By Ruud Lubbers
To the occasion of 20 years Green Cross International there was a meeting in Genève beginning of September. During the meeting, the seventh “Earth Dialogues” took place, where the “Geneva Declaration on Action for a Peaceful and Sustainable World” was published. This declaration can be read here. In the declaration is written: “to continue on the present business-as-usual path of consumer-driven, resource- and energy-intensive growth will very likely lead to disaster. The present unsustainable patterns of consumption and production must change. We must develop and implement more responsible strategies for growth and development”.
In my speech, I dwelled on the urgency which was at the heart of the foundation of Green Cross back then, and how there is still cause for unified efforts for a sustainable world. I especially complimented founder Mikhail Gorbachev for his tireless effort to bring about a sustainable world.
At the end of the ’60s, at the time Green Cross arose, ‘Green’ was already an important part of my life. As a civilian in the port city of Rotterdam and father to three children, it was a challenge for me how to combine economic growth with quality of living. This connection starts at the effort to contribute to “not another escalation in the Cold War because of intermediate nuclear forces”.
Even though according to historians this period is mainly about Reykjavik, Reagan, and Gorbachev; for me, it was a focal point in the twelve years I was Prime Minister of The Netherlands (1982-1994). This connected me with a new world, including former president Gorbachev, who at the end of the Cold War and the USSR became chairman of Green Cross and pleaded for the development of an Earth Charter. As Prime Minister, I supported the initiative of Maurice Strong who, as chairman of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, committed himself to draft an ‘Earth Charter’. I invited former president Gorbachev to come to The Hague, together with his wife, with the purpose to agree and join forces and start a joint social initiative for the Earth Charter, under co-chairmanship of Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev. This was the beginning of a long process in which I engaged in a dialogue, together with the co-chairmen and the other Earth Charter Commissioners, with actors from worldwide society.
Steven Rockefeller – indeed born from a famous capitalistic family but himself a professor in Ethics – played a key role in further developing the Earth Charter-document.
In 2000 we launched the Earth Charter-document in the Peace Palace in The Hague. This was also the start of the global Earth Charter Initiative (ECI) with a beautiful and sustainable center in Costa Rica on the grounds of the UN University of Peace in San José.
Meanwhile, Green Cross, led by Alexander Likhotal for several years now, was undertaking much more than just the creation of the Earth Charter.
Green Cross contributed to the modernization of society, focused on several subjects, namely water, energy, ethics, and safety. On the path of ‘Our Common Future’ (by Gro Harlem Brundtland) to the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ it is notable that civil society – including Green Cross – contributes to the modernization of companies so they can turn themselves socially responsible, from Global Compact (2000) to the Charter for Compassion (2009). We have continually seen new initiatives come into being, but always there was the dynamic Green Cross. Congratulations! Even though many wrongdoings and challenges remain, I wish you a ‘joyful celebration of life’.
26 August 2013