Biopolicy – Building a green society

1. Biopolicy to meet the global economic and environmental challenge
It is not only the global economy that the facing a deep recession, but also the global environment. Unavailability of credit and loss of jobs and income, coupled with climate change, energy insecurity, pollution of the air, water and soil, and the decimation of species and habitats, are creating an unprecedented world challenge and responsibility. A coordinated response to this dual challenge could build a vibrant new economy and restore the environment through initiatives for clean energy, the protection of biodiversity and decent jobs for all. The task is both enormous and urgent.1

As also emphasised by the editorial board of Cadmus and analysed in great detail by all contributors in the journal’s first issue, the idea of rethinking our economies has been gaining support, and it is high time to begin a fresh examination of current economic theory.2 For the economy to regain momentum, it must become an instrument to protect bios – life, the most precious gift on our planet. This requires new ethics and new policy – biopolicy – to help implement worldwide action for environmental sustainability and security, and to build a “green society” of hope. For the past 25 years, the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.) promotes these new development paradigms by infusing environmental thinking in every human endeavour.3,4

Our response to the global financial crisis should be used as an opportunity to make us mobilise our efforts to tackle growing environmental problems as well. The interdependence of interests is obvious. We need to forget the paradigms of the past where the neighbour was considered a dangerous “other” and where differences in culture or religion were a source of alienation and power games. We need to give priority to a new dimension of profit; not only in terms of money, but also in terms of values and ways of rebuilding society.5

Small additions to past patterns are no longer sufficient. Economic growth with concern for goods and income alone is not viable. By encouraging over-consumerism, we are running towards a cliff. It is time for health, education, natural capital, water, food, biodiversity, culture, intellectual sharing, productivity, peace and security to be quantified and to assume their rightful place in a three-dimensional approach (Fig 1) to economic growth. If we take into account the cost of environmental catastrophes, such as floods and earthquakes, as well as increased migration due to environmental deterioration, the integration of environmental issues into investment decisions is more urgent than ever.5

We cannot discard the old system within a day, but we can make big steps by introducing a new scale for evaluating “quality of life” and for encouraging an economy where the harmony and beauty of life are truly respected and appreciated. In this context, safeguarding the environment needs to become a concrete asset of every national economy. Financial success needs to be evaluated on the basis of improving living conditions on the entire planet, and contributing to the most pressing task of reversing destructive trends. Cultural wealth, the preservation of natural resources as a measurable part of a nation’s prosperity, better health, and education are a “genuine” profit for society.

Today, we have the wisdom to control economic progress and we should apply it to its full extent. We can use the knowledge gained to successfully exit the current crisis and improve the world for the generations to come. The beauty and wealth of natural, cultural and historical diversity can build a positive framework for the future. Once our economies become based on long-term, life-supporting financial policies, they will be more efficient in sustaining growth in the future.6 Once world leaders acknowledge the urgency of protecting the environment, they will be more successful in fulfilling the needs of the community, the country and the world.

Figure 1. The environment at the core of the global economy

Three-dimensional economics – first proposed by B.I.O. in 1995 – emphasises the relevance of the environment on all economic actions. For the world economy to recover, it must become linked to long-term global environmental policy.


2. Green salaries
The mitigation of environmental degradation is an overwhelming global mission, but it has also created new opportunities for employment and economic growth by spurring the need for innovation and skills. Environmental improvement jobs have benefitted many economies by providing the work force and their families with money to spend, which is then recycled through the economy. The environmental projects established may require equipment and materials, which must be purchased so that opportunities are created for new markets to develop. The eventual improvement of the environment is itself an economic benefit, allowing for productive use of the restored environment for resource management, wildlife habitat, parkland or tourism.

The problems of environmental degradation and unemployment may appear, at first glance, to be unrelated. However, numerous opportunities exist for linking the two through the concept of “green salaries,” a proposal put forward by B.I.O. in order to promote employment that also improves the environment and curtails climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity and resource depletion.1 The Green Salary can also help to elicit a positive feeling among the unemployed, in addition to providing new opportunities for work and aiding the attempt to lower unemployment levels. Moreover, businesses could be granted special tax deductions and other financial privileges when providing opportunities for the unemployed to be involved in environmental projects. The creation of green jobs, particularly for youth, is an imperative for regenerating the world’s economies. Sustainable employment opens the possibilities for disadvantaged groups and youth to develop their employment potential and also creates new jobs and work opportunities, which is an ethical imperative in a responsible economy.7

Too often, people view the protection of the environment as someone else’s job. They consider that industry or the government should have the responsibility for cleaning up pollution. If we are to succeed in reversing global environmental degradation, people everywhere must be imbued with a love and respect for the environment.


3. Bio-education for a global responsibility
The best way to protect bios today and for future generations is to foster an environmentally aware and motivated society that values and nurtures the environment. This is the goal and vision of bio-education, which promotes environmental protection at the core of every academic and professional initiative.8

The purpose and responsibility of bio-education is to uplift the spirit of humanity and to reverse the crisis in values. By providing interdisciplinary models with environmental considerations in every speciality, bio-education seeks to apply environmental protection to every human endeavour. (Fig. 2)

To advance this vision, B.I.O. launched the International University for the Bio-Environment (I.U.B.E.) in 1990. This educational initiative urges scholars, decision-makers, diplomats, business leaders, teachers and students to actively contribute to the development of an environmentally conscious society. Bearing in mind that universities should be, by definition, “universal,” the I.U.B.E. promotes a model bio-education and acts as a catalyst to accelerate environmental awareness and impart a biocentric message to students and training professionals around the world.8 Leading educators and decision-makers infuse existing educational institutions with bios promoting values.

Figure 2. Bio-education promotes environmental values in every academic discipline

The essence of bio-education is the incorporation of environmental thinking in all academic disciplines and all educational levels. Environmental issues can be applied to fields as diverse as theology, philosophy, diplomacy, economics, law and architecture, helping to assess future progress.

I.U.B.E.’s e-learning programme, a series of online environmental courses, is an essential vehicle for making bio-education available to as many individuals as possible that has so far elicited the participation of representatives from 119 countries. The goal of these courses is to address the urgent need to improve quality of life and to mobilise each individual to participate in protecting our common environment and its rich biodiversity. By using technological advances in this positive way, a uniquely rich source of information and training material can be placed at the fingertips of teachers, students and professionals around the world.

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