Altai Charter: Society, Human and Nature Co-Development within the Framework of the Dialogue of Civilizations

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Altai Charter

(05/30/2014)

We, the participants of the First Altai Forum on Society, Human and Nature Co-Development within the Framework of the Dialogue of Civilizations, united by our common desire to build a better future for all, declare the need for a gradual transition to a new type of society. This society will be defined not only by its outward characteristics but also by its worldview, its basic principles and core values.

 The following elements may be considered the chief characteristics of such a society:

 - Human beings are recognized as an integral part of nature, interdependent with the well-being of other parts of the natural environment. The fundamental principle of “co-development of society and nature” therefore shall be the starting point for human development, including the assessment and implementation of state-initiated or -sponsored projects as well as scientific and technological innovations, solutions and methods;

 - The spiritual essence of the human being is recognized alongside its material essence with priority given to fundamental spiritual values, subordinating the economy to serve the goals of development in the leading areas of culture including the sciences, the arts and education;

 - Dialogue is widely recognized as beneficial for addressing and resolving civilizational, interstate, interreligious and interethnic problems, where an ability to listen to and understand the “other” is the prerequisite for different positions to be mutually recognized and understood;

 - Representatives of different national, regional, ethnic and religious communities should work together to protect the world’s common natural and spiritual heritage, without which we cannot survive, and corporately seek to proceed on the path towards common prosperity.

 We therefore define and recommend a new strategy herewith, for equitable development that recognizes the world community as an environmentally and spiritually oriented civilization.

 The necessity to turn to spiritual and environmental values is the result, on one hand, of the obvious crisis of the widespread contemporary consumer civilization, which de facto is based on radically different ideas and assumptions and practices. Such assumptions have in fact brought the global consumption-oriented civilizational model toward its end: the sanctioning of an ideology of unlimited consumption is the root cause of the global environmental crisis; the abandonment or active destruction of intuitive moral and ethical parameters of human life and social institutions – foremost the ideas of natural family and community – are imposing the anti-values of individualism and privatized truth on the world’s civilization, over and against a fostering of public dialogue and agreement on norms for social and environmental practice; and a generalized loss of understanding that vested authority, power and leadership should serve in the interests of people and society as a whole has resulted in many regions of the world in the disregard of the main goal of the state to create conditions for the harmonious development of human beings.

 On the other hand, based on a wide variety of studies in different fields of enquiry, the Forum participants are convinced that we must advance to the new type of society. The results of these studies are progressively forging a new scientific paradigm for development. Within this framework, a rethinking of perceptions of human nature and the connections between human beings and the world, the relationship between modern and traditional knowledge, and a viable synthesis of science, philosophy, art and religion must be restored.

 Of special significance in the transition to a new paradigm of society and civilization are the unique cultural biospheric regions of the Earth such as Greater Altai, with their cultural and biological diversity – regions that include considerable biodiversity and extensive wilderness as well as many sites of cultural heritage from different national, socio-linguistic and ethnic groups. Regional and international cooperation in such areas shall be based on new – spiritual and environmental – principles and priorities. Such special regions as Greater Altai, possessing enormous value in their ecosystem services, also are to be recognized as ecological donors; and this not only in countries of origin but for the whole planet. In conducting the coordinated ecological policy, in intercultural and interethnic communication of the Greater Altai peoples Russian language plays special unifying role.

 Humanity should evolve not by artificially changing or attempting to control nature, but by allowing nature to reveal its tremendous hidden potential through creative endeavors, thus sustaining and transforming human society and its surrounding environment. This view sheds light on the critical task of transitioning to a ‘green economy,’ of incorporating environmental concerns into the agenda of enhancing people’s welfare and well-being, of promoting greater social justice combined with a minimization and mitigation of ecological risks. The essence of the “green economy” lies in the need to harmonize the increasing human activity with the natural capacities of the planet; probably the top priority for achieving this goal lies in the responsible attitude of government, business sector and civil society towards nature and natural resources. A deep “environmentalization” of the economy and of every facet of our individual and corporate life is necessary, as the value of nature should not be reduced only to the provision of resources for economic purposes. Ecosystem services also are of paramount significance including climate regulation, aesthetic and recreational opportunities, and the satisfaction of cultural and spiritual needs of humanity – all of which would benefit greatly from an increased public environmental awareness and motivation of people, communities, business and government to jointly resolve environmental and social problems; which in turn are themselves defined by culture. In the end, it is culture that defines our environmental and spiritual consciousness – hence our recognition of the special importance of cultural and natural heritage for the development of humanity, and the need for their worldwide protection and creative development.

 To achieve this strategic goal, the participants of the Altai Forum have come together in the beautiful and bountiful land of Altai where many nations and cultures are united, to achieve the following goals:

 - To discuss strategic directions for the creation and development of a new type of global co-existence, both spiritual and environmental;

 - To advance financial, informational, political and organizational support for ideas, projects and technologies that will help regional and global programs for transitioning into a new kind of society and ‘green economy’;

 - To support international and regional political, interfaith and interethnic dialogue, aimed at revealing and affirming universal spiritual values in public awareness that will help bring societies and humanity closer together;

 - To involve young people in the active creation of a new society where love for one’s homeland and one’s neighbors will translate in a respect for other nations and their cultural achievements;

 - To promote comprehensive support and strengthening of corporate social responsibility in all sectors of the economy, including all forms of social and environmental activities;

 - To encourage protection of unique cultural and biospheric regions of the Earth such as Greater Altai, regions that have tremendous creative potential and can serve as learning models for the process of developing and transitioning to the new type of society;

 - To further research and create global and national economic compensatory mechanisms for special cultural-biosphere regions that serve as ecological donors for the planet, rendering vital ecosystem services for sustainability of the global biosphere.

 The participants of the Altai Forum are open for dialogue and cooperation with all organizations and people who share our values and convictions. We are convinced that humanity may find the necessary potential to overcome the current prejudices, disputes and wars; and may therefore arrive at a future where nature and human society develop in harmony, and where freedom and diversity of nations and ethnic groups will help bring people together and nurture mutual understanding.