The Club of Rome Programme from 2009-2012 on
“A New Path for World Development”
It is clear that the present path of world development is not sustainable in the longer term, even if we recognise the enormous potentials of the market and of technological innovation. New ideas and strategies will be needed to ensure that improved living conditions and opportunities for a growing population across the world can be reconciled with the conservation of a viable climate and of the fragile ecosystems on which all life depends. A new vision and path for world development must be conceived and adopted if humanity is to surmount the challenges ahead.
In response to this intellectual and practical challenge, the Club of Rome undertook a three year programme on “A New Path for World Development” so as to achieve a better understanding of the complex challenges which confront the modern world and to lay solid foundations for the action which must be taken to improve the prospects for peace and progress.
The Programme not only engaged decision makers and experts and provided them with feasible proposals for action but also engaged with the public through a variety of channels. It was in part, an “open source” programme. It undertook only a limited amount of original research, drawing on the wide array of available information and research in progress. It is implemented in close collaboration with partner organizations, providing a framework through which their ideas and contributions can be integrated. This will increase the credibility and impact of the efforts of the Club itself.
The Programme focused on five “clusters” of related issues within the overall conceptual framework of A New Path for World Development:
1.Environment and Resources: This cluster relates climate change, peak oil, ecosystems and water. Radical and rapid social and economic transformations will be needed to avert runaway climate change and ecological breakdown;
2. Globalisation: This cluster relates interdependence, distribution of wealth and income, demographic change, employment, trade and finance. Rising inequalities and imbalances associated with the present path of globalisation risk the breakdown of the world economic and financial systems;
3. World Development: This cluster relates sustainable development, demographic growth, poverty, environmental stress, food production, health and employment. The scandal of abiding poverty, deprivation, inequity and exclusion in a wealthy world must be corrected;
4. Social Transformation: This cluster relates social change, gender equity, values and ethics, religion and spirituality, culture, identity and behaviour. The values and behaviour on which the present path of world development is based must change if peace and progress are to be preserved within the tightening human and environmental limits;
5. Peace and Security: This cluster relates justice, democracy, governance, solidarity, security and peace. The present path of world development risks alienation, polarization, violence and conflict; the preservation of peace is vital in itself but is also a precondition for progress and for the resolution of the issues which threaten the future.
Within each of these clusters, the issues are strongly linked: thus each group constitutes a coherent and manageable field for analysis. The links between the clusters were accounted for as the programme proceeded, within the overall integrating framework of A New Path for World Development.
The small high-level expert meetings that the Club organized produced a clear statement on the issues, risks and opportunities ahead with an outline of the principal strategies and measures required in response. As the Programme proceeds, the insights and knowledge gained from each meeting will provide clear perspectives of constraints and opportunities as the context for the next meeting. By recognizing such linkages, the knowledge acquired will be cumulative and will produce innovative insights as the Programme proceeds.
In relation to each cluster of issues, a private, web-based research network was established through which the participants in the expert meetings, together with additional experts, can carry on a process of dialogue and research to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and to elaborate specific recommendations and proposals.
As work proceeds on the five clusters, a parallel effort will focus on developing a better conceptual and practical understanding of the world systems within which they are linked and embedded. This helps to understand the linkages between trends, issues and actions and to identify the drivers of global change. The Programme in this way recognized the immense complexity of world affairs.
A dedicated research network will focus on the issue of systems integration, including systems thinking and systems linkages and systems dynamics modelling. These networks will be supported by the Secretariat and accessed through the Club’s website.