The UN Institute for Training and Research, and the Ethos Institute, one of the global CSR drivers with more than 1300 member companies, are organizing, with the support of the Government of Brazil, a High-Level Panel “After UN CSD: Are we on track for a 21st Century Social Contract?” on 23 June, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, at VIVO Rio (next to the Museum of Modern Art), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Among the speakers of this High-Level Panel are Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Prof. Ignacy Sachs, the author of ecodevelopment and Honorary Professor at EHESS, Ambassador André Correa do Lago, Chief Negotiator of the Brazilian Delegation at Rio+20 and Executive Directors of UNEP and UNITAR Achim Steiner and Carlos Lopes.
After the closing of UN CSD, the High-Level Panel will provide an opportunity for reviewing the outcomes of the conference, and for discussing a Social Contract for the new century.
2012, the year of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, marks also the tercentenary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s birth and the 250th anniversary of his seminal book on the Social Contract. Time has passed, but Rousseau’s ideas and those of other philosophers concerned with the question how to protect individual liberties, while achieving the common good and collective justice are as relevant as ever, as the world is struggling to revitalize the imperative of sustainable development in Rio.
Has UN CSD been able to put world actors on path to sustainable development or is a new social contract required to address the challenges in the 21st century? The goal of the high level panel is to offer a platform at the conclusion of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development to discuss a Social Contract for the 21st century. Panelists and the audience will have an opportunity to exchange views on how these concepts and the principles of participatory governance and responsibility could be translated at the international level to meet the needs of rapidly globalizing and interconnected societies.
With this High-Level Panel, UNITAR and the Ethos Institute seek to bring together leading international thinkers who will be challenged to propose a new holistic vision for humanity and Nature by drawing on the powerful ideas of one of the most original philosophers of the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. A dissonant voice, he casted a doubt on some of the messages of the Enlightenment, and offered us his ideal Man in a state of nature. Some of the famous environmental experts identify in Rousseau’s political theory efforts to reconstitute an ideal society close to Nature.
Human societies have changed, but Rousseau’s ideas offer an infinite source of inspiration. They can provide us with powerful insights in such areas as rethinking Man’s connection with Nature, reflecting on the concepts of social contract and general will. Their contemporary reading in the Anthropocene era could help to respond to problems of inequality, to strengthen democratic participation, and to promote inclusive policies.
The ambition of UN CSD is no less than what the thoughts of Rousseau and other political social contract philosophers imply: fostering a development model and creating governance structures that ensure the protection of the common good, both for present and future generations, while safeguarding the rights of individuals.
The Panel will promote an intellectual partnership comprising world leading thinkers who have made an outstanding contribution in the above areas through research, conceptualization, or policy formulation and innovative solutions. Several personalities coming from the UN, policy-making and intellectual circles will share their vision of the 21st century social contract and their analysis of the Rio Plus 20 achievements.
General public from Rio de Janeiro and members of the delegations who have attened the Rio+20 conference.