The Forum of the Earth Viability Center

A Global Dialog of the Young for a Peaceful Future

By Hans-Peter Plag, Barry Clemson, Jon Walker, Brett Buzzanga

Published Dec. 18, 2021

Our globally interconnected and interdependent society is increasingly challenged with global threats that could result in major down-turns of our civilization [1]. Our civilization is a system in which each part impacts many other parts and in turn, is dependent upon a multitude of other parts. Moreover, the collective impact of humanity is changing the planetary system in radical ways and pushing Earth’s life-support system past critical tipping points.

Our governance bodies again and again demonstrate that they do not fully realize the threats and are not prepared to tackle the challenges we face. In fact, there is no governance or steering mechanism that is remotely close to being able to express what future we want for us and the planet, or of finding feasible pathways to ensure a desirable future for all.

There are millions of groups and many millions of dedicated activists working on thousands of pieces of the puzzle of creating the future we want [2]. But we don’t have a joint vision to provide synergy to our multiple efforts. In short, we are a vast army but we are marching in a thousand different directions. 

Despite being globally interconnected, there is no global dialog of the people about the future we want. Instead of recognizing that our future is at a precipice, our leaders create and engage in one conflict between groups and countries after the other. There is no peace in our common global society and peace doesn’t seem to be among the most cherished values.

Our governments and our societal leaders constantly make decisions impacting all of us that provide short-term benefits for a few while distributing long-term costs on most of us today and in the future. This constant discounting of the future comes with the high risk of irretrievably losing a desirable future for the young generations and for all those to come.

The young generations are not involved in decision-making and they are not broadly invited to a dialog about the future they want. All that is currently left to them is an activism that seldom reaches further than expressing their discontent and demanding some sort of change, often in events where their participation resembles tokenism. Even the most outstanding activists have marginal impact on the decision of most national governments, the CEOs of most of the big companies, and the members of what could be called the global ruling class [3]. These activists are not backed by a globally expressed consensus of most of the young generations. This consensus is not expressed because there is no global dialogue about the future they want.

We have the technological means to mediate and facilitate a global dialog of the young about the future they want and about the ways and means to achieve this future. But this technology is not in use right now for this dialog. The existing social media are not designed to facilitate this dialog. They are designed to polarize and divide [4].

The experience of the current social media seems to indicate that humans are not ready to be exposed to mass information that is a mix of evidence-based information with misinformation and disinformation. However, the main reason for this phenomenon could be that social media have a business model that benefits from recommending ugly, false, and misleading information more than solidly researched information. If so, it's the algorithms, not the people that are failing. If so, social media need to be considered as a public service and regulated as such.

There is an urgent need to facilitate a dialog of the young, the Gen-Z generation, about the future they want. This dialog must include the ways the young can ensure that those in power make decisions that benefit the future for this generation and others to come. A new social media platform is needed that can enable this global dialog, a platform developed conceptually by those who are going to use it. This platform needs to facilitate a multicultural dialog at all levels ranging from a pair of young people up to the global community. It needs to support all forms in which humans communicate with each other: talking, writing, playing, painting, singing, making music, reciting poems, making videos or movies, showing photography, ...

This platform will provide insight into the lives of others. Like a mycelial network interconnecting trees (Fig. 1) it will connect people and provide insight into the lives of the others (Fig. 2). A young person in Columbia will be able to share their life with a young person in Vietnam, and they will see what life is like for the person in Vietnam. A person in Uganda will exchange their dreams of a future with someone in North America, and they will create together a painting to share this future with all. A person in Italy will create a song about their future with someone in New Zealand and they will sing this song together for all. A person in Finland will write a theater play together with a person in China and they will have a global group perform this play for all.

Fig. 1: Mycelial networks provide the means for interconnection between many parts in an ecosystem like a forest.

Fig. 2: The new platform will be a global network interconnecting the young across the planet, so that they can share their lives and the dreams they have about their future.

We are humans because of the stories we live in and the ecosystem of stories we share [5]. There is hope that enabling this multi-cultural and multi-media global dialog of the young will result in a new ecosystem of stories jointly populated by a global generation. For the first time, this ecosystem would be global. It would result in a renewed shared perception of the world. It would help to develop a shared truth that emerges from the bottom. A shared truth is the basis for trust. Trust is the basis for peace. Peace is the basis for creating the future we want.

The Earth Viability Center [6] will initiate the development of a platform for the global dialog of the young. In doing so, we will learn from the failures of the current social media. Informed by Stafford Beer's deeply insightful statement "The purpose of a system is what it does," [7] we understand that what this platform does has to be fully aligned with its purpose. This has immediate consequences for the "business model," and for the metrics for success: The platform has to be free for all to participate. Its success must be measured in the level of dialog it facilitates: Is it global? Is it focused on a new global ecosystem of stories about the future we want? Is it developing the ways to get to this future? Does it facilitate shared perceptions, create trust, and support peace?

The platform will be non-profit, owned and governed by the user community. The Viable Systems Model [8] provides an organizational structure to support both local autonomy and global cohesion and provides the governance framework for the platform. The platform will be free for all. Those who can will make contributions. 

Eventually, both the development of the platform and the ideas that flow within it will be entirely under the governance of the people who are using it. This will provide an opportunity to develop a truly global vision, which will help to unify the many and various parts of the puzzle, and to create new ways of working together. Hopefully, this can bring some light into the gloom we are currently facing.

We invite partners and contributors for this urgent enterprise!


[1] Avin, S., Wintle, B. C., Weitzdörfer, J., hEigeartaigh, S. S. O., Sutherland, W. J., Rees, M. J., 2018. Classifying global catastrophic risks. Futures, 102, 20-26, DOI 10.1016/j.futures.2018.02.001.
[2] Hawken, P., 2007. Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World. Penguin Books, London.
[3] Hamm, B., 2010. The study of futures, and the analysis of power. Futures, 42(9), 1007-1018. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2010.08.017.
[4] Orlowski, J., 2020. We need to rethink social media before it’s too late. We’ve accepted a Faustian bargain. The Guardian, September 27 2020,
[5] Harari, Y. N., 2014, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. McClelland & Steward.
[6] Earth Viability Center,
[7] Beer, S., 2002. What is cybernetics? Kybernetes. 31(2), 209–219, doi:10.1108/03684920210417283
[8] Beer, S., 1984. The Viable System Model: Its Provenance, Development, Methodology and Pathology. The Journal of the Operational Research Society. 35(1), 7–25. doi:10.2307/2581927.