Newsletter No.12. The Paddle Now Directory

This is to introduce the new, modified version of the Paddle Now website at www.paddlenow.org.nz

It is now six months since the original was posted.  It was to be the first NZ website devoted to persuading NZ’s political leadership to prioritise questions of global governance. It was intended that this should be done by offering support to those civil society groups active in areas most affected by the current inadequacies of the international system. I now accept that I made an initial mistake in attempting as a first move, a step too far.

Though I approached some fifty NZ groups, only seven took up the offer to display their details on the website. I was an unknown and potentially loose cannon. Many felt that association with overt political campaigning, other than in their core interest area, might compromise their relationship with officialdom. Others, understandably, decided to wait to see if Paddle Now was going to be able to make any real contribution to their cause.

A chicken and egg situation thus emerged. Paddle Now couldn’t go to the public unless it had something of interest to offer them. That something had to be of more interest than information about less than 15% of the groups that it was hoping to introduce to visitors to its site.

As a consequence of the above, the original political advocacy has been muted and the site re-worked as a ‘trade’ directory.  The original aim of the site, i.e. to help and encourage interested members of the public find appropriate groups to join or support, remains intact.

Brought forward from the old site, there are displays by the original seven, pioneering, NZ-based groups. There are additional displays from a few, specifically invited, overseas-based groups. (Without exception, all the overseas groups invited, accepted.) What is new, is that there are an additional fifty, or so, directory entries with simple listings of name and a hyperlink to their web address.

Before Paddle Now can start a social media and PR campaign, it needs at least an additional fifteen NZ groups to upgrade from their bare-bones directory entry to displaying additional information to the public. There is no charge and no risk involved.

For more background, see “Agents of Change” below.

Agents of Change

Ever since the coalition of the willing illegally and disastrously invaded Iraq, I have been acutely aware of the urgent need for reform of the current ramshackle system of global governance and the inadequate provisions for the development and application of International law.

Everyone who reads this blog will be well aware that humanity is facing a complex and potentially terminal crisis. In the past two centuries of rapidly accelerating change, the human population has grown from one billion to seven (with another two billion anticipated before 2050.) There is a consequent, unsustainable demand placed on the Earth’s fast diminishing resources – and on Nature’s tolerance of this invasive organism.

Over the same period, humanity has moved from a plethora of ethno-centric cultures and civilisations to one globalised, technological civilisation. However, its political arrangements and popular ideology have remained mired in the archaic, sovereign state model, established in the seventeenth century.  Unsurprisingly, there are consequences that follow this dysfunctional mismatch. In the absence of any overarching, coordinating polity, the globalised economy and civilisation appear unable to cope with the multiple crises afflicting them.

 To ensure our civilisation’s (and possibly our species’) survival, change must happen with greater urgency than our naturally conservative, change-resistant, political systems seem capable of:

  • International law needs to be developed, observed and arbitration accepted.
  • The institutions of global governance need to be reformed and updated.
  • War has to be unlearned and its advocates prosecuted.
  • Nuclear weapons need to be dismantled.
  • The global Environment must be restored and protected.
  • Poverty has to be eliminated and Human rights observed.
  • Nations need to clamber on board Raworth’s doughnut.
  • In short, the UN’ sustainable development goals need to be achieved by the international community and enforced by the 193 signatories.  (Observing them won’t do it. Observation is a weasel, let-out word which, to too many,  entails commitment to no more than watching.)

These changes are unlikely to come about in the time remaining unless existing political systems are impacted by effective external agents of change.

Some of the organisations listed in the Paddle Now directory have set out to be agents of such change. Others, such as aid and environmental agencies, have been formed to apply bandages, where the current inadequate global community has inflicted wounds. These organisations, even if they do not see their primary task as being to change the status quo that sets them their tasks, have to welcome any changes in the global system that ease the problems they are addressing.  Consciously or unconsciously they too are agents for change: it is up to them to decide on how, and the extent to which, they wish to advocate reform.

The poverty and gross hardships addressed by the aid agencies is often the result of the failure of the international system to maintain peace and/or of the failure of food and/or medical distribution networks. The impending climate change, the result of the global community’s mismanagement of the commons of ocean and atmosphere, will result in further wars, famines and displacements – on an unprecedented scale. All this human suffering is a result of the failure of groups of humans, no matter how organised, to take control of their political leadership.

The world needs its agents for change to be as strong and as powerfully informed and motivated as possible. Paddle Now’s very modest ambition is to do its best to support and strengthen those NZ groups in the front line of the struggle and help galvanise other New Zealanders to support their efforts.

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