May 22, 2016
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
His Highness the Emir of Qatar, distinguished Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
To discuss prosperity and stability is to address the central question of our time. For indeed both stability and prosperity are at peril. If the global rate of growth remains at two percent, global GDP will double in thirty five years; on the other hand, if it were four percent, global GDP will double in sixteen years. The difference is two billion to four billion people facing poverty or sliding down.
What is the context? The context first of all is that variety of changes are facing us. What are these changes? First is destructive change. The fifth wave of political violence and terrorism is upon us. If the previous four waves are any guide, this unfortunately is going to be a medium-term change or challenge, not a short-term challenge.
Response at the national level is not sufficient; it requires response at the regional, Islamic and global levels. The second type of change is disruptive change. The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and that change is disruptive because our habits of managing the economy whether at the national, regional or global level are all up for change. This disruptive change requires a different type of understanding because the forces of previous three waves again face us with immense sets of changes. The third type of change is catastrophic and that is with climate change and related set of issues because the level of uncertainty and unpredictability is extremely high. The fourth type of change is of our choice and that is creative change where we join forces to understand that stability requires having the leadership, the vision and the management capability to be able to sense and respond to these changes.
Here the role of our inherited international organizations – delighted to have the Secretary General of the UN and thank you for your immense efforts on behalf of peace and global security. If the UN didn’t exist, we would have to reinvent it at this time – but the nature of global understanding, you must be the first Mr. Secretary General, requires fundamental reorganization and thinking. Mid-20th century organizations are no longer capable of responding to the challenges of the second half of the 21st century. We need a different set of global understandings and compacts to be able to deal with a series of simultaneous changes because whatever else we have managed in the past has required common global understanding.
Stability at this level requires new rules of the game. Without new rules of the game, stability would be slow in coming, but the major point again to emphasize – Your Highness and other distinguished members of the symposium – is we need a common vision. A vision where stability of all of us is mutually dependent and where our stability comes in terms of sharing a common vision and having the leadership capabilities to be able to sense the changes in response to them and to be able to think at appropriate level and mobilize the appropriate set of forces. Here let me make the fundamental proposition that functioning states are key to both stability and prosperity, but in order to have a joint understanding, we must have international rules of the game where states both accept the rights and obligations of statehood and respond and generate a common understanding.
All too often in our contemporary world, the response of the states is short-term where the problems of stability and prosperity that we face are medium to long-term. That requires particularly states not to engage in behaving like non-state actors, malign non-state actors or supporting malign non-state actors. The second level of response required for prosperity is to change the relationship at the international, regional and national level between firms and states. The majority of the poor of the world do not have prospects of seeing prosperity unless the market becomes functional, and the ability to get functioning markets is as essential as our need to have capable state, but capable states provide the enabling environment for markets to function.
Last, but most importantly, this requires thinking and rethinking citizenship and civil society at multiple levels from the national, regional to the global levels. All of this requires thinking the culture of organizations and reorganizing not in terms of silos, in terms of mutual checkmates where our inability to come together prevents us from responding in timely, effective and accountable manner.
But, to be an optimistic realist and a pragmatic idealist, the challenges that we face are within our collective capacity to solve. Collective action is needed more than ever and I want to thank you for taking this initiative and providing this forum. I am confident that our deliberations will result in concrete action, understanding and ability to come together and engage in collective endeavors that will make the world both stable and prosperous. Thank you.