Gorbachev stresses concern at lack of vision of humankind to protect the environment

Nobel Prize-winning former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, has stated that mankind needs to undergo a fundamental shift in human values, as occurred at the end of the Cold War, in order for environmental protection to compete effectively with the current dominance of financial profit.


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Gorbachev, who is president of Switzerland-based environmental conciliation group, Green Cross International, describes as disturbing the failure of world leaders to come to an agreement at the climate change talks in The Hague in November last year, blaming the United States in particular, and to a lesser extent the business community with its increasing influence over government policies. Another worrying example of how mankind is “going about things the wrong way”, cited by Gorbachev, is the increasingly closed nature of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which is isolating delegates from other interest groups.

“While there are an increasing number of people and organisations dedicated to raising awareness and provoking change in the way we treat nature, I do not yet see the clear vision and united front which will inspire humankind to respond in time to correct our course,” said Gorbachev.

The situation is very grave, he says, pointing out that it is critical that we find a way of producing a large-scale shift in attitude in a very short time, in order to produce a new way of thinking and a new world order based on justice and equality, with less emphasis on profits. This, he says, cannot be achieved whilst the divide between pro- and anti-‘globalisationists’ remains.

In order to establish a more sustainable balance, Gorbachev suggests five points which he considers to be vital:

  • reform of the UN system which will give more power for the enforcement of UN decisions for peace and stability;
  • the ratification and implementation of international agreements, conventions and protocols relevant to disarmament, climate change, biodiversity, desertification, and international water courses;
  • the integration of environmental objectives into any type of economic activity;
  • an acknowledgement of responsibility, combined with associated action, by political leaders and businesses to achieve environmental compliance; and
  • a reversal in the decline in international development aid, in order to allow poor nations to reduce debt, cover basic human needs and access technologies which allow efficient use of materials and energy.

“If nothing is done to achieve sustainability in the first part of this new century, the prospects for humankind’s survival will diminish,” said Gorbachev. “Still, if I thought it were hopeless, I would not join you in the environmental movement as President of Green Cross International.”

A non-governmental, non-profit organisation, Green Cross International was founded in 1993 by Mikhail Gorbachev, with the intention of building on the 1992 Rio Summit, by cultivating a harmonious relationship between humans and the environment. Projects include a water conflict prevention programme, whose approach includes the promotion of regional co-operation, and has the aim of actively avoiding conflicts in water-stressed regions, such as through promoting international mediation. Current projects include their integrated Water Emergency Plan for the Middle East, and mediation between communities effected by large dams in Argentina and Paraguay.

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