“Systematic green washing”: Scientists call on UN to discard sustainability goals

It’s time for the United Nations abandon its current model of dealing with global crises, according to a letter from 100 scientists, teachers and experts, shared exclusively with The Independent.

Experts call for the United Nations to abandon “Sustainability” Evolution Goals ”- a set of 17 goals adopted in 2015 to address global social and environmental problems from hunger to climate change to economic growth.

The letter, published when the UN begins pinto on catastrophic risks in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, argues that the world’s problems cannot be solved by the same ideology that created them.

“If the way modern societies work causes the problems that the SDGs aim to address, can we be surprised that those same systems are incapable of fixing them?” the letter reads.

The letter was signed by researchers from 27 countries, all in a personal capacity and not as representatives of any institution.

Among the famous experts who put their names to the letter is Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at Nasa, who was arrested last month in climate protest; Yves Cochet, former Minister of Environment and Regional Planning of France; and Britt Wray, author of the recent book on climate anxiety, Generation Dread.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are based on an ideology that values ​​material and technological progress and prioritizes corporate interests – where “humanity will balance social, economic and environmental issues to make material progress,” said Jem Bendell. sustainability researcher at the University of Cumbria, told The Independent by email, citing a recent non-peer review paper that he had written on the subject.

Dr Bendell called the SDGs a “systematic green wash” that undermines “challenges to structural power”.

“By now, it may have been convenient for politicians, bureaucrats and people in the organizations they fund to keep an optimal message that more technology, capital and management will solve both poverty and environmental destruction,” the letter reads.

“However, the evidence in the UN’s own reports makes it clear that this is just a practical myth, and that billions of people would be better served by a more sober analysis of the deteriorating situation,” he added.

According to the UNthe SDGs were developed to end “poverty and other deprivation” by improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth, tackling climate change and protecting natural habitats.

The letter calls on the UN to “abandon the superfluous and unhelpful ideology of Sustainable Development”, and move towards plans for local resilience and the “decline of rich economies”.

A satire of the SDG logos, created by Dr Jem Bendell

(Jem Bendell)

The world cannot separate the use of resources and pollution from economic growth enough to avoid a catastrophic environmental catastrophe, Dr Bendell stated. He used the example of electrifying global infrastructure, a goal of many climate activists to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Doing so would require a lot of natural resources – resources we may not have, Dr. Bendell said. The implication, then, is that rich countries and individuals must reduce their consumption, he added.

“Clearly this idea is not very appealing to the people of Davos,” Dr Bendell added, referring to the annual meeting of high-ranking business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum, which began on Sunday.

Other signatories of the letter shared similar sentiments.

“If governments continue to pursue reckless economic growth at any cost – which empirically clearly requires an increase in resources and pollution, including greenhouse gases – we will eventually collapse just like any other species,” Dr. Kalmus said in an email to. The Independent.

Leading signatories to the letter, all in a personal capacity:

Professor William Rees (University of British Columbia, Ecology of Ecology)

Dr. Malika Virah-Sawhmy (IASS, Climate Adaptation)

Dr. Peter Kalmus (NASA, Climate Science)

Dr Yves Cochet (Former Minister of the Environment, France)

Dr. Stella Nyambura Mbau (LOABOWA, Climate Adaptation)

Dr Ye Tao (MEER Framework, Climate Adaptation)

Dr. Sonja Kaiser (TUBAF, Earth System Modeling)

Professor Jem Bendell (University of Cumbria, Climate Adaptation)

Dr Clelia Sirami (INRAE, Ecology)

Dr. Jeremy Jimenez (New York State University, Education)

Dr Britt Wray (Stanford University, Psychology)

Dr. Rupert Read (UEA, Philosophy)

The full list of signatories and text of the letter can be found here

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