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Kiel, Germany, 19/10/2011

Global Economic Symposium 2011: New Forces of Global Governance

Prince Turki AlFaisal Alsaud and Sean Cleary
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Photographer: Renard Kiel

In October, the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in cooperation with the German National Library of Economics (ZBW) welcomed roughly 400 political, academic, business and civil society experts to Kiel for the 2011 Global Economic Symposium (GES). Beginning this year, the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the IfW will jointly organize this annual symposium, alternating from year to year between Kiel and a major world hub.

The 2010 GES took place in Istanbul and next year it will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro in cooperation with the Getulio Vargas Foundation.  In a globally interdependent world, the GES offers the interdisciplinary and global reach needed to tackle dynamic and systemically embedded challenges of economic, social, political and ecological importance.

The GES is comprised of 24 different sessions, idea labs and workshops and distinguishes itself from other leading conferences through its orientation toward concrete solutions and its foundation in research. In the months prior to the symposium, expert groups collaborate via the “VirtualGES” platform, identifying central problems and formulating several proposals for combating them.  Panelists and other GES participants then discuss and attempt to further develop some of the ideas brought forth on the online platform. At the end of each session, participants vote on their favorite solution proposal.

The top three most popular solutions at the 2011 Global Economic Symposium are:

  • Treat waste and sewage as a resource, increasing recycling and reuse. Take engineering, economic and social viewpoints into account to implement a range of potential responses that make better use of water and solid waste.
  • Countries that need to restructure their debt should agree on a fiscal rule and establish an independent debt commission to oversee its implementation.
  • Publicize the positive economic impact of migration for the destination country and, more generally, increase awareness of the benefits of cultural diversity and "migrant transnationalism."

In addition to solutions proposed in advance of the GES, timely and acute issues such as the Greek sovereign debt crisis and fiscal consolidation were the subject of lively debate and examined during sessions such as “Redesigning Fiscal Consolidation and Debt Management.” Participants emphasized the imperative of securing the banking and financial system from systemic collapse as a result of what they considered an imminent write-down of Greek debt. In securing the financial system, many advocated a shift from the "domino paradigm" often applied to assess systemic risk to the more accurate "popcorn paradigm." Shifting the problem analysis leads to a very different reaction for preventing contagion, namely instead of using short-term local remedies such as propping up individual banks, the EU and ECB should address the underlying systemic weaknesses causing the popcorn pan to heat up in the first place.    

Due to the timeliness of the topic, it was no surprise that one of the most favored proposed solutions called for requiring countries that need to restructure their debt to agree on a fiscal rule and establish an independent debt commission to oversee its implementation.

Beyond the traditional GES community of experts, this year’s symposium employed new forms of communication and digital participation to extend its circle of discussants. Bloggers played a central role in connecting the online discussion with that in the GES sessions on location in Kiel. Citizens around the globe offered constructive suggestions through the Internet platform Future Challenges and had the opportunity to share them with the panels through the blogger moderators.

To kick off efforts to expand the GES target audience, this year’s GES saw the first publication of THRIVE, now the annual magazine of the symposium. It is named THRIVE since that is what peopla all around the world seek to do: thrive as human beings. THRIVE calls on citizens around the world to join a community of global activists and share their experiences and ideas related to the challenges we all face.

Proposed solutions to the challenges identified at the Global Economic Symposium will be published in the coming months.

Contact Person
Portrait of Stefan Empter Stefan Empter
+49 5241 81-81137
Andreas Esche Andreas Esche
+49 5241 81-81333
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