As the international community responds to a global crisis that appears to be worsening daily, strong voices must help build a common understanding of the deep underlying problems. The global situation today is one of converging crises – economic, environmental political and social, while nations and sectors show diverging interests. The emerging pathway out of the many challenges of today must, in the end, be in the interests of the whole.
For years, the Tällberg process has led the search for a better understanding of global change. The need for this is becoming clear as the dire consequences of a rapid accumulation of risks (financial, economic, political, social and environmental) in the global system emerge. They are made worse by the weakness and failures of the institutions and processes to govern, manage and finance them. An astronomical price is now being paid as we confront the financial and ecological debts accumulated over the past years. The task at hand is to improve the prospects of a successful transition to a global development that can become truly sustainable.
In just a few years, 9 billion people will need to be sustained by the economic and natural systems. The models of today are not up to the task. This demands a major mind shift from the business-as-usual approaches.
At the Tällberg Forum 2009, in plenary sessions, workshops and conversations, participants discussed the underlying causes of the global crisis, and started the process of envisioning ways out of it. We tackled the overarching question “How on earth can we live together, within the planetary boundaries?”
Five dimensions of this challenge guided the forum discussions: the planet, the economy, technology, learning and security/governance/diplomacy. These five dimensions represent inroads into understanding and addressing the global crisis. While strongly inter-related, there is great potential for better understanding and innovation within each. A range of sessions were available for each dimension during the Forum, where groups of different sizes engaged in prototyping work or open conversation. Many of these sessions were organized in partnership with selected institutions, projects and initiatives who chose to bring their concerns and ideas to the Forum.
A group of five commentators sustained ongoing plenary conversation, reflecting progress made in group sessions, interweaving the five dimensions in search of a sense of the whole.
Significant progress is needed at this tough but exciting time, jointly and individually. Global leadership is emerging that generates renewed energy and focus. What seems to be lacking is the essential but difficult step from “systems thinking” to “systems doing”.