Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis
President and Founder
Biopolitics International Organisation
As a criticism of Earth’s over-population where the occupied land density ratio in developing countries often exceeds 300 persons per square mile and, in Bangladesh the figure actually exceeds 2050, one can’t help despair when comparing the other extreme with developed nations such as Australia and Canada, where a population density of 6 and 7 persons per square mile prevails respectively. Poverty, starvation and disease are natural inherents of undeveloped countries. In order to meet their international loan repayments, many undeveloped nations are being persuaded to sell their forests and inadvertently add to the destruction of the bio-environment, whilst endeavouring to survive today. Dr. Kamla Chowdry, our honoured and talented guest, clearly outlines these facts and the horrific consequences in her detailed and enlightening study on the occasion of this Hellenic/Indian Day.
In view of the need to develop a bioculture for the new millennium, bio-education is considered as a primary task of the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.). Since its creation in 1985, the B.I.O. has been alerting the public about the impact of technology on the bio-environment. In modern society, progress in technology provides humanity with completely new dimensions of understanding. However, in the recent meta-industrial era, society is undergoing a crisis of values, realised by everyone, since it affects our daily lives.
The present destructon rate of the bio-environment threatens not only the aesthetic values but also the very essence of bio-diversity on our planet. Destruction is taking place every moment around us. In the sixties, ecology was developed as a reaction to the destructon of the ecos, (the house) that was endangered. However, what is in danger nowadays is bios, life itself. Every moment that a clock is ticking some form of life disappears.
Bios has existed for about one and a half billion years. In view of the existing theats to bios, progress needs to be assessed, not through the prism of competition and financial interest, but through a completely different dimension: bios in the next millennium. In terms of the long chain of evolution of life, a thousand years is only a few seconds. A millennium approach may provide the unifying dimension for the future allowing for the shifting of thought from personal or national issues, to the real essence of the continuation of the chain of life. Humanity has no right to destroy within one or two generations the gift of bios, the most precious possession on our planet.
In order to implement this vision, B.I.O. has proposed immediate reforms at all levels of education, by placing the respect and appreciation of the bio-environment as the core of every educational system. Modern education is based on over-specialisation, leading to a lack of general concern for the problems of society, which are considered only the government’s responsibility.
B.I.O. has created the International University for the Bio-Environment (I.U.B.E.), with the goal to stimulate revisions of the present educational structure. The I.U.B.E. will foster, through bio-education, the following B.I.O. goals:
- international educational reforms so as to shift from an anthropocentric to a biocentric curriculum;
- international cooperation for the better understanding and appreciation of bios and the bio-environment. Bios recognises no ideological or geographical boundaries, no East-West, North-South or developed-developing countries. Bios provides the unifying force for the harmonious co-existence of all forms of life. Innovative educational programmes could be devised for teaching via satellite transmission. New course material could be incorporated into existing curricula and programmes in order to increase public awareness on life-supporting issues. Lobbying groups could be established to pressure world media organisations to include more news and information on bio-environmental issues in their publications and programming. Satellite television networks, for example, could include a bulletin or update on environmental issues, along with the weather and stock market reports which accompany each news programme;
- international legislation on Bios Rights. It is important to realise that environmental deterioration constitutes a threat to all forms of bios. In view of the recent technological advances, new dimensions of understanding are arising. Creativity and economic growth may be channeled to foster the defense for bios and bio-diversity, reduce environmental risks and promote compatibility between technological progress and the bio-environment;
worldwide bio-assessment of technology as an effort to bridge the gap between technological progress and societal values. Progress may be viewed under the spectrum of `Bios in the Next Millennium’, so as to retain the positive aspects of technology that contribute to the maintenance of the bio-environment. In a dialectic exchange of views, experts in respective fields will be asked to present the thesis and antithesis, and then create the synthesis of new values leading to a harmonious global community. The effort will be to identify the factors causing the decline of values, harness the damages to the bio-environment such as species extinction, water and atmospheric pollution, ozone layer destruction, greenhouse effect, soil erosion, acid rain, nuclear waste, so as to really benefit from the contributions of technology. Greece is proposed as the ideal meeting place for all specialists to convene and assess progress and values. Mythology, history and tradition, as well as modern technology, may combine to provide a future based on a perspective of hope and respect for creation.
In addition to the theoretical search of values, action will be needed in order to use the progress of technology for preserving the bio-environment:
- develop a bio-syllabus and new curriculum materials for pre-school, elementary, middle and higher levels of education and audio-visual materials on issues related to bios and the bio-environment;
- encourage the creation of a clearing-house for both dedicated individuals and established organisations to provide, through the use of computer link-ups, a network of people wishing to cooperate;
- generate environmental action groups, utilising both the enthusiasm of youth and the experience of retired people to tackle local issues;
- encourage life-supporting economic strategy to replace destructive policies and a world-wide interdisciplinary exchange of information promoting the appreciation of the bio-environment. Exchange of bios-supporting data between cities, individuals, universities, etc;
- promote the establishment of a computerised Bank of Ideas in which scientists, academicians and philosophers, as well as every individual, may bequeath their thoughts to create a rich depository of information and reflections on bios;
- organise a World Referendum so as to allow for people throughout the world to express there willingness to preserve bios on our planet;
- sensitisation of public opinion to the ramifications of the biological sciences so that more people will realise that progress in the biological sciences relates to their own specific field of interest. The impact of this progress may open new fields of human endeavour, such as bio-legislation, bio-environment, bio-literature, bio-arts, bio-linguistics, bio-economics, bio-communication, bio-history, bio-education and bio-diplomacy. For the first time in the multi-million year history of life, the genome can be analysed and changed. The biological sciences are causing the major revolution of our times and raise the awareness for a unified concept of life.
The present threats to bios are international problems; the required solutions relate to the development of educational activities for peace and international understanding. Bio-diplomacy can enhance international cooperation on environmental issues and facilitate the active seeking of solutions to problems that require prompt and decisive action.
We should realise that all people belong to the same body of humanity. Differentiation in culture, languages and law constitutes the richness of bios. Human knowledge may be used to face the challenges of our interdependenceand of our harmonious co-existence.
Moreover, the common roots of all forms of life constitute the body of bios. The abundance in the living varieties, from micro-organisms to plants to animals to humans, reveals our interdependence. It is essential to maintain this vision of unity among all forms of life. Bio-education and bio-diplomacy may channel human creativity towards a bio-culture.
In order to promote new values for the next millennium, the contribution of the economic factors is also a prerequisite. It is important to realise that new alternatives lead to new opportunities in business. Within this context, a redefinition of the concept of profit must be supplied. Production and product life-cycle changes such as recycling, developing substitutes for CFCs and petrol, bio-chemical energy, and solar technologies become increasingly important. The concept of profit now takes on the added dimensions of protecting the bio-environment, preserving resources, and improving the quality of life. In view of the needs and methods created in modern society, many decision makers become aware that profitable production and respect for the bio-environment can be completely compatible goals.
Bio-education may serve as a lever to uplift humanity from the crisis of values. In an effort to raise the awareness of the need for a faster prevention of the destruction, B.I.O. proposes the enrichment of the Olympics with new biocentric values. Presently, the Olympic Games, a beacon of world peace and hope, award medals only for physical achievements. In order to promote the bio-assessment of technology and the bio-culture in the new millennium, B.I.O. proposes the creation of international committees in every field of human endeavour, assigned with the responsibility to assess the progress of humanity and, award Bios Prizes every four years during Environmental Olympics to individuals who “have contributed to the preservation and better understanding of the environment”. For example, legislators could be awarded for having developed new legislation regarding the bios rights; architects for having worked in the construction of biopolis models.
Since society is flexible and dynamic, educational systems have to be continuously revised. By the time proposals and studies are implemented, they tend to be already outdated. The more we understand the most unique gift of the universe, bios, the more successful we will be in fulfilling the needs of the community, the country or the world. One realises that humanity possesses the option for alternative futures. The rapid rate of technological advancement provides the ascending ladder of knowledge and the linking bridge between the present and the future.
- Vlavianos-Arvanitis, A., Biopolitics – The Bios Theory. B.I.O. 1985
- Vlavianos-Arvanitis, A., ed. Biopolitics – the Bio-Environment, vol. I, II, III, proceedings of the B.I.O. International Conferences held between 1987 and 1991, Biopolitics International Organisation, Athens, Greece
- Vlavianos-Arvanitis, A., The Need for International Environmental Education for the Citizens of the World, presentation at the Annual Conference of the Alliance for Environmental Education, Washington D.C., June 20-22, 1991
Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis founded B.I.O. in 1985, after having dedicated over 20 years to teaching and research in biology. In 1990, she launched the International University for the Bio-Environment and, in 1992, a campaign for Bios Prizes and cease-fire during the Olympics. A recipient of many high distinctions, she was elected, along with M. Gorbachev, N. Mandela and M. Strong, Honorary President for Life by the UNA of Sri Lanka, and is also an Abdi Ipekci Peace and Friendship Prize laureate. She is Vice President of the International Bioethics Society, Member of the Journal of Cleaner Production Advisory Board, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Uganda National Foundation for Research and Development, Vice President of the UNESCO-MAB Hellenic National Committee, Commissioner on the Global Commission to Fund the UN, Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the International Academy of Ecology, Human and Nature Safety Sciences, the Hellenic Philosophical Society and the National Society of Greek Writers. Author of poetry books, she is also Honorary Professor of St. Petersburg State University for Plant Polymers and Doctor Honoris Causa of Mendeleyev University. In 1995 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, a nomination renewed in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.