Big Society ~ securing the future

The premise of the “Big Society” programme is to re-distribute “power” from a centralised, Big Government hub (Westminster) to “the people”. The intention is to deliver “government and its services” at a more local level. This paper will explore various dimensions to illustrate the opportunities for sustainable development and the risks if the shift of “power” is superficial.

To do this, the paper will look briefly at the really big issues (climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone, biogeochemical nitrogen and phosphorus cycle, global freshwater use, land system change, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution and atmospheric aerosol loading). On a planet-wide scale, these issues (the Bigger Picture) could destabilise critical biophysical systems and trigger abrupt or irreversible environmental and social changes that would be deleterious or even catastrophic at a Big Society level. Yet they can only be dealt with by Big Government.

The current assumptions that underpin the Big Society shift appear blithely ignorant of this Bigger Picture. The paper will then consider the global socio-political landscape within which the Bigger Picture will need to be addressed. This then, provides the backdrop for considering the Big Society shift itself ~ its opportunities and risks.

Big Society ~ Securing The Future
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