I have just returned from The World Economic Forum - Summit on the Global Agenda held in Dubai over the weekend.
The WEF identified more than 50 global challenges and put in place over 68 working groups to challenge the existing (& failed?) systems and to develop new and radical strategies to meet the global challenges ahead on finances, climate change and social issues. (www.weforum.org/globalagenda/reports)
At first sight many of the topics being discussed appear to be unrelated but as the global financial melt down has taught us, never has the world been so interconnected; the failure of one part of the network causing significant damage to all parts.
And so it seems that we are faced with a stark question – Do we continue to promote the present interdependence between nations or do we go it alone, erect the walls and try and insulate ourselves from the mistakes by others?
Given the complexity of the raging storms in front of us; climate change, poverty, resource depletion, the choice seems obvious; we must build and strengthen the multiple bonds between us so that when one fails the others compensate and structure stays strong.
A good analogy for this is the tree. A tree is a system that uses its leaves to convert sunshine and its roots to provide nutrients so it can grow. And yet if the tree loses a part of its branch network or a section of its root system it will regenerate and grow back stronger. It is resilient to most things that nature can throw at it.
If the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that our present operating system is not nearly resilient enough and when one part fails the shocks are too great and the collateral damage too widespread.
In the short term it is obvious that we must repair and reboot the system. As a short term strategy this will get us through the immediate crisis. However, this will not provide a long term solution. It is clear that the present system has not worked and what is really needed is a total system redesign to be based on a new vision of sustainable living.
But before doing so we must all come to terms with one undeniable truth that is; ‘We sink or swim together’.
And so there is a silver lining to our present crisis for it has shown us just how interconnected we all are and how much stronger we all can be by collaborating across borders.
It provides us with a period of relative calm in which we may gather our senses and set our plans for the future. In doing so we must challenge the past in order to reinvent to the future, leverage our interconnectedness in order to build inclusive solutions that are resilient and positive for all – the planet, its ecosystems AND its people.
Guy Battle 11.11.08