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Exciting new phase for the ValuesQuest programme

May 4, 2016:

The Paris Summit of Consciences in July 2015 was hosted by the French President and began by asking all decision-makers to ask themselves: "Why do I Care"

ARC is helping launch a new phase of the groundbreaking ValuesQuest programme, which was inaugurated by the Club of Rome and ARC in 2013.

The programme has from the beginning intended to help ensure that people’s cultural, ethical and spiritual values are included at all possible levels of decision-making about the environmental and development.

"Not so long ago values were not really an issue [in international development decision-making]" said head of Valuesquest and former Director for External Relations at the Club of Rome, Karl Wagner.

"Than it was straightforward financial value and everything else was relative. But recently decision-makers started to accept that society is run by values, and they need to deal with that."

There are many examples of this change of thinking, including the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) , which has commissioned a series of key papers, one of which is on the relationship between values and land.

"It really boils down to two things," Wagner said. "Respect and responsibility. If we start with those, then we'll create real, effective, and good change in the world." --- Karl Wagner
"Decision-makers all around the world are probing the issue," Wagner said. "We hope to be able to help them make it work."

“There is no question: values is the new driving concern or topic in international development,” said ARC’s Martin Palmer. “It’s clearly vital that in international discussions people talk about not just how but why people will give their time, energy and (where appropriate) money to make this planet better for all life.”


In 2013 ARC and the Club of Rome launched an exploratory pamphlet with the quizzical title of "Valuesquest". Unlike any previous publication by the Club of Rome or ARC it was launched at a major arts and science event - the Festival of Ideas, held in the historical town of Hay on Wye, UK.

The response to this small Valuesquest booklet was extraordinary and it laid the foundations for the Summit of Conscience, hosted by the President of France, Francois Hollande, assisted by ARC in July 2015, in advance of the Paris COP climate change meeting in December.

That Summit was the first time the host country of a climate change meeting asked questions about people’s values as well as about data and economics, in the attempt to find a way to enable people to take real actions to help the environment.

The UN and ARC held a ground-breaking meeting in Bristol in September 2015 to discuss values and faiths and SDGs and the future
Later, in September 2015, ARC and the UN cohosted a groundbreaking meeting in Bristol to explore and assist the faiths' response to the new Sustainable Development Goals. This meeting again built on work that had led to the Valuesquest booklet looking deeply into not just how or what but why.

"It really boils down to two things," Wagner said. "Respect and responsibility. If we start with those, then we'll create real, effective, and good change in the world."

Next Steps

Phase one of Valuesquest was theoretical. This second phase will be more practical and pragmatic. It involves:

  • Taking the debate further through an expanded edition of the “ValuesQuest” book to focus on: identifying relevant processes related to addressing values in institutions and agencies; interacting with secular and non-secular stakeholders who operate in the area of values; and identifying where we could get consistency and cooperation amongst the various players.

  • Helping key organisations to think through how to engage with values, and how to understand them. For example, the Wild Foundation, organising its next congress - Wild11 - in a way that is fundamentally true to values, and helps place real wildness - even when it appears dangerous or frightening - at the centre of our relationship with nature.

    The aim

    The final products of the project will be

    If the new SDGs are going to work they need to engage with people's values
    • The revised and expanded book
    • A roadmap towards a coherent debate on values
    • The inaugural stages of an alliance for working on values
    • Stronger and well-defined links between secular and religious/values stakeholders
    • More decisions on key environmental and development decisions being taken wisely and well and strategically, based on values.



    UN/ARC Bristol Event

    Why Do I Care: Paris 2015

    Martin Palmer’s original blog: How beliefs, values, ethos and inspiration are essential for saving the world.

    Download ValuesQuest discussion paper

    Club of Rome’s ValuesQuest webpage

    UN ‘World We Want’ Values consultation page

    More information about launch of ValuesQuest

    More information about launch of ValuesQuest Culture, Creativity and Values

    Huffington Post article by Olav Kjørven: Can There Be Development Without Spiritual Capital?

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