The Tension between Sustainability and Diversity and the Quest for Unity

Climate change, air pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, stratospheric ozone depletion, land and freshwater degradation – all these environmental problems have effects that transcend national boundaries; they cannot be solved by the unilateral decisions of individual states but require international cooperation. Moreover, these problems are interconnected and cannot be solved in isolation but require an integrated approach. But such an approach is frustrated by the existing multiplicity of communities with diverse and sometimes diverging ethical visions and moral vocabularies. Hence there is a strong tension between the diversity of actors that have a stake in sustainable development and the need for a close cooperation between these various stakeholders. There is a general tendency to resolve this tension by a forced striving for unity. This quest usually takes one of the following directions: it is aimed at one world community without borders, at a new comprehensive worldview, or at a universal scientific method.

One world community

Because environmental problems usually transcend state borders and are closely interrelated, they require an integrated approach. It seems that such an approach can only succeed if world politics loses the anarchistic character that is inherent to the system of sovereign states that gradually spread around the world after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. That, at ...

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