What’s new about Agenda 2030 is that this method of implementation is apparently going to be replaced by executive government decisions. As the document explains, main stakeholders of sustainable development are national governments, because “cohesive nationally owned (sic!) sustainable development strategies, supported by integrated national financing frameworks, will be at the heart of our efforts” (Agenda 2030, 63., pg. 29). The owning of the process indicates to obligation of a stakeholder to implement an executive decision branded as vision which circumscribes the freedom of actor’s own arbitrary decisions. As ownership is essentially making the process, say: building more accessible abortion clinics, the stakeholder’s property of which it has certain rights, it is by necessity making the same stakeholder responsible for successful implementation of the process. In “Global partnership for sustainable development” everybody is a stakeholder and everybody has ownership of the process of implementing the sustainable development, but “national ownership is key to achieving sustainable development” (Agenda 2030, 74 a, pg. 32) This means that in the near future we’ll see governments overtly pushing sustainable laws and practices on our ever more unsustainable backs with new and unprecedented fervor. This also means that transition is passing the phase of being pseudo-grass roots process and becoming the overtly obvious policy of individual nation states. However, although the nations are now in effect ordered to unapologetically kick in sustainable reforms, you, dear reader, are not forgotten in your stakeholderish duties.

The goal 17. of Agenda 2030 is a call to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” (Agenda 2030, pg.14). This “Global partnership” is, in the report of High level panel of eminent Persons, defined as one of “Five transformation shifts” needed to bring about “Transformation of the world”. The first four of them are “…where the focus of action is mostly at the country level”, while “the fifth transformational shift, forging a new global partnership, is an overarching change in international cooperation that provides the policy space for domestic transformations” (A New Global Partnership, pg. 7). The first one is where the juice really flows. Namely, it is worded in fairly military terms as “Leave no one behind!”. In it the august assembly of multicultural fashion gurus of international politics proposes that no one will be excluded from overarching reforms of consumption and production. Of course, they say that no one will be left in poverty, sickness and misery and so on and so forth, but what they really mean, and say in the next paragraph, is that no one will escape inclusion in the sustainable development. And in order to accomplish this “new agenda will need to set the core elements of sustainable lifestyles that can work for all.”(ibid.). This, in turn, means that global partnership “should encourage everyone to alter their worldview, profoundly and dramatically.” (A New Global Partnership, pg. 10). If you feel that you are not so sure you want to do that, remember that 27 luminaries are talking with the voice of the people. Why, they even traveled around the world to talk to people. In London they discussed the household poverty, in Monrovia they realized what a great need we all have of growth that delivers social inclusion and respect of environment, while in Bali they sat down and talked global challenges. It was, like, so cool that they hit OMG moment when they “asked where the money would come from to finance the massive investments that will be needed for infrastructure in developing countries, and concluded that (they) need to find new ways of using aid and other public funds to mobilize private capital”. (A New Global Partnership, pg. 3).

That’s, more or less, the reason why they call Agenda 2030 the “People’s Agenda”. It reminds one of usual communist practice of Great Leader implementing some kind of oppression over internal enemies and counter-revolutionaries because there was this grandma who wrote him a letter, and he was astonished to find out that dissidents are raising fuss, so he reprimanded his aides and sent them to fetch the granny, and then he and granny discussed how fares the revolution, and granny told him he doesn’t really reach out to people from his modest Central Comity lodgings, and then the cameras caught him shed a tear, and then he smiled and stroke his mustache and gave order to initiate another set of purges and agrarian reforms, and granny was happy and the sun was shining brighter and their picture was all over the news and children textbooks.

This infantile line of reasoning throughout developed West serves as an ironic reminder that globalization too has it’s Stalins and Titos, only while the former could outdrink the whole Politbuerau and later, as legend has it, groped with Sophia Loren, one of the Eminences of High level panel purportedly gave oral pleasure to a pig. If any of this is true, we can hardly call that a progress towards more just and equitable leadership.

As for the aims of global transformation, they are, as we have said, a standard fare. There’s, for instance, Goal 7. “Secure sustainable energy”. It is sold to the public under auspices of switching to renewable energy sources but, on close reading, it shows some interesting underlying aspects. So the goal is, among other things, to provide people with “modern and reliable” energy to cook and light their homes because it “has enormous social, economic and environmental benefits”. Well, yes really, come to think of it, “a lack of light prevents children from studying and learning and woman can spend too much time gathering wood for fire.” (A New Global Partnership, pg. 45). We can’t have that, on the one hand, because “all forms of discrimination (…) against women and girls will be eliminated, including through the engagement of men and boys. The systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the implementation of Agenda is crucial.”(Agenda 2030, 21 pg. 7). On the other hand, we need light so the children can benefit from the Goal 3. which is to “Provide quality education and lifelong learning”, a crucially important thing because “quality education positively effects health, and lowers family size and fertility rates” and we need that because “it can also lead people to appreciate natural resources, become aware of the importance of sustainable consumption and production and climate change, and gain an understanding of sexual and reproductive health.” (A New Global Partnership, pg. 36-37). And what would we do if this wouldn’t reinforce the Goal 4. “Ensure the Healthy Lives”, where among other things “we” need to “increase by x% the proportion of children, adolescents, at-risk adults and older people that are fully vaccinated” and once again affirm that “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is an essential component of healthy society (A New Global Partnership, pg. 38 – 39.).

This will suffice to give reader some food for thought when he or she contemplates Agenda 2030. The full exposition of sustainable development project can be found in this author’s article “Grimm Tidings – Introduction to Agenda 21”.The systematic, totalitarian blueprint of Agenda 21 is simply reiterated and put on the definite timeline. The hierarchy of stakeholders is this time around strictly set, with governments at the top and people – meaning NGO’s – at the bottom and new ways of financing, aside from new forms of taxation that will surely ensue, are projected. The technological sector of private business has also being named as one of the key stakeholders and partners in Global partnership, meaning probably that Google and the rest of the gang will have to do their thing with renewed efforts and so on and so forth. All in all this amendment to Global Constitution is simply a push to the next phase of transition in posthuman world about which this author has written extensively already. Now we can see emerging framework of global institutions with executive powers on the national, regional and global level which will probably be hatched from the panels and forums needed to supervise and review the implementation of Agenda 2030. After all it is essential to have “a robust, voluntary, effective, participatory, transparent and integrated follow-up and review framework”, which “will make a vital contribution to implementation and will help countries to maximize and track progress in implementing this Agenda in order to ensure that no one is left behind (emphasis BM).” These review “platforms” “will evolve over time, taking into account emerging issues and the development of new methodologies, and will minimize the reporting burden on national administration. They will be rigorous and based on evidence, informed by country-led evaluations and data which is high-quality, accessible, timely, reliable and disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status (sic!), disability and geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national context”. (Agenda 2030, 72., 74 (f),(g), pg. 32 – 33). All UN member states will identify their respective regional forums through which this process will be elevated to regional level and then finally submit it all to High level political forum, operating on global level. This global platform will be “meeting every four years under the auspices of General Assembly … (and) provide high-level political guidance (emphasis BM) on the Agenda and it’s implementation.” (Agenda 2030, 87. pg. 35).

Well, could it be that we are soon about to finally meet that Huxley style world government all those “crazy conspiracy theorists” are talking about?

Probably, but … you know … whatever happens, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t be like you work for some NGO. Always the one to lead by example, I will undersign this article, roll a cigarette of illegal homegrown tobacco, puff a smoke and wait for lunchtime. Admittedly, I will not skip lunch for more licentious activities so I will enjoy an unsustainable meal, high on animal fats which are going to be sustained deeper down by light alcoholic beverage. This is an act of rebellion for, when we take into consideration the attitude of globalists, it seems that beginning of revolution should be rejecting the state of emergency they constantly try to provoke.

So, comrades! Let us lay back after lunch! Puff some smokes, sip some beer while watching aerosols painting tic-tac-toe grids on our clear blue sky! Let’s contemplate our response! If they are in hurry, we should shoot some breeze! The revolution can wait! That could be all the revolution we need!

And tomorrow we can spare a thought as to how to opt out from the monstrosity they are creating.

Branko Malić

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