A look at the future... - A Sustainable World
Land and resource use is strictly controlled by government. At least half of the land area, perhaps more, is wilderness. Only individuals who are given a permit by the government may enter the wilderness, and then, only on foot. Wilderness areas, called "Bioshphere Reserves," are connected by corridors of wilderness, so wildlife can move freely, without interference by humans. Surrounding the Biosphere Reserves, and the wilderness corridors, are "buffer zones," where public/private partnerships are allowed to farm, and engage in essential, sustainable manufacturing. The buffer zones are connected by "zones of cooperation," in which sustainable communities are located. (1)
All the communities are quite similar. As if an invisible wall surrounded the community, all development stops at the urban boundary. A "green belt" surrounds every community. Beyond the green belt lies the buffer zone where a few people are allowed to live, if they are employed by a public/private partnership performing an essential service.
There are no single-family homes in the community, except for those owned by the government for use by community officials. Large blocks of low-rise, high-density apartments are arranged in neighborhood units. Each neighborhood unit contains several apartment buildings that look the same. Each building is set back from the street to provide an off-street driveway around the entire block. This is for back-door deliveries to the shops that occupy the ground floor of every building. The buildings face inwards, toward a courtyard area with playground equipment and walkways. An area of the courtyard is reserved for a community garden for those residents who wish to plant vegetables.
Each of these neighborhood units is a project of a public/private partnership, funded by government and constructed and managed by an NGO partner. All structures comply with federal standards in design, using materials that carry the "Green-label" of approval. Rooftops are used for solar panels which provide supplemental energy to each building.
The resident-mix in each building within the neighborhood unit, must reflect both an ethnic and income balance, according to a formula established by government. Apartments are not available for purchase; rent is determined by the tenant's ability to pay, based on income; priority is given to the individuals who are employed in the shops within the neighborhood unit.
Each neighborhood unit provides a school, and day care facilities, as well as clinic-level medical services. The schools are designed to accept children at age two, and prepare students to take their appropriate place in the neighborhood, and in the larger society. The School-to-work program sorts children on the basis of aptitude and directs their education toward meeting projected community needs.
There is an auditorium/gymnasium facility that doubles as a recreational area and a place for neighborhood meetings and performances. There are no garages, parking spaces, or cars. There is no need for them. Shopping, and other services are all available within the neighborhood unit - within walking distance.
Shops are permitted on the basis of providing the goods and services needed by the residents, as determined by the neighborhood council.
Thoroughfares separate the neighborhood units. Traffic is limited to bicycles, pedestrians, emergency, and other official vehicles. Electric-powered light-rail trams occupy the center of the thoroughfares. People who work in the community's center, or in the buffer zones surrounding the community, commute on public transportation. Open space and parks are scattered among the neighborhood units. Bike and hike paths crisscross the community.
The NGO partner is responsible to the government for maintenance of the neighborhood unit, and compliance with regional, bioregional, and federal policies. Each neighborhood unit is governed by a neighborhood council, consisting of the board of directors of the NGO responsible for the neighborhood unit, and a minority of representatives elected by the residents. This council settles neighborhood disputes, rules on business permits for the shops, permits for use of the recreational/performance facilities, and approves all new renters and evictions.
Each neighborhood council elects one representative to the Community Council which is the governing board for the entire community. The Council hires the administrator, and approves the administrator's choice for department heads. The police department serves the Community Council and maintains a precinct station in each neighborhood unit. Police have "on-demand" authority for "compliance inspections." The Council sets the local tax rate, and chooses one of its members to serve on the Regional Council.
The Regional Council issues permits for activities within the zone of cooperation which connects the buffer zones. Light industry and farming that is deemed essential to the communities within the region may be permitted in this area. This Council is responsible for regional transportation and other issues of a transboundary nature. The Regional Council elects one of its members to serve on the Bioregional Council.
The Bioregional Council is responsible for the entire bioregion. Its primary function is to decide, and permit the activities that occur within the bioregion's buffer zones. Public/private partnership are awarded permits for food and energy production within the buffer zones. The Bioregional Council decides which crops are to be produced, how the crops will be processed and distributed to the communities within the Bioregion, and which crops, if any, will be produced for export to other Bioregions.
Movement within the urban boundaries is open for the residents of the community. Travel to the zones of cooperation, or to the buffer zones, requires a permit issued by the community council, and approved by the council of the zone to be visited. Movement from one Bioregion to another requires a special purpose permit. Vacations, for example, to a federal park in another Bioregion, would be permitted, if scheduled in advance. Travel for other purposes may, or may not, be approved.
Transportation, generally, accommodates the movement of goods as required to support communities. The need for personal travel is rare. Personal requirements can be met within the community, or the bioregion. The Inter-region Transport system was constructed from the turn-of-the-century Interstate highway system. Key routes between urban centers contain light-rail train systems as well as highways for vehicle transport. The transport system utilizes bridges over wilderness corridors, often, several miles long, a hundred feet or more above ground.
Air travel is limited to cross-continent, or inter-continental transport of goods, and council members traveling on official business. There is little need for personal air travel; business is conducted by telephone and Internet. Airports are located strategically as hubs, fed by a network of small, vertical- lift airplanes operating from bioregional centers. (2)
Neighborhood councils, consisting of the board of directors of the public/private partner, and a minority number of representatives elected by the residents of the neighborhood, constitute the basic element of governance, closest to the people. Its function is to apply government policy equitably within the neighborhood unit.
The council elects a representative to the community council, whose function is to implement government policy equitably throughout the entire community. The regional council consists of representatives elected by the various community councils within the region to see that government policy is implemented equitably throughout the region.
The bioregional council consists of representatives elected by each regional council within the bioregion. Each council is responsible for hiring the administrative personnel required to implement the policies for which it is responsible.
Each bioregional council elects an equal number of representatives to the national council, which is also the national delegation to the Global Forum. In many nations, the national council hires the national administrator, but in America, remnants of the U.S. Constitution still provide for the popular election of the chief executive officer - the President.
As the emergence of community, and regional councils replaced the city-council and county-commissioner form of government, the need for county boundaries diminished. As Bioregions became defined, the need for state boundaries diminished. City agencies easily adapted to community council control. County agencies, with more difficulty, were blended into regional agencies that answer to the regional council. Bioregional councils reorganized state agencies, eliminating many positions that had been duplicated in each state, in favor of an administrative team for the Bioregion to provide only those services required to support the Bioregion.
The Global Forum serves as the Global Council to the United Nations General Assembly, which consists of delegates appointed by the chief executive of each nation. Global governance is said to be the "final phase" of the evolution of self-governance, providing the perfect balance of bottom-up democracy with efficient, professional, transparent administration.
Global policies are enacted when adopted by both the Global Forum, and the General Assembly. Once adopted, agencies of the U.N. are responsible for equitable implementation around the world. The World Food Organization is responsible for tracking world food needs and world food production, and arranging the distribution equitably. Grain produced in the Great Prairie Bioregion feeds much of the world. Most other foods, however, must be produced within the Bioregion.
War is impossible. National borders have been dissolved, and Bioregional disputes are resolved by the national council or by the Global Forum. The only weapons available are manufactured by a factory operated directly by the United Nations for United Nations police agencies. National police agencies are responsible for the weapons issued to them, and individuals face severe penalties for loss, misuse, or abuse of their assigned weapon. Any weapon of any kind may be turned over to the police voluntarily for a reward - with no questions asked. Any individual found with an unauthorized weapon is subject to immediate incarceration - no questions asked.
The International Criminal Court, founded in 2002, has little activity except for the occasional revolutionaries who attempt to inflame rebellion. Non-compliance issues are handled at the community, regional, bioregional, or national levels with denial of activity requests, fines, relocation, or jail. (3)
It is said to be the perfect society, indeed, the final phase of societal evolution. The needs of people are equitably met while assuring that the earth's resources are not exploited beyond what is required to sustain human life. People have neither reason, nor resources to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of life. Without the need for investment in technology and tools for war, resources are available to expand prosperity around the world. By permitting and regulating all business activity, extravagance is virtually eliminated, as is the wasteful duplication of multiple versions of the same product. People are freed from the daily rigor of providing food and shelter, and have more leisure time to enjoy recreation and family activities.
The future of the world looks extremely bright. Children begin almost at birth, to learn that happiness is defined by compliance, and unhappiness is the certain result of non-compliance. Group harmony is the ultimate goal. Education is continual reinforcement of the value of group harmony and preparation for fulfilling each individual's niche within the group. Only students with demonstrated aptitude are permitted to study sciences and art, in sufficient numbers to provide the community's needs.
Students learn that any individual may rise to the height of influence and prestige by maintaining a spotless compliance record and participating in council activity within the neighborhood, and advancing through the council structure by always performing his responsibilities as required.
This is a reasonable description of a sustainable world as suggested in the literature now available. This sustainable future is the logical destination of the policies now in place, or currently under development. There is no identifiable, significant opposition to this future. There is, however, a better alternative. (See the January 1, 2003 issue).
2. Sustainable communities are described from the 1976 Report of Habitat I; Agenda 21; Reports to and from the United Nations Development Program, particularly, COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY; AGENDAS FOR CHOICE-MAKING & ACTION, submitted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul, 1996.
3. Global governance is described from Our Global Neighborhood, the
report of the Commission on Global Governance; the "Millennium
Declaration," and reports of the United Nations Development Program.
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