STWR consolidated its activities throughout 2016, with a renewed focus on our core messages and priorities as an organisation. Following the publication and marketing of our flagship publication, ‘Heralding Article 25’, we continued to promote its case for unprecedented global demonstrations towards ending hunger and life-threatening poverty. At the same time, we engaged with some key debates that reflect a growing call for sharing the world’s resources, and built up additional website material that expands upon STWR’s advocacy position as an organisation. While remaining as a small team of co-workers in 2017, our main priorities are to step up our campaigning activities around Article 25, and further engage in relevant events within the field of global political activism. We also aim to complete a significant body of work under the theme ‘Studies on the principle of sharing’, as well as increase the educational resources of our website at sharing.org.
The past year of 2016 was a challenging and often disconcerting period for progressive campaigners, with signs of an increasing shift rightwards in government policy across much of the world, and the continued deterioration of many social and environment trends. At the same time, however, there was also increasing evidence that public awareness of the need to share global resources is ever rising, as reflected in almost all related areas of policy discourse. In many fields of activism and new economic thinking, this call for sharing is now a central theme—not least within the ‘big inequality debate’ that has become one of the dominant issues of our time.
Throughout the year, STWR engaged with various of these diverse research and campaign initiatives that propose more effective forms of sharing as a solution to humanity’s problems. Our activities and engagement was reflected in the blogs, articles, essays and reports that were published at sharing.org, most of which were distributed widely through social media networks, communicated in our newsletters, and republished in various alternative websites and other media.
To highlight some of this content, STWR published a series of blogs and articles that analysed the growing inequalities that have been rising at an alarming rate since the economic crash of 2008. This included our commentary on the UN’s ‘World Day for Social Justice’, and on the new ‘inequality alliance’ of influential civil society organisations that are mobilising around a common agenda to fight inequality. As STWR has argued, now is the time to reframe the inequality debate by embracing a more positive frame that promotes and advocates for economic sharing, as this constitutes a more solutions-based and inclusive approach that holds the potential to engage a much broader swathe of the public in campaign initiatives and popular movements that aim towards systemic transformation.
The sharing economy movement is another rising phenomenon of recent years that STWR has further engaged with in 2016, mainly to encourage proponents and thinkers in this field to take a truly inclusive and global perspective in applying the principle of sharing to the pressing social and environmental challenges confronting humanity. We were invited by the Great Transition Initiative (GTI) to comment on the ideas of one of the year’s most prominent advocates of a politicised conception of the sharing economy, Paul Mason, which GTI later published as a book review on their respected website. One of our principal publications of the year by STWR’s founder, Mohammed Mesbahi, also comprised an in-depth exploration of the meaning and significance of a sharing economy from a more holistic, spiritual and transformative perspective.
Another significant piece of work by Mesbahi involved a detailed exploration of sharing world resources in relation to the escalating climate emergency. In a long and wide-ranging interview that was edited into written form for inclusion in a later book, Mesbahi examined the relevance of the principle of sharing to the Paris Agreement and UN climate change negotiations, before going on to explore an ‘inner’ line of enquiry about the deeper reasons why our modern societies have yet to shift towards environmentally sustainable modes of living. Other STWR interviews during the year included an edited transcript of a conversation with a political researcher, Vincent Laselle, which provided an introduction to STWR’s vision of mass civic engagement towards a fairer and more equal economic order.
In July 2016, it was decided to reintroduce external content to the website when it directly relates to the theory and practice of sharing the world’s resources. We have since published numerous articles, blogs and reports by prominent organisations and thinkers, which has helped to create more educational resources within the website, and also maintain regular output that we highlight on our social networking sites. Furthermore, our regular newsletters highlight STWR’s perspective on a specific theme or issue each month, on such topics as agroecological food systems, the global refugee crisis, the struggle for a binding treaty to regulate transnational corporations, the UN climate change negotiations, among many other issues.
The Japanese website (www.sharing.org/ja) coordinated by Hodaka Murata is also gradually expanding into a valuable educational resource, and contains translated versions of STWR’s monthly newsletters, along with translations of pertinent external content published on the English language site. Particular attention is paid to translations of the ongoing ‘Studies on the Principle of Sharing’ series, in preparation for a Japanese version of the forthcoming book by the same name (see below). Many other translations of Mesbahi's articles and edited interviews were completed throughout the year by co-workers in different languages, currently into Japanese, German, Spanish and Slovenian.
We continue to promote our ‘Global call for sharing’ campaign through our networks and activities, which remains an effective medium for gathering new support for both the organisation, STWR, and our overarching campaigning message. The ‘global call’ page on our website continues to attract visits and sign-ons, along with attention on our report ‘Sharing as our common cause’. Various notable organisations signed on to the campaign in 2016, such as the Institute for Planetary (www.ipsgeneva.com), World Basic Income (www.worldbasicincome.org.uk), Why Hunger US (www.whyhunger.org), and The Rules team (www.therules.org).
However the mainstay of our campaigning activities in 2016 concern the promotion of our flagship publication, Heralding Article 25, along with its visionary ‘people’s strategy for world transformation’ based on a massive mobilisation of civil society to end hunger and life-threatening poverty as an overriding international priority. We have continued to promote the book through our interpersonal networking, writing and event activities, and over the course of the year various supporters of the book’s message have sought to promote it in their own ways. Mesbahi also continues to promote and expand upon his thesis for a new kind of global protest activity through his writings (see more below).
With the addition of Sonja Scherndl to the team, various conferences and outreach events were also participated in during 2016, including a series of participatory lessons with young children based at a school in London. As part of their International Baccalaureate study programme under the theme ‘sharing the planet’, STWR assisted a class of Year 3 pupils in exploring a broad range of interconnected issues that pertain to the need for sharing wealth and resources on a global basis such as inequality, hunger, fair trade and environmental sustainability.
While there are always myriad projects that STWR would like to pursue in accordance with its objects and aims as an organisation, for the present time we are focusing on the following key areas:
Campaigning activities around ‘Heralding Article 25’
We aim to widely promote the case for ceaseless protest actions on an unprecedented and worldwide scale, as depicted in our flagship publication. Our hope and intention is that more and more people will be inspired by the vision outlined in the book, and seek to mobilise for an end to life-threatening poverty and hunger. With famines spreading across many countries and regions in the midst of a worsening global refugee crisis, the case for implementing Article 25 has never been more critical and urgent. Although we are a very small team at STWR, we intend to do all that we can to publicise the book and its message through our various activities – website writing, networking, interviews and events. Mesbahi also intends to expand upon his case for securing everyone’s basic socio-economic rights as a foremost government priority, which he will achieve through writing further publications and assisting with campaign materials, while also leading our campaign strategising.
Completing ‘Studies on the Principle of Sharing’
After releasing many lengthy articles or ‘studies’ in recent years under the theme ‘Studies on the principle of sharing’, our major priority this coming year is to complete this series of work and compile it into a book. This will be a companion to Mesbahi’s first book, Heralding Article 25, that goes into much more detail on the inner or spiritual side of world transformation. It is a challenging project due to the nature of working through dialogues and transcripts, which STWR’s editor, Adam Parsons, helps the author to render into a structured written format. The project is currently taking up much of the time of both Mesbahi and Parsons, and is expected to result in a significant compilation that we hope will appeal to many political thinkers and activists, as well as ordinary concerned citizens.
Engaging with key relevant debates
Through our writing and networking activities, one of the core aims of STWR is to engage with relevant debates that relate to a call for sharing (whether implicitly or explicitly expressed), thus to promote our essential message and advocacy position. Owing to the wide applicability of the principle of sharing to policy debates and political activism, there are many such relevant fields – including the commons movement, degrowth scholarship, the social and solidarity economy, the many ongoing global justice campaigns (trade, aid, debt relief, etc.) At present, STWR has found potential in engaging with the basic income movement, and we will be participating in a number of their events this year where we can also promote our position on ‘heralding Article 25’. We will also participate in other relevant events during the year, although our focus is not on the more academic and policy-related conferences and discussions, due to the nature of our current work which is intended to have a mass appeal.
Expanding the educational resources of sharing.org
STWR’s website at sharing.org is intended to act as an educational resource for a diverse audience, from the ordinary citizen to the political activist or development professional. In this light, we will continue to expand the resources on the site by publishing external content on a weekly basis (civil society reports, campaign videos, good quality blogs and articles), alongside our own content. A monthly editorial on a researched topic will be sent out in our newsletters with highlights of recent activity, which will include any campaigning updates and links to new STWR resources. As a priority, we will build up further resources that relate to our campaign around ‘heralding Article 25’. The Japanese website will also continue to translate as much English language content as possible, prioritising STWR’s own content and materials.
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
Photo credit: Nelson Lynch, 'Let's End Global Poverty by Demanding Article 25', www.facebook.com/letsendglobalpoverty