Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Transforming Global Conflict #3: Courage, Bravery and Entrepreneurial Spirit

No one can take on the world alone. Everyone needs a flourishing network of contacts that effectively builds a community of leaders that share a common purpose. This is the same for a small or large business as it is for a not-for-profit endeavor. Building such networks requires taking a step outside one’s comfort zone, which implies an act of courage. In fact, not everyone does it, although anybody can.

Transforming global conflicts requires a wide array of leaders of all sorts to make individual acts of courage and hope that those efforts meet, mix and match with the efforts of others, therefore building that community network that will alter a particular reality upon which one intends to influence.

Defying fear is the first challenge humanity must embrace. Fortunately, it is something we are hardwired for. Even waking up to an unknown, uncertain world is an act of defiance. Together, all these acts of individual courage build up our bravery, which, brought together as a civilization, conform our human character. The reminder is worth noting because, as societal, economic and environmental challenges loom large, human character will be called upon to harness our aspiring resolve for prosperity.

Such traits that define us also determine success in our ability to create new institutions that create value. The entrepreneurial spirit required to wander the forest in search of food is the same employed to build a new tool that improves our quality of life, and also to replicate it, sell it, and improve it over time.

Tackling the most severe conflicts in today’s world requires a systemic vision to perceive the intense and regenerating resources within and the systemic scenarios without, thinking innovatively about ways to make them meet, mix and match.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Transforming Global Conflict #2: Opportunities to Create Change

Innovation is the buzzword of the times. In the information era, good ideas put into action create enormous wealth although they might not create real value. A commentator on a recent article about Steve Jobs was wondering if Apple’s innovative devices had really created new value for the planet, making people happier, societies safer, or ecosystems more vibrant. In fact, quite the opposite could be argued, whereas stress, envy and environmental degradation seem to be additional components to the marvelous built-in, proprietary software inside an iPhone.

Real innovation is the one that brings along systemic change that can be measured as a net positive impact; that the planet, as a whole, is better off with this new idea or device or institution or policy. In order to achieve such stage of virtuous novelty, we must first comprehend the natural constraints of our planet. We will get into detail later. For now, suffice it to say that as long as life on Earth inextricably depends on the conditions for its existence –sunlight, water, and vegetation- these conditions must be respected when thinking about the consequences of our every behavior at a systemic level.

Identifying opportunities for real innovation is an intellectual activity that has become indispensable in this day and age when several ecosystemic measures indicate the breach of some natural limits of the planet. The carrying capacity of the global ecosystem has been overloaded for more than two decades, and today we consume 50% more natural resources than the planet can regenerate on a yearly basis.

These constraints and diagnosis about the state of affairs of the web that supports life are an infinite source for real innovation. Putting our minds together in synergy will render ideas to lead civilization to more prosperous scenarios. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Transforming Global Conflict #1: Personal Anecdotes

From 2002 to 2004, I studied a Masters degree in Peace Studies andConflict Transformation at Tromsø University in northern Norway. Back then, Iwas convinced the most severe conflict humanity was facing was the “War onTerror”, a euphemism for many atrocities that have taken place in the name ofgods and motherlands since the Twin Towers episode in New York City in 2001.

In 2007, the Costa Rican president at the time, Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez,gave a speech at the launching of the international campaign called Peace withNature, in which he raised awareness about the state of environmental affairsin the world. All ecosystems and biodiversity species threatened, he vowed to“not renounce to life on planet Earth.” This became my calling and since then Ihave been eagerly studying Climate Change as the most severe conflict humankindfaces.

It has come quite handy to study conflict transformation. As I learnmore about energy and environment, consumption and pollution, natural constraintsand people’s expectations, I have plotted a matrix of causes and consequencesthat have facilitated my understanding of the issue, allowing me to describediagnoses, prognoses and proposals for effective transformation.

I intend to make a brief description of this intellectualmatrix that both shows the origin of some of our most pressing issues at alocal level, and also presents a clear exit path into the future. This is anempirical effort to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm through thevirtuous strategy of ethical action. As Emile Durkheim once said: “When valuesare sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when values are insufficient, laws areunenforceable.” This is why I strongly believe ethics is the common thread outof this big mess.