Group photos from GCGI Conferences
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2015
Davos-Klosters, Switzerland 21 - 24 January 2015
Prof. Klaus Schwab,
Founder and Executive Chairman,
World Economic Forum,
Dear Prof. Schwab,
I notice that you hope the 2015 WEF meeting will be a “starting point for a renaissance of global trust”. This is a noble aim, very important and timely. Thus, as the Founder of Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) I wish to endorse and support you in this aim.
Today in many parts of the world, the so-called market, and the values of consumerism, underpinned by the “Black Friday” values, have become increasingly dominant and are now seriously threatening our global future, both in terms of our care of the planet and in increasing societal rivarly and conflict.
In the process we have lost trust in everything. This is why I believe your aim is so important. In the global society in which we now all live, it is essential for our common survival and wellbeing that we build cultures of trust, being prepared to take risks for the common good.
“Values represent our guiding principles: our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.”
‘Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value’- Albert Einstein
As it has been observed throughout history, in action and thought, people are affected by a wide range of influences. Past experience, cultural and social norms are some of the most important ones. Connected to all of these, to some extent, are our values, which represent a strong guiding force, shaping our attitudes and behaviour over the course of our lives. Our values have been shown to influence our political persuasions; our willingness to participate in political action; our career choices; our ecological footprints; how much money we spend, and on what; and our feelings of personal wellbeing, contentment and happiness; as well as our relationship with others, with nature and the Mother Earth, to mention but a few.
Let us pause for a moment and focus on some fundamental and enduring questions of human meaning and value. Questions such as:
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to live a life of meaning and purpose?
3. What does it mean to understand and appreciate the natural world?
4. What does it mean to forge a more just society for the common good?
By their very nature, these questions lend themselves to thought and discussion around ethics, morals and values.
At the GCGI we are delighted and honoured that since 2002 we have been at the forefront of activities to highlight, address and analyse these and other relevant questions.
We recognised that building a better and more harmonious world will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. We appreciate that we should not carry on constructing a global society that is materially rich but spiritually poor. We did know that we must be led by values, and must uphold them at all times.
Thus, in 2002, we began to construct globalisation for the common good, as a path to build a more just and sustainable world.
At a recent seminar I was asked by one of the participants if I could explain, in simple, jargon-free language, what I meant by “an economy that serves the common good”, and also what I meant by “sustainability, social justice and ecology”.
I was excited by these questions, as they are very close to my heart. Although, I have written extensively on these issues*, here, now was my chance to engage, face-to-face, with some interested and well-informed people, who wanted some clear explanations. Thus, I began to explain and the dialogue started:
First, I said, in order to see what an economy for the common good might look like, it would be helpful to consider what globalisation for the common good might look like. This is important, as an economy for the common good needs a fertile ground in which to develop. Thus, I began telling them about the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI), where we connect our intellect with our humanity on our path towards the common good.
I explained that to understand and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to view the big picture. Whatever we are considering, whether it is war and peace, economics and environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology, progress and poverty, profit and loss, food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need to keep the big picture in mind to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.
This big picture is also the context in which we can most productively explore the perennial questions of life – its purpose and meaning, the relevance of values, justice and our relationship to the ecosystem which supports all life.