Kelleher, A., 2009, The Rise of the Commons: Alternative Globalisations for a Future Planetary Civilisation, Kosmos Journal, 9(1):69.


The human family faces challenges that threaten the ways of life, even survival, of many people on Earth. Climate change, water, energy shortages, ecological devastation, war, terrorism—all suggest the need for cohesive worldwide resolutions. However, there is no universally agreed means by which these issues can be debated and decided at the planetary level. Consequently, the globalisation and global governance discourse increasingly includes discussion about the commons and the prospect of a future planetary civilisation. 

‘Globalisation’ has become associated with Western neo-liberalism: politics and money. This narrow interpretation misses the many rich alternatives that exist including ecology, culture, human rights, law, spirituality, consciousness, civil society, technology, and new forms of socially and ecologically responsible economy.

These alternatives create space for dialogue around new forms of social organising and governance at the planetary level.  Over the past decade writers such as Galtung, Inayatullah, Sardar, Skrzeszewski, Lipschutz, Thomashow, Henderson and others have explored possibilities including:

♦    Restructured UN of 3 ‘houses’: people, nations, and corporations;
♦    An alternative global governance paradigm based on four concepts: unity, trusteeship, worship and knowledge; 
♦    Global Republics formed through online networks;
♦    Bioregionalism;
♦    PROut (progressive utilisation theory) based on the philosophies of PR Sarkar;
♦    A UN Parliamentary Assembly which that recently received support from the European Parliament and the Senate of the Republic of Argentina.

People around the world have rallied to exercise their own power in demonstrations against neo-liberal globalisation, wars, environmental issues and social injustices. Forming transnational social movements to challenge governments and corporations, they are countering political and economic decisions to influence social change.  Could these movements become a means for the peoples of the world to effectively participate in global decision-making? Or will a completely new system emerge?

For me, the future of planetary governance lies in accessing the collective intelligence and wisdom of all peoples.  A wisdom council would be the ultimate planetary decision-makers. Governments and communities would make national and local decisions respectively, adapting and implementing planetary decisions to local environments and cultures. Information technologies would be used to collect and manage contributions and however social technologies at local, national and global levelsfora  would assist humans in creating their collective vision for the planet’s future. Move over United Nations—this is ‘One World’! 

I believe that a peaceful world with healthy eco-systems and a life in dignity for all is achievable. For this to be realised, however, a strong platform for participation by the peoples of the world in global decision-making is essential.

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