Andorra 2016: Global Forces, Local Voices

Andorra 2016: Global Forces, Local Voices

Nizami Ganjavi International Center VIII High-Level Meeting

Andorra la Vella, 12th — 14th June 2016

 

Across the world, tra­di­tional polit­i­cal and eco­nomic par­a­digms are being chal­lenged like never before by the forces of glob­al­i­sa­tion. New tech­nolo­gies and afford­able travel have cre­ated oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, trade and migra­tion which would have seemed unimag­in­able mere decades ago. Any­one ‘armed’ with a smart­phone and a big idea could be the next tech bil­lion­aire, and mil­lions of peo­ple are turn­ing to the online “shar­ing econ­omy” to sup­ple­ment – or even replace – tra­di­tional employ­ment. Inter­na­tional com­merce and eco­nomic migra­tion are bring­ing peo­ple together in unprece­dented ways, and the inter­net has become the con­duit for an emer­gent “global cul­ture,” with Eng­lish as its lin­gua franca.

The world is chang­ing before our eyes, and the poten­tial for human­ity would appear to be vast. Yet cracks are appar­ent. As indus­try and cap­i­tal become ever more mobile, busi­nesses are increas­ingly drawn to the devel­op­ing world, where pre­car­i­ous and low-paid employ­ment remains rife. In the West, gen­er­ous social ben­e­fits and work­ers’ rights appear increas­ingly unsus­tain­able as a result, with national socio-economic poli­cies now mea­sured by their com­pet­i­tive­ness in an emerg­ing global mar­ket­place. An unprece­dented exchange of wealth and ideas should enrich all of us – yet the sta­tus quo dis­pro­por­tion­ately ben­e­fits an elite few, while ordi­nary peo­ple endure a global “race to the bot­tom.” There­fore, despite its great promise, for many peo­ple glob­al­i­sa­tion is increas­ingly syn­ony­mous with exploita­tion and inequal­ity, as well as wor­ry­ingly rapid change in the fab­ric of com­mu­ni­ties and soci­eties. As such, is it time to re-think glob­al­i­sa­tion in the name of fair­ness?

In polit­i­cal terms, the reper­cus­sions of these con­cerns are already being felt. From eco­nomic migra­tion to the out­sourc­ing of labour, dis­sat­is­fac­tion with glob­al­i­sa­tion is rife, but rarely artic­u­lated as such; instead, vot­ers embrace rad­i­cal solu­tions which offer the promise of dis­rupt­ing the sta­tus quo. In most estab­lished democ­ra­cies, main­stream polit­i­cal par­ties – increas­ingly per­ceived as detached from the prob­lems of ordi­nary peo­ple, or com­plicit in cre­at­ing them – are los­ing ground to rad­i­cal or pop­ulist move­ments. In the USA and much of Europe, vot­ers increas­ingly iden­tify with charis­matic “non-politicians” who eschew estab­lish­ment con­ven­tions in favour of pro­tec­tion­ism and xeno­pho­bia. From Nigel Farage to Frauke Petry to Beppe Grillo, and the Marine Le Pen to Don­ald Trump, a brash appeal to iden­tity as a bul­wark against a glob­alised world is the com­mon thread behind the pop­u­lar­ity of all these fig­ures. But what does this “Trump Effect” mean for plu­ral­is­tic democ­ra­cies in the mod­ern world?

The reper­cus­sions of a rapidly-changing world are not lim­ited to pol­i­tics. Tra­di­tional busi­ness mod­els are being chal­lenged by numer­ous inno­va­tions which allow almost any­one to par­tic­i­pate in the global mar­ket on their own terms. Entre­pre­neur­ship is being democ­ra­tised by new tech­nolo­gies, start-ups are turn­ing to the crowd for invest­ment in lieu of banks per­ceived as unre­li­able or even untrust­wor­thy, and more and more peo­ple are reject­ing tra­di­tional “jobs for life” in favour of flex­i­ble work­ing and career mobil­ity. The so-called shar­ing econ­omy – embod­ied by mas­sively suc­cess­ful new­com­ers like Uber and AirBnB – allows an increas­ing num­ber of peo­ple to sup­ple­ment their income with noth­ing more than a smart­phone. How­ever, these busi­nesses often oper­ate in a legal and finan­cial grey area, and those who “sell their time” to par­tic­i­pate in the shar­ing econ­omy enjoy lit­tle job secu­rity or social pro­tec­tions. Although this bur­geon­ing flex­i­bil­ity offers new eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties for indi­vid­u­als, its wider impact on fis­cal health and poverty lev­els remains to be seen. How can gov­ern­ments embrace inno­va­tion while guar­an­tee­ing our stan­dards of human devel­op­ment? Will the 21st cen­tury econ­omy be built on a new golden age of entre­pre­neur­ship, or a global pre­cariat?

As eco­nom­ics becomes increas­ingly per­sonal, dri­ven by new tech­no­log­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ties, and pol­i­tics becomes increas­ingly resis­tant to plu­ral­ity, what of gov­er­nance itself? In Scot­land and Cat­alo­nia, rest­less pop­u­la­tions may yet redraw the map of Europe along ancient cul­tural fron­tiers; the con­flicts in Ukraine, Geor­gia, and around Nagorno-Karabakh remind us of the chal­lenges of inter­na­tional law sur­round­ing sov­er­eignty and self-determination, as well as its enforce­abil­ity. The inter­na­tional chal­lenges posed by glob­al­i­sa­tion demand effec­tive global gov­er­nance, which has dis­ap­pointed many; pop­u­lar mood favours indi­vid­u­al­ism, region­al­ism, even iso­la­tion­ism. If the world embraces the oppos­ing poles of local iden­tity and inter­na­tional com­merce,  the state as a unit of gov­er­nance seems to become less and less rel­e­vant. This is the moment for draw­ing the future world map, but what will it look like?

 

Format

Build­ing on the out­comes of the 4th Global Baku Forum in March 2016, the VIII High-Level Meet­ing will bring together over 40 for­mer and cur­rent world lead­ers, as well as key experts, to dis­cuss these and other press­ing ques­tions. The event will be hosted by the Nizami Gan­javi Inter­na­tional Cen­ter in Andorra la Vella, in coop­er­a­tion with the Fun­dació Julià Reig.

The pan­els will be mod­er­ated by Fran­cis O’Donnell, Rovshan Muradov and Antje Her­rberg.