Changing nations through citizens

1. Introduction message to our plenary session on ‘Changing Nations Through Citizens’)

The same way a spark can ignite a wildfire, we have seen in recent times how the death of a vegetable seller can bring down a government, and a simple phrase can change how we think of the gap between the 1% and the 99%. People’s movements are once again proving their power, and all around the world people are realising that their action is needed to change the rules of engagement between governments and the people. Now is the time that we need to make the most of this new zeal for action. As we think about how nations can be changed through the actions of citizens, I would like you to consider:

  • How can we best show international solidarity with and support people who are struggling to make change in countries where the conditions for change are unfavourable?
  • How can different movements cooperate to bring about and sustain change, and ensure the present wave of citizens’ action continues?
  • W hat changes in the relationships of power between governments and citizens do you hope to see national and local citizen engagement having achieved by 2015?

Let’s not miss this opportunity to rethink people struggles in the light on the 21rst century.

God bless you.

2. (Introductory message to our plenary session on ‘Building Partnerships for Social Innovation’)

One thing we have learned through the history of social action is that we must build coalitions and make common cause. What we can achieve together is greater and more powerful than anything we can do alone. As we are seeking to redefine the social contract, we need to think about how people in civil society can reach out to make new partnerships with people in different entities, such as those in business. The world now is rich in examples of new ways of doing things, such as social enterprises, new forms of philanthropy and self-help schemes. These suggest a need for alternative models and new ways of managing our interactions and relationships.

I would like you to think about these questions as we move forward in our discussions:

  • What partnerships are needed that are currently lacking for sustainable social change, and what rules should underpin those partnerships?
  • How can we identify and support innovative, cooperative projects that have the potential to change the face of how we relate to each for the better?
  • In three years time, what positive social changes do you hope to see partnerships having achieved?

Finding answers to these questions, and living up to these answers, individually and collectively, is our better chance at saving democracy worldwide.

God bless you.

3. (Introductory message to our plenary session on ‘Redefining Global Governance’)

The problems of the world cross national borders, and we can’t change those problems by only working at home. If we are trying to achieve change on a global scale, then we need to take account of the changes in global power structures and the institutions that serve them. How can we help make the United Nations, and institutions like the World Bank and IMF, more relevant to the needs of the people, and make them work together better for the common good?

This suggests a few questions:

  • How can we ensure that the decisions taken by global leaders and institutions take adequate account of citizens’ voices?
  • What can we do as global citizens to ensure governments and international organisations translate their rhetoric at global summits into actions?
  • As we want the World Assembly discussions to have an impact beyond this room, what is the most significant change you would want to see in the processes of global governance in the next three years?

To achieve effective change, we may need to first change the institutions of global governance themselves.

God bless you.