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A Wake-Up Call for People Power

27 June 2012

Almost a week since the Rio+20 Earth Summit ended, civil society is coming to terms with the ‘epic failure’ of global leaders to agree meaningful action for addressing the worsening planetary and social crises.

Campaigners were near unanimous in decrying the inertia and lack of urgency shown by governments for tackling issues related to sustainable development, with national self-interest overriding any possibility of dealing with global problems in a genuinely cooperative and global manner.

Sadly, the Rio+20 Declaration in no way reflected the global level of sharing, unity and cooperation that is needed to set humanity on a sustainable path. The question for many people is: what now? If world leaders and policymakers are paying merely lip service to the unfolding human and environmental catastrophe, is the growing power of global civil society sufficient to challenge the immense forces that stand in the way of creating a just and sustainable world? After decades of failed conferences and summits on the world’s intractable problems, can we imagine a new movement of ordinary people that can fill the vacuum in global leadership?

This question is explored in a brief by STWR that examines the public uprisings and mass occupations that have become a significant force for change on the world stage since 2011. Recognising that we have not yet witnessed the emergence of a truly global movement of ordinary people, it tries to envision what such a movement might look like, and whether a united voice of the public could be sufficient to challenge the forces of profit, growth and power that control the current world direction.

When Will Ordinary People Rise Up? argues that the urgent need for world rehabilitation may only begin with a unified and directed public opinion that speaks on behalf of the poorest and most disenfranchised, and gives the highest priority to the elimination of extreme deprivation and needless poverty-related deaths. Based on such an appeal to our common humanity and compassion, our greatest hope for the future could be a worldwide popular movement that demands a fairer sharing of global resources as its all-embracing cause.

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