Advancing the Global Citizens Movement. The global transformation will require the awakening of a new social actor: a vast movement of global citizens expressing a supranational identity and building new institutions for a planetary age. Such a global citizens movement (GCM) would work on all fronts, comprehending the various struggles for the environment and justice as different expressions of a common project. It would understand itself as an explicit and proactive advocate for a planetary civilization worthy of the name. Unlike national citizenship that excludes the disenfranchised, all people, by dint of their humanity, are citizens of the planetary community we must imagine as an ideal and build as a collective project. The idea and practice of global citizenship is spreading, but a coherent GCM that engages masses of people remains latent, ready to be born. Giving life to this critical actor, now missing from the world stage, stands as the next phase in the evolution of civil society activism.
Rooted in principles elaborated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Agenda 21, the Earth Charter, the Great Transition, and scores of other documents, a vital GCM would promote a culture of peace and non-violence, nurturing ascendant values of human solidarity, ecological resilience, and quality of life. With adherents united by a shared identity as citizens of a nascent global culture and polity, the GCM is best envisioned as a polycentric political and cultural rising, rather than as a single organized entity.
Can the Global Citizens Movement crystallize with sufficient speed and scale? It would be comforting to believe that the necessary coherence will emerge spontaneously, with little proactive direction. But there are hardly guarantees – and misplaced faith in the potential for bottom-up self-organization carries the tragic risk of opportunity lost. Indeed, past movements for systemic change, such as those that forged modern states or struggled for the rights of labor, spawned efforts to consciously weave together disparate grievances and component movements into an overarching formation.
More than ever, we need the ongoing efforts of civil society – campaigns for rights, peace, and environment; scientific research on global change; educational and public awareness projects; local efforts to live sustainably. All this is necessary, but not sufficient for the systemic shift to a just and sustainable mode of global development. We urgently need, as well, the coalescence of a diverse popular movement of global citizens, a movement that weaves together civil society's many themes and projects into a holistic vision and strategy for global democracy rooted in ecological sustainability and social justice. The global citizens movement would be the self-conscious agency for making the change to a civilization worthy of the name, an answer to the question posed by tremulous lips everywhere: What can I do?