- Our activity and impact in 2019
- Research, writing and publications
- Campaigning, activism and events
- Future plans and projects
The call for sharing the world’s resources remained central to international events in 2019. Global humanitarian needs reached the highest level in decades, while the extent of hunger increased for a third consecutive year, driven largely by conflict and climate change. The world’s displacement crises also continued to worsen due to political neglect and a shortage of funds. Debt repayments by the world’s poorest countries doubled since 2010, yet progress on meeting international aid targets went into reverse. The United Nation’s grand plan to eliminate poverty by 2030 became woefully off track, hindered particularly by a deterioration in multilateral cooperation. Overall, the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and power threatened a ‘new great divergence’ in societies of a kind not seen since the Industrial Revolution.
One of the central objectives of STWR’s activities throughout the year was to highlight these critical social and political trends that reflect the necessity of global economic sharing. Our updated website now serves as a valuable repository of information about the reality of our divided world, as well as featuring many positive signs of hope and change. From a global policy perspective, for example, we highlighted commentary on the major international political events of the year—ranging from the annual World Economic Forum charade in January, to the six-day ‘mega events’ held at the United Nations General Assembly in late September, and finally ending with the disappointing COP25 meeting on climate change in December.
Much of our website content was also devoted to new economic paradigms that reflect the call for sharing, like the proposals for a wellbeing economy; a truly global Green New Deal; a biodiversity-based agricultural system; an equity approach to climate negotiations; or indeed the varied calls for democratising the United Nations. As long as the idea and political demand for sharing is not significantly popularised in the public imagination, these website resources serve as a useful tool for educating engaged citizens and furthering awareness of relevant ‘sharing-related’ issues.
Another key development of the year that we featured across our networks was a renewal of grassroots protest activity—the biggest surge since the early 2010s. Beginning with the global climate strikes led by schoolchildren from the start of 2019, millions of citizens in diverse countries participated in massive street demonstrations for a turnaround in government priorities. Towards the end of the year, a central demand of many of these spontaneous and leaderless public gatherings—from east Asia to Latin America, northern Europe to the Middle East—was for an end to extreme inequalities and a fairer sharing of national wealth. This gave STWR an important opportunity to promote our case for greater economic sharing, based on our ‘people’s strategy’ for unifying around Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see more in the campaigning section below).
Owing to the popular appeal of STWR’s printed publications, we have now committed to releasing our entire series of ‘Studies on the principle sharing’ in book and e-book formats with Troubadour Publishing. This process began with our popular work on climate change—‘The intersection of politics and spirituality in addressing the climate crisis’—which was timed for release just prior to the UN climate talks in December (COP25). Along with a newly revised edition of our flagship publication ‘Heralding Article 25’, there are also four further books that can be published in a similar format, all to be released as part of the same educational series of writings with coordinated cover designs. This includes our signature book of studies, comprising a collection of articles by Mohammed Sofiane Mesbahi that provide an accessible introduction to STWR’s cause and strategic vision.
The seventh and most significant title in the series—our compendium of dialogues on the subject of world governance—remains the focus of work of Mesbahi and Adam Parsons until its imminent completion. This is our most ambitious project to date, and we expect that it will provide a major boost to STWR’s organisational profile, our campaigning endeavours, and our general standing amongst the scholar activist community.
Many of our writings continue to be translated into foreign languages with the help of staff and co-workers. In the past year, this has included a German version of our classic primer on global economic sharing, and Italian versions of our popular books on both Heralding Article 25 and the spiritual dimensions of climate change, among other writings. Our Japanese mirror website maintained by Hodaka Murata also published many STWR materials throughout the year, as well as events and activist resources that related to our campaign.
On both the Japanese and English language websites, we also published guest content from selected writers who support our campaign and overarching vision. Special mention is given to Rok Kralj, a co-worker and STWR translator based in Slovenia, who published with STWR his far-reaching proposal that envisions a new international mechanism for ensuring that everyone on Earth has their basic needs fulfilled, while respecting planetary environmental limits.
STWR’s campaigning activities in 2019 remained focused on the core objective of promoting our vision of a massive worldwide citizen’s movement to end hunger and poverty. Central to this work is our ‘people’s strategy’ for upholding Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living (as set out in our flagship book). To this end, we continued our series of talks at universities in order to raise awareness of the importance of Article 25, and also to encourage students to join our campaign. One of our talks at Cambridge University—hosted by their Amnesty International and Cambridge Homeless Outreach Programmes—was filmed and can be viewed from our YouTube page.
There were many other events that we promoted or participated in when they related to the cause of Article 25, either nationally or overseas. This included: the People's Mobilisation to Stop the US War Machine held in New York; the 41st Annual Justice and Peace Conference (“Forgotten People, Forgotten Places”) held in Derby, UK; and events surrounding the visit of Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, who caused a stir during his tour of the United Kingdom. We also attended various ‘climate strike’ events during the year, and endeavoured to promote our central message: that it’s time to declare poverty an emergency too, not only the emergency of climate change. There were various new campaigning materials that we produced for these events, such as banners, posters and postcards, of which some were added to our ‘Get involved’ page for anyone to freely download.
A new initiative involved a ‘postcard mailblast’ which provided ordinary citizens with a simple means of supporting our campaign. The idea was to send a continuous stream of postcards—signed by members of the public with a short personal message—to progressive individuals and groups who are already highlighting social injustices while calling for a fairer sharing of resources. One recipient was Rev. William Barber, a lead proponent of the Poor People's Campaign which directly reflects our focus on Article 25. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was another recipient who endorses the need for universal economic and social rights, as reflected in her ‘just society’ bills proposed to the US Senate. Senator Bernie Sanders was also targeted by our campaign as one of the most high-profile advocates of greater economic equality and a just foreign policy during his 2019 presidential bid.
Further opportunities emerged during the year for us to promote STWR’s campaign vision through interviews with other progressive groups. For example, we conducted an extended radio interview with the Better World Radio Show hosted by McNair Ezzard, which allowed us to present the history and perspective of our organisation. Another interview with the Hong Kong activist group 7 Billion Today led to a collaborative project idea, in which we were generously helped to create an advertisement video for our campaign (titled: “Let's reclaim the United Nations founding vision!”)
Our ‘global call for sharing’ campaign is still ongoing due to its perennial message that applies more than ever to contemporary political affairs. This remains a useful means for people to signal their support for our broader organisational purposes, and its sign-up form continues to attract signatures from individuals and groups across the world. We also pursued various ad-hoc projects whenever an opportunity arose to promote our work or campaign vision. At the end of the year, for example, we again promoted our spiritual perspective on sharing the world’s resources during the Christmas period, which some of our co-workers in the US and Slovenia publicised in their own countries.
STWR’s social networking platforms further enabled us to connect with relevant debates, movement-builders and associated campaigns. We currently monitor and engage with around 1,300 prominent individuals and groups on our Twitter site (@global_sharing) which has over 3,100 followers. Our Facebook site now has over 39,000 likes and 39,000 followers, and helps us to generate wider engagement with our published website content.
This year we also set up an STWR Instagram account where a co-worker based in New York is helping to promote our content and post memes that highlight inspirational quotes from STWR's writings. We also continue to use Medium (email@example.com) to republish STWR writings, as well as our YouTube channel for video content which we plan to add more to in the coming period. Our other means of engaging with supporters is through our periodic newsletters via Mailchimp, for which our subscribers have increased to 4,288 (including our Japanese newsletter subscribers).
1. Writing, publications and website
At the time of writing in 2020, the coronavirus crisis has led civil society organisations and activist groups to fundamentally reassess their activities, immediate goals and present modes of working. For STWR, this has meant a reorientation of our activities towards focusing, above all, on our writing and publications. The main project in this regard is the publication of further ‘Studies on the principle of sharing’, authored by Mohammed Sofiane Mesbahi with editorial support from Adam Parsons and the rest of the team. Our comprehensive work on world governance is the primary focus for Mesbahi and Parsons until the project is completed, after which time further opportunities are expected to arise for promoting the book and engaging with relevant debates (see more below).
As abovementioned, we are also continuing to publish our existing publications through Troubadour, forming a series of books that are similarly themed and coordinated in their design. Three of these books have now been published and made available through our online store (on the themes of human rights, climate change and a universal basic income). We plan to publish at least three further books in 2020—our signature collection of articles, a revised second edition of ‘Heralding Article 25’, and our popular book on the commons. There are still four other books in the pipeline to follow, beginning with our works on a ‘true sharing economy’ and world governance, to be followed by two further books (already partially written) that emphasise the more spiritual and philosophical aspects of sharing the world’s resources.
We are fortunate to have the support of various co-workers who can translate these books and any new materials into different languages to be viewed on STWR’s website, particularly German and Japanese with the assistance of staff members Sonja Scherndl and Hodaka Murata. In addition to this work on book publications, we will also continue to write editorials, blogs or articles on key themes that relate to our overarching cause, which can be promoted through our newsletter and are often widely republished by other websites. Our website, www.sharing.org, will also be improved and augmented during the coming year in order to expand its resources as a ‘hub’ for sharing-related research and activism.
2. Ongoing campaigning and events
Despite the limitations imposed by lockdown measures and the cancellation of most physically-attended events in the first half of 2020, there is still a lot of scope for STWR to continue promoting our campaign. Our programme of university talks has necessarily been suspended for the time being, and we will monitor the situation with a view to restarting an events and activism programme as the world situation changes. In the meantime, the emphasis of our outreach work will comprise the following key activities:
- Promoting our book publications and new book releases by any available means—online advertisements, interviews, social networking, blog writing, postering and flyering, or new video shorts for our YouTube channel among other possibilities.
- This is STWR’s most important immediate priority in order to generate more awareness of our work, and to gain more support for our common cause.
- Making links with other movement-builders and civil society organisations that espouse an analogous cause or values to STWR. There are lots of possibilities for us to reach out to similar campaign groups who will readily respond to the vision of ‘heralding Article 25’, and therefore join our efforts or open doors to new opportunities.
- Engaging with relevant debates and movements. Many progressive causes directly resonate with our call for global economic sharing, and we will participate in any such civil society activities wherever possible and appropriate. This would include certain policy debates like the basic income and degrowth movements, the ‘commons’ and sharing economy movements, as well as many longstanding global justice campaigns—trade justice, debt cancellation, ‘fair shares’ activism in the climate movement, and other related causes.
It is clear that a unifying demand for sharing the world’s resources has never held such potential than at the present political moment, hence STWR’s core team of four staff and our wider network of co-workers will be geared to furthering our organisational objectives by all these means. By the following year in 2021, we expect to ‘shift gears’ once again and reorient our activities towards more public forms of engagement or grassroots activism.
Supporting STWR's ongoing research and advocacy work