The Tällberg Forum in Sigtuna 2011

The Tällberg meetings have evolved into a new form of global gathering. Every year, leaders from all over the world and from various sectors of society gather to talk about and reflect upon the challenges and opportunities that stem from global interdependence.

The Tällberg Forum 2011 took place on 29 June to 3 July 2011 in Sigtuna, Sweden with the theme “How on earth can we live together – How can we agree to agree?”. Founder and President of Rights and Humanity, Professor Julia Hausermann was able to attend and join the conversations at the Tallberg Forum, bringing a human rights and responsibilities approach. 400 leaders from all over the world and from different sectors of society gathered for a conversation about the whole – and in the interests of the whole.

Global problem-solving mechanisms are not emerging to deal with global problems, and national sovereignty is often proving an effective obstacle to international agreements. At the same time many new systems solutions to systems problems are emerging on the ground around the world. But injustice and inequalities between and within nations are rising, and in the end, no progress will be made unless people agree on both the nature of the problem and on what the steps towards a sustainable and inclusive future look like. This is what the conversations at the Tällberg Forum 2011 in Sigtuna were focusing on.

The background and context:
Both the natural environment and human activities are under extraordinary pressures. We all know where they come from:
·         population growth and changing demography

·         changing human behaviors and new dominant aspirations

·         the scarcity of resources and the need for economic growth

·         the relentless emergence of new revolutionizing technologies

·         the fading relevance of traditional, political institutions and organizations

·         the manifest fragilities of the financial systems

·         the globalization of value creation, markets and governance solutions

·         the rising reactions and oppositions to these trends. The evolution of the contradictory nature of human beings.

There is wide agreement that humankind is facing an order of complexity never before encountered. We might find ourselves in a double bind, neither understanding fully the functions and workings of nature nor the consequences of our own inventions and makings. If anything, this is an age of ambiguity, of flux. In control? Out of control?

The institutions and technologies that have been a prerequisite for – and a result of – the unprecedented economic growth of the last century have contributed to the enhanced risks and fragilities that we now have to deal with. The paradox is that new technologies and new institutions will be the prime solution to the problems that the old institutions and the old thinking have contributed to.

At the heart of today’s human predicament lies the procurement of energy, as a prerequisite for all activities. And all energy is derived out of nature. There is rising hope that imminent access to cheap and highly efficient solar power will solve this predicament, but the energy systems in place continue to add the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Also, increased economic resources – to use for education, health, food and improved living standards – are necessary to meet the demands of population growth and poverty eradication. Billions of jobs need to be created over the next decades – but what kind of jobs? The context is one of great deficits – government budget, trade and accounts – for many nations, including the US, Japan and several European nations. To tackle them leads to political unrest, destabilized institutions, and sometimes even difficulties in upholding the rule of law, international conventions and human rights.

In parallel, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Independent nations have become interdependent, but continue to implement policies in their “national” interests. We live out and play out the contradictions. Old concepts, such as national sovereignty, and old institutions, such as the nation-state, are no longer applicable in their original form to the real world we live in. This reality is not reflected in how we go about our affairs. The present negotiation regimes and legislative processes are not working, be it in the field of climate, energy production, disarmament, security regimes, trade negotiations, migration or humanitarian assistance.

Of course, all is not bleak and there are however reasons to be hopeful. New efficient technologies are emerging. People are connected like never before. An entrepreneurial awakening is one of the most powerful drivers of our time. Young people are bringing new ideas and strong passion to the discussion. But there are also strong contradictory trends of fundamentalism, populism, nationalism and racism that are reactive to these underlying major trends. This is a time full of contradictions which makes borders, networks and flows even more difficult to govern and add to the complexity of implementing cohesive long-term policies and learning processes.

The Process:
An entry-point into the conversation process at Tallberg was to take a close look at how leading world cultures have developed their methods and forms to come to their agreements. An underlying assumption is that the narrowness of nation-based cultural identity is becoming increasingly dysfunctional in a world of tight and close interdependencies. We have to move out of a historically narrow definition of what a “we” represent into a definition of a wider concept of “we”.


Follow up:
The next Tällberg Forum will take place in Sweden on June 14 - June 17, 2012.

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