Since 2013 the city of Stockholm in Sweden has been closely linked to the activity of GIAN-Ecology, as it was during this year that the core group joined World Water Week, a major international event organized every year in this city. With that meeting, we launched an action plan for 2014-2015 that articulated our activities around the theme Water for All.
But in Stockholm, during the meeting of 2013, there also emerged another line of work that we have pursued with great interest: what we have called the dialogue between sustainability science and values.
Because of this we have kept two tracks: one on water for all (access, risk management, commercialization) and the other on values that reinforce the human spirit among those who are engaged in pursuing sustainability science.
In this dialogue on sustainability science and values, we have found a very competent and generous partner, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), a leading scientific institution that has always been very attentive to social dimensions in the study of environmental issues. The SEI took this dialogue with great interest and shared in conversations with GIAN-Ecology even if the language and the contents are not the most common in their own work. All this will take place in Stockholm on 24 and 25 November 2015.
GIAN-Ecology wants to propose a real dialogue. This means that we are not the “owners” of the values that we are dealing with, but we can contribute to point out the contradictions, the fears, and above all the forces that drive our activity. If the science of sustainability can be questioned about its attempted neutrality, we also have to recognize that is not always solidarity or depth that is the driving force of our own work.
In a sense, when we talk about values, attitudes, principles, and convictions, we have to recognize that we are all beginners and that we are not neutral. Our common passion for a more just and sustainable world and sharing this passion will certainly be the greater ground for mutual understanding.
We aspire for a dialogue that is sincere and deep so as to be fruitful and meaningful. With this in our minds and hearts, we relate some of the principles that Pope Francis proposes in Chapter Five of the encyclical Laudato si’ (LS) and for which we adapted these eight principles, meant for political dialogue, to our own experience.
1) The necessary consensus must be based on a profound equity: ensuring that the solutions proposed will look for the common good and not just defending the interests of some (LS 164);
2) The need to identify the weakest players in all these discussions as the thread always breaks at the weaker part (LS 171);
3) The need to implement and carry out what we agreed, and our experiences need to be fed back through the work with communities and through continuous dialogue (LS 174);
4) The need to respect the sovereignty of those in dialogue, but sovereignty – whether institutional or personal- cannot be an excuse not to reach agreements especially when looking to reduce risks and prevent disasters (LS 174);
5) There is a logical continuity that links among them the root causes of the problems because the logic that prevents us in taking drastic actions to reverse the trend of global warming is the same logic that does not allow the eradication of poverty. Poverty and environment share not only the effects, but also the causes (LS 176);
6) The importance of generating processes as we need to keep the conversations alive and continuing. These cannot be isolated actions and we must look for ways to keep the conversations open as we seek long-term commitments;
7) The human factor is also very important because these are times that will require great generosity by all (LS 182);
8) Transparency is another key aspect of these processes and it is very necessary to avoid succumbing to the interests of the strongest (LS 183).
This attitude of sincere and committed dialogue guides our steps and the coming days will allow us to implement some, or many, of these principles proposed by Pope Francis. GIAN-Ecology is pursuing this as our way of proceeding in the Stockholm Dialogue with joy and hope in our hearts and openness and creativity in our minds, and with active passion in both.
We hope to bring all our learnings from the previous conversations to this meeting in Stockholm. We also hope that through this dialogue, we may deepen the scientific urgency and social values inherent in the understanding of the climate change of our planet and the social transformation needed in real action, social inclusion, and environmental integrity.
The Stockholm Dialogue is an initiative of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN) on Ecology led by José Ignacio García and a dedicated website provides information and updates to this effort.