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Global Challenges Forum held in Geneva

Article by Ryan Burke

Last week, members from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Global Public Policy Academic Group led and participated in the First annual Global Challenges Forum (GCF) hosted in Geneva, Switzerland. Planning and review sessions culminated in the formal establishment of a new international association. The GCF endeavors to identify and address solutions for non-traditional security threats emerging from a volatile world economy, organized international terrorism, energy instability, global warming, water shortages, rapid population growth in developing world economies, and cyber-security vulnerabilities. In addition to members from the NPS community and the United States government, attendees included over 60 representatives from strategy centers, academia, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

The Global Challenges Forum was conceived as a venue for a unique spread of think tanks, research centers and academic institutions, to meet with the goal of resolving existing and future global challenges. To be organized as a “forum of forums,” the GCF will build on a diverse membership and a worldwide network to propose solutions to global challenges such as economic security, environmental sustainability, and human well-being. One of the envisioned forums, economic security, was held on the first day and followed on the second day by the Founder’s Meeting of the Global Challenges Forum when the GCF was officially established.

The Seminar on the Global Economy began with opening remarks from Ambassador Betty King, U.S. Mission Ambassador to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva. In her speech, she praised the GCF’s mission to recognize the complex risks and potential impacts of 21st century problems. Ambassador King also stressed the necessity to engage non-state actors in the formulation of implementable, integrated, and bottom-up solutions for emerging global challenges.

One of the most salient complex risks threatening global security is economic instability, evidenced as the world continues to reel from the financial collapse of 2008. To further illuminate the emergent economic challenges, members from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Baker & McKenzie, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, the University College of London, the American University in Cairo, U.S. State Department, Hulsman Enterprises, and our own NPS faculty spoke to the interrelationship between economics and security.

The rapid ascendency of Asia economies and the task of framing China’s role in shifting the geopolitical balance closer to the multipolarism were hot button topics for the opening day’s discussion.

A presentation on structural imbalances by Dr. James Macintosh from the University of College London reaffirmed a growing suspicion that economic motivations are just the same as a means for war. “Creating change in ones favor doesn’t have to be violent,” he stated.

Tributary to the debate surrounding geo-economics, a presenter on global migration, Dr. Matthew Schulz, spoke about the different ways and means countries compete for the best and brightest human capital. He concluded that attracting talent when young through student visas, visas in science, technology, engineering, and math, and visas geared towards investment and entrepreneurship, were just some of the possible mechanisms countries could pursue in attracting, leveraging, and keeping global human capital.

By the end of the day, the convergence of the security and economic issues discussed sparked debate on the future of the United States in light of its domestic budget woes. Mr. Barry Watts from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Dr. John Hulsman from Hulsman Enterprises added an insider perspective as the group conjectured how the U.S. will rebalance its security presence around the world despite a rapidly changing environment.

The Seminar on the Global Economy was presided over by four NPS members: Professor C.J. LaCivita, Dr. Mie Augier, Mr. Peter Verga, and Dr. Bob McNab.

The second day’s events focused more broadly on the intersection of all the emerging global challenges. Lead by Dr. Tomas Ries from the National Defense College in Sweden, Mr. Diego Ruiz Palmer from NATO Headquarters, Mr. David Bame from the U.S. Department of State, and Dr. Prahbu Guptara Executive Director of Organization Development UBS Wolfsberg, and Dr. Daniel Warner Director from the Centre for International Governance, the founding members successfully chartered GCF’s raison d'être and put forth an agenda for the upcoming year.

Quality communication through a platform to exchange information on global challenges and the need to craft innovative policy and tools for stemming emerging global challenges are areas the GCF looks to fill in the future.

Geneva, “known as the Rome for international organization,” said Dr. David Warner, is an appropriate home for the Global Challenges Forum. In the coming years, the association seeks to create smaller forums throughout the world to address each of the global challenges, simultaneously solidifying its international network and promoting its global scope.

Mr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh College of Business and Dr. Leonard Ferrari of the Naval Postgraduate School agreed to co-chair the forum in its first year. Said Ghazaleh, “Direct dialog between think tanks worldwide can and should contribute to just solutions for the  global challenges and to the development of more appropriate global governance disciplines for the benefit of all humanity."

Posted November 30, 2010



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