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Ethics, development and economics Etica, desarrollo y economía éthique, devéloppement et économie
Ethics, Development and Economics
  Ethics and Values
A Global Perspective

Proceedings of an Associated Event of the Fifth Annual World Bank Conference on Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, "Partnerships for Global Ecosystem Management: Science, Economics and Law"
Held at the World Bank
Washington D.C., October 8 , 1997

Ismail Serageldin and Joan Martin-Brown, Editors
The World Bank Washington,D . C.


Ismail Serageldin and Joan Martin-Brown

In a world of rapid globalization communities and countries face complex choices about how human endeavors and the capacities of nature relate. In this context values and ethics, role of science and law, and the relationship of the global ecosystem to local conduct and choices converge.

Ethics and Value: A Global Perspective
An Associated Event of the Fifth Annual World Bank Conference on Environmentally Sustainable Development
Inaugural Session
Welcoming Address - Ismail Serageldin

In essence, the questions before us are not new. They have been grist for the mill of philosophers over the millennia, whenever organized societies have existed. Six questions have tended to loom large. They were summarized by Mortimer Adler (1981) as three ideas we judge by and three ideas we act on. These are truth, goodness, and beauty for judgment; and liberty, equality, and justice to act on. Action is our primary concern here, so we must look to the questions of liberty, equality, and justice.

A Global Ethic: Reflections on the 21st Century
Plenary Address - Benjamin Ladner

In my judgment, there are five great issues we will face in the 21st century (maybe there are 15; no matter-if we can face up to these five, something like a global culture may be imagin- able.) I call them "E-word issues." They are: economics, ethnicity, environment, education, and ethics. From among these issues, perhaps the greatest challenge will be to resist the temptation to reiduce ethics to ideological precepts that harden into intractable barriers between human beings, and instead, to imagine and then to enact the re-placing of ourselves in a world we long to recognize as a congenial home for the human education, spirit. Should that happen, the ordinary transac- tions of speech, laughter, and friendship, as well as planting, bathing, and eating may presage the upsurge of the sacred, and begin to replenish the wellsprings of our spiritual well-being.

Global Survival: A Convergence of Faith and Science?
Speakers' Remarks - Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungame - George A. D. Alleyne - Norman Myers

Equity and Ecosystems: Global Patrimony and Local Justice
Introduction - Yolanda Kakabadse

Panelists' Remarks - Joel H. Meyers - Ashok Khosla - William F Vendley


Ethics and Biotechnology: Realities and Uncertainties
Introduction - Kamla Chowdhry

Panelists' Remarks - Ismail Serageldin - Klaus Leisinger - Miguel Altieri

Global Values: Requirements for a Humane Future
Introduction - Herman Daly
Panelists' Remarks:
- John A. Hoyt

There are obviously wide differences in how our various governments are established and controlled, as well as the responsibilities and benefits attending individual citizens of the communities or nations that such governments exploit, or both. Surely we cannot place much confidence in a government which concentrates power in the hands of a few, by whatever name that political system is called. One of the basic requirements for a global humane future, therefore, is the evolving of governmental institutions and political structures that are chosen and controlled by broad segments of the society, rather than by an elite few. Whether or not such governmental institutions shall ever become normative on a global scale is a question which cannot be answered in the affirmative at this point in time.

...Loren Eisley (1978) tells the story of an old man walking along a beach one day, when he notices a youth ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally, catching up with the young man, he asks, "Why are you doing this?" To which the young man responds, "If left on the beach till the noonday sun, they will surely die." "But," protests the old man, "the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish. How can your effort make any difference?" Looking at the starfish in his hand and throwing it to the safety of the sea, the young man replies, "It makes a very real difference to this one." This parable, I believe, says it well. While we may not finally be able to "right" the entire world, we can at least impact some of its parts. We can, if we choose, live with the awareness that how we think and act will make a difference to someone or something, either for good or for ill. Let us strive, therefore, to so live and act that who we are and what we do will add to the healing of the world itself.

- Azim A. Nanji

We are heirs to dichotomies. Perhaps this story, which comes out of Asia, may enable us to these dichotomies. It is about three wise persons who used to sit on a bench each evening and talk about the problems of the world. evening they happened to be sitting on the bench as the light was fading, opposite a lamp post. They saw a woman searching for something she had apparently lost. After a while she left, not having found what she was looking for. She came back and again looked unsuccessfully.
As she was departing, they decided that perhaps they could help, so they went to her and said,
"Can we help you? Have you lost something?"
"I have lost an earring," she said.
"Fine." they said. "We will help you look for it. Where should we look?"
"I don't know," she replied.
"Well, you have been looking here under the lamp," they responded.
"Oh," she said. "That's because there is light here."
The dichotomies we inherit have to do with the "lamps" under which we look. The discussions of yesterday and today have suggested that all of us look under many different lamps, and consequently, are products of different formations both culturally and also educationally.

- Joan Martin-Brown

An ecosystem is not some abstract concept. It is a scientific term used by biologists, botanists, estuarine hydrologists, agronomists, and other "-ists" in the highly specialized fields of physical sciences. Ecosystems are also the first point of reference for the work of anthropologists, sociologists, paleo-ecologists, archaeologists, and others in the social sciences. Consideration of ecosystem roles should be integral to the work of political scientists, because the character and capacity of an ecosystem not only directs the physical evolution of life within it but also serves as the basic template for how societies arrange themselves for survival. The ecosystem is the birthing bed whose conformations and restrictions give shape, structure, and character to every form of life on Earth, as well as to the cultures that develop within it.

Reflections on the Day's Discourse: Reaching for Utopia
Closing Session - Bertrand Charrier

Forty thousand years ago on Earth two species of human beings coexisted in Europe: the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. The first disappeared and the second evolved into Homo sapiens sapiens, and heavy threats hang over it. Humankind may disappear from planet. This possibility is not a remote hypothesis, and it would not occur because of a meteorite crashing into Earth or an exhaustion of solar energy. We are calling to mind the irreversible disruptions caused by humanity's activities on the environment, leading to its ruin. Is the disappearance of people inescapable, and is it extermination written in the laws of evolution?

Closing Remarks - Ismail Serageldin

So I return again to this idea of the beginning of wisdom: to the acceptance of universal values, the ability to reach out, the notion that somehow a sense of equity, fairness, and justice is innate within us; to the recognition that legality does not equal fairness; and to the understanding that we must act in certain ways that we recognize as being right and fair, in a word, ethical. It is that ethical dimension that I think should guide our actions.

A. Program
B. Presenters

Part Two:
Forum on Human Settlements, Human Solidarity, and Global Ecosystems

An Associated event of the Fifth Annual World Bank Conference on Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development

- Ismail Serageldin
Panelists' Remarks -Wally N'Dow
Ashok Khosla
Veena Das
Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungame
Joel H. Meyers
Yolanda Kakabadse
William F. Vendley
Azim A. Nanji
Closing Summary - Ismail Serageldin
Closing Remarks - Peter Oberlander
A. Program
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