THE WORLD WANTS PROJECT
What We Have and What We Want
Section 1: The
world problem state
Our global problems may seem insurmountable, even inconceivable to
some. Globally between 13 and 18 million people die each year due
to starvation or starvation-related causes.
That is nearly as many people dying each day as Americans who
died in the entire Vietnam War. More than 800 million people are malnourished
in the world and routinely go without enough food to live in optimal
health. Despite monumental strides
in medical science which have improved the longevity and quality of
life for the average human, large segments of the world's population
continue to suffer from preventable diseases and lack access to even
basic health care. For example:
- Some 20%
of the world's children go without basic immunization, most of
whom live in remote and often impoverished areas where infection
is more likely to lead to death.
- Over 9
million children die each year from preventable causes, most of
them from dehydration, routine infections, or one of several major
diseases for which vaccines are available.
- Some 500,000
women die in childbirth each year while over 3 million infants
die from dehydrating diseases that could be eliminated through
breast feeding or Oral Rehydration Therapy, a simple and cheap
mixture of clean water, sugar and salts.
- .Over 17
million people die each year from curable infectious and parasitic
diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and tuberculosis.
- Over 500
million people are infected with tropical diseases such as malaria,
sleeping sickness, river blindness, and schistomiasis, all of
which are now preventable.
- Over 18
million people are infected with the AIDS virus.
- More than
a billion people lack access to any health care.
- There are
1.75 billion people without adequate drinking water.
- A billion
people are without adequate housing,
and 100 million are homeless.
a billion people, mostly women, are illiterate, and about 130
million children at primary school age and 275 million at secondary
level are not enrolled in school.
- There are
over 53 million uprooted people or refugees in the world, 80%
of which are women and children.
- There are
over 110 million landmines scattered in 64 countries killing and
maiming over 9,000 children, women and civilians of all ages each
year, and over one million since 1975.
The developing world is at least $618 billion in debt to the developed
world and the gap between the
rich and poor grows alarmingly larger each year. The richest 20% of
the world now have 85% of the world's income, while the poorest 20%
share 1.4%. And, most alarming
in a world as dangerous and well armed as ours, there are currently
over 79 armed conflicts going on around the world, 65 of which are
in the developing world. There
have been over 123 million people killed in 149 wars since World War
On top of
these outrageous conditions are layered the alarming environmental
problems confronting the world:
the planet, 26 billion tons of topsoil are being eroded per year
from the world's farmland.
That's 3 million tons per hour.
advance at a rate of nearly 15 million acres per year.
- 10 million
acres of rain forest are destroyed annually.
- Over 200
million tons of waste are added to the atmosphere each year.
- Over six
billion tons of carbon from fossil fuel burning were added to
the atmosphere last year.
- There is
a 6 million square mile hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica,
and a 4.5 to 5% loss of ozone over the Northern Hemisphere.
- The planet
has warmed at least 1° C in the last century, and given the annual
carbon, CO2, CFC, and methane transmissions into the atmosphere,
it will rise another 2.5° to 5.5° in the coming century.
- There are
over 31,000 hazardous waste sites in the US alone,
while in Europe, Estonia, and Lithuania acid rain has damaged
over 122.6 million acres of forest.
- There are
over 130,000 tons of known nuclear waste in the world, some of
which will remain poisonous to the planet for another 100,000
And, last but
not least, keeping the pressure on humanity to produce as much as
possible from the Earth -- driving the juggernaut described above -- is
the world's population which is increasing by about 90 million people
each year, or about the population of all of Mexico.
All or part
of the above is what most people who are concerned with the world
are aware of in one way or another. We might not know the numbers,
but we have heard something is wrong, and it is serious. It is what
we read about in the newspapers or hear and see on TV. The pervasive
bad news numbs people's concern, compassion or outrage. If you hear
an obscenity often enough, it ceases to be an obscenity.
news" is depressing, even debilitating, when presented as a fait
accompli, or as the only thing happening in the world. If the
bad news is an accurate image of the world and our future, we are
doomed. Equally important, if the bad news is all we can see,
we are just as doomed. As Russell Ackoff notes, "The inability to
envision a positive future is, in itself, a threat to survival."
If we see the glass as only half empty, we are missing something
very valuable in our assessment of the situation. Although the "bad
news" should not and cannot be denied or minimized, it needs to
be understood in a broader context that will allow us to see its
true import. And, unless one believes we are a species not worth
saving, the bad news needs to be acted upon. It needs to be seen,
not in isolation, which makes it appear as if it is the only thing
happening in the world, but as part of a complex matrix of "good
news/bad news," occurring, with not infrequent regularity, right
next to each other throughout the world.
conditions described in the world problem state do not represent
our fate. They do not need to be tolerated because we think "there
isn't anything we can do." The crucial missing factor in all the
bad news is the good news: there are options to these problems --
and there are solutions. Not only is there much we can do now, but
the solutions to our global problems are also so clearly achievable
and affordable that knowledge of them in their totality can even
be inspiring. Minimally, they are an effective antidote to the despair
and resignation that hopelessness breeds.
One way of
putting the problems of the world in context is to ask, "What should
the world look like?" Trying to take action without the answer to
this question is like the medical doctor trying to cure someone
of liver disease without knowing what a healthy liver is and how
it behaves. Because health is more than just the absence of disease
and infirmity, we need to be visionaries to define the health of
in the introduction, there has been an effort to answer this question.
Over the past 24 years, World Game Workshops conducted for corporate,
government, university and high school groups have asked the following
question to more than 200,000 people: "Given the present state of
the world, what is your preferred state?" One of the early surprises
of this effort was the unanimity of the preferred state vision that
resulted. Whether the participants were government leaders from
Malaysia or students from Maine, Motorola executives or Japanese
Junior Chamber of Commerce members, they all came up with something
was compiled from all the various groups by eliminating redundancies
and using common terms. It encompasses all the groups' collective
vision of where they want humanity to be in 20 years.
is in obvious contrast to the World Problem State Summary. We already
know which is more desirable. But is the preferred state even possible?
Are there strategies, policies, programs, artifacts, resources and
capital available for building such a beautiful world? If so, how
do we acheive them and what are the implications for humanity? The
next section examines the various qualities of the preferred state
and assesses if there are possibilities for reaching any of this
Section 2: Introduction -- Field
tested, cost effective, humane and sustainable solutions
food problem is a very complicated situation involving myriad interacting
technological, economic, ecological, cultural, geographical and
political systems. Every other problem confronting humanity is similarly
multi-dimensional. Adding them all together and then presenting
a set of strategies that purport to "solve" these massively complex
problems is daunting, to say nothing of naive or foolhardy.
the strategies in a short report such as this, when innumerable
books have been written on each of these topics, leaves the authors
open to charges of superficiality, pollyannism or gross naiveté,
bordering on negligence -- depending on how seriously you are intimidated
by academic credentials, opinions, political leanings or negative
deal with a problem as complex and large as the global food situation
in just a few pages is difficult, at best -- if the intention is to
provide a detailed, step-by-step process or listing of every component
of a world-wide strategy. The intention here is different: to present
the broad brush-stroke outlines of programs, policies and tactics
that are in use or could be quickly brought on-line that could solve
a systemic problem confronting humanity. They are not suggested
as complete or detailed plans, but rather as giving overall direction,
scope and strategy.
on the next page summarizes the core of the What the World Wants
Project on one page. It puts all the individual strategies into
a broad social and economic context that reflects both the existence
and the affordability of the individual and combined strategies
for solving the basic problems confronting humanity.
Section: Synergies of the Whole
What the World Wants Chart