The Rio + 20 Conference is not expected to have a strong impact on the environment. The agents of change – our global leaders, scientists, and those in attendance at the conference – have so far not produced needed changes to the environmental degradation. Indifference to change, however, can be combated through a better sense of interconnectedness provided by global citizenship.
Different approaches to global citizenship also deal with environment. McGill summarized and categorized them according to the philosophy they subscribe to:
1. The Path of Reason, which calls for respect for freedom, democracy, and human rights;
2. The Path of Faith, which claims that religious individuals can support life and through that revere god;
3. The Democratic Path, which calls for absence of war and presence of perennial peace and cooperation;
4. The Humanitarian Path, which calls for aid to all human beings, the right granted to us by common humanity;
5. The Ecological Path, which sees interconnectedness as the solution, but also a possible source of doom if a weak link is present;
6. The Free Trade Path, which claims that we all work toward the benefit of all since our interests are satisfied;
7. The Feminist Path, which claims that female “ethic of care” is based on universal, practical, civic and green values;
8. The Corporate Path, which claims that business should be conducted in an ethical way;
9. The Perennial Path, which claims that we are all “shards of earthenware.”
In short, there are methods and approaches for every citizen, but all paths are instilled with the belief that we share something in common: a common goal, characteristic, purpose of our existence and needs.
And some have been indeed working on the issue of global citizenship more seriously than others. United World Colleges make “education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” Located in diverse areas such as China, Norway or the USA, they gather students from across the planet and teach them a philosophy similar to the humanitarian and democratic paths, at the same time providing them with the International Baccalaureate at the end of two years. Among universities, many are implementing programs to enhance students’ experience and understanding of global citizenship. Some, such as Deakin University in Australia, even provide awards to truly global students.
Wendt (2003) argued that globalization will lead to a world state. In his analysis, he applied teleological logic of anarchy, where he synthesized previous events with current and predicted future events. According to him, one can find a historical development towards a world state. Whereas 1,000 B.C. we had 600,000 political communities, now we have approximately 200(Wendt, 2003, p. 503). Waltz (1979) predicted a system of balancing caused by anarchy. Since then we have seen strengthening of the EU as one political unit. NATO and WTO expanded. NAFTA was created.
This world state would be different from any current state. Such a state would encompass everyone, who would no longer see each other as a security threat to their national goals (Wendt, 2003, p. 505). Not only would they no longer see each other as a threat, but would also have common security goals and a common source of authority, a supranational authority common to all (Wendt, 2003, p.505). If one relaxes the assumptions, one gets current institutions. Wendt (2003) argued that if one relaxed these assumptions, one would have the UN, which is a supranational authority but without the usage of force (p.505). In such a state led by the UN, concern for sustainable development and world citizenship would be feasible.
The dilemma presented to all of us is, will we reach this state of mind too late? Current indifference has led to climate degradation and a rising number of environmental refugees, currently standing between 20 and 50 millions. Instead of gaining, workers have lost their jobs, while richer are getting wealthier.
Wendt, A. (2003). Why a world state is inevitable. European Journal of International
Relations, 9(4), 491 – 542.
Waltz, Kenneth (1979). Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison – Wesley.