on greenpolicies.eu

15. Oktober 2009

Document in progress / draft for peer review /Contact: alexander.hrach@gmail.com

on greenpolicies.eu

1. Let’s talk about GREEN.

Question: what is GREEN?

Answer: everything is you.

Following the english wikipedia, „green“ is – beside other meanings –  a synonym for ENVIRONMENTALISM, described as „a broad philosophy and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the environment. (…) In recognition of humanity as a participant in ecosystems, the environmental movement is centered on ecology, health, and human rights.“

This year, in 2009, the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11’s successful landing on the moon. In doing this, we also celebrated the beginning of our present global age. Our present global age begun with the picture of our blue planet, taken from a spaceship travelling home from the moon at a speed of 26.000 miles per hour. For the first time in history ever, mankind could see the planet earth from space, from just a three day’s travel distance. This picture left nobody unaffected. Not us, who have that picture, that idea of a pristine blue planet forty years later on the screens of our smart phones; not the Astronauts, who took those first pictures in, as the describe it, a feeling of bliss and deep emotion.

„In that moment, I realized that all my molecules, and all the molecules of my comrades, the molecules of our spaceship and the molecules of the earth before us all are incredibly old. And they all had one origin, they all are ONE.“ (Buzz Aldrin)

Those Astronauts – remember: not the kind of serious tree-huggers, more a kind of superheroes of the western technosphere – those Astronauts were since forty years among the most prominent voices who pointed out very clearly, that our planet is unique, valuable beyond expression, but at the same time vulnerable, and not without limits regarding its resources, dimensions and abilities. These men rode out with a mission to explore the moon – and came back with a new relation, a new awareness for our home planet earth. They pointed out very clearly, that the earth is is our precious one and only home in space, the one critical life support system for our entire species and all other beings in the known universe.

We all may have in mind that the earth has certain dimensions and is in no means endless – not in thousands of miles, not in millions of years. We might have such numbers stored in our minds, but it was the words and the experience of those Astronauts who gave us an emphatic sense of understanding, the feeling, an emotion, of what this means.

And that meaning makes a huge difference. A difference too big for a small sentence. The closest I feel I could come to express that difference, is saying it in very simple words, like one child to another: „you never piss in the pool again, once you have realized: the pool is – you.“

This paper presumes, that – whatever the particular differences may be – all environmentalists, all „greens“ share a common set of values and beliefs. This paper also presumes that there is a common understanding about “green” issues that is completely independent from present political parties and is shared by people around the globe, people of all possible different ideologies, religions, and belief systems, as diverse they may be. We might create a place where we can discuss those values and beliefs in detail at another time and place.

2. Let’s talk about MOVEMENT.

Let me begin this section about movement – the broad worldwide movement we are a part of – by starting from the smallest movement imaginable: The movement of the electrons. ATOMIC POWER (or nuclear power, if you like) is in many important ways related to our topic.

First, atomic (or nuclear) fission is a completely artificial phenomenon on earth – at last in the past 2 billion years. As a counterpart, nuclear fusion, which is what happens in the sun and all other active stars in the known universe, is still a dream to chase in laboratories. And some do.

Second, power generated by nuclear fission was the sweet promise of clean and endless power source for endless economic growth for quite some decades of the 20th century. The ones who had doubts were geeks or grinches. Nuclear power seemed to have the most fantastic benefits. Bit by bit, chunk by chunk, unsolved problems and dangerous risks arose with every year of practical experience.

Today, we look upon a long record of hazards and a huge environmental mortgage bill to be paid by the generation of our children, grandchildren and beyond.

Third, nuclear weapons were not only starring in the cold war – after revealing their devastating, unrivaled potential of mass destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – they brought a complete new idea to the world. Concentrated in one word: overkill. The potential amount of how many times mankind can wipe itself from the planet’s face by pushing the right button. Or the wrong one, if you like.

That overshadowing, dominating existence of nuclear power – used both for weapons and for the peaceful generation of electricity – is to modern environmentalism, what industrialization was to the woking class movement and the later socialism; is what totalitarian suppression and colonialism was to the idea of free citizens able to choose their democratic elected leaders ; what slavery is to the idea of freedom: It is the initial state. The reason for the birth of something new. The gap. The pain. The need. The urge. All big and lasting political groups seem to have evolved from such vital movements, which wanted to create a better world.

The more perverted movements – I hope I am not simplifying too much here – have not survived. With a few exceptions, of course.

The underlying pattern seems to be: There is a social and political answer each time the world changes dramatically.

So much for some philosophy. Back to the here and now, let’s say Austria and the last 30 years. In Austria, two big events are to be mentioned when talking about environmental movement: The successful grass root protest campaign against the opening of the nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf in 1978 and the peaceful occupation of the Hainburg floodplain forest to prevent it from being sacrificed to build another river power station in 1984. Both campaigns were not only totally new, spontaneous and successful. It was in many ways a start. That momentum, together with streams from the peace movement and other movements such as feminism all came together into a new political group: The green party.

Now, the further history of the green parties in Austria and in other European countries, with all their achievements, difficulties and transformations, is not subject to this paper. This paper is not about green parties, it is about green policies. Why? The obvious first: Green parties should speak for themselves. I am one of the many who think, that green parties are a great and necessary enrichment of our society. I feel they are in many ways very near to „what needs to be done“. But even more important than the producer is the product. More important than the painter is the picture. Remember, we did not fight Zwentendorf to have a political party in the first place. We wanted to keep our country free from a dangerous way of producing energy. We won. We wanted the floodplain forest to be preserved. We won. It is a national park today.

So, this is not a statement on what green parties should or should not do. This is a statement on effectiveness.

I am saying: Let’s concentrate on what must be done. Let’s talk about what must be changed, what must be done, and how. Let’s come together and see, how much momentum and guts we can prive TODAY. Without a doubt, the tasks are many. The situations are definitely complex. Still, we will win. For very simple reasons: Everybody wants to breathe clean air. Everybody wants clean water. Everybody wants his or hers children to have the chance to see all the worlds miracles, wonders and living creatures. Wants to have them a fair chance for a peaceful and healthy life. We might be far from that today in point or another, in one country more, less in another one: it don’t matter. It is the only goal worth fighting for for great minds of today. And here is the good news: Most of the problems we are facing are man-made. We created all that stuff – the rules, the technology, the nuclear or toxic waste, as well as our great achievements, our cultures, our societies. Whatever we created, we can correct. We can improve. And we can start today to shape a future where a pristine blue planet is not a memory of a distant past, but a vital heritage to all mankind’s future generations.

It is of course a task so big, no man alone can roll that stone. But there is no man alone in this world.

Am I right?

3. POLICIES as a product of design

There is a wonderful definition on wikipedia of „policy“ and I encourage every reader of this paper to read in original and get his or her own first impression here.

After this, or if you please, instead, I would like to share with you the very beginning of this idea. Remarkable, the story begins in a social network. On the business platform XING, I am part of group of people interested in project management. It is a forum for discussing methodology, exchanging experience and ideas, a very rewarding place for people who would like to learn continuously and connect to like-minded people. Not so long ago, there was a network meeting in real life in my hometown Vienna, with moderators and guests coming in from Germany. That sounded interesting, so I decided to drop by. Within half an hour I connected with two people – you might call it professional speed dating, well… but it works. One of the guys I got to know was a project manager from a northern European Country, who was immigrating to Austria for very romantic reasons, trying to get a foot into Austrias labor market, looking for connections, trying to find a qualified job. We made friends and met a few days later, and then he described me what he had done in his northern European Country.

In his country, he had run a project to establish shared services for several governmental departments. Shared services…..? As he noticed my questioning face, he repeated again: “Shared Services” and it sounded a bit like “pal, which part of this message is it, that you don’t understand?” so I asked him to explain. “Those Shared services”, he pointed out, “mean that the ministery of labor, for instance, together wih the ministery of international relations and others share organizational and IT supported services, to the benefit of all, These services can be in the field of procurement, Human Ressources, accounting, IT services… all of the work that needs to be done as a supporting process. The benefit is, that the employees of those departments and ministries now can concentrate to a much higher degree on what is their original task: making policies!

Now, maybe this is already perfectly clear for you – for me, it wasn’t so clear until that moment: Policies are the products the political workers should deliver… making good policies is what we want them to do.

Does that make sense? Sure. That’s part of the value they create, that is mostly what we pay them for! What is “good”, is a question that can be discussed always, must be discussed, but at the end of the day, a reasonable result should be on the table.

At that time I was completely familiar with the term POLICIES, but not from the political, but from the economic/organizational sector. In my profession as a business consultant I am specialized on Lean Production / Lean Management and the Japanese culture of Kaizen. In Lean Management, there is a method called POLICY DEPLOYMENT (Japanese: Hoshin Kanri) which describes a very useful process model, how a strategic decision from the top management can be brought down to every operational level of the company in an effective and qualitative way. The decisive point in Policy Deployment is the active involvement of leaders in all relevant areas and organizational levels (usually: the less levels, the better). So I already had the experience, that crafting a good policy is not rocket science, but it can be learned by training and practicing. And it can be deployed in a way that is open to certain adaptations (and therefore includes a participating approach) but at the same time consistent to specified goals and strategies (effective) and it guarantees a sufficiently controllable process.

Wouldn’t it be good to see such policies, and such policy deployment, in the political sector?

There is a second perspective which I find relatively new, and very exciting:

If we all agree on what a policy should contain in terms of structure, if and how the success of a policy can be and should be evaluated, who would be to consider as stakeholders in a negotiation process, if we can set goals that can be measured, can define stages of maturity, and most of all, if we can communicate the background and create a common understanding/consciousness about the reason for all this actions, the urge for the specific action and the faith to find win-win transformations, if we could come to a common understanding of root causes to certain problems, a common understanding of options and leverages, then we can deal with practically each political and social issue nearly exactly in the same method-supported, systemic and systematic way how we deal with issues in Quality Management and Development of products, services, systems, and processes.

Put in simpler words: We can describe a policy as the result of a design process, we can agree on specific criteria of quality (i.e. concerning structure, process, result) and we can transform all useful methodology that have derived from other sectors to apply best known practices.

Thus, we can realize an opportunity
that never before existed on this planet.

With a common language (that we share), a common access to all information necessary (that we already use), and a common web 2.0 supported process (that we can and will create), we will soon be able to include EVERYBODY in crafting a policy on a specific issue.

Because everybody is an expert in something. I myself, for instance, am a bloody amateur in most everything I do in my life. But there are a few domains where I consider myself an expert. And so are you. So is everybody. And we do have this chance to contribute our best knowledge, experience and ideas to this design process of the next policy on all hot topics not so far from now.

This is a huge step forward, for two things are proven over and over:

a)   The involvement of all stakeholders to any kind of change process increases the quality of the decision as well as the acceptance of a new rule or regulation

b)   Top management usually has a long-term strategic view, but very seldom it has real expertise on all essential details; therefore experts or the actual performers often must be involved.

But not only Quality and Acceptance will increase – think about SPEED. Think how slow our government apparatus is behaving in its REGULAR tasks. And remember how FAST and EFFECTIVE it can be when it comes to fighting a crisis like the financial crisis in 2009!

Good or bad: we will have more crisis in the future. All kinds of crisis. Just think about peak oil. Therefore it would be wise if we made ourselves familiar with the idea of taking up speed in the political process, combined with an open door to full participation.

I am positive: We can’t allow not to.

4.  What greenpolicies.eu stands for

For the third time in this paper, let me come back to the wonderful example of Wikipedia. Its beginning reaches back to the year 2000. What a fine suiting date. Today, we see a free encyclopedia with 3 million articles in English alone, one of the most-cited sources of information in our information age, which allows everybody to be an author. It supplies infrastructure, places for discussions, rules, a community of tutors and many, many other precious things.

But the heart of the matter, the very essence, the vision it is grown upon is this fantastic idea that could be described as the “democratization of knowledge”.

greenpolicies.eu stands for the democratization of making policies.

Now, imagine.