WFC: Optimism, Practical Action and The Dream
London, UK - 15 May 2007, 22:23 GMT
- We are grateful
. Dr Anthony Grayling, Co-director of The Global Values Project & Prof
at Birkbeck College, London University, for "The World Future Council
gives cause for Optimism";
. Mehmood Khan, Global Leader, Unilever Innovation Process Management, based
in London, for "Need for Practical Action at a Local Level to Build a
. Wolfgang Somary, Chairman, Heim Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland,
for "The Dream of the Uninvited Guest";
. Dr James Martin, Founder, The James Martin 21st Century School, University
of Oxford, for "The Meaning of the 21st Century";
In response to the ATCA think-piece, "The Hamburg Call to Action
-- World Future Council Appeals to G8: Listen to the Voice of Future Generations,"
submitted by Jakob von Uexkull, based in London and Hamburg.
Dr Anthony Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College,
University of London, and a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College.
He is Co-director of the Global Values Project. He has written and edited
many books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are
a biography of William Hazlitt and a collection of essays. For several
years he wrote the "Last Word" column for the Guardian newspaper
and is a regular reviewer for the Literary Review and the Financial
Times. He also often writes for the Observer, Economist, Times Literary
Supplement, Independent on Sunday and New Statesman, and is a frequent
broadcaster on BBC Radios 4, 3 and the World Service. He is the Editor
of Online Review London, and Contributing Editor of Prospect magazine.
In addition he sits on the editorial boards of several academic journals,
and for nearly ten years was the Honorary Secretary of the principal
British Philosophical Association, the Aristotelian Society. He is a
past chairman of June Fourth, a human rights group concerned with China,
and has been involved in UN human rights initiative. Anthony Grayling
is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum, and a member of its C-100 group
on relations between the West and the Islamic world. He is a Fellow
of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2003 was a Booker Prize judge.
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: The World Future Council gives cause for Optimism
The aims of the World Future Council are excellent and, at this crucial
juncture in the history of mankind, profoundly welcome. An organisation
of such distinguished membership can have a highly significant impact
at national and international levels. It is to be earnestly hoped that
its aims and endeavours will find a resonance at all levels of all societies.
No doubt the Council sees part of its work as also therefore being directed
at sub-national and local levels, where many small grass-roots initiatives
of education and action can have an important cumulative effect.
Experience suggests that this is best done not by initiating mini-World
Future Council groups in schools and communities, but by a variety of
incentives and rewards encouraging existing organisations and schools
to adopt a World Future Council sponsored project on one or other of
the concerns to which the Council is dedicated: the environment, peace,
redirection of resources away from arms to more constructive investment,
lobbying of governments on sustainable trade and development, promotion
of inter-community dialogue and exchange, the fostering of a responsible
sense of humankind-wide endeavour, aimed at peaceful co-existence now
and a protected future for coming generations. A distinctive and welcome
feature of the Council's stated remit is that it shows an alert awareness
of the interconnectedness of these matters: local projects that do likewise
can have a powerful and lasting educative effect.
The World Future Council might encourage local initiatives by engaging
partners: governments and corporations as direct sponsors of such activities.
Examples of such that have an international dimension might be: getting
same-aged school groups in different countries to undertake the same
project at the same time, and then to compare notes; getting groups
of undergraduate science students at universities in different countries
to offer solutions to practical environmental problems, eg finding a
cheap quick method of water filtration in third-world rural areas; getting
Continuing Education centres in different countries to run the same
courses at the same time on Council aims, and comparing notes on suggestions,
reactions and resulting initiatives; and more.
The non-partisan character of the Council makes it a highly promising
centre of energy for addressing the challenge it so rightly identifies
as constituting a genuine historical crossroads. Amid the doubt and
tumult of a troubled world, such initiatives give solid grounds for
A C Grayling
Mehmood Khan is the Global Leader of Unilever Innovation Process Management
based at the landmark Unilever House, City of London, UK. His latest
set of responsibilities have added another dimension to his core expertise
in the Unilever Business of accelerating business growth through Innovation
by following common global process and systems. The nature of work involves
working with people around Unilever by establishing Unilever Innovation
Communities across the business as well as spanning across Categories,
Brands, Continents and Country boundaries. Through Mehmood's drive,
these Innovation Communities provide platforms for building innovation
capabilities, incubate creativities, and grow them into true business
Since 1982 Mehmood has been with Unilever and has worked in wide areas
of the trans-national business: Marketing, Exports, Procurement, Business
Development and Innovation. Out of 22 years at Unilever, 10 years have
been in pioneering new Unilever businesses in diverse countries including
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and North Korea, along with developing
new portfolios in China and other countries in East Asia. Mehmood originates
from India and has lived in Holland, Singapore and is now living in
the UK. He graduated from Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) Hissar
and then did his post graduate Studies in Management (1977) from the
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). While still at IIMA,
Mehmood worked with Prof Ravi J Matthai on Experiments in Educational
Innovation. On graduation from IIMA, Mehmood worked in the voluntary
sector on turning Indian livestock to become a more productive resource
and making them into a base for cottage industries. This work led Mehmood
to building professional farmers organisations. Mehmood is a Managing
Trustee of Rasuli Kanwar Khan Trust and IIM Europe and a Trustee of
GEN Initiative UK. He is married to Sanobar for 27 years. Together they
have two college going children. Sanobar runs her own North Indian Restaurant
business in Mongolia and an electronics marketing company in UK, China
& India. He writes:
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: Need for Practical Action at a Local Level to Build a Better World
You have started a beautiful Socratic dialogue on the ATCA. Ahead of
the G8 summit, it is important to create a focussed atmosphere so all
the stakeholders are geared for action. As the ATCA colleagues know,
we are running this experiment in Mewat (Haryana) in India where we
find that 1.5 million people are in a situation of helplessness.
We have conducted stakeholder meetings and find the following as the
1. Illiteracy: While average literacy in India is above 60%,in Mewat
it is just 25% with only 7% for girls. This is a root cause. If we educate
one girl we educate one whole family. Educated girls become responsible
mothers and help in breaking the vicious cycle of illiteracy, ignorance
and poverty. So my call to the World and indeed to the World Future
Council is to come to Mewat and help in educating the girls and they
will take care of their households.
2. Unemployment: While Mewat is just 30 km away from Gurgaon, the BPO
capital of the world, there are over 40% unemployed youth as they have
not learnt English and Computing. My call to the world and the World
Future Council is to come and teach English and Computing to the youth,
who can then take care of all the back offices of the world!
3. Water: With deforestation of Aravalli hills, the rain has become
infrequent, hence the water table is going down and basic survival is
becoming tough. My call to the world is to come and help in planting
trees, educating people on rain harvest and application of latest water
technologies, so that basic survival is not threatened.
4. Health & Hygiene: As stated in points 1 to 3, due to illiteracy,
ignorance and poverty, an average mother gives birth to 7 children.
In the present circumstances the children suffer from malnutrition and
all the related diseases. My call to the world and the World Future
Council is to come and help in improving the child nutrition and health
of the mothers.
Being a practitioner, I am more in favour of finding practical solutions.
We currently have corporate collaborators in AVIVA, GE (GENPACT), L&T
and Unilever who are helping in finding solutions. Many more are needed.
I wish to see more practical action to build a better world alongside
the World Future Council's noble goals.
Wolfgang Somary, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is Chairman of the Heim
Foundation in Geneva, a Swiss banker and poet. Wolfgang obtained his
formal education in the United States, Ireland and England, before becoming
an investment banker in Switzerland. As president and co-founder of
the former Intercultural Cooperation Foundation in Switzerland, he has
gathered extensive knowledge of non-European cultures and has travelled
widely, particularly in India. Wolfgang also composes poetry in English,
French and German, lectures on cultural aspects of economics, writes
on financial affairs, and conducts forecasting seminars. "Night
and the Candlemaker" is Wolfgang's first Barefoot book. He writes:
Dear DK and Colleagues
This bold macro-cosmic vision in regard to the World Future Council
presented via the ATCA, elicits in me a micro-cosmic image of yore,
which is described in my attached poem "Uninvited Guest".
Dream of the Uninvited Guest
We gathered in a narrow hall -
donned chasuble and gown
and moved that when the Sun does rise,
we'll say the Earth goes down.
Not certain yet that all had come,
we left the door ajar;
we spoke of chants and chalices
and Cassiopaeia's stars.
A stranger came who, dressed in black,
sneaked past the window glass:
his eyeballs were of dumdum lead,
I think he smelled of gas.
I choked with rage and froze before
the uninvited guest;
I stuttered out his poisoned name
that's come to soil our nest.
He asked to stay for dinner and
I felt a wasp had stung me;
I thought him dead since fifty years
but he was live and young still:
a well groomed ordinary rogue,
who's thoroughly acquaint
with us who dress in white and play
at Galahad the saint.
Companions could not hear me
as my voice was strained and dull -
they moved like caravelles while I
flapped like a windblown gull.
-- oOo --
With kindest regards
Read the previous article here: Dr James Martin
-- The Meaning of the 21st Century
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views.
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001
to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic
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