Group photos from GCGI Conferences
Sustainable Development Goals: Where is the Common Good?
Prof. Kamran Mofid*
Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
(This article is dedicated to the children of the world, the torch bearers of the next sustainable agenda, who are the unfolding story of the decades ahead. May they rise to the challenge of leading our troubled world, with hope and wisdom in the interest of the common good to a better future)
"Already a billion of us go to bed hungry every night. Not because there isn't enough, but because of the deep injustice in the way the system works."-OXFAM International
In the year 2000, the world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration: A commitment to a peaceful, prosperous, and just world. The declaration included a set of targets for development and poverty reduction to be reached by 2015. These came to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
A cursory look at the world today can easily show that the MDGs journey has been nothing but a big disappointment: Where is “a peaceful, prosperous, and just world “? Hopes were raised and hopes have been dashed.
These goals will expire on December 31, 2015, and will be replaced by yet another set of gaols, namely the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"The Value of Values to Build a World for the Common Good"
Prof. Kamran Mofid*
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
World Congress of Faiths
Annual General Meeting
LondonSchool of Economics, University of London
The Alumni Theatre, New AcademicBuilding (NAB)
Wednesday 20 May 2015
Photo: Albert Ceolan, Bountiful Earth
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today, and for giving me the opportunity to share with you my journey for the common good, a journey which I began many years ago, when as a young man I left Iran for England in 1972 in my search for life’s bigger picture.
Friends, I very much like to set the scene by reading a short statement, giving you a brief background to my presentation, my abstract, if you will:
This presentation is dedicated to the youth of the world, our children and grand- children, who are the unfolding story of the decades ahead. May they rise to the challenge of leading our troubled world, with hope and wisdom in the interest of the common good to a better future
Our country, the United Kingdom, like all nations of the world, despite many good works, deeds and actions by so many individuals, organisations, civil societies and more, is facing a number of major socio-economic, political, ecological, moral, ethical and spiritual crises.
However, I wish to argue that:
Youth Mental Health Matters:
There are 1.2 Billion Youth Aged 15-24 Years in the World
"Youth and Mental Health": The shocking statistic is that 1 in 5 young people suffer from mental illness. Many more suffer from mild depression and loneliness. This is a plea to all youth workers, social/health-care workers, academics, teachers, the youth themselves, parents, schools, colleges, universities, civil societies dealing with youth, politicians, media, business community, religious and spiritual leaders, all the people of good will: Make 2015 a year where you purposefully ensure that a permanent, safe, creative space is made available for all young people to speak their heart, anxiety, worries, hopes and dreams. Let us all become a vehicle of hope and ensure young people are transformed into responsible global citizens, having overcome any disadvantages that they might have faced in the past. This is a true Common Good Vision.
A Plea to address Global Youth Depression
“Values represent our guiding principles: our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.”
‘Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value’- Albert Einstein
As it has been observed throughout history, in action and thought, people are affected by a wide range of influences. Past experience, cultural and social norms are some of the most important ones. Connected to all of these, to some extent, are our values, which represent a strong guiding force, shaping our attitudes and behaviour over the course of our lives. Our values have been shown to influence our political persuasions; our willingness to participate in political action; our career choices; our ecological footprints; how much money we spend, and on what; and our feelings of personal wellbeing, contentment and happiness; as well as our relationship with others, with nature and the Mother Earth, to mention but a few.
Let us pause for a moment and focus on some fundamental and enduring questions of human meaning and value. Questions such as:
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to live a life of meaning and purpose?
3. What does it mean to understand and appreciate the natural world?
4. What does it mean to forge a more just society for the common good?
By their very nature, these questions lend themselves to thought and discussion around ethics, morals and values.
At the GCGI we are delighted and honoured that since 2002 we have been at the forefront of activities to highlight, address and analyse these and other relevant questions.
We recognised that building a better and more harmonious world will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. We appreciate that we should not carry on constructing a global society that is materially rich but spiritually poor. We did know that we must be led by values, and must uphold them at all times.
Thus, in 2002, we began to construct globalisation for the common good, as a path to build a more just and sustainable world.
At a recent seminar I was asked by one of the participants if I could explain, in simple, jargon-free language, what I meant by “an economy that serves the common good”, and also what I meant by “sustainability, social justice and ecology”.
I was excited by these questions, as they are very close to my heart. Although, I have written extensively on these issues*, here, now was my chance to engage, face-to-face, with some interested and well-informed people, who wanted some clear explanations. Thus, I began to explain and the dialogue started:
First, I said, in order to see what an economy for the common good might look like, it would be helpful to consider what globalisation for the common good might look like. This is important, as an economy for the common good needs a fertile ground in which to develop. Thus, I began telling them about the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI), where we connect our intellect with our humanity on our path towards the common good.
I explained that to understand and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to view the big picture. Whatever we are considering, whether it is war and peace, economics and environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology, progress and poverty, profit and loss, food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need to keep the big picture in mind to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.
This big picture is also the context in which we can most productively explore the perennial questions of life – its purpose and meaning, the relevance of values, justice and our relationship to the ecosystem which supports all life.