This site was prepared for a UN-ECOSOC AMR 2008 eDiscussion – unfortunately some mayor documents on Aleco Christakis were not available – not even in the WIKIPEDIA. I proposed to make an article by Ken Bausch about Aleco and the Problematique – featuring Hasan Ozbekhan – Erich Jantsch available here: so please read the 40 years story of the Club of Rome. and this Interview “40 years Problematique” (PDF) in view of Copenhagen 2009 and the mess ! more can be found at

The Interviews from 2009 and recently from September 2011 were both published in Europe'sWorld,

9 / 2011 The Predicament of the Individual, Communities, and Humankind in the 21st Century - Deliberations about Structured Dialogic Design, Systems Thinking, Policy-Making, Multi-track Diplomacy, Empowerment and the Wisdom of the People

2009 – 2010 Learnings and Vistas based on revisiting 40 years "Global Problematique" - summing up 40 years "Predicament of Mankind" (Club of Rome early report), look-outs, and new forms of structured dialog and deliberation / decision cultures in an Interview with Alexander Christakis.


ALECO has various repositories and sites – maybe start with the Wikipedia: and please make very sure you do not miss this early report to the Club of Rome much has been said “what was in different heads” – see the citation of the G7 – UN harmonization efforts (below).

To learn something personal about Aleco, I recommend to read this interview with LaDonna Harris in the AIO journal.

To see where Aleco and Hasan Ozbekhan have been 40 years ago study the original and first report to / of the Club of Rome The Predicament of Mankind Quest for Structured Responses for Growing World-wide Complexities and Uncertainties (PDF) (72 pages) carefully !!

And make sure you do not miss to read the second section !

AND his Retrospective Inquiry of the predicament of menkind prospectus of the Club of Rome - 35 years later !!:

To be up-to-date about see the new WIKI SPACES: about ongoing work in CYPRUS and around the AIO, or see these:

And do not miss: New Book (Early 2005): Dialogue for the Information Age Democracy,

We have done some Interviews with Aleco, LaDonna, Jaqueline in Crete at the ISSS Symposium 2002 and will make them available also – so please come again….

But to be sure you do not miss the whole story, start here:

Heiner Benking, Berlin, Toronto

Dear colleagues,

I feel humbled and honoured to be asked to add my views to this prestigious eDiscussion enterprise where policy makes and leaders look into not just devising regionals, national, local plans and programmes, but care for the global whole and alternative futures.

We used with a G7 - EEES Environmental Experts of the Economic Summit and later UNEP mandate and project from the 70ies (meta-data Environmental Information Harmonization Project) managed by UNEP-HEM in Munich in the late 80ies/early 90ies) the governing citation “Much is known, unfortunately in different heads”. So what? HOW CAN WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER AND OLD AND NEW “OTHER” APPROACHES and bring them down to Earth ?

In this UNEP project I learned that there are so many lessons learned and good news, but the access, bridging and digestion is missing and little is put into action. With these views and experience I read the contribution in this eDiscussion very carefully, but have little time on the last day (AMR, section I May 22) to respond, but will update this collection, as a co-laboratory work hopefully elsewhere.

Here are my conclusions and recommendations in a nutshell:

Subsuming and resonating with the contributions in the eDiscussion makes one feel down. The danger is to get stuck with pointing at what is wrong, with lamenting and analysis, but not moving on to new frontiers, synthesis and therapy and positive outlooks which keep “realities”, contexts, and episodic and epochal changes in mind. It seems to be fashionable now to speak about holistic and deep-ecology. But is meant and understood and goes beyond plastic words (empty words without meaning more mis-used than used in edutainment, politainment, and modern “science”. WE tried some systemic clarification in this ongoing Wholeness Seminar.

Only few people are used to and dare to step back and try to confront the issues and consequences at stake from a birds-eye view and with facetted eyes. (Pls. see “House of Eyes” and World-House as oikos, ecumene, ecudomy) [more].

Since C. West Churchman we aware of the “enormous problems” and neglect and ignore any alternative, new and old, systemic approaches.

What is missing seems to be an orientation in “common frames of references”, unifying multi-modal visions, and an integration of sign and cultural systems, concerted efforts for positive outcomes, including the beauty of difference and the minority views. Please [see more].

Many contributions wholeheartedly and with much merit and sincere effort try to confront and tackle one issue or element, and all too often argue for fashionable new terms and approaches.

But what we learned from Noel Brown, UNEP-RONA was that for Rio ’92 there was no talk about Agenda 21, Biodiversity or Climate Conventions, but that some original ideas at that time were to step back and confront the whole and the commons from a higher stand. Same as the founders of general system sciences repeatedly highlighted that for their subject area nobody feels “in charge” – as nobody is trained for the broader issues that connect.

At UN-CSD-15 last summer we created an ad-hoc side-event to revisit international environmental gatherings: Stockholm 1972, Hamburg 1988, Rio 1992, Berlin 1995, … with people who had been there and “in charge” for certain aspects in certain functions at that times...

Some of us thought that all this “new” is not really making enough progress and much of the “old think” is lost or forgotten. I opt for a combination and to venture a little into the impossible as the perplexity in view of this complexity is blinding us and dumping us down.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible

is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Arthur C. Clarke

So let us start with revisiting and tackling some old maybe lost opportunities: See below:

٭ enormous problems” and a unifying framework, * inter-sectoral strategic dilemma & groupthink and spreadthink *) harmonisation of environmental data, … and then explore and propose some more comprehensive “out of the box” thinking and paradigm mapping and shared dialog and decision culture approaches as we need to go beyond without loosing tough and ground. So what we will do in 5) and 6) is revisit the general model theory (UNESCO 1964) and sign theory C.S. Peirce and see how that can help us to use other ways to communicate, construct, share “realities”.

Finally, all the perspective outlooks building blocks below need to be combined to go beyond a certain signs, symbols, meanings, disciplines, languages, cultures, scales … if we want to take the “Rio ’92 mandate” of “common frames of references” for real and shared scales, proportions, consequences and actions – AND look into truthing and fidelity, what and how we can communicate and share, and how we can avoid the Charlatan comparison of the incompatible. See proposal below for the Euro-Mediterranean region Anna Lindh Foundation (References below) and the need to have not just ecological resource or consumption “footprints”, but fidelity and repeatability of densities and how they overlap and interact. (see A) the Retrospective of the Predicament of Mankind Club of Rome report below).

Please note: The author worked in the last 40 years in construction, planning, design, environmental management and education and very much resonates with the Global Change Agenda since the Global Change Exhibition in 1990 – a time when the term “glocal” was coined… and for G7 – UNEP exercises to Harmonize Environmental Information in the late 80ies – early 90ies.

Maybe visit beforehand this article for Lynton Caldwells “Is Humanity destined to self-destruct” with the title “Show or Schau”? APLS Politics and Life Sciences, 2000 or start directly with the “building blocks” A) – N) below:

A) “enormous problems” and a unifying framework (Churchman, Ozbhekan, Warfield, Christakis)

The “enormous problems’ of Churchman became the “Problematique” of Ozbekhan, and remerged as the science of generic design of Warfield and the Structured Dialogic Design Process (SDDP) of Christakis, representing a continuum of systems thinking with the common vision to engage stakeholders in addressing the Predicament of Humankind through participative democracy.

See Club of Rome’s Predicament of Mankind (PDF) 1970 and a A Retrospective Structural Inquiry of the Predicament of Humankind: Prospectus of the Club of Rome, 2004, Harness Collective Wisdom, 2004

B) UNU and UIA prep-work for Rio’92, see: Anthony Judge inter-sectoral strategic dilemma, The Encyclopedia of World Problems, Human Potential, Actions, Options, Strategies (see: documents relating to World Problems 1971-2006) and IBIS (Kunz/Rittel) Vicious Problem Cycles and the Quality of Statements, and the International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (more below).

C) CAPACITY TO GOVERN, Yehezkel Dror, Club of Rome Report 1995, extra summary points at UN Climate Summit 1995, Berlin to include inter-sectoral strategic dilemma and common frames (recommendation 6 and 7) * Research into spatial metaphors supporting local and global governance by enabling understanding of intersectoral strategic dilemmas of action and results chains in a symbolic and trans-cultural form, for shared exploration of issues and evaluation of proportions and consequences with differentiation between data, conjectures and 'noise' in policy information. * Further development of a conceptual superstructure as a reference paradigm to ease access to salient data while avoiding unnecessary redundancy and overloads. [more]

D) Cyberculture, UNECO Culture of Peace, Humane Information Society 1992 -2008 [more]

E) General Model Theory UNESCO and Herbert Stachowiak - Create and move boundaries in agreed upon shared realities and virtualities (general model theory).

F) EXPO 2000, concepts behind the Visitors Information System for world exhibitions and the Global Dialogues, Hannover, Germany, See Expo-Info-2000.

G) EFFE und Multi-Media – Tangible Education From the Senses to Meaning, Reason, and Sensibility - From Culture to Cyberculture?

H) Knowledge Organisation and Navigation, and Metaphors, see Dahlberg (ISKO), Judge, UIA (above), Veltman, MMI, and the work of the author. Pls. see ISKO, infoterm, SUMS.

I) paradigm Mapping and Out of the Box Thinking Seminars developed by Kurt Hanks for foreign students in the US and widely applied to relate positions, viewpoints, assumptions and learn to see, relatem and combine with “other eyes/models”…. (call it mental mobility and the negotiation of different schemas. See: Sharing and Changing Realities with Extra Degrees of Freedom of Movement (Fig. 1, 2, 6).

J) INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM SCIENCES ENCYCLOPEDIA and outlook by the editor in chief Charles François when introducing the 2nd edition AND the contribution of NEW TERMS like cognitive panorama” and “mental models” by the author and contributions in the 5 volumes: The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View

K) GLOBAL EMBODIED COVENANT - see EARTH CHARTA open-space presentation, TEC presentation, and GEIG (IUCN – WHO – etc.)….

L) Future of Modern Media and Data, ICSU CODATA (1992-2006), see also Systems and Sign Theory 2006 and Quo vadis Cybernetics ?

M) Earth Literate Leaders and Modern Media & Maps & Models – see Map Analphabetism and UNESCO’s Literacy programmes. About World Map truth, truthing, fidelity and visual demagogy in computer graphics and visualisation. See LITERACYFLAT WORLDS and the models and cosmologies connected to it, and what it means to ecological footprints and thematic densitiy maps, and the relation and overlap of issues. See here the problem maps of the Club of Rome’s Predicament above (Christakis).

N) Proposal for Anna-Lindh-Foundation, European – Mediteranian Countries, Berlin-Alexandria 2008. Transcultural Dialog and Peace-Making

Roundtable learning from experience during the last 40 years and new ideas

Stumbling blocks preventing true dialog, peace-making, and reconciliation:

1) we fight over words but do not check the meaning,

2) we do not question and compare the values attached to statements and attitudes,

3) we do not contextualize and embody concepts and meaning, do not check the sectors, regions, scales, proportions and consequences of alternative actions,

4) we do not give voice, empower, listen, cherish and cultivate difference or variety in dialog and decision making,

5) Disorientation and dumbing-down in Cyberculture and a mis-administered and misunderstood, intangible “Globalisation / Glocalisation”: Where we get overloaded by communication noise (sign/symbol melange) and media demagogy which means: no trust and fidelity in the statements and no ways and means to check the credibility and impact/relevance, and get lost between the scales, brackets, and sectors.

6) The above incompatibility and incomparability opens the door for over-claims and oversimplifications. Leaders use intangible jargon (plastic-words), neglect impacts and avoid instead of exploring differences and alternatives.

Whoever imagines mental barriers 
which actually do not exist 
and then thinks them away, has understood the world. 
As space is entrapped in geometry's network of lines, 
thought is caught in its (own) inherent laws. 
Maps make the world comprehensible to us; 
we are still waiting for the star-maps of the spirit. 
In the same way that ambling through fields 
we risk getting lost, the spirit negotiates its terrain.

Friedrich Rückert, Wisdom of Brahmins


There is no doubt that we have ventured into new realms of realities and possibilities, but are stuck in old ways and means. Some say we should venture into “new thinking” some believe in the old and traditional, but all this are one-way orientations which can only blind us and prohibit going into the lateral, the across, the other, and the beyond. Why not consider Maps and Models “Supersigns” L) – instead of fighting over words, labelling living things into dichotomies or grids, fighting for “mine” or “yours”, forgetting the other, and building walls between symbols and images ?

This collection is a quick attempt between “Clubs”, “Times”, “Disciplines”, Languages and Signs. It is not meant to be complete or final – just another piece to add onto more comprehensive and tolerant views, approaches, communications, and actions. For the author Space, Scale (with proportions and consequences), Sign Systems, and the issue of outline, overview, and orientation are most critical items in times of over-claims and over-simplifications.

The author works the last 20 years on education, working with youth and promoting Energy and Education Round-Tables in Germany and Canada. This are his first quicky “5 cents” on boundaries, semiphors, vistas, transcendence, and challenges. He hopes that the AMR eDiscussion contributions will be available online. Add-ons will make this piece a “living” document, which can be improved and expanded through the times at this site:

Please excuse my “Krauts”-English - without Editor and proof-reading - in these seasons and hours of the times…. But I think in the sense of the Arthur C. Clarke’s citation above, many small, facetted and connected steps are needed to tackle the Problematique mentioned above.

Heiner Benking, Consultant and Facilitator

Secretary of the Council on Global Issues and the Tagore-Einstein-Council

Board Member and European Representative of (ECOSOC and UNESCO-DSE)

Consultant to International Youth Community Services and Founder of The Open-Forum and