The Importance to Be Prepared for the Future. Day 3

19.10.2017

Is it possible to look into the future and be ready for it? Who will be the winner from the eternal confrontation man and nature? How will the globalization process end? On October 18, 2017, the participants of the 14th Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club tried to answer these and many other questions.

The main sessions of the third day of the Sochi meeting were held in Chatham House format, which stipulates, that the participants have the right to use the information, but they can not name the speaker.

The third session was devoted to the eternal conflict between man and nature. According to one of the scientists, the era of climate stability, which arrived 10 thousand years ago and provided the emergence of humanity, is coming to an end. At present, the Earth's ecosystem is changing irrevocably; a new era in the history of the planet begins. There is an interlacing between the history of mankind and the history of the planet, since man has become a new force capable to change the planet.

Over the past 25 years 10% of the wildlife was destroyed. The area of the lost wildlife almost everywhere exceeds the area of the territories, which were put under protection. On a global scale, 3.3 million square kilometers were lost, and 2.5 million square kilometers are now guarded. Taking into account that the world population will increase from 7 billion to 9 billion people by 2040, and the number of the middle class consumers will increase by 3 billion people in the next 20 years, the demand for resources will increase exponentially.

The ability of the biosphere to produce resources has fallen due to the growing needs of mankind. If all the inhabitants of the Earth consume at the US level, humanity would need three planets like Earth to get the resources. It is noteworthy, that the most vivid human reaction to climate change is the determination not to think about it and deploy a number of psychological protections against the warnings of scientists - thus, to behave as if nothing serious is happening.

As one panelist noted, for decades the public opinion was dominated by the meaning that economic development is primary compared to the environmental issues. Now it's time to turn this logic around, because only when the ecology can protect the economy, it will develop. Experts also agreed with the need to involve the military in the discussion on the environmental problems, so that they begin to speak of them as a threat to the national security in their countries. This will significantly increase attention to the problems.

Participants of the fourth session discussed the processes of globalization that began after the end of the Cold War and the reaction to them in the form of activating the self-identity policy, striving to strengthen their own unique self-identity.

As one of the experts noted, phenomena similar to modern globalization have existed since ancient times. According to him, there were several waves of globalization in the world, and one of the first and most large-scale was the spread of Hellenistic culture. At the same time, attempts to mitigate local differences always led to the fact that they were increasingly stressed. Consequently, there is no contradiction between globalization and localization as trends, since the former naturally leads to the second. These two tendencies create a state of equilibrium in which global phenomena have local manifestations. One can speak of a synthesis in which greater diversity leads to greater stability.

According to another panelist, the very nature of human societies envisages a desire for expansion and unification, they all try to reshape others in their own image. Attempts at unification are naturally rebuffed and strengthen attitudes in favor of originality.

The issue of migration took a special place in the discussion. According to one of the panelists, migration is a revolution of the 21st century. People living in countries with inefficient governments understand that it is easier to change a country than a government. The increase in the speed and scale of the dissemination of information played an enormous role in the development of such thinking. Today, according to the expert, the main factor determining one’s well-being is not one’s education, nor the education of one’s parents, but where one was born. Thanks to television and the Internet, citizens of countries with a low standard of living see different standards and consider resettling to the more developed countries to be the solution of almost all their problems.

It is with this that the important trend of our time is associated, which one of the participants of the session described as an "interwall period.” A quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, new walls are beginning to be erected in the world to protect borders, both literally and figuratively. The most important of these boundaries are informational, for they are protected to the least extent. Another panel member agreed, noting that the key issue of the modern era is not who possesses land as in the pre-industrial period, or machines, as in the industrial one, but who possess the data.

Having discussed the challenges related to universalism and self-identity politics, experts concluded that today, more than ever, there is a great need not for statesmen capable of thinking within the scope of electoral cycles, but politicians who think within the scope of decades.

The day ended with an attempt to look into the "perspective of decades" and to understand, how individual states are ready for the challenges that the future is preparing for them.

"The boundaries of the future are blurred, and we imagine them very poorly. But we would like to have an universal model, a methodological basis that can contribute to the success and progress of the states, ", said Andrey Bystritskiy, chairman of the Valdai Discussion Club, presenting the Future Preparedness Index project. The summing up of the project results in relation to the G20 countries took place within the framework of the special session of the same name.

The objective of the Index, which is a joint project of the Valdai Club and VTsIOM, is to analyze the readiness of the countries to respond to the challenges of tomorrow, their ability to operate under a wide range of future scenarios, competitiveness for a variety of economic and political criteria, the development of economic sectors and social infrastructure. The project is designed to show, that there are countries which are most responsible for self-organization, Bystritskiy said, and their experience can be used to improve the picture of the future in other states.

Valery Fyodorov, General Director of VTsIOM, spoke in detail about the tasks and methodology of the project, and also presented the rating of the G20 countries, that are the most and least ready for the challenges of the future.

The Future Preparedness Index is compiled on the basis of statistical data and expert polls. The indicator is based on assessments of the state of affairs in 10 areas: economy, technology, education, science, culture and communication, society, resources and ecology, governance system, sovereignty/security, international influence.

The Index measures the ability of countries to function successfully under the most diverse options of the world development. Concluding the presentation of the project, Valery Fyodorov invited the participants of the special session "to work together to change the future for the better."

On October 19, the last day of the XIV Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, two sessions will be held. One of them will be devoted to the conflict of progress and humanism. The second plenary session is titled " The World of the Future: Moving through Conflict to Cooperation." Details are in the Programme of the meeting on the Valdai Club website.

On October 19, the last day of the XIV Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, two sessions will be held. One of them will be devoted to the conflict of progress and humanism. The second plenary session is titled " The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation." Details are in the Programme of the meeting on the Valdai Club website.

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