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How far apart are national interests from planetary interest? Can youth bridge the gap?



The project can be categorized in ideation stage.

Teams of youth from various countries and institutions will be asked to participate in camps to create a working definition of ‘planetary interest’ that will be used by their team. Then, using that definition as lens, they will be asked to analyze/assess the national interests of their own country and at least, three other countries of their choice. Afterwards, these teams at the national level and at the planetary level will collaborate to create a unified definition of ‘planetary interest’ in which they agree on, create a ranked list of national interests benchmarked on the basis of their definition.

Once the teams within a single nation reconcile their works into a single document, they will be required to come up with a plan to promote planetary interest within their home country in the context of their national interest. Some of the steps could be as follows: identify stakeholders, suggest a organizational structure that they think would be useful for the work and prepare a five year action plan that builds towards a global conference on planetary interest.

[This is part result of 'one year - one person' project that I have been pursuing on the side during the last year. I undertook this project on a pro-bono basis; the client is the planet itself. Since the client can’t hire anybody, I decided to offer my services for one year that ends this August. Goal of the project was to understand what would it need to engage a lobbying firm on behalf of the planet, that is, if planet could hire! This proposal is the most important component of what I have found during last few months. This could be a proposal in other categories, but my understanding about receptibility of the idea among youth prompted me to adapt the main idea so it can be submitted here.]

Category of action

Youth Leadership on Climate Change

What actions do you propose?

The reason that we aren't making the required progress to tackle climate change is not, it seems, a lack of our capacity to do it. Rather it is the conceptual framework within which we consider ourselves to be operating in. This proposal aims to change that by taking actions to make popular the concept of 'planetary interest' and use it as a tool to look at our existing governance infrastructure and decision making apparatus.

Bring the concept at the forefront of our collective thinking to strengthen our current single planet ecosystem. One short-term goal of the project would be to sensitize our existing thought processes, to benchmark existing structures so we can work toward minimizing the gap between individual interests, national interests and the holistic idea of planetary interest.

Initially, a five year action plan is being proposed to build towards a world conference on planetary interest. During this time, youth in different nationalities will have their local, regional and national camps and conferences to come up with a working definition of a planetary interest that is relevant with a single planet ecosystem. 

First and second year activities will be solely within national boundaries with a global steering committee to guide the activities. A goal during this time would be to identify individuals and agencies within nations who can form a core national committee to promote planetary interest within their national debates and bodies. 

During the third and fourth years, interactions among national bodies should happen, regional camps and conferences may be organized. Bodies may be formed to reflect the regional groupings and realities.

A global conference on planetary interest will be held on the fifth year (i.e., 2019) where all the activities, findings and recommendations will be presented, debated and accepted. At the moment, it seems that formation of a lobbying infrastructure to promote and protect planetary interest will be an effective way beyond that conference.

Who will take these actions?

Year 1-2: Mostly student groups, student organizations within nations with guidance from a global support group. Solicitation to participate might be done through Climate Colab platform or few partner organization might be identified for each nation to help sponsor/organize the organizations. If possible, organize national conferences with the involvement of national government.

Year 3-4: Regional bodies will be formed with the involvement of different regional and supra-national bodies (e.g., EU, ASEAN, GCC, etc) currently existing in a specific region. 

Year 5: Organize a global conference on planetary interest.

Year 6 - Year 15: Engage governments, businesses and other organizations to make policy changes to remove any discrepancies that might exist between a certain national interest and the planetary interest.

Year 15 - 50: As today’s youth progress towards their role in different policy-making bodies, it is expected that a governance structure will emerge to effectively promote and protect planetary interest within our single planet ecosystem. During the same time, this concept will have to be revisited to make sure that the idea will still be relevant in a multi-planetary human civilization. 

Year 50-100: Develop a governance structure that support multiple planetary interests with effectiveness and without conflict. 

What are other key benefits?

Though the phrase ‘planetary interest’ might be new to many of us, the concept has been around for sometime, albeit not a very popular one. It should also be noted that the issue of taking actions to moderate or control climate change is nothing but upholding an aspect of planetary interest.

At a time when the humanity is looking forward towards a multi-planet civilization, the idea of planetary interest has an increased importance and demand more focus. 

This thinking framework will give us the tools necessary to marshal our existing resources towards a goal that needs to be achieved through collaboration. The goal is to promote planetary interest.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Cost for the first five years during youth camp in national, regional and global phases culminating into a global conference can be assessed easily, but hasn't been done yet.

From year 6, my current thinking is that this project will be best served if pursued as a lobbying firm (possibly a non-profit one). It would need some initial venture funding, the actual amount unknown (i.e., yet to be estimated). 

Time line

Short term (5-15 years): Make planetary interest a term as common as sustainable development or national interest. 

Medium term (15-50 years): Imagining a multi-planetary system, redefine/update the concept of planetary interest. What components will be new? What happens when climate reality (either in Earth or in another planet) changes? Also, how will the exchange rate between planets be influenced by differing planetary interest issues? 

Long term (50-100 years): In a multi-planet human civilization, there would be differing definitions of planetary interests based on where one is located. How can we use the historical ideas of national interests to conceptualize a more effective interaction mechanism or governance structure so that planetary interests aren't conflicting with each other? 

Related proposals

I didn't notice a proposal that is directly related to this proposal. Here are few proposals from youth section that could be linked in one way or the other:

Youth Action for Climate Change Awareness, Education and Research

Verb Camp International

Enhancing youth engagement in climate policy

Global University for Climate Innovation and Invention

Desert Oasis Teaching Garden; Cultivating Ideas That Grow


These are two references that can be traced that talk about planetary interest within the context of single planet ecosystem. 

1. The Planetary Interest – February 1, 1999 by Kennedy Graham


2. ​