2007 Global Creative Leadership Summit Gathers Leading Minds to Develop New Platform for Globalization

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European Commission President Barroso, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Prime Minister Balkenende of the Netherlands, Nobel-Laureate Eric Kandel, MIT Media Lab's Nicholas Negroponte, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, and artist Jeff Koons help devise cross-disciplinary solutions to 21st century critical issues.

Because we share a common purpose of transforming the challenges and threats of our new global culture into unprecedented opportunities and successes.

The second annual Global Creative Leadership Summit kicked off Sunday, bringing together the world's leading minds in government, business, the arts, media, science, and technology to identify new ways for individuals, organizations, and nations to develop solutions to meet the sprawling new demands of the 21st century. Over three days at the Metropolitan Club in Midtown Manhattan, the conference established a new, cross-disciplinary platform for addressing the broad and far-reaching challenges of globalization and cultural diversification, which experts agreed has blurred the borders between superpowers and emerging and developing nations.

Louise T. Blouin MacBain, founder and chair of the Louise T. Blouin Foundation, which presented the Summit, said in her summary of the event, "Culture is at the heart of every global conflict and every global opportunity today. There is friction between our ideas, but at this summit the great thinkers, political and business leaders, scientists, and artists came up with what we need to create a smoother path forward: concrete action, and knowledge to share with others."

As part of a concerted effort to move quickly from the Summit's discussions and proposals to real-world implementation, Ms. MacBain announced that in addition to a report on the Summit's findings to be prepared and disseminated, a number of initiatives would be launched shortly to turn talk into action. These next steps include:

  • Development of a new initiative towards a Global Rule of Law, developed in collaboration with delegates such as David Boies, which will signify a renewed commitment to upholding certain universal principles. Signing on to the Global Rule of Law would in turn inspire increased investor confidence to begin or boost relationships with these emerging economies.
  • Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, announced that as part of the "Give 1 Get 1" program of his "One Laptop Per Child" initiative, from November 12 to November 26 for $399 any American or Canadian buyer would send one energy-efficient laptop to a child in a developing nation in addition to receiving a laptop themselves.
  • The Louise T Blouin Foundation will create an internet platform to help to co-ordinate existing efforts from NGOs, companies, global agencies. "Project LINK" will allow information to be shared more efficiently between organizations and encourage joined-up thinking, as well as providing a mechanism for individuals to make financial donations in different areas. As one example, to meet the need for increased numbers of toilets in Tanzania, Project LINK will aim to deliver both through local suppliers, as well as international funders.
  • Online activity will include a project will also include a presence on the "Second Life" community website, where experts and international agencies can interact directly with users.
  • In a novel approach to addressing climate change, the Foundation will advocate for a "footprint tax," which would place a monetary value (and, potentially, a penalty) on carbon usage by all individuals, companies, and nations.
  • The Foundation will assemble a series of potential scenarios called "What If?" highlighting the evolution of current threats if they are left unaddressed, such as climate change, the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons, poverty, and health-care access.

The Summit's diversity of voices included several heads of state, many of whom were in New York City to also attend the United Nations General Assembly. They included European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's closing remarks regarding the evolving definition of political leadership in a global society, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's insights regarding the effects of globalization on security issues, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands' thoughts on the future of education, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi's address on poverty and the potential for innovation and technology in Africa, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson of Iceland's remarks on motivating citizens and companies to take action on the issue of climate change, and President Stjepan Mesic of Croatia's thoughts on the parallels of the Yugoslavian conflict and Iraq and other possible future conflicts.

The discussion sessions were highly dynamic, matching experts from multiple fields to address an issue. In a discussion about creativity and contemporary challenges, titled "Globalizing the Mind," Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales said technology is facilitating innovative connections and creative collaborations around the world, and that his young daughter is growing up "bathed in information." Columbia University professor and 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine winner Eric Kandel added that projects like Wikipedia are crucial to forging understanding among disparate cultures, which are learning to accept others' values in the global landscape. The panel also included artist Jeff Koons, neurologist Oliver Sacks, Genesis Foundation Founder John Studzinski, and Royal Institution of Great Britain Director Susan Greenfield.

Dr. Kandel was one of several experts from the field of science, particularly neurology, to participate in the Summit, where one of the recurring themes was how scientists can contribute to cultural and political solutions on the global landscape. The topic of empathy and how historically distinct or distant cultures can adapt to living and working closely together was especially resonant at the Summit. Oliver Sacks, for example, joined Dr. Kandel at "Globalizing the Mind;" John Gage of Sun Microsystems spoke on the "Spotlight on Africa" opening panel; Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education discussed how to change people's minds about climate change; Joseph LeDoux, Professor of Neuroscience at New York University, addressed social tensions at "Islam & Globalization" and psychology and cultural identity at "Inside the Brain of the Terrorist;" and Richard Silberstein talked about a neural basis for creativity.

Paying close attention to local cultures and values was the focus of a discussion among corporate executives regarding growing global brands, which included fashion designer Calvin Klein. President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana appeared at the panel, titled "Markets without Borders," where he asked the CEOs for advice in attracting capital investment to his nation. Mark Angelson, former CEO of RR Donnelley, responded by listing three priorities he looks for: 1) public-sector integrity; 2) strong existing or planned infrastructure; and 3) government investment and training to create a skilled workforce.

A key Summit theme was that national borders have been blurred by globalization in the realms of business, the arts, science, and urban development. Discussing NATO's recent transformation as a political-military alliance in his keynote speech, Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said, "Borders don't buy you security, deterrence is finished as a defense, and distance is no longer a defense."

In another panel earlier on Monday, titled "Trade Saves," John Eatwell, President of Queen's College, Cambridge University, noted that globalization has created a sense of interdependence among nations that acknowledges that "trade in the macro sense is not a zero-sum game, with advantages for the winners," and that "trade in the micro sense has challenges." Robert Hormats, Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs, added that trade and global commerce have the potential to reduce tensions that lead to violent conflict--"trade is aid," as many panelists repeated. "Trade doesn't create development--it creates an environment where development and growth are more possible," Hormats said. But, he continued, without local protections for labor, the environment, and human rights, trade can create a "lopsided system."

Louise T. Blouin MacBain announced several steps to maximize the Summit's real-world effectiveness in the coming year, including preparing a white paper that will be distributed to the United Nations, African Union, European Union, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and NATO. She emphasized the importance of utilizing the Internet's global, democratic reach to share the concepts and best practices that were formulated at the Summit with partners around the world. Ms. MacBain will also travel to developing and emerging nations in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to guide those ideas toward concrete implementation.

Citing innovations that gained momentum at the event such as Nicholas Negroponte's "Give 1 Get 1" program, which aims to provide children in developing countries with low-cost laptop computers, and David Boies' Global Rule of Law concept, Ms. MacBain assured delegates that the Summit's work was not limited to its three-day conference. "The wonderful benefit of gathering so many great international minds is that the Summit's work can continue every day going forward, in every corner of the world," she said. "Because we share a common purpose of transforming the challenges and threats of our new global culture into unprecedented opportunities and successes."



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