NGO Consultation on the Commission of Experts of the President of UN Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial Reform

In the wake of the global financial and economic crisis, the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, set up a commission of experts chaired by Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, whose mandate is to reflect on the causes of the crisis, assess its impacts on all countries and suggest adequate responses to avoid its recurrence and restore global economic stability. The “Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System” (hereafter referred to as the “Commission on Financial Reforms”) is composed of leading economic specialists from developed and developing countries who will put forward a range of “credible and feasible proposals for reforming the international monetary and financial system, in the broad interest of the international community, and identify and evaluate the merits and limitations of alternatives that are at the center of current global debate.”

The Commission will thus produce a report on recommendations to be considered in the preparatory process leading to the UN Conference at the highest level on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development called for in the final document adopted at Doha in December 2008 (resolution A/RES/63/239).

 Process for producing the Report

The Commission will hold at least three formal meetings to discuss the issues related to the crisis and to begin drafting the report. The Commission held its first meeting on 4-6 January 2009 in New York. The second one is planned on 8-10 March 2009 in Geneva.

In the process, the Commission will solicit comments and suggestions from a wider body of interested stakeholders including policymakers and government officials, representatives of international agencies, academics and members of civil society. Together, these deliberations and inputs will feed into a final report, which will be published and distributed to Member States, other involved parties and the wider public, as part of a larger United Nations initiative to achieve the needed reforms.

NGLS has been asked by the Office of the President of the General Assembly to consult with civil society groups across the globe and to compile their views into a single report. This report will be presented to the Commission as an official input to their deliberations. Given the short-time frame and heavy burden of the Commission’s work, this will likely be the only input from civil society that they will review.

To accomplish this task, NGLS is undertaking a three-week online consultation (23 January – 13 February) organized around the Commission’s four Working Groups themes (financial regulation; multilateral issues; macroeconomic issues and addressing the crisis; and reforming the global financial architecture). After the consultation period concludes, NGLS will prepare a compilation report to be submitted to the Office of the President of the General Assembly as part of the preparations of the Commission’s second meeting in March.

“Helping the UN fulfil its historic mission”

In his introductory remarks to the first meeting, Professor Stiglitz emphasized the following points on the Commission’s mission and purpose:

“This unprecedented global financial and economic crisis requires an unprecedented global response. It requires a response not just from the G-7, G-8, G-10, or G-20, but from the entire international community, the G-192. This gives a special importance to this initiative of the President of the General Assembly, which has received so much support from around the world….

The current economic crisis should provide an opportunity to reassess global economic arrangements and prevalent economic doctrines….As we address the short run crisis, we should seize the opportunity for making deeper reforms that enable the world to enter into the twenty first century with a more equitable and a more stable global financial system, which could usher in an era of enhanced prosperity for all countries….

This expert group is devoted to helping the U.N. fulfil its historic mission. The Commission will seek to identify the broad principles underlying needed institutional reforms required to ensure sustained global economic progress and stability which will be of benefit to all countries, developed and less developed. The Commission will suggest a range of credible and feasible proposals for reforming the international monetary and financial system in the best interest of the international community, identify the merits and limitations of alternatives, and will evaluate in particular those that are at the center of current global discussions….

As an expert group, we have a distinct advantage: we can think “outside the box.” We are not constrained to operating within the conventional wisdom. We can ask politically uncomfortable questions….

The global economic landscape has changed unalterably. We cannot go back to the world before September 15… Part of what we will be doing is to discuss how the international community can best respond to this crisis, in ways that are attentive to the concerns of all countries. But part of the task of the Commission is to help the international community think through the changes that will have be made as we go about the more difficult task of creating a new international economic order….

It is too late to prevent this downturn. But it is not too late to try to mitigate some of these adverse effects. And it is imperative that we take steps to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy….”

Fore More:


One thought on “NGO Consultation on the Commission of Experts of the President of UN Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial Reform”

  1. During the January 15 meeting of the Department of Public Information with the Commission, I suggested that the international community establish a new reserve currency, the Terra, that is based upon carbon emission permits. Dr. Clark, senior advisor to the Commission, reacted very positively to that suggestion.

    Attached is a short survey and two documents. Your answer would be part of my forthcoming book.


    TIMU: The Transformative Approach to Monetarily Solve the Economic Crisis by Solving the Climate Crisis \
    Frans C. Verhagen, M.Div., M.I.A., Ph.D., sustainability sociologist
    Founding president, International Institute of Monetary Transformation (IIMT)

    New York City
    February 17, 2009







    Name (optional) contact information
    Date of response:
    My answers can be quoted in the above forthcoming publication: yes____ with attribution; yes_____ without attribution; no________

    THANK YOU for contributing your part to this important conversation.

    Frans C. Verhagen, M.Div., M.I.A., Ph.D., sustainability sociologist,
    Adjunct Associate Professor Sustainable Communities at Pace University, NY
    President, International Institute of Monetary Transformation (IIMT)
    Developer, Terra International Monetary Union (TIMU) proposal
    Coordinator, TIMU Working Group /
    Sustainability Fellow at the Green Institute in Washington, D.C.
    UN ECOSOC representative for the International Peace Research Association (IPRA)
    UN Department Public Information representative of the Unitarian Universalist UN Office and of the Earth Charter USA.
    Chair, UN Global Affairs Committee at Community Church of New York UU
    Director, Sustainability Research and Education
    Earth and Peace Education Associates International (EPE)
    97-37 63rd Road, #15E, Rego Park, NY 11374, USA
    voice: 1+(718)275-3932; fax 1+(718)275-3932; cell 1+(917 617 6217),

    An OPED
    Submitted to the NY Times
    Frans C. Verhagen
    February 13, 2009

    When I started to present the Terra solution publicly about a month ago the general reaction has been one of hesitancy because, as one progressive democrat of some forty years said simply, it’s “too big.” As a matter of fact, economist David Leonhardt in his February 1 New York Times Magazine article “The Big Fix” and the writers of the progressive left “Thinking Big” booklet are not thinking big enough, because they do not include the most fundamental dimension of the economic crisis, which is not the financial crisis, but the monetary crisis. If the international monetary system, which is the glue of the financial system is not overhauled, the financial system will not work and if the financial system does not work, we know by now its disastrous consequences in the US and, increasingly, globally.

    The Terra solution, while not a blueprint, does provide a direction and a framework for policy making and action by government, business, and civil society.

    The Terra solution can solve the economic crisis by solving the climate crisis. They have to be tackled simultaneously and that can be done in different ways and levels.

    The Terra solution provides a financing mechanism to fund the Millennium Development Goals and other social programs in the global South because of a steady flow of capital resources, i.e. Terras from the ecological debtor nations in the global North to the ecological creditor nations in the South.

    So, what is this famous Terra solution? A chimera? A pipe dream? A cargo cult?

    The Terra solution is the basis not for the reform, but for the transformation of the international monetary system. Transformation entails a revamping, an overhauling, and a basic reorientation. Because of its radical restructuring people and organizations are hesitant. Who is ready for “Real Change”? Yes, we can?

    The Terra solution has the greatest chance of being adopted by governments, business and civil society when economic and climatological conditions are getting worse and worse, which they will. Human beings, generally not overly joyous in the face of change, will be forced to react to these calamitous conditions by adopting fundamental change, leading not to reform but to transformation. Wars have been humanity’s greatest changers. Humanity is basically at war with our planet on account of its violation of the Earth’s basic processes of the flowing of energy, the cycling of matter and the webbing of life. The economic crisis is secondary to climate crisis. Settle the climate crisis––and humanity can sustainably deal with the economic and financial crises. So, indeed these two crises are too important to be wasted. We have to use them to leapfrog to an equitable, sustainable, and, therefore, stable monetary, financial and economic system, both locally and globally.

    So, what precisely is this Terra solution that is part of a transformed international monetary system?

    Terra (Latin for Earth) is the name that I have given to the new international reserve currency that is based, not upon gold, nails, cowries or a basket of major currencies, but on carbon emissions permits or CEPs. These CEPS are allocated on an equal basis to adults on the planet—perhaps we should include youngsters because they sometimes have also a heavy carbon footprint—using the methodology of Cap and Share, The targets of carbon reduction will determine the amount of CEPs each adult receives and the carbon price on the world market will determine the value of the CEPs.

    The Terra international reserve currency is the basis of the Terra International Monetary Union––the TIMU system. Each nation will have its carbon account become a line in their balance of payments which will be administered by the proposed World Central Bank (WCB), roughly in the same way as the European Central Bank does for the European Monetary Union. This bank with a democratically chosen Board of Governors will have two additional functions, one dealing with credit and the other with liquidity. It will monitor credit creation around the world, so that a credit crisis of the present scope cannot occur again. It will also engage in making available extra liquidity, somewhat in the same way as the old Special Drawing Rights of the International Monetary Fund.

    Though the proposed World Central Bank does not tell the nations who have signed and ratified the TIMU Treaty how to deal with their credit creation institutions, it will advocate the abolishment of fractional banking. James Robertson the New Economics Foundation has testified to that effect to the UK government—the host of the G20 Summit on April 2 in London. He thinks, like me, that the present privatized banking system operates on two conflicting goals: money creation and at the same time competing with one another. No wonder that the most “imaginative” bankers go into the nirvana of impossible derivatives. (My advice to Mr. Geithner and President Obama is to abolish fractional banking rather than nationalizing banks or bailing them out with trillions of dollars and overhaul the Federal Reserve System which is also a private institution into a genuine Central Bank.)

    Mr. Robertson’s testimony ( also includes a proposal for a new, non-national international reserve currency. However, he does not base his currency on an emissions standard like the Terra currency does, but on a weighted basket of major currencies.

    For more information on the TIMU architecture, i.e. fixed exchange rates, inflation/deflation/stagflation, illiquidity and insolvency, and, particularly, the component on bioregional economics and frugal trade— is the place to satisfy your curiosity. You might sign the TS Petition, consider becoming an associate or even a fellow of the International Institute of Monetary Transformation and have its feeds come to your computer.

    I consider the Terra solution part of humanity’s third revolution on this planet, i.e. the sustainability revolution. This is how the first US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator phrased the challenge in the early seventies:

    “Can we move nations and people in the direction of sustainability? Such a move would be a modification of society comparable in scale to only two other changes: the Agricultural Revolution of the late Neolithic, and the Industrial Revolution of the past two centuries. These revolutions were gradual, spontaneous, and largely unconscious. This one will have to be a fully conscious operation, guided by the foresight that science can provide. If we actually do it, the undertaking will be absolutely unique in humanity’s stay on Earth.”

    Frans C. Verhagen, M.Div., M.I.A., Ph.D. is a sustainability sociologist and founding president of International Institute of Monetary Transformation His forthcoming book with Cosimo Books is entitled TIMU: The Transformative Approach to the Global Economic and Climatological Crises
    Frans C. Verhagen, M.Div., M.I.A., Ph.D., Sustainability sociologist
    Founding President, The International Institute of Monetary Transformation
    ECOSOC Representative, the International Peace Research Association
    President, Earth and Peace Education Associates International (EPE); ;
    718 275-3932(voice and fax); 917 617 6217 (cell)
    New York City
    February 7, 2009

    The goal of any reform of the international monetary system which is the glue of the world’s financial and economic system is to achieve stability, which can only be accomplished by pursuing equity and sustainability. To reach this goal of an equitable, sustainable, stable monetary system quite a few reforms are being proposed to deal with the deepening financial and economic crises which will get worse, particularly if no proper and timely reforms are implemented. It is argued here that 1. reforms that predominantly are national or regional in scope rather than global will not achieve those three monetary goals and 2. reforms that do not simultaneously address themselves to the ever deepening climatological crisis will equally fail to make lasting impact. Thus, it is proposed here that a genuine transformation in the international monetary system is to take place that addresses itself to both to the economic and climatological crises. The Terra International Monetary Union (TIMU) or TIMU architecture is presented here for serious consideration and ensuing policy development, particularly by the new Obama Administration.

    Faced with the economic and climatological crises and their associated crises in food and fuel the year 2009 may become an axial year in the history of the planet and humanity. It is during this and the following years that humanity has to come up with wide-ranging measures that will set the economic and climatological trajectory of this new century. What is most needed in devising this road map are a deep understanding of the crises’ origins and their vertical and horizontal interconnectedness, and the explicit adoption of a set of integrated social and ecological values that provides the vision for this most important of journeys.

    Following the findings of financial historians such as Niall Ferguson, Barry Eichengreen and of political economists such as Benjamin Cohen, applying the values and vision of the Earth Charter–the 21st century successor of the 20th century Universal Declaration of Human Rights– and using the EPE sustainable communities development’s planning framework of contextual sustainability, I have to come to the following conclusions. They will be listed here and explained below.
    1. Government, business and civil society are to seriously consider making carbon emissions permits the basis of a new international currency, so that ecological creditor nations in the global South are able, as a matter of historical justice, to receive the necessary funds for their economic development and for their policies and programs in dealing with the climate and energy crises.
    2. They are to seriously consider the adoption of the monetary architecture of an emissions-based currency unit such as the one proposed in the Terra International Monetary Union to wit: its World Central Bank, its modified balance of payments schedule and the independent national Terra Administrations or Terra Boards in participating or TIMU Treaty nation states.
    3. Presently advocated reforms such as the International Clearing Bank (D’Arista), Global Green Dollars (Stiglitz), INTOR (Mundell) and similar efforts of non-emission based currency concepts are considered steps towards the emission-based currency concept of the Terra and its international and national monetary architectures.

    The new international currency of the Terra (Latin for Earth) which is based upon carbon emissions permits which are allocated following the Cap and Share methodology, is to function as a means of international exchange, a store of value and the accounting unit of carbon credits and debits.
    Treaty nations will use a modified balance of payments schedule where carbon balances in the form of Terras are added to the many economic account lines in their current and capital flows accounts, so that both their economic and climatological balances are integrated in one place and considered of equal financial value. In order to avoid co-mingling the Terra currency with the national and other local currencies (LETS) each treaty state will establish an independent Terra Administration or Board that administers the carbon based international currency. Much of the Treaty content can be based upon the FAESTA Draft of the Noordwijk aan Zee Treaty of 2000, organized by Ode Magazine with the assistance of Irish economist Richard Douthwaite and British artist Aubrey Meyer of Contraction and Convergence fame.

    The World Central Bank (WCB) like a global European Central Bank carries out its administrative, monitoring and credit creation functions under the governance of the treaty nations. Though the treaty nations surrender some substantial sovereignty, the WCB is not a world government. It would be part of the UN system roughly in the same way the IMF is affiliated with the UN today. Some of the activities of the IMF can be transferred to the WCB, but not its weighted decision making, its subscription or capital structure and other elements.

    A fourth major component of the TIMU system is its emphasis on bioregional economics. The present economic crisis has clearly shown that an export-oriented economy, particularly by developing nations to gain foreign exchange to pay for their debts and often to buy luxury items for their elites, is not workable. Even industrialized nations such as the USA and Germany are suffering huge decline in exports. Thus, placing priority on sustainable bioregional economies with a reduction of international trade is to be recommended. On account of the climate crisis frugal trade with a reduction in food, goods and services miles is to be pursued besides fair and free trade.

    Two additional components of the TIMU architecture are 1. fixed exchange rates which are set annually by the WCB based upon the carbon price of the global carbon market; 2. the methodology of capping GHGs, particularly CO2 and its allocation as developed by the Dublin-based CSO
    The politics of a TIMU Treaty are complicated and will entail heavy lifting by not only governments, but also business and, perhaps less so, civil society. A mobilization strategy is being developed based upon theories of my former Columbia sociology professor Amitai Etzioni in his Active Society.
    At the highest level of UN decision-making a major support for TIMU seems to be forthcoming. On October 30 a day-long interactive Panel on the Global Financial Crisis was convened by General Assembly President Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann. There were several points of agreement that augur well for a serious consideration of the TIMU Treaty. Member states 1. “recognized the need for deep changes in the governance of the international financial institutions”; 2. “made an urgent call for the United Nations to play a central role in the search for solutions”; 3. agreed that dealing with the financial crisis requires coordination with the climate, food and fuel crisis. Out of this high-level consultation the President’s Commission on the Reform of the Monetary and Financial System has emerged which made its first report on January 7. On January 15 during a briefing to the NGO community at UN Headquarters Dr. Michael Clark, senior advisor to the Commission, responding to my question about the feasibility of having an international currency based upon carbon emissions permits allocated according to the cap and share methodology and incorporating carbon balances into a modified balance of payments schedule, exclaimed “That’s brilliant.” The previous questioner, a Maryknoll sister, had asked how the President’s Commission was going to incorporate the climate crisis. His answer was tentative and, so, I think that was the reason that he was relieved by hearing the Terra proposal.
    Though there are about a score of reasons why the TIMU proposal is a good one and whose time seems to have come, one of the most important reason is the transfer of Terras from the North to the South, so that humanity is able to push forward with the MDGs. Given the poor outcome of the latest round in Funding for Development (FFD) in December at Doha—IMF and IBRD were even absent—TIMU’s financial flows would be an enormous leap forward in resolving the myriad of funding needs for UN programs, for funds in the form of Terras would flow from the ecological debtor nations in the rich North to the ecological creditor nations in the poor South.
    In conclusion, the confluence of the economic and climatological crises and their ever deepening impact on all people and societies in the global North and South is a grand opportunity for rethinking and transforming the international monetary architecture. Such international monetary system would become the glue of a transformed international financial and economic system replacing the present international economic system that still enriches the few, impoverishes the many and endangers the planet. The proposed Terra International Monetary Union or TIMU system could be an essential part of a comprehensive approach to dealing with the global economic recession and the climate crisis, while also expediting humanity’s transition into sustainable societies which will lead to greater purchasing power and quality of life not only in the global North, but especially in the global South.

    Resources for the TIMU project will be available in medio February at while is open for participation. Readers are strongly urged to become part of the TIMU Working Group now and, later on, of the Institute in order to carry this enormous challenge of TIMU forward. Every reader is invited to sign the International TIMU Petition and have his/her network, physical or online, do the same. An important source of worldwide activities on monetary reform can be found on There this SPS is listed together with two other outstanding statements. The website also shows the excellent work that Dr. Hazel Henderson has been doing for many decades. It is not only her widely acknowledged understanding of economics and monetary matters that shines through, but also her ethical commitment as expressed in her use of the integrated value system of the Earth Charter.

    Finally, those who are interested in the full description of the TIMU architecture and its politics to implement it can purchase a hard copy or an electronic one of my book TIMU: The Transformative Monetary Approach to Resolving the Global Economic and Climatological Crises from Cosimo On Demand Publishing, New York City, the publication date of which will be Summer 2009.

    “Action does not spring from information, but a readiness for responsibility.”
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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