WFC: Optimism, Practical Action and The Dream

ATCA Briefings

London, UK - 15 May 2007, 22:23 GMT - We are grateful to:

. 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 Better World";
. 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";

intentBlog: WFC: Optimism, Practical Action and The Dream

Dear ATCA Colleagues

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. He writes:

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 optimism.

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 innovations.

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 top issues:

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

Wolfgang Somary

Read the previous article here: Dr James Martin -- The Meaning of the 21st Century


We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA)

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 100 countries: including several from the House of Lords, House of Commons, EU Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 1,500 CEOs from financial institutions, scientific corporates and voluntary organisations as well as over 750 Professors from academic centres of excellence worldwide.

The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please do not forward or use the material circulated without permission and full attribution.

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