From Sustainable Development towards the Conservation of Planet Earth



IMG_5141By Alexandre Lambert

Alexandre Lambert is a historian, philosopher, and political analyst with over 15 years experience in teaching International Relation at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Dr. Lambert has published on a wide range of issues, including international security, multilateral diplomacy, civil-military relations, political theory and democratic governance.

Using Creative Imagination and Emotional Intelligence

For weeks I have been thinking of what I could ever do to contribute to a blog administered by GSD, where I have had the pleasure and privilege to teach for 15 years since the school’s very inception back in 2004. Anyway, just like it has been with the got-talent event with Zanzibar, I understand that what it is important after all is to participate. So let me please thank, thank all those students who came all along the way of all of the corners of our lovely world to make their ways to meet with peer world citizens in Geneva, at the charming Domaine de Penthes in Prégny. And thanks of course to Colum Murphy and Mrs. Barragan for their initiative, leadership, devotion, and spirit of innovation to establish and build one of the world’s arguably most independent international relations university institutes. If I did appreciate one thing most over the course of time, class after class, course after course, hundreds and hundreds of students, it was the top academic freedom faculty would enjoy and that we were eager to share with and transmit to students.

At the occasion of the visit of the UNISINOS students from Brazil, I have been teaching this afternoon about Eurasia and the strategic implication of China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBORI) for this key world region whom both British and U.S. geo-strategic government advisors have been placing in the very core of their country’s Foreign Policy Schemes. By the end of last year, in Frankfurt, at the occasion of an international conference organized by the Schiller Institute, I learned about the truly global extent of the OBORI and was told by experts from the U.S. that the Chinese government would even offer multi-hundred-of-billion dollar investment package to help retap the U.S. Infrastructure, with the potential of reconnecting all world regions into what is hitherto labeled as the World Land Bridge.

Many have almost forgotten that it has been one of Trump’s core promises during his presidential campaign to address the challenges stemming from an aging U.S. domestic infrastructure. The good news, just like it is the case with any other partner country, and the OBORI is truly inclusive on a global scale; China does have the cash and the intention to give the international community something back, just like I wished to give back something to GSD for having given me the opportunity to teach to the future generation of world leaders for one and half a decade now, when I was composing and presenting my piece of music, for piano, “A Piece for Peace”.

It’s remarkable that China’s OBORI represents a one-time international infrastructure development project worth $ 4 trillion in overall investment over the coming decades, with genuine win-win opportunities attached to any international partner wishing to join and contribute to its global delivery. But what strikes me most has been the corresponding amendment of the Chinese Foreign Policy Doctrine is based on what the Chinese government has coined «Community of Common Destiny», based on 4 core values: Friendship; Faithfulness; Benefit; Tolerance. Regardless of what is hidden behind the nice make-up per Chinese geostrategic calculation and ambitions, to some extent, it is hard to imagine that Western countries would ever even think about suggesting some vision alike for their own development projects. Be it as it may, China herewith steps up to demonstrate a genuinely new type of international leadership that if appropriately responded to by other lead countries in and beyond Asia, could have to potential to transform the entire planet into a peaceful and prosperous place for all.

Learning from Sun Tzu who, some 2500 years ago, taught Chinese that if the enemy advances, they should retreat, the contemporary Chinese government would actually launch the OBORI in response to the US Pivot to Asia in conjunction with the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and other regional allies to contain China. Instead of replying to this confrontational posture, e.g. with its recently explosive potential in the South China Sea, China would rather moderate herself and opt to turn away and March West, whatever it would take her as an additional effort, herewith avoiding a potential military conflict escalation far beyond East Asia.

What I want to say by this is simple: our students, whether or not their respective countries will endorse China’s offer for development cooperation, should take an example with China’s contemporary foreign policy doctrine and posture to avoid direct confrontation and rather revert the negative energy into a positive and in particular constructive one. In order to deliver, the young generation should be educated in what 20th-century psychologists would coin ‘emotional intelligence’. For instance, with the help also of philosophers and lawyers, it has been demonstrated that there is actually no way to found human rights, even scientifically, without the capacity of people of empathy and compassion. Would key strategic foreign policy advisors have those capacities, such absurdities of collective violence as manifested recently in Iraq and Syria would have no chance.

Take it or leave it; but the human species will have to comprehend that it is time to move beyond an anthropocentric global compact with private corporations and billionaires competing over leverage and the ultimate showdown; it’s time to establish a genuine global social contract with our planet,  coming with a universal charter of human duties corresponding with all of those human rights treaties; duties towards other humans, since there won’t be any truly binding right without corresponding duties; duties towards animals and plants and any living species on this planet, since that’s all we have, for the next billion years – and there is no other place to go, let alone to survive, in our outer-special environment. This planet, which is by far the most amazing piece in the universe that we are aware of to date, and humankind the most outstanding of all creations sitting on it, loses over two thousand species every year, because humans, instead of sticking to the rules and balance of the natural environment that has been evolving over millions of years, is putting upside down all rules by creating its own, human environment, with its own, anthropocentric rules.

And again, people should understand that the loss of any of those species is a kind of genocide that can’t go unchecked. Humans happen to slaughter some two hundred million sharks once every year since certain types of fish soups are ‘popular’ dishes. We came a long way when we truly had to be afraid of (other) wild animals, some of which were much more powerful by their very physical strength. But just like humans would go beyond themselves to meet up to the challenge, use their creative imagination, including for the purpose of gaining strategic advantages over other animals, we should now use the power of our imagination, mixed with emotional intelligence, to design the next generation of anthropological endeavors, which is to deliver with a genuine conservation of what is left and ecologically viable, and to clean the biosphere and retap biodiversity to the extent possible – since planet earth is the most beautiful and cherished pearl we may imagine. So let us get together and make a joint commitment to this outstanding creation of goodness and in view of solidarity with future generations! And we shall use all of your human capacities, including arts and music to mutually touch our souls across cultural boundaries!

AL, Gland, 16 April 2018.


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