Conference on New paradigm of Sustainable Human Development
G-Global – a new form of global dialogue
Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan
November 5-7, 2014
Building on the recent preparatory conference of New Paradigm at Baku on April 30, 2014, this note outlines further steps being taken to promote collaboration among a group of leading international organizations to develop the theoretical, institutional and policy framework for a comprehensive, integrated paradigm for human development. A three day conference was held in collaboration with Al-Farabi Kazakh National University at Almaty, Kazakhstan on November 5-7, 2014 and a two day conference in collaboration with Nizami Ganjavi International Centre is scheduled to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan on April 29-30, 2015.
The Almaty conference built on the conclusions of recent conferences and on-going initiatives, including the Baku conference in April 2014, the trans-disciplinary discussion at Dubrovnik in September 2014 and work in progress on new economic theory. This conference examined core elements of an alternative paradigm at the level of theory, institutions and public policies. The conclusions of this conference will constitute the basis for the Baku conference in April 2015 focusing on conditions, strategies and steps for the transition to a new paradigm. This note presents the overview of steps taken to date, a conceptual overview of the project, organizers and co-organizers of the Almaty conference, main conference themes and a provisional agenda.
The accelerated pace of change in the global economic, political, technological, scientific, social and environmental spheres, growing complexity of the interactions and increasing integration of inter-dependencies between these spheres present unparalleled challenges to human security, welfare and well-being. Persistent poverty combined with rising levels of unemployment, inequality, social unrest, armed conflict, resource depletion and climate instability are symptomatic. These challenges have defied solution by piecemeal, sectoral strategies based on existing concepts and national level policy initiatives.
The current socio-economic-political-juridical paradigm is unsustainable. It is destroying natural, human and social capitals and obstructing the evolution of essential institutions for global governance and human welfare. A change of course is essential. Faulting current approaches has so far proven insufficient to bring about a significant change in thinking and action. The potential upside of alternative futures has not been sufficiently documented or projected. The call for a fundamental paradigm change is now accepted by many leading thinkers and institutions, but the precise nature of the change required and the process by which it can be brought about are yet to be defined. A comprehensive strategy is needed to substantiate that practical and effective solutions are possible to successfully address global challenges, backed by quantified research and reliable measures of the desired outcomes.
Over the past 15 months, the World Academy has organized a series of conferences at the United Nations in Geneva, Library of Alexandria, Academy for Developing World (Trieste), Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts(Podgorica), University of California at Berkeley, Washington DC, Ottawa and Baku on solutions to the current global crises. These meetings have involved a detailed exploration of the limitations of current theory and public policy and formulation of a broad approach to develop a viable alternative paradigm. In addition WAAS and Club of Rome have been individually and collectively engaged in examining core elements of New Economic Theory and formulation of a trans-disciplinary science of human development. Earth Dialogues Conference organised by Green Cross International last September in Geneva, Club of Rome's annual conference on the Global Commons in Ottawa in October 2013 and its upcoming meeting on Energy in Mexico City in October 2014, and Club de Madrid's two recent conferences on Shared Societies all address important issues related to the quest for a new paradigm.
Participants from about a dozen leading international NGOs have agreed to pool their complementary capabilities in a collaborative endeavor to generate viable solutions. The group includes World Academy of Art & Science, World University Consortium, Club de Madrid, Club of Rome, European Leadership Network, European Movement International, Future World Foundation, Green Cross International, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, Library of Alexandria, Nizami Ganjavi International Center, Partnership for Change, and Pugwash. All these organizations confirm the need for a major paradigm change encompassing social, economic and political spheres. They agree that a human-centered, holistic approach is required capable of addressing all dimensions of the crises concurrently and sequentially, while maintaining and preserving all aspects of the measure of their continuing value to humanity. They also agree that effective action will require a wide range of expertise and that a consortium of organizations with a common vision, shared values and complementary capabilities can achieve far more than the sum of the results that may issue from their separate individual initiatives. Collaborative initiatives constitute an important base of power to promote emergence of a new paradigm.
Focal Points for the New Paradigm Project
Formulation and implementation of a new human-centered, ecologically sustainable development paradigm will require initiatives at many different levels. They will require the collaboration of different organizations which possess expertise applicable to addressing the issues at one or more of the following important focal points:
1. Values: A change in paradigm implies a change in the values that drive our thought and action. The work of all consortium members converges on the need for a fundamental clarification and change in values. Clarification will bring to the fore the universal moral and ethical principles essential for development of a free and equitable human community. But values are not merely idealistic principles. They offer essential guidance regarding the conditions for continuous improvement in the prospects for humanity. Efforts by WAAS and the Club of Rome to identify the values which are essential for global society to overcome the present challenges provide a foundation that can be built on. This should be combined with research into the circumstances and process by which significant changes in civilizational values have been brought about in the past and the possible actions by which a value change can now be consciously effected.
2. Theoretical Framework: A new paradigm needs also to be based on a wider conception and more profound perception of the interdependence and interdetermination of activities, complexity of interactions, global scope and reach, and central role of human beings in determining their own future. Economic growth is a grossly inadequate notion for charting humanity’s future. Without a wider conception of human development and the social processes by which it is effected, we are likely to find ourselves largely confined by existing concepts to prevailing policy options. The Academy is already collaborating with other organizations on efforts to frame New Economic Theory and to frame the outlines for an integrated trans-disciplinary science of society that can serve as the nucleus for development of a new conceptual framework. A working group meeting is scheduled for August 25 to September 6, 2014 in Dubrovnik.
3. Deep Drivers: Society evolves. Every paradigm change involves a movement of the society-at-large along a values-pathway driven by deeper social forces pressing to emerge on the surface. These emerging deep drivers provide the energy and effective power for a change in direction. Recent WAAS conferences at the UN in Geneva, Library of Alexandria, Podgorica, Washington and Ottawa have made a significant beginning with analysis of deep drivers of future change. Additional work is needed to complete the list and examine the implications of these underlying forces that are already preparing global society today for a change of paradigm. It is important to recognize that the energy which moves the deep drivers is ultimately rooted in individual human beings acting individually and/or collectively.
4. Comprehensive Strategy: Participating organizations have already identified many essential institutional changes and policy initiatives applicable to different sectors and levels of global society. World Future Council’s Global Action Plan which was presented at the Baku conference is an excellent example of the comprehensive and inclusive approach that is needed. But thus far these represent separate pieces rather than a clear and coherent road map for the future. As all dimensions of global society contribute to the current dilemma, it is necessary to show how a comprehensive strategy will impact on both individual elements and their mutually dependent interactions and what would be the overall impact of implementation on human security, welfare and well-being. It is essential that the strategy must itself be informed by a comprehensive focus of inquiry.
5. Quantitative Analysis: Quantification is a powerful tool for effective communication, as the impact of Limits to Growth 40 years ago testifies. Quantification and modelling can provide compelling evidence capable of altering public opinion and garnering political will. The development of a comprehensive roadmap could serve as the basis for an effort to quantify the potential benefits of a radical change of course on the future of national and global society. As Club of Rome leveraged the World3 model to provide a quantitative picture of long term resource consumption, effort is needed to quantify the impact of a comprehensive blueprint on human security, welfare and well-being.
6. New Measures: A new paradigm will require more appropriate measures for monitoring human progress. Without new measures, we will remain trapped within the current framework which regards growth as synonymous with human development. Reconceptualizing progress as a movement toward higher levels of sustainable human welfare and security, rather than simply and crudely as a movement toward higher levels of unsustainable growth and consumption would constitute an important contribution when combined with a comprehensive strategy to achieve it and quantitative projections regarding the results. A review is needed of the wide range of alternative measures already developed to identify the most effective index for evaluating progress toward a new paradigm.
7. Public Awareness & Support: These elements will only generate significant impact when they are projected to the public-at-large through effective strategies for communication, education, dissemination and debate. World University Consortium is addressing the more fundamental challenge of how to realign national and global higher education to support transition to a new paradigm. Strategy is also needed to build on the approaches developed by Club of Rome, Partnership for Change, European Movement International and other participants and consider other innovative approaches, such as a global referendum, to impact on global public opinion.
8. Political Will: The goal of new theory, strategy, measures, quantitative analysis and public education must be to effect the functioning of public and private institutions as well as the formulation and implementation of policies by governments, the private sector and other institutions of civil society. Political will focuses on changing the perspective and mobilizing the support of individuals in different organizational roles to influence and direct a new set of global public expectations about the future of the human prospect. A comprehensive approach must include a strategy for influencing public discourse and political action. Club de Madrid possesses rich experience and expertise that can make a valuable contribution to evolution of effective political strategy.
9. Plan of Action: In order to ensure the necessary grounding in reality and to achieve the concentrated intensity required for significant impact, all these elements need to be directed and translated into a plan of ACTION designed to effect real change at the practical level. This involves assembling all that we know under each of the eight headings discussed above to identify important elements that have already been fully formulated, those that may be sought elsewhere, and those that are yet to be developed. The plan may include a global decision seminar on the most vital issues of paradigm change, comprehensive strategies, innovative methods of measurement, and creating global communications networks to facilitate outreach for a plan of action.
10. Goal: A good plan requires a motivating goal. A plan that is intended to capture the attention, interest, and imagination of the global public will need to be both inspiring and convincing. Coherent theory, careful analysis and better measures can generate conviction. Whatever its form, the goal will need to universalize the principle of human dignity as the common interest of all humanity. The inspiration can be generated by a compelling vision, such as doubling the welfare of human beings on a sustainable basis. The conference can work to formulate and widely project that goal.
The Almaty conference was part of the collaborative effort a several leading international organizations to develop a framework for a new paradigm of human-centered development capable of addressing the pressing challenges confronting humanity today. The conference examined core elements of an alternative paradigm at the level of theory, institutions and public policies. The conclusions of this conference constituted the basis for subsequent events focusing on conditions, strategies and steps for the transition to a new paradigm.
Having confirmed the need, opportunity and benefits that can be derived from collaborative work on these pressing global challenges, the next step is to bring together participating organizations for substantive in-depth discussions to establish the basis for a comprehensive, integrated approach to global issues.
The Almaty conference brought together representatives of the New Paradigm group with other policy and research institutions and universities, including ILO, UNESCO, UNDP, New Millennium Project, Inter-Academy Panel, ICSU, OECD, TWAS, ALLEA and several European and national academies for a more in-depth examination and discussion of each of these 10 focal points of work.
The Almaty conference focused on some or all of the following important issues:
- Deep Drivers of Change: Deep drivers of social change are altering the configuration of economic, social and political forces and preparing the ground for quantum level changes. The rise of China and India, rising social tensions resulting from unemployment and inequality, climate instability, and rising demand for relevant higher education are just a few of the many forces whose future impact needs to be carefully assessed and factored.
- New Economic, Social, Political and Juridical Theory: The insufficiency of prevailing economic and social theory is becoming increasingly apparent to thinkers, policy-makers and the general public. Political economic theory has to be directed to maximize human security, welfare and social equity. Existing concepts have been critiqued and found faulty and inadequate by WAAS, Club of Rome, World Futures Council and many other organizations. The outlines of alternative theory are urgently needed to provide the basis for a new policy agenda capable of addressing the economic and social challenges.
- Integration of Economy & Ecology: A sustainable future necessitates an integration of economic growth with ecology to identify sustainable models and strategies for economic development that maximize human welfare, while minimumizing demands on the environment. The work of Green Cross International, Club of Rome and World Futures Council offers important insights that need to be integrated and synthesized into a comprehensive set of policies.
- Employment: Employment, especially among youth, has become the number one social, economic and political issue in many countries, yet existing policies are grossly inadequate to address this challenge. In a market economy, employment is the economic equivalent of the right to vote in democracy. Without it, social stability and human security cannot be ensured. Human-centered models, strategies and policies are needed to redirect investments and redistribute rewards.
- New Measures: A new paradigm requires new measures which more accurately reflect the impact of human activity on sustainable human welfare. The consortium needs to review and adopt the most effective set of measures to replace the false and misleading indices by which public policies are guided and evaluated.
- Rule of Law, Human Rights & Values: Science cannot be value-neutral. It must accept responsibility for optimizing social outcomes. A new paradigm implies the pursuit of new or higher order values. The prevailing governance by plutocracy must be replaced by true democratic principles of governance based on fundamental human rights.
- Global Governance: Humanity has irrevocably entered the phase where national level institutions, strategies and initiatives must be complemented by effective global level political institutions, laws and public policies.
- Process of Development: A major shift in public policy requires a deeper understanding of the social, political and constitutive processes by which society actually evolves from one paradigm to the next.
- Reinventing Education: None of humanity's pressing challenges can be effectively addressed without radical improvements in accessibility, quality and relevance of education. A new paradigm in human development requires a new paradigm in education.
- Social Responsibility of Science: Scientific and technological advances have been the source of remarkable new opportunities and growing problems. The scientific community can no longer afford to insulate itself from the social consequences and policy implications of its discoveries.
- Al-Farabi Kazakh National University
- World Academy of Art & Science
- World University Consortium
- Club de Madrid
- Club of Rome
- Green Cross International
- World Future Council
- Foundation for Culture of Peace
- International Association of University Presidents
- Library of Alexandria
- Montenegrin Academy of Sciences & Arts
- Nizami Ganjavi International Center
- Partnership for Change
- Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
- Dag Hammarskjöld University College of International Relations and Diplomacy
Organizations to be Invited
- European Movement International
- Future World Foundation
- Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
- Institute of Economy, Russian Academy of Sciences
- Moscow State Institute of International Relations
- World-watch Institute
- Other institutions in Kazakhstan