Taking responsibility

Climate & Natural resources30 Nov 2009Louise Stoddard

Louise Stoddard is the web editor for The Broker and a freelance writer and consultant based in Amsterdam

Last week, after completing my registration for the Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, I went to see the new ‘ultimate disaster movie’ 2012 at the cinema. The storyline was poor, but the effects were horrifyingly impressive. Hawaii was turned into a luminous series of bubbling volcanoes and enormous floods; earthquakes and clouds of ash wiped out the planet as the Earth’s core temperature rose. Of course, this was a disaster movie and whether we believe it or not, most of us love to hear the details of a good conspiracy theory. But interestingly, the script writers chose not to blame climate change, or human’s mistreatment of the planet, or indeed any system of governance, for the devastation. Perhaps that was too politically sensitive. Instead, a planetary alignment – as predicted by the Myans long ago – was provided as explanation for the end of the world as we know it. In fact, the film removes all responsibility from the human race about this particular version of the end of the world. There is little indication in the film that human activities on the planet could lead and have lead to scenes of desolation where nature has worked against us.

2012 is just a disaster movie, but it is this issue of responsibility at local and international levels that I am particularly interested in at the Earth System Governance conference being held this week in Amsterdam. The event will consider some of the primary issues connected with new integrated systems of governance, both global and regional, which will ensure the sustainable development of the planet. Earth System Governance incorporates people, places and the planet under one umbrella of responsibility. I am especially excited to be coordinating this blog, given that the December issue of The Broker (out in the next couple of days) will be publishing an article outlining Earth System Governance as a new concept and highlighting how new types of governance system are necessary to deal with the impacts of climate change and the promotion of a sustainable future. Before, during and after the event, myself and a number of guest bloggers and participants at the event will post up our thoughts, concerns and inspirations about the issues discussed. The Broker will also carry out a number of brief video interviews with participants and speakers, which will be posted on this blog. We really welcome comments and discussion, so please do join the debate here.