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  • Hedda Pahlson-Moller

People vs Planet - like Human Rights, it’s not a Zero Sum Game

During the Black Lives matter movement, there was a counter wave of reactions including a party of ‘White Lives Matter’ activist. As if recognising the rights of anyone, particularly a group that is statistically disproportionately impacted, somehow reduces the rights of another group. It’s logic at its worst.

The same counter reaction can be seen in gender debates, where initiatives to bring attention to injustices or unbalances manifesting in our social system create a knee-jerk reaction of anti #metoo movements and categorical denial of data and facts that point at an embedded power distribution that is often abused and has remained tacitly accepted and not spoken about.

'Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for your. It's not pie.'

Allowing attention and support to one group - particularly when you are talking about fundamental human rights - does not create an automatic penalty for others. Quite the opposite it should even the playing field and increase basic rights for all.

We see the same kind of debate flaring up around the question of Planet vs People - as if it’s a showdown in the Wild West…. As if they are not intrinsically linked…. As if we stand a chance at solving any planetary problem if we don’t pull ourselves together (see WEF article“Why income inequality is bad for the climate”).

The entire point of the SDGs is to bridge human and planetary issues - to make clear that they are inexorably interlinked. That’s how they evolved from MDGs. Climate Change will create refugees and social exclusion and a myriad of other ‘people problems’.

Finance needs to flow to the SDGs as a collective whole. Give the interconnectivity of the issues at hand, it is almost impossible to isolate any single one... least of all climate change. Redirecting investments to create value on more dimensions than just financial returns will create a shift in mentality around values. And it comes as a package - not a zero-sum game.

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