- Our activity and impact in 2021
- Print publications and our website
- Campaining activities and evens
- Future plans and projects
Our activity and impact in 2021
As the year 2021 began, the need for sharing global resources was unprecedented. Acute food insecurity had soared to a five-year high, while progress in tackling world hunger went into reverse. Almost a third of the entire world did not have enough food to eat during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 40 million people worldwide were on the brink of starvation. At the same time, we witnessed the greatest rise in inequality since records began, with the already-wealthy and large corporations being the main beneficiaries of public bailout funds during the pandemic. The rich-poor divide was also widening between nations, threatening another lost decade for development without major reform of the global economy.
It remained STWR’s core objective as a campaigning organisation to raise awareness of this burgeoning crisis through our activities, publications and online networks. We frequently highlighted the calls for sharing that were ringing out from the United Nations—especially from the Secretary General, António Guterres, who repeatedly appealed to rich nations to share vital resources with the less developed countries. The World Food Programme was even reduced to pleading with billionaires to help provide emergency aid to the record numbers of people facing famine. Yet the G7 and other wealthy nations largely failed the test of international cooperation—not only in terms of addressing debt distress, trade injustice and illicit financial flows, but above all in terms of unequal vaccine policies. STWR added our voice to those activists campaigning to end ‘vaccine apartheid’, especially the cause for a temporary patent waiver.
STWR also continued to highlight the disturbing trends in the opposite direction of social equity and economic sharing. Most governments imposed budget cuts at a time when citizens were in greatest need of public support, often driven by the International Monetary Fund and its encouragement of financial austerity once the pandemic subsides. Progress towards universal health coverage was significantly set back, with more than half a billion people pushed into extreme poverty due to health care costs. The trend towards the privatisation and commercialisation of healthcare further increased rather than reversed. Although Covid-19 did lead to expanded social protections worldwide (albeit mainly in wealthy countries), still over 4 billion people remained without any welfare protection to cushion them from crisis. STWR therefore stood firmly behind those civil society organisations and movements that call for a renewed approach to the universal provision of public services.
We also used our website and networks to raise awareness of hopeful possibilities for a new direction in global economic policy. For example, in March The UN High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (the FACTI panel) made remarkably progressive recommendations for international tax justice. In June, the G7’s support for a global minimum corporate tax rate may have been far too low, but it was at least a starting point for curtailing the widespread use of tax havens. STWR's campaign to ‘Divert military spending to global covid relief!’ also highlighted what a fraction of military budgets could achieve if public money was spent on real human needs (see more below). We joined 200+ aid groups in urging all governments to divert one day’s global military spending—enough to cover the $5.5 billion needed to help those at most risk of hunger.
In a similar vein, we supported calls ahead of the G7 summit in June urging international cooperation for a sustainable planet. This included our support of a civil society proposal for a ‘fair shares’ global phase out of fossil fuels; and our joint demand, along with 195 environment groups, for the new U.S. Administration to do its fair share of the global action needed to help limit global warming. The UN’s COP26 summit in November may have failed to produce any meaningful progress on equitably sharing the burden of climate action, but it underscored where humanity’s best hope lies: in the collective power of social movements.
This was again the keynote of 2021: the importance of mass demonstrations and citizen activism which continued to rise worldwide despite restrictions due to Covid-19. Research showed that an overwhelming number of protests made progressive demands for economic and global justice—giving renewed impetus to STWR’s campaign for implementing Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).
Print publications and our website
New book releases
Early in the year, STWR were proud to release a second edition of our popular campaigning book, Heralding Article 25: A people’s strategy for world transformation, which was made available for purchase from February 2021. The book has been revised, streamlined and rendered more accessible to a mainstream audience.
We are continuing our relationship with Troubador who print our books in the UK and make them available as print-on-demand editions in other countries worldwide. The next title to be published was the classic text by Mohammed Sofiane Mesbahi—The Sharing Economy: Inaugurating an Age of the Heart—which was updated and revised to include many contextual references, as well as a comprehensive annex on ‘The gift economy and barter’. This was planned to be printed by the end of 2021 and was eventually released just after the new year in 2022. Work also began on publishing The Commons of Humanity as part of our same series of studies, which is our next title due to be released as a special hardback edition in 2022.
At the same time, work continued apace on our voluminous book on world governance which puts forward a far-reaching vision of a transformed United Nations, and explicates in greater detail many of the political and spiritual themes introduced in STWR’s previous publications. Two further books remain in the pipeline for STWR as soon as this is completed, both of which explore the more spiritual dimensions of sharing the world’s resources from the perspective of the Ageless Wisdom teachings.
The new book releases mentioned above were the focus of translations into mainly German and Japanese during the year. All of our six published books have been translated into these two languages, with up-to-date revised online editions of Heralding Article 25 and The Sharing Economy completed, as well as our book of Studies on the Principle of Sharing. Our Japanese website at www.sharing.org/ja now increasingly mirrors our main English site, with much of our news content also translated for Japanese users and widely posted on our Japanese social networking sites.
STWR’s website www.sharing.org continued to remain a valuable repository of articles, blogs, news, reports and events concerning the world trends that relate to our cause for sharing. Our website traffic increased at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and slightly declined in 2021 to almost 10,000 users per month on average and 130,000 page views during the year. The majority of users remain based in the United States (22%), while users in Japan (14%) have now overtaken those in the UK (now only 6%). An increasing amount of visitors are based in China, India and South Africa, among other European countries and Australia.
Our social networking sites also increased in followers, likes and reposts – Twitter surpassing 3,000 followers and Facebook over 38,000. Our new Instagram account, managed by our co-worker in New York, has further grown in popularity with its regular posting of popular memes from STWR books.
Campaigning activities and events
Throughout the year, STWR continued to raise awareness of the immense crisis of global hunger that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Inadequate public attention was being given to the United Nations’ need of unprecedented aid for humanitarian emergencies—which remained severely underfunded while a debt crisis unfolded across the global South. STWR therefore focused on promoting greater awareness of this global emergency through our website content, online social networks and public talks.
To that end, our ongoing programme of Zoom presentations continued regularly on a monthly basis, with a lot of response from Quaker groups in particular. These talks and Q&As promoted our campaign for Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—for the right of everyone to adequate food, housing, healthcare and social security. Central to the talks was the vision set out in our flagship publication, Heralding Article 25: that only the massed goodwill of ordinary people calling for their basic socioeconomic rights can bring about an end to poverty in a world of plenty.
Our online campaign initiated in April 2021 was also hinged on the colossal rise of military spending despite the United Nations’ pleas for cutbacks. Through an online petition and a YouTube video featuring the arms trade activist Andrew Feinstein, our campaign called for a diversion of military expenditures into a global fund for an emergency programme of poverty relief. Blogposts by STWR to promote the campaign were widely reposted on social media and by activist websites like Common Dreams. It was encouraging to see strikingly similar demands being made by over 200 aid agencies and, later in the year, by over 50 Nobel laureates. The campaign also enabled STWR to connect with established activists on this issue such as the Global Campaign on Military Spending.
Our ongoing billboard project aimed to generate funds for advertising STWR’s campaign and vision for Article 25. Due to the prolonged situation of lockdowns and reduced footfall, we chose to advertise on the UK’s train network as passenger numbers increased. Posters were placed on every train leaving London over the course of four weeks, as well as a bus stop billposter in Islington, London, and at the main train station at London Kings Cross. A further project was initiated in August for raising funds to advertise our campaign on the back of buses travelling throughout London.
An art exhibition was held in London in September to help raise more funds for the billboard project. Special guests included the local Member of Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Mayor of Islington, Troy Gallagher. The Islington Gazette covered the event before and after, and the speeches were recorded in a series of YouTube videos by STWR.
Global causes for sharing
Beyond our outreach activity on Article 25 and military spending, STWR supported many other causes and events that related to the need for sharing the world’s resources. This included the civil society activism on ending ‘vaccine apartheid’, which coalesced around the G7 summit in June; the 2-day Festival to Fight Inequality in August; the call for an alternative vision of agroecology at the UN Food Systems Summit in July; and above all the events surrounding COP26 in November which we followed and amplified through our online networks. We also supported many of the growing calls for guaranteeing everyone a fair share of resources within planetary limits, such as the campaigning around Earth Overshoot Day and for ‘Footprint Justice’.
Future plans and projects
1. Book publications and writing
A main focus of our activity in 2022 will comprise the completion of our major book on world governance, which will open up many new opportunities for STWR. This book is unique in its fusing of academic political perspectives with spiritual insights based on the Ageless Wisdom teachings. It will therefore appeal to a wide audience of progressive scholars, activists and ordinary citizens. We look forward to preparing the book for print in 2022 and widely publicising it through our own marketing activities and dedicated events both in the UK and abroad. Our co-workers will also have the opportunity to translate the book into different languages. Other publications due for release include both The Sharing Economy and The Commons of Humanity; the completion of further audio books; and the ongoing promotion and distribution of our five other printed books through STWR’s online store.
2. Website and online presence
Our website content will continue to reflect our campaign priorities and vision for sharing the world’s resources, on all issues ranging from poverty and inequality to the environment, global governance, sustainable agriculture and new economic paradigms. Our own blogs and articles will similarly reflect our campaign priorities around Article 25 and the cause for global economic sharing. One major administrative project planned for later in 2022 concerns migrating our website content management system to a new alternative, as Drupal, our current system, is nearing its end of life.
3. Campaigning and activism
Our outreach activity will remain focused on STWR’s campaign for Article 25. A regular programme of online talks is planned to continue throughout the year, with new opportunities sought to present our campaign and vision to any interested groups in the UK or overseas (university students, citizens groups, progressive churches etc.) The billboard project will also continue into 2022 with the plan to advertise on the back of buses throughout London once our target is reached. We also plan to initiate new campaigning causes that reflect the call for Article 25, similar to our 2021 campaign on diverting military spending. At the same time, we will continue to support related campaigns and activism on Article 25, particularly mass demonstrations where co-workers can directly participate and promote the call for sharing.
Supporting STWR's ongoing research and advocacy work
Our work would not be possible without your support. STWR is funded entirely through private donations from individuals, and we do not receive any funding from governments or other institutions. Nor are we affiliated with any political party or corporate enterprise. Since we are not a registered charity and all of our funding is provided on an unrestricted basis, we remain free to take an explicitly political position on the global issues we address, and we are able to channel our limited income directly towards our research and advocacy. As is currently the case for many progressive organisations, our small team of staff and volunteers are facing mounting budgetary pressures. Your donations can help us to maintain our website and continue researching, writing and communicating our work while generating support within the global justice movement for the principle of sharing as a solution to global crises. Please consider making a donation by following this link: www.sharing.org/donate