Together the switches define a practical strategy for global security; for a serious attempt at revival of co-operation, ecosystems and prosperity.
Seven Policy Switches for Global Security
Published as ‘advanced research’ by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme.
Everyone desires a secure life. Yet the security of more and more regions is undermined by unreliable and unequal availability of basics such as energy, water, food, natural resources, funds, co-operation, trust and hope for the future. Shocks such as the credit crunch, infectious diseases, climate instability and ecological collapses are converging towards a ‘planet crunch’ where security would become a fond memory. Traditional policy-making, that manages problems separately and incrementally, offers only the illusion of protection against impending unaffordable and irreversible shocks affecting all people. Future security anywhere requires all facets of security everywhere. This ‘global security’ ambition can be sought with a new era of policy-making that encompasses the indivisibility, scale and urgency of all planet crunch issues. This paper offers a selection of seven simple ‘policy switches’ (or ‘leverage points’ in complex systems). Each policy switch offers an expanded vision of people’s role on Earth and a whole-system change to implement it. Together the switches define a practical strategy for global security, for a serious attempt at revival of co-operation, ecosystems and prosperity.
Main content of the paper
- Introduction: Security Means Global Security (redefining security as a framework for multiple global problems).
- First Policy Switch: From a Strategy of Reducing Problems to Reversing Them (economic growth strategy, positive development, net positive value).
- Second Policy Switch: From Predetermined to Curiosity-Led Learning (herd thinking, creativity, engagement).
- Third Policy Switch: From Consuming to Building the Basis for Economic Growth (circular economy, precycling as waste strategy, ‘precycling insurance’).
- Fourth Policy Switch: Reversing an Unintended Incentive for Conflict. (weapons spending, security strategy, GDP accounting).
- Fifth Policy Switch: Including Guardianship within Ownership of the Earth (biodiversity, resources, commons, commodification, future generations).
- Sixth Policy Switch: Recruiting the Mega-Rich to Inspire a Mega-transformation (recycling surplus wealth to problem stockpiles, philanthropic transformation).
- Seventh Policy Switch: Local and Central Creation of Money (financial stability, austerity, debt, monetary reform, local currencies).
The flood of problems, locally, regionally and globally, already exceeds the capacity of researchers, policy-makers and the wider society to cope. The strategy of handling problems one at a time, a bit at a time, has not worked and cannot work. The solutions are not to be found where they are being sought, within the narrow territory of each symptom. Time is short but a new strategy is available: it is the ‘system’ that must be fixed, not all the separate symptoms. The boundaries of what is realistic need not be set by the struggles of the past nor current economic conditions. What is possible must match what is necessary. Habits of thought, world-views and economic rules-of-the-game can be switched from accelerating the planet crunch to reversing it. The goal of global security, implemented by the proposed policy switches, offers the possibility of future stability, security and prosperity. These switches redirect attention from the daunting list of changes that would be seen if things were working, to the manageable list of changes to make things work. This is not academic nor complicated and if acted upon people would soon wonder why it wasn’t done long ago.
Presented at NATO Advanced Research Workshop. Split, Croatia 17th-19th June 2009. Published for the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme by Springer, Sept 2010. Publisher’s link (paywall), slides, author’s copy of published full paper, event pdf, TEDx talk, Planet Levers project.
This blog piece has the abstract and conclusion of the paper. The problem-solving framework of global security and each of the seven policy switches is in further blog pieces, please see the content list above. Comments, suggestions and new collaborators are very welcome.
BlindSpot Think Tank leads a project to advance the policy switches internationally, Planet Levers Lab.