34th Plenary of Interaction Council
May 29-31, 2017

Strategic Foresight Group was invited to participate in the 34th annual plenary of the Interaction Council, a body of former Heads of States and Governments, held in Dublin on 29-31 May 2017. The meeting was co-chaired by Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and coordinated by Thomas Axworthy, Secretary General of the Interaction Council. The participants included former Prime Ministers and Presidents of Canada, Russia, Tanzania, Jordan, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Slovenia among other countries from different continents.

The main theme of the meeting was how to create an inclusive world. It also addressed other important global issues, in particular, planetary health, water and peace, and the impact of technological innovation on future workforce.

Prime Minister Ahern explained the context of the meeting, quoting Yeats:

 “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed on the world”

He was referring to the rise of popular nationalism, factionalism and Brexit which would place heavy burden on Ireland, the host of the meeting. In a special address, Michael Higgins, President of Ireland, emphasised the importance of the moral imperative in today’s world.

The Interaction Council said in its communique: “Peaceful, secure, and prosperous societies can only be achieved in a setting where everyone is treated humanely and where everyone can influence their destiny. We must restore civility and make our societies work for all persons regardless of their social, ethnic, regional, political, and socioeconomic background. Inclusiveness also entails dialogue with those with whom we disagree. Isolation is not the way to resolve disagreement, nor is it a helpful counterweight to populism. The concerns and fears of those seduced by populist agenda should be taken seriously and met with solutions that address the root causes (socio-economic, cultural) of their fears and seek to pave the way for understanding and reconciliation through education, transparency, and fact-based reporting.”

The 34th annual plenary of the organisation adopted Dublin Charter for One Health and recommended that water should be placed at the core of the international agenda.

Sundeep Waslekar, SFG President, commented on the role of the Interaction Council: “In the 1950s, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto provided a moral compass for a world pursuing arms race. The world today does not have a moral compass, which is something the Interaction Council can provide through the collective wisdom and experience of the elder statesmen.”