#15 responsibility
Franz Josef Radermacher

Making a Plan And Sticking to it

Franz Joseph Radermacher is a member of the Club of Rome and co-founder of the Global Marshall Plan Initiative that is working to reduce poverty on a global level and to establish an ecologically sustainable economic order. The professor for Computer Science is a renowned expert in the fields of globalisation, sustainable development and overpopulation and one of the most prominent advocates of an eco-social market economy. For our issue on responsibility, Professor Radermacher talked to DDD about the Global Marshall Plan, the industrialised nations expenditure for development cooperation and the feasibility of ambitious global governance arrangements.

In 2003 the Global Marshall Plan Initiative was founded with the mission of contributing to a fairer world. The goals in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were and are ambitious, yet the results of the MDGs have been mixed. Are we still lacking a sense of global responsibility twelve years after the founding of the Global Marshall Plan?

From the initiator’s standpoint, the goals were modest and as such realistic. Some progress has been made in the interim. Following the global financial crisis, noticeable advances were made in limiting tax havens, for example. The results have been more moderate, though, when it comes to the Millennium Development Goals.

... we still lack a sense of global responsibility.

This is in part because we still lack a sense of global responsibility. It is also very clear that developed countries continue to resist investing in global development. They prefer to spend their money to solve their problems at home. Then they also often work with political partners in target countries who channel a substantial part of the already extremely limited development cooperation funds into their own personal causes and sometimes even into private accounts.

Fittingly, one key element of the Global Marshall Plan Initiative is support for the 0.7% goal. This United Nations’ demand that industrialized countries earmark 0.7% of their gross national product for public development cooperation began in the 70s and was most recently reiterated in the MDGs. Yet states that meet this goal are still the exception rather than the rule. What would need to change in order to finally push states to fulfil their responsibilities?

It is very frustrating that the industrialized nations, notably the USA, but Germany as well, still fall far short of the 0.7% goal for development cooperation funding. Politicians enjoy announcing ambitious goals and formulating ethical positions, but when it gets down to brass tacks and it costs money, reservations dominate the conversation. We are also very good at finding excuses for why our efforts would not help in any case. This is not the way to achieve sustainable development for the world.

We are still a long way away from a global domestic policy.

This rather disappointing result regarding the voluntary goals set by industrialized countries seems to raise the question as to how some of the more radical demands made by the eco-social market economy you promote could be achieved on a global level. Taking the implementation of a strict polluter pays principle for environmental pollution and the use of common goods as an example: Have the first steps been taken towards a “global domestic policy” in this regard? What institutions could offer such governance services on a global level and what instruments are at your disposal to put this type of legal order in place?

Establishing a global eco-social market economy is truly challenging. We are still a long way away from a global domestic policy. In terms of governance, this would require appropriately linking the order regimes of the United Nations, the WTO and the world finance sector. Then we would need financial equalization between the states that could effectively fund social systems in all the world’s countries so as to finally eliminate hunger, for example. The necessary financial means could derive from putting a price on the consumption of global public goods. This would be a step towards a global domestic policy or functioning system of global governance. It is interesting to note that this type of instrument is on the agenda to address climate change, namely the Green Climate Fund as part of a world climate system. Starting in 2020, the developed nations will pay at least 100 billion dollars into this fund each year. This money will then be given to developing countries, and used to promote participation in a global climate regime and help counter the climate problems we are already experiencing. In terms of size, this amount is more than the funds we as the Global Marshall Plan Initiative have demanded from the start as additional funding for development cooperation.

That sounds quite impressive! Apart from this type of global governance arrangement, does the Global Marshall Plan also provide spaces for personal engagement? What might this look like in practice?

The Global Marshall Plan Initiative has always presented areas for personal engagement, such as the goal of living climate neutrally. Here the Global Marshall Plan Initiative is working with young Felix Finkbeiner on the Plant for the Planet Initiative, which emerged from the Global Marshall Plan Initiative, in an exemplary manner on planting more trees.

We focus on encouraging massive intellectual exploration of the issue as a whole in its global dimensions.

But we also propagate individual mentoring relationships between people from the wealthy world and from developing countries. We focus on encouraging massive intellectual exploration of the issue as a whole in its global dimensions. The last point is very important and requires a great deal of effort on a personal level, such as reading the relevant books. In this context, we highly recommend the Global Marshall Plan’s inexpensive book subscription.

The Global Marshall Plan Initiative is very critical of the planned TTIP and CETA free trade agreements. To what extent do the negotiations threaten ways citizens can get personally involved and take on political responsibility?

TTIP and CETA do not formally limit opportunities citizens’ options for personal engagement and personal responsibility. But they do considerably reduce the prospects for the success of any efforts made and as such will ultimately mean people are more resigned than they are already today. Supranational agreements like the WTO, but also TTIP and CETA “hollow out” democracy through supranational regulation.

Pursuing a free-trade strategy on a supranational level without the accompanying democratic governance threatens to annul national democracy.

Once signed, countries cannot withdraw from these agreements. If the supranational agreements were eco-social in nature, that would be acceptable. If the supranational sphere were democratically organized, that would be acceptable. Pursuing a free-trade strategy on a supranational level without the accompanying democratic governance threatens to annul national democracy. And when investors are entitled to compensation if democratically made decisions create problems for their respective business model and when “private” arbitration courts outside of the regular jurisdictions are empowered to render judgment on this compensation, this is clearly not conducive to promoting personal engagement.

Interview: Frederik Caselitz and Patrick Delaney

Photo: “Paulownia” by Jan Alonzo
2014 - licenced under Creative Commons Attribution (2.0)

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