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Featured Article

David Korten's picture
January 18, 2022
by David Korten

"The future most of us seek will be an ecological civilization: peaceful, democratic, equitable, sustainable, and dedicated to securing the wellbeing of people and Earth. Getting there requires a civilizational change."


Our current society cannot be considered civilized by any objective standard. We grow the fortunes of billionaires, even as we increase the numbers of homeless refugees and destroy Earth’s capacity to sustain life. This places us all at risk, rich and poor alike. The problem becomes more evident with each passing year. But delineating a viable alternative continues to elude us.

We have now entered the third year of what science tells us will be humanity’s decisive decade. Unless we navigate a global change of course before 2030, we risk doing such irreversible damage to Earth’s regenerative systems that our species is unlikely to survive.

I’ve been privileged over my 84 years to engage in global conversations about human possibility with some of the world’s most extraordinary minds—conversations that transcend the varied identities that have so long divided us. Recently, these conversations have become an experience in rapid collaborative learning, creativity, and commitment beyond anything I’ve previously experienced.

Out of these conversations is emerging a vision of a life-serving civilization built from a convergence of Indigenous understanding and observations at the leading edge of contemporary science. Let us commit to making 2022 our year for crafting that vision.

The foundational truths on which that vision rests are the following: Life is a fundamentally cooperative enterprise that depends on diverse communities of living beings that self-organize to create and maintain the conditions essential to their individual and mutual existence. The living Earth that births and nurtures us is distinctive among all the planets we know because of its community of life. Our well-being depends, in turn, on that of the Earth.

The implications of these truths run deep. They call us to transform how we...