Report by Julie MARDIN, Representative of The Light Millennium to the United Nations Department of Global Communications
Report on the The Light Millennium’s Workshop, titled:
Great Goals, Unintended Consequences: How to handle the complexity of our technology, and make true progress for our social and environmental well being
as part of the
68th United Nations Civil Society Conference,
Salt Lake City, Utah, August 26 – 28, 2019
Workshop Date: Wednesday, August 28
Venue: Salt Lake City Palace
Room# 151 DEF
Time: 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks & Introduction of The Light Millennium: Ms. Bircan Ünver, Founder-President and Head Representative of The Light Millennium to the United Nations Department of Public Information
Moderator & Speaker: Mr. Sevgin Oktay, Representative of The Light Millennium to the UN Department of Global Communications & President TADA (New York)
Ms. Julie Mardin, Researcher-Author, Digital Artist and Representative of The Light Millennium to the UN Department of Global Communications (New York).
Dr. Sohan Lal Gahndhi, International President of Anuvrat Global Organization & Representative to the UN Department of Global Communications (Anuvibha, India)
Ms. Jessica Jane Robinson, CEO and founder of Resilience Birthright, Inc. (California)
Report on the Workshop:
The Light Millennium was proud to present various angles on the theme Great Goals, Unintended Consequences, to illustrate what can happen under cover of the best of intentions, as we are becoming increasingly aware that policies pursued in the name of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and articles of the UN Charter can sometimes lead to the infringement of other SDGs, and other basic human rights.
This workshop touched on the unintended consequences of some of our best ideals, as a means to raise our problem solving skills to an even higher level, and showed sometimes the less grandiose, and more locally driven solutions, can be the safest and most effective in the long run.
Artist and researcher Ms. Julie Mardin focused on the need to protect independent science as a means to ensure the health of our communities. She particularly focused on wireless communications, as we are set to invest even more deeply into its proliferation, with 5G, the fifth generation of telecommunications, and the internet of things. While some see it as the easiest way to collect data that will make us more energy and climate-savvy, the huge densification of the transmitters and satellites required are alarming independent scientists, who warn against severe impacts on our health, and the health of the planet. Ms. Mardin presented some of the decades old science on the biological effects of radio frequency radiation, suggesting that in the name of progress, and a certain kind of progress, driven by industry, we might be setting ourselves up for the motherlode of unintended consequences. Solutions ranged from conflicts of interest/contractual basis disclosures, a small tax on cell phones to fund independent research, harmonizing international standards, and tackling money in politics, so as to ensure true biocompatible solutions.
• Speech: How to protect independent science, and ensure our innovations are in tune with our Health and Human Rights?
Mr. Arvind Vora conveyed the words of Dr. S.L. Gandhi, who gave an overview of overconsumption from the point of view of his native country, India, tracing the insatiability of human kind’s desire, and the need for material things, especially following the Industrial Revolution and the breakthroughs of modern science, which completely changed the lifestyle of Europe. The seduction of the east by western products and the sense of a need to keep up with the developed world, made the local small businesses of the East irrelevant and led to the spread of a wasteful and ecologically destructive society, as well as to immoral practices. Dr. Gandhi’s solutions rested in the ancient belief system of the Jains and their lessons on living a good life, which might have the answers for how we solve our current crises of over-consumption. Lord Mahavira’s teachings from 2600 years ago actually laid down a blue print for eco-sustainability of the future, and shows an elegant and spiritual solution that provides guidance and enlightens the individual in his every day choices.
•Speech: Can responsible consumption pave the way for the eco-sustainability of the future?
Ms. Jessica Jane Robinson echoed similar sentiments from the point of view of the United States, describing a culture of consumption that is driving the destruction of the planet. Her question, Why Zero Waste? illustrated why we need to conserve, rather than produce our way out of this quandary. One of the simplest solutions that she presented would be to deal with food waste, which is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply. If we were to invest in food share, food waste prevention and food recovery programs we would be saving approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food, and 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. Ms. Robinson gave examples of small individual actions that could make the overwhelming difference. “It’s just one straw.” — said 8 billion people. She also unveiled her newly created Carbon Calculator application that will aide everyone in taking those steps. Dressed as Resilience, a Recycling Superhero, and singing to her video, Earth Warrior, the Al Gore Climate Leader, graphic novelist and former Ms. Alameda, CA, inspired the audience with her multi-faceted, in many ways, elegantly simple, approaches to these core problems of our society.
Presentation: Why Zero Waste?
Mr. Sevgin Oktay returned to the overarching theme of the panel, great goals, unintended consequences, by analyzing how Hate Speech can flourish while one is upholding the noble right for Freedom of Speech, which always warned against such misuses, and how this dilemma could be exacerbated in our world of high speed communications. These concluding concerns were perfect in the context of The Light Millennium’s core mission to uphold Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Information. Mr. Oktay, along with The Light Millennium, are trying to resolve the problem by calling for a new SDG, one which will reduce conflicts and make our communities thrive. SDG #18 would be called “Empathetic Speech.”
Speech: How to prevent the proliferation of hate speech within the contours of freedom of speech as related to communication technologies in general, and Internet of Things (IoT) in particular?
The Freedom of Speech discussion moved us into the interactive part of the program., where comments were invited from the audience on each of the preceding questions which the speakers had already based their papers on:
- How to protect independent science, and ensure our innovations are in tune with our Health and Human Rights?
- Can responsible consumption pave the way for the eco-sustainability of the future?
- Why Zero Waste?
- How to prevent the proliferation of hate speech within the contours of freedom of speech as related to communication technologies in general, and Internet of Things (IoT) in particular?
Solutions ranged from the most macro to personal, spiritual and practical. Contributions from the audience included the 80/20 movement, where you consume 80%, and give 20% back, as well as the imperative to take a clear look at one’s own lifestyle and focus on one’s needs rather than wants. A company can create a product, but what we use and not use is still up to us, and that we should remember our power as consumers. A concerned citizen scientist brought up the need for easier access to scientific studies for the regular citizen, who must spend $70 to view a study. And none of that fee goes to the government, but to the journal, even though the government might have had a share in sponsoring the study. Specific legislative initiatives to limit corporate power were also brought up, and a new Declaration of Independence, in particular from fossil fuels, but one could insert inside that declaration any oversized business interest. The Light Millennium put out an open call for continued responses on the presented questions, which it will post to its website, along with the entire contents of the workshop mid September 2019 at www.turkishlibrary.org, so as to continue the search for solutions with an expanded participation.
The session moved to concluding remarks from the speakers. As with the earlier portions of the workshop, one could observe references to similar themes, the introduction and successes of new technologies, leading to the growth of overconsumption, unexpected consequences, and the need to look back and remind ourselves of the original intention of some of our greatest ideals.
Further, Mr. Oktay reminded of The Light Millennium’s open proposal to the United Nations, (initially made following the 67th UN Civil Society Conference through the www.turkishlibrary.us site in September 2018), what would be considered “Empathetic Speech,” SDG#18, conceived in response to the growth of “Hate Speech,” and in support of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR), along with all the SDGs.
Ms. Ünver noted the different approaches for solutions for SDG#9, SDG#11, SDG#13 and SDG#14, and “Hate Speech versus Emphatic Speech,” had formed one interdependent whole, all in connection with the conference’s overarching theme of SDG#16.
The Light Millennium, a New York-based 501(c)3 non-profit, has been encouraging dialogue and upholding the rights for Freedom of Information and Freedom of Expression since 1999. It has been affiliated with the UN Department of Global Communications since 2005 (formerly UN Department of Global Communication).
RUN-DOWN of the Workshop along with the WElCOMING Remarks & the Introduction of The Light Millennium
Event Photographer: Burcu Tansu, Volunteer, Represented Assembly of Turkish American Associations (Los Angeles).
Digital Art Works by Julie Mardin (New York)
Additional Digital Art-Work provided by Jessica Jane Robinson (California)
Videographer of the Session: Cuti Shah (New York) & Bircan Ünver
Related postings prior the 68th UN Civil Society Conference – #UNCSC2019:
Media Release (August 7, 2019 – Updated on 08/19/19): http://www.lightmillennium.org/un/csc2019/lm-wshop-immediate-media-release.pdf
Programme-Booklet (with bios): http://lightmillennium.org/un/csc2019/lm-wshop-gguc-booklet-final-for-aug-28-19.pdf
Social Media: The 68th United Civil Society Conference – #UNCSC2018 related both general and LM led Workshop related news, media release and flyer(s) posted/shared through primarily via Facebook@lightmillennium ; @turkishlibrarymuseum; and @bircan.unver.25 along with around 30-35 pages and groups. Also, it is posted and/or shared via LinkedIn@The Light Millennium & Twitter@lightmillennium
• The U.S. Turkish Library & Museum Project is under The Light Millennium Organization, Associated with the Department of Global Communications of the United Nations – UN-DGC-CSO (formerly #UN.DPI.NGO).
• Commercial Free – Public Benefit E-Publication
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