Biopolicy—Creating Positive Momentum to Save Bios

ARTICLE | | BY Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis

Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis

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Biopolicy is the core philosophy of the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.), and provides tools and guidelines for the promotion of dynamic relations between the environment, society and policy. Since 1985, it has been the vehicle through which B.I.O. informs and inspires people everywhere to take urgent and concerted action to save the environment and all life on our planet. Biopolicy imparts a message of hope and provides strategies for protecting the environment, saving resources, working together, understanding our interdependence. A deeper awareness of biopolicy may open the pathway for new leadership, which will avoid the mistakes of the past, decrease human arrogance and conceit, and lead to humility and to a joint, unifying vision for the future.

1. Inspiring Change in a Greedy Society

In an era of over-consumerism, the insatiable exploitation of the Earth’s resources is having devastating consequences not just for the environment but for the very continuation of biosall lifeon our planet. Human arrogance has led to excessive greed. For short-term profit, we are willing to destroy irreplaceable natural capital and accelerate global warming beyond any capacity for mitigation. Resources are plundered every day to support gross overconsumption, while poverty, hunger and malnutrition are spreading. Status and power are seen as the ultimate pursuit of gain, turning the planet’s remaining reserves into “product” and destroying fragile global balances representing millions of years of evolution.

This voracious consumption is the result of a serious global crisis in values, in vision, in leadership. Does humanity stand a chance of overcoming this crisis and building a better future? A millennium is only a fraction of a second in the history of the evolution of life on our planet. Can we believe that human life will still be possible at the present rate of destruction?

The evidence of global warming is clear and affects everyone. But we need to consider that bios is the strongest link that unites all peoples of the world and all living beings. Climate change mitigation policies will succeed or fail by the everyday actions of empowered and capable individuals, communities and countries.

"We need concrete plans of action and new paradigms to move ahead and make a difference."

Has it become our primary aim to destroy life within a few seconds, or is there still hope that things will change? We have been wasting precious time and desperately need to mobilize all the inspirational forces to help us acknowledge the value of bios, the true profit and gain for humanity. Preserving the wealth and beauty of our natural resources, removing sources of pollution, securing the health of the Earth’s population, providing fair rules of trade, and guaranteeing educational opportunities for every citizen in the world can only be a win-win scenario, encouraging hope and positive change.

Our planet is just a speck of dust in the universe and yet we keep dividing it into even smaller increments, spreading enmity, greed and segregation and leading to hatred on the basis of religion, ethnicity or social status. Are we being blind? We have been endowed with the gift of thought and reflection. Our thoughts can be free no matter how many crises seem to tie us down. But we need concrete plans of action and new paradigms to move ahead and make a difference.

2. Motivation to Save Bios

To successfully tackle the pivotal challenge of climate change mitigation, we need to actively engage a whole range of sectors, including business, science and technology, journalism, law, diplomacy and politics, and this requires concerted action and an enlightened vision.

We need to inspire the very few who control more than 50% of the world’s wealth and power to actively and voluntarily contribute to the protection of bios on our planet. The greatest feat for them in the 21st century should be not to merely multiply their billions or trillions in financial investments, but to invest in prompt and efficient action to protect the oceans, clean contaminated water resources, guarantee safe and sufficient food for everyone, and secure the co-existence and co-dependence of all peoples on our planet. It might sound like a poor investment strategy, but it is the only way to look destruction in the eye and provide a solution with staying power for hundreds of generations to come.

The Parthenon temple in Athens was built in the wake of a huge catastrophe, the Persian wars. A new Parthenon with global reach can be built by inspirational leaders who acknowledge the urgency of deploying their financial and human resources to save bios. A beacon of light and hope for the survival of the planet, for now and for the future.

3. e-Learning: Education with Global Reach

It is time for leaders in every sector to capitalize on the choices available for saving bios and building a society of hope. e-Learning courses on climate change mitigation, combined with new information continuously provided by the media, can create amazing educational opportunities for people of all ages and all walks of life. An essential component of this scheme is the combination of all means presently available to make learning happen, including taking advantage of open and distance education technologies, and promoting opportunities for climate action.

The news media and modern communications can spearhead this effort by helping to address the specific needs of communities, groups and individuals. Communication needs to be seen as a long-term interactive process, focusing on the positive aspects of progress and on societal contributions that make a difference for the future. This motivation can provide clear follow-up on actions and a strong sense of a collective responsibility, so that the urgency of mitigating climate change becomes not only convincing and compelling, but also educational and inspiring.

4. The “Bio-assessment” of Technological Progress

Information about the possibilities of technology with specific examples of how environmental problems have been tackled in different parts of the world can help everyone to participate and contribute to a global campaign to save bios. This information—collected and managed as a Bank of Ideas with contributions from every citizen on the planet—can also lead to many new professions and provide the needed momentum for the development of new, dynamic and creative endeavors.

The “bio-assessment of technology,” which the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.) has been proposing since 1985, can help society to benefit from the positive aspects of progress. Through constructive dialogue, with a thesis, antithesis and synthesis of new values, the bio-assessment of technology secures the life-supporting dimensions of technology that can mitigate climate change and ensure a brighter future.

Local Genetic Banks

With climate change, the conservation of genetic diversity has become more critical than ever before. Habitat loss, intensive agriculture and GMOs threaten animal and plant varieties and place future biodiversity at great risk. As the majority of the world’s poor rely directly on biodiversity for food production, lives and livelihoods are severely affected. Local genetic banks that protect endemic biodiversity and heirloom varieties are vital in the conservation of genetic diversity and can prove invaluable in the fight against hunger, poverty and disease.

5. Redefining Profit and Gain—Thinking Ethically about the Environment

Tackling the challenge of climate-smart and sustainable growth will require strong institutional capacity and radical shifts in investments and resource use. GDP, which mainly measures market transactions, served as a reliable signpost of progress for decades, but present social and environmental needs make it imperative to instate new primary policy goals and new ways of evaluating profit so as to build climate resilience and ensure development with a vision. A re-evaluation of the concept of profit is vital, in order to include parameters such as health, education, culture, international cooperation and guidelines for climate change mitigation, elements which constitute a genuine “profit” and “gain” for society.

Changing Business Education

"The relentless focus on greed and negative paradigms must be replaced by a message of optimism and hope."

For this effort to succeed, business schools will have to start building climate-focused fundamental capabilities and promote structural change. The over-consumerism mentality which has led humanity to a dead-end needs to be replaced by an educational perspective that prepares current and future business leaders and professionals to embrace climate change not as a mere question of responsibility but as pivotal to almost every aspect of a business operation. In this context, business schools need to embed climate-related courses into their curricula and build lasting relationships with thought leaders and decision makers for effective climate change adaptation strategies. The goals of business school education should shift from a focus on conventional business functions to a broader vision of skills and competencies, including the integration of the social dimensions of climate change, as well as a complete cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural approach.

6. Mobilizing the Arts

If we ignore the arts sector in our efforts to limit further damage to bios, we leave out a substantial percentage of human capital and creativity, so crucial to the building of a new society of hope. It we wish to see the ballet of the unfolding of the DNA’s double helix or listen to the beating motion of microscopic cilia, the time is ripe to recognize the beauty and wonders of the microcosmos, the world of cells and molecules. We can appreciate the cell as a perfect model for clean energy production, waste removal, and synthesis of complex proteins, which can make a difference between health and disease.

The microcosmos is a source of joy for the informed biomedical scientist working at the forefront of research, but the artist can also be inspired by this amazing unseen world. New designs in textiles and jewelry, new musical compositions, theatre, photography, poetry and literature, every form of artistic expression can draw new motivation from the intricate functions of the billions of life processes taking place in a single cell in a 24-hour period.

A trip to the most beautiful state
I started off on a lengthy journey
and found myself in the cell’s state
I was afraid lest I feel desperate
but instead I was startled with joy

What an incredible world is working
day and night with so many machines
in such harmony
that cannot even be found
in the most lavishly decorated churches

To pass through the gate
I had to go through a terrible control
guards, lipids, proteins, receptors
all of them check
whether you will pass the entrance

As soon as you enter
the State of the select
you will face thousands of machines
each one working separately
but in a magic way
all of them contribute to the effort
which coordinates this world

Even if the code is hidden
in the dark abyss of the nucleus
again wisely the secrets pass
to the cytoplasm by a mysterious trail

They carry a code
secretly copied in letters
the endoplasmic reticulum network
and follow the pathway to the home
dressed in red colours
and magically we call it ribosomes

Quickly the code’s tangled words
are assembled in order
with secrets they untangle
they synthesise the proteins for life

Workers come and go the hormones
in the nucleus, the cytoplasm,
the golgi, and everywhere
as though they are asking
from all the other parts
to obey only them

But here there is harmony
and very deep mystery
nature decorated with a magic crown
knits happily a web
which knows billions of aims every minute
and to compose the cell’s
most melodic tune

– A. Vlavianos-Arvanitis
Roots, A collection of Poems, 1982

The cooperation of techne and technology in the appreciation of the microcosmos can position the arts as a driver in climate change mitigation and the race for a brighter future.

"Modern society desperately needs a common vision to secure a harmonious and peaceful future."

7. Interdependence and Biodiplomacy for an Era of Inspiration

We are surrounded by negative messages but do we need to despair? Knowing that we possess the gift of bios should constantly fill us with joy. The relentless focus on greed and negative paradigms must be replaced by a message of optimism and hope. The problems that have led to the destruction of life can be converted to solutions. This has to become the prevailing paradigm for the millennium, because it is only through a positive, dynamic and lucid approach that we can achieve meaningful action to safeguard all life on our planet.

Responding to the climate change challenge will also force us to consider escaping from current patterns of consumption and production that are exhausting natural resources, causing global warming, and transforming the social conditions of human life. However, the most essential part of this urgent responsibility remains the parameter of time. If we do not hear the ticking clock, then we are morally accountable for the damages and problems we delegate to future generations. Our lack of vision has resulted in unprecedented disasters and catastrophes, but maybe the common threat of climate change can provide the opportunity for joint action, allowing biodiplomacy—international cooperation in environmental protection—to flourish.

Biodiplomacy mobilizes all nations to commit themselves to mitigating climate change and, through media and education channels, seeks to involve every individual on the planet in the fulfillment of this global campaign. Biodiplomacy promotes interdependence and collaboration and focuses on the value of differentiation. Differences in religion, culture, language and biodiversity are the wealth of humanity. Just as all the parts of the human body need to function together in harmonious coordination to maintain a healthy individual, modern society desperately needs a common vision to secure a harmonious and peaceful future.

Placing the appreciation of bios at the heart of decision-making can shape the next generations of world changing leaders by building a vision of hope. The goal is to motivate every citizen to confirm the positive link between climate resilient development and our survival on this planet. To be successful in this effort, we must draw inspiration from the miracle of life, as it is our ability to be inspired that will turn the tides and make a difference.


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About the Author(s)

Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis
President & Founder, Biopolitics International Organisation & Hellenic Chapter of the Club of Rome; Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science