On October 6, 2016, Strategic Foresight Group organized a Roundtable to discuss global challenges such as: How will major scientific and technological changes, particularly in genomics, nano-technology, artificial intelligence, information technology, environmental sciences and space sciences impact global economy and politics? What kind of structural changes we should expect in the world economy in the next 10-15 years? Is the United Nations, which will have a new Secretary General from January 2017, capable of responding to emerging challenges? What is the role of G-20 and other global governance mechanisms? What is the role of private sector, media and voluntary sector in shaping the 21st century? Does democracy need to be reshaped? Is the concept of state under extreme stress? What are the perspectives of Indian thinkers on these issues?
The participants identified the following drivers of change:
· Emergence of new technologies, beginning with internet and other information technologies and now extended to nanotechnology, genomics, artificial intelligence, space sciences and technologies related to water and agriculture.
· Need for improvising democracy, which continues to be the best model of governance, though it is being increasingly exposed for its limitations.
· Growing networks at different levels spreading knowledge across boundaries at a fast pace.
· Need to learn from path breaking technologies that are useful at the grass root level and harness them using information and knowledge technologies to spread their impact widely.
· Need for addressing institutional void to meet global challenges on the background of the global institutional architecture being fragmented.
The participants underlined that over the millennia, the world has made progress, abolishing ideas such as cannibalism, slavery, colonialism, racial discrimination, apartheid to the current era, where environmental care, human rights, cooperation and non-violence are appreciated. Nevertheless, many key challenges remain, including persistence of poverty and inequality, projection of violence as a social good by some groups, failure to develop optimum models of governance at different levels. They also felt that the solution need not only be mechanical, the world in fact needs a new political philosophy.
List of Participants
1. Dr. Sundeep Waslekar, President, Strategic Foresight Group (Moderator of the Roundtable)
2. Ms. Carin Ism, CEO, Global Challenges Foundation
3. Mr. Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, Speaker (Chairman), Maharashtra State Legislative Council and former minister in the Government of Maharashtra
4. Mr. John Fredrik Karlsson, Project Leader, Global Challenges Foundation
5. Ms. Ilmas Futehally, Executive Director, Strategic Foresight Group
6. Mr. Paranjoy Guha-Thakurta, Editor, Economic & Political Weekly
7. Mr. Sumit Chowdhury, Founder, GAIA Smart Cities and formerly President of Reliance Jio.
8. Mr. Sanjeev Agha, Board Member and former CEO , Idea Cellular
9. Mr. Indrajit Gupta, CEO, Founding Fuel and former Editor of Forbes India and Economic Times.
10. Mr. Samir Shah, Investor and Board Member of companies in water technology and solar energy
11. Mr. Harshal Deshpande, Political Advisor to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) party
12. Ms. Anumita Raj, Senior Programme Manager, Strategic Foresight Group
13. Ms. Diana Philip, Senior Research Manager, Strategic Foresight Group