Blog / 9 August 2011

A little better every day

A little better every day


In "The Idea of Justice ", Nobel laureate Amartya Sen calls for more action and less ambition. He argues that the search for ideal systems creating social justice for everyone and optimally distributing wealth is a beautiful but far from practical objective. To the contrary, the desire to find the ideal solution has a paralyzing effect. After all, if only the best will do, everything else is marginal and can be seen as a waste of energy.


Sen has another ambition: instead of looking for ideal systems that will solve all suffering in the world at once, every day he looks for ways to make existing systems a little less unjust. Every step in that direction could be useful, especially when these improvements help eliminating the injustices that place people in desperate situations of hunger and powerlessness. Sen focuses on reducing inequity by giving everyone a voice in the media and in the political and public debate. Not only will this make injustices come to light much faster, it will also create the possibility to collectively search for socially acceptable and workable solutions.


In our work every day I see the power of Sens ambition. When small producers, representatives of local boards and people who are working with sustainable forest management are allowed at the negotiating table, seemingly small injustices are resolved quickly and efficiently. Very often this leads to major improvements in living conditions and to very concrete steps in the sustainability of economies and global production chains. It does not solve the system problems of our growth model at once, but rather improves it gradually. Perhaps that is something to think about when reading the headlines tomorrow!

Book review "The idea of Justice"

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