Baku Conference Report
Baku Preparatory Meeting of New Paradigm Consortium Partners by Ivo Šlaus
Reflections on the New Paradigm Project by Alexander Likhotal
An Agenda of Work for the New Paradigm Consortium by Garry Jacobs
Baku Preparatory Meeting of New Paradigm Consortium Partners
The current socio-economic-political paradigm is unsustainable. It is destroying natural, human and social capitals. A change of course is essential. The call to change the current paradigm was initiated by Aurelio Peccei and the founding of the Club of Rome more than 40 years ago. It is now accepted by many leading institutions.
On April 30, 2014, the World Academy together with the Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC) organized a meeting in Baku of organizations working on solutions to the current global crisis in order to explore the possibility of forging a consortium of organizations to pool their complementary capabilities in a collaborative endeavor. In addition to WAAS and NGIC, the meeting included representatives of Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, Club of Madrid, Club of Rome, European Leadership Network, European Movement International, Future World Foundation, Green Cross International, Library of Alexandria, Partnership for Change, Pugwash and the World University Consortium. Other organizations may also be invited to join this endeavor.
This meeting follows six other WAAS conferences on the need for a New Paradigm in Human Development conducted over the past 15 months in Trieste, Geneva, Alexandria, Washington, Ottawa and Podgorica and was followed by the Brasilia meeting in May 2014.
The Club of Rome organized several conferences and actions, notably “Change the Course” on the anniversary of the Titanic disaster and a recent meeting in Castell de Castellet, Spain.
All analyses clearly demonstrate the need for a major paradigm change. The change has to encompass social, economic and political spheres. It has to be holistic. All aspects have to be approached simultaneously and promptly, and should be human-centered. A new paradigm maintains and preserves all valid aspects of the existing paradigm in the domain of their validity. These conclusions have been reaffirmed by participants at the Baku meeting.
Participants at the Baku meeting unanimously stressed their readiness to continue to work together, forming a consortium/alliance of individuals and organizations (in case of organizations their respective leadership has to approve such an alliance) where each organization through its uniqueness and specialty will organize studies, research and activities aimed at formulating new paradigm and developing a strategy of achieving new socio-economic-political paradigm.
Stakeholders will be actively involved in this strategic change process and contribute to the betterment of their local and national communities, to a renaissance of scientific and educational excellence and to fulfill their core values and mission.
Honorary President, World Academy of Art & Science
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Reflections on the New Paradigm Project
Following the Baku meeting on the New Paradigm Consortium, I would like to share some afterthoughts that hopefully can bring us closer to an understanding of the challenges and difficulties involved in our collaborative effort to formulate a New Paradigm of Human Development.
First, we need to define what we mean by the term ‘New Paradigm of Human Development’. Are we concerned exclusively with the resource limitations of the current economic model, “the collision with nature”? Or are we concerned with the broader issue of civilizational shifts? Is our objective to evolve a comprehensive road map that could provide a blueprint of steps and efforts needed to adapt to the global challenges or to develop new approaches to the problems of human development? One of the challenges we will face is how to avoid the usual dichotomies (technocratic versus humanistic, economic versus developmental, doomsday alarmism versus “let’s make more money out of crises”) in formulating the Mission.
The problem of resources constraints is obvious and shared by all the participants. Therefore I will leave it for the moment as the least controversial or “dispute charged”, and also because Club of Rome, WAAS and other networks have accumulated a lot of thinking on these matters.
However if we assume that our civilisation is now experiencing a systemic crisis and entering into a new state, we perceive a pressing need for new concepts and new categories adequate to facing this extraordinary situation. We need to develop a new content-based vocabulary for the changing social context, for the new model of social life. Presently we lack appropriate terms and, therefore, are confined to existing models, artificial constructs and familiar concepts, such as the Post-industrial or Information Society, the End of History, the New Barbarianism, the Clash of Civilisations, Globalisation, etc.
Changes in the world’s political, social and legal order, and the transformation of global “modus operandi” also need to be examined. We are currently in a transition period, in which the elements of a new, post-modern world historically coexist with the realities of the modern epoch. The system of international relations and international legal institutions is changing literally before our eyes. Numerous changes are occurring in the models of social, economic, and political activity, in projections of power and authority. The cultural landscape with its relevant “content structures” (democracy and liberalism for examples) is changing simultaneously. Human behavioural patterns and their matching mechanisms are acquiring new systemic qualities.
Other components of change include mutations of the systems, forms and methods of governance, the birth of new and competing organisational structures for which we lack adequate and accepted definitions. Therefore, we are forced to use “content-meaningless” apophatical concepts such as “new organisations”. Or we are compelled to describe the situation using a multitude of prefixes such as “post”, “neo”, “anti”, “para”, “quasi”, and “meta” to point at the phenomenal novelty that unfortunately does not explain anything about their characteristics or about their essence. Or we resort to exotic neologisms such as “geo-economic content analysis”, “non-linear war”, “glocalisation”, “diasporic public spheres”, etc. Before launching practical work, we need to be clear about the frameworks we plan to use.
The recent “Environmental Leadership Award” was given to the Club of Rome “for decades of warnings of a deteriorating environment and limits to growth”.
Is our goal today to “replicate” the success of the Limits to Growth as a scientific alert of the challenges we face at the new “level of development”? I doubt if this would be sufficient or effective, given the number of writings and documents available on this subject. Clearly the “new product” should add value to the public discourse and go further than that and provide “systemic solutions framework”. We have accumulated a lot of ideas on the economic transformations that are needed and some very promising possible recommendations and scenarios. This might look like the “lowest hanging fruit” intellectually. Unfortunately, picking the lowest hanging fruit sometimes could be counterproductive (let’s not forget Eve’s story). Seriously, I have never been convinced by Marxist materialism which is embedded in the famous dictum, “the being determines the consciousness”.
Today social dynamics are not limited to the economic aspect of the approaching global revolution. Global changes are ultimately determined by a new organisation of individual and social consciousness. These modifications produce a new typology of social activity, political and economic practices, and so on. But first of all, such modifications result in the genesis of a new culture and its active “protagonists”. And here, unfortunately, there has been much less thinking. Therefore, the easy way – a small group drafting followed by a larger group draft upgrading – might not work. We will need first to invent the thinking that is needed and find ways to collect or generate it from within our ranks or outside our networks.
Another aspect of the goals problem is the target. Shall we target decision-makers, legislators, general public, or academia? Clearly the choice will dictate the formats and instruments used. We might be expansive and adapt different elements of the project (scientific, outreach, action) to different targets with matching instruments (also requires clarification and definition).
This list of initiative mapping “musts” is clearly non-exhaustive, purely judgemental and subjective. Therefore I would like to conclude by suggesting several practical (organisational) proposals that could be helpful in the organisation of our work:
- As already agreed, the effort should be based on a division of responsibilities. Each network partner has clearly definable competences and “competitive edges”. Therefore, an informal Coordination Committee (CC) will help not only to “structuralize” the work, but also to keep all on the same wavelength. We will need to determine the list of “official sponsor organisations” and their representative to the CC.
- Each network should propose an outline of the Mission, Ideas, Framework, Themes (both what is available and what is lacking in terms of existing knowledge) and concrete Goals relevant to the work of the CC.
- It would be helpful to organise a virtual ideas exchange/data accumulation/discussion platform (members only discussion forum) reflecting on the frameworks selected by the CC. WAAS has a good internal platform of this kind, which I hope could be extended and expanded.
These steps in my opinion could help expedite the preparatory work and provide some structure for project implementation.
President, Green Cross International;
Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science
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An Agenda of Work for the New Paradigm Consortium
The current socio-economic-political paradigm is unsustainable. It is destroying natural, human and social capital. A change of course is essential. Rapid globalization, the accelerated pace of change in the global economic, political, technological, scientific, social and environmental spheres, and the growing complexity of the interactions and inter-dependencies between these spheres present unparalleled challenges to human security, welfare and well-being, which have thus far defied solution by piecemeal, sectoral strategies based on existing concepts and national level policy initiatives. Faulting current approaches has so far proven insufficient to bring about a significant change in thinking and action. But the potential upside of alternative futures has not been sufficiently documented or projected.
A comprehensive strategy is needed to substantiate that practical and effective solutions are possible to successfully address these challenges, backed by quantified research and reliable measures of the desired outcomes. Effective action will require a wide range of expertise and 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 initiative.
The agenda of work for a comprehensive approach to paradigm change intended to encompass all the critical stages of “Leadership in Thought that Leads to Action” should include the following major components:
1. Values: A change in paradigm implies a change in the values that motivate our actions. Values offer essential wisdom regarding the conditions for survival, accomplishment and human fulfilment. An exploration of the values by which global society can overcome the present challenges and convert them into pathways to higher levels of human welfare and well-being is urgently needed. It should be combined with research into the 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 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.
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. The work of the consortium can immensely benefit from research to identify the underlying forces that are already preparing global society today for a change of paradigm.
4. Comprehensive Strategy: Participating organizations have already identified many essential institutional changes and policy initiatives applicable to different sectors and levels of global society. 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.
5. Quantitative Analysis: Quantification is a powerful tool for effective communication. Quantification and modelling can provide compelling evidence capable of altering public opinion and garnering political will. Quantifying the potential benefits of a radical change of course will provide essential documentation to influence academia, public opinion, and decision-makers.
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 of how to achieve it and quantitative projections regarding the results.
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.
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. Therefore a comprehensive approach must include a strategy for influencing public discourse and political action.
9. Plan on 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.
10. Goal: A plan that is intended to capture the attention, interest, and imagination of the global public will need to be both convincing and inspiring. Coherent theory, careful analysis and better measures can generate conviction. The inspiration can be generated by a compelling vision such as doubling the welfare of human beings on a sustainable basis.
All these components are essential, complementary and mutually reinforcing. The strategy proposed will be to draw upon the excellent work already done by consortium members and others, reinforcing it by better theory, measures and quantitative research.
CEO, World Academy of Art & Science;
CEO, World University Consortium
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