The international community could make several strides in averting the negative effects of climate change by following the recommendations of the Oxford Martin Commission (OMC) for Future Generations report on climate change, poverty, governance and disease, says South African Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission and commissioner of the global leaders group Trevor Manuel.
Manuel told attendees at the 2014 C40 Cities Climate Leadership Summit, held in January at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg that the OMC’s main recommendation was that business and governments should come together to discuss how challenges such as carbon emissions, poverty and diseases could be addressed.
“The proposal is to take 20 systemically significant countries, 30 corporates – and they could be the biggest emitters – and 43 cities from the C40 and establish an alliance where there can be a lot of traction of ideas that will lead to life- changing decisions being made with regard to climate change and other related issues,” he explained.
Manuel was part of a plenary session under the heading Healthier, Wealthier Cities: Linking Growth, Prosperity & Liveability, and was flanked by the City of Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson.
The OMC maintains that, through communication among governments, civil society organisations and business, a permanent solution to global problems that include climate change, poverty and noncommunicable disease can be reached.
Manuel said, however, that the OMC’s research had found that existing global groupings, such as the United Nations, were not making enough progress in facilitating such communication.
He added that a permanent solution had to include the youth, as the future custodians of the world. “We are also thinking about young people and ensuring that they become part of coalitions and talks that focus on building a better future.”
The OMC was established in September 2012 and released its first report, with several recommendations on how to make these changes, in October last year.
The report follows a year-long process of research and debate undertaken by the commissioners on the successes and failures of addressing global challenges in the past decade and aims to find solutions for future generations in the twenty-first century.
The OMC, which is chaired by former World Trade Organisation director-general Pascal Lamy and comprises 18 other global leaders, including Michelle Bachelet, Lionel Barber, Professor Roland Berger, Professor Ian Goldin, Arianna Huffington, and Dr Mo Ibrahim, among others, is calling for radical change.
Other recommendations by the commission include the establishment of a global voluntary taxation and regulatory exchange to address tax abuse and tax avoidance by corporates and individuals by monitoring and harmonising company taxation arrangements, the promotion of information sharing, as well as enhancing transparency and governance.
The OMC also recommends that a new cyber-warning platform, which will most likely be called CyberEX, will be introduced at government and corporate level to inform these parties of potential danger. The platform will promote better understanding of common cyber threats by identifying preventative measures and reducing possible future attacks for the shared benefit of governments, corporates and individuals.
The commission recommends that subsidies that cannot be clearly accounted for on hydrocarbons and agriculture should be removed and redirected to support the poor.
In addition, the fight against noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, should be waged using a new ‘Fit Cities’ network – a collaboration among food, beverage and alcohol providers, as well as public health and city authorities – to reduce the burden on health systems.
Further, the OMC recommends that “discrimination against future generations” be combatted by revising discounting methods that do not accurately reflect youth numbers in existing statistical monitoring.
It also calls for a specialist agency, charged with undertaking quality control on global statistics, assessing domestic practices on youth involvement, regulating the misuse of youth statistics and improving data collection to be set up by global statistics monitor Worldstat.
Most importantly, the commission calls for all governments and corporates to invest in younger generations. Social protection measures, such as conditional cash-transfer programmes, should be used to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, while youth guarantees are recommended to reduce the “scars of long-term unemployment and disconnection”.