Global Citizenship Ethics for Effective Global Governance – the Rio 2012 Window of Opportunity!

Global governance solely based on national governments and their coordination mechanisms is not sufficient anymore to cope with the magnitude of global challenges of our time. Resources of global civil society have to be integrated into global governance in order to harness the full potentials of wo&menkind for safeguarding our common future (especially in terms of knowledge and financial means for collaborative action but also in terms of coherence of individual choices and actions of global citizens that summed up constitute significant drivers of global challenges). People all around the world are concerned about the global problems, they know that their wellbeing will strongly be influenced by these global dimensions and they are willing to contribute their fair share to effective responses to these challenges on all relevant levels – thus contributing to effective global governance.


The concept of philanthropy – meaning donating money, goods, time, or effort for pursuing the common good or/and to support a charitable cause– is an important corrective to the mainstream of self interest focused market economy and consumerism which are among the root causes of many global environmental problems of 21st century.


There is an important role for philanthropy and global civic engagement to play in addressing global challenges and in building capacity for global societal change towards more sustainability. In order for positive systemic integration of philanthropy in global governance to function in a coherent way, a shared vision of a range of stakeholders is needed as well as there are needed new structures and processes for global cross-sectoral coordination. New institutional and legal frameworks for mobilization of resources of global civil society for global (especially environmental and economic) governance are needed and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio 2012 might be the window of opportunity of wo&menkind to achieve this paradigm shift.




The Normative Basis: Standards for Duties of Global Citizens towards Global Community need to be develloped!

Article 29 (1) of Universal Declaration on Human Rights (“Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.“) could serve – perhaps in combination with Earth Charter ( - as a  normative foundation for the development of global citizenship ethics towards broad mobilization of philanthropic engagement globally.



V.4 Voluntary commitments

Ethical objectives do not necessarily need to be pursued by “policies” in the strict sense – still less by regulation that gives legal form to specific principles. Ethics can also be embedded in concrete social practices, and thereby have real effects on behaviour and social structures, by means of voluntary commitment, the essence of which is that those actors who subscribe to certain principles or values act unilaterally, without waiting for any requirement or incentive to do so. ..

On the other hand, the view was expressed in many workshops that the key challenge is to give a binding character to ethical principles. ..

The principle that the potential of voluntary commitments deserves careful study, and perhaps practical attention, has been quite widely supported. However, there has been little specific discussion of what exactly might be done, how and by whom to further such an objective. It appears therefore that further work is needed to reach practically relevant conclusions in this area.


Source: UNESCO, World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology, Towards an Ethical Framework for Climate Change Policies –

Interim Report of the Extraordinary Session at UNESCO Headquarters,

28-30 June 2010, page 28


Recommended further reading: Yvonne von Stedingk (former member, Directorate General of Human Rights, Geneva): Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual to the Community and Others, March 25, 2009, Presentation at the conference Leadership and Good Governance: Innovative Approaches to World Peace, Paris, France, May 2006


The Rio 2012 Window of Opportunity (= Window of Responsibility) --> Launching of a “Global Citizenship (Ethics) Compact” !!



Is there a need for a ‘Global Forum on Philanthropy and Civic Engagement related to Global Challenges’?

With the initiative to establish a ‘Global Forum on Philanthropy and Civic Engagement related to Global Challenges’we would like to provide a point of crystallization for those who are interested in a structured multi-stakeholder dialogue including UN system, grantmaker associations/foundations, Civil Society Organizations, faith based organizations, university and school networks (especially those focusing on education for sustainable development and on open educational resources), artists, media and general global civil society on innovative resource mobilization and capacity building related to global challenges and for momentum building towards global citizenship ethics.


Potential Scope and Activities of the Global Forum: