02 September 2013

New Ideas for a Fair globalization

High level speakers discussed the role of politics in globalization at the European Forum Alpbach, and added their support to a new global think tank launched by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the European Forum Alpbach.


Alpbach Forum © IIASA

Alpbach Forum © IIASA

The European Forum Alpbach 2013 culminated on 31 August, with plenary sessions co-organized by IIASA and with a number of high level speakers. During the last session, European Forum Alpbach and IIASA announced the launch of a new global think tank. Both EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer added their support for this new initiative and Barroso emphasized the need for an integrated systematic approach to fair globalization.

IIASA and European Forum Alpbach signed a strategic partnership in May 2013 and the global think tank is one of the first initiatives to come out of this alliance. The European Forum Alpbach and IIASA are both uniquely poised at the nexus of international and interdisciplinary research to seek solutions to major global challenges – such as energy, food and water, poverty and equity, and their related issues on the economic and political governance. At the closing sessions of the European Forum Alpbach both Barroso and Fischer stated that such questions can only be addressed through international and interdisciplinary exchange.

The new global think tank will unite IIASA’s systems approaches, and its scientific excellence with the Forum’s unique and historically proven power to convene meetings with leading political, economic and industrial players, thus providing a unique platform for interdisciplinary dialogue.

European Forum Alpbach President Franz Fischler, President of the European Commission H.E Jose Manuel Barroso, President of Austria Heinz Fischer, and IIASA Director and Chief Executive Officer Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat at the IIASA cohosted breakfast. (Photo: Matthias Silveri for IIASA)

Closing sessions

Speakers at the closing plenary sessions included the US economist and advisor to UN Secretary General Jeffrey Sachs, the Chairman of UN Energy, Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, and the founder of the Internet platform WAMDA, Habib Haddad, as well as the Director and CEO of IIASA, Pavel Kabat. They discussed the potential contribution of entrepreneurs as central players in a globalized economy towards fairer distribution. This was followed by an concert by IIASA’s goodwill ambassadors, the Vienna Philharmonic, and then the UN Under-Secretary-General  Valerie Amos, Federal President  of Austria Heinz Fischer, EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete discussed “New Ideas for a Fair Globalization: The Role of Politics.”


High Level Retreat

From left to right: Chin Min Lee, Special Advisor to IIASA Director/CEO, Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, IIASA Director and Chief Executive Officer and Amina J. Mohammed, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning at the private high level retreat during European Forum Alpbach. (Photo: Matthias Silveri for IIASA)

High level delegates took part in a special retreat during their time in Alpbach, discussing aspects of the global transformation, including energy , food and nutrition security as  the key for poverty alleviation and growth. This was followed by a retreat working dinner involving H.E. Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Heinz Fischer, President of Austria, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania, Franz Fischler, President of the European Forum Alpbach, Jeff Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, and Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the European Commission, International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response , Kandeh Yumkella, the Chairman of UN Energy and Pavel Kabat, Director and CEO of IIASA.

During the retreat Pavel Kabat and other distinguished discussants were making strong plea for water security as precondition for food and energy security.  

Professor Kabat was invited to join a UN high level advisory board – The Leadership Council, which oversees the work of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) and it is comprised of world leading experts on sustainable development.


IIASA hosted breakfast

Together with European Forum Alpbach, IIASA hosted a working breakfast prior to the closing sessions to discuss the concept of the new global think tank with high level guests Amina J. Mohammed, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Bob Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, H.E Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Michael Karnitschnig, Adviser to EU Commission President Barroso on climate action, energy policy, international development and EU enlargement, Heinz Fischer, President of Austria, Ulrike Ritzinger, European and International Affairs, Office of the President, Franz Fischler, President of the European Forum Alpbach, Thomas Mayr-Harting, EU Head of Delegation to the United Nations, Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor  to UN Secretary General, Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, IIASA Director and Chief Executive Officer, and Chin Min Lee, Special Advisor to IIASA Director/CEO.

Heinz Fischer, President of Austria and Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, IIASA Director and Chief Executive Officer at the IIASA cohosted breakfast. (Photo: Matthias Silveri for IIASA)



Green Growth and Sustainable Development 

IIASA co-organized a number of events during the Forum, including  a plenary session on Green Growth: speakers discussed the new concept for sustainable development.   

Participants of the "Green Growth: A New Concept for Sustainable Development?" panel (left to right): panel Chair Nisha Pillai, Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, IIASA Director and Chief Executive Officer, Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, and Leena Srivastava, Hony. Executive Director (Operations)/ Vice Chancellor, TERI – The Energy and Resources Institute. (Photo: Luiza-Lucia Puiu/European Forum Alpbach)


Selected images from European Forum Alpbach 2013

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New global think tank

 The new global think tank aims address the issues caused by the ongoing global transformation and aid in the creation of sustainable development paths.

Earlier this year the IIASA and EFA entered into a strategic partnership aimed at fostering sustainable solutions to global problems. As part of this, IIASA, supported by its extensive international network of institutional members and collaborators worldwide, together with the European Forum Alpbach, have announced the establishment of  a new Global Think Tank that will include some of the best minds in the world today: people who, independent of national and financial interests, are willing to place their collective knowledge, expertise, experience, and reputation at the service of the world community at this pivotal point in Earth's development.

IIASA Director and Chief Executive Officer Professor Dr Pavel Kabat says “Urgent and concerted steps are required to help human beings, societies and their economies, and the environment itself on which we depend, to transform to a sustainable development path. Today’s business-as-usual scenario is no longer an option.

“A new form of dialogue is required. This would help to develop partnerships between the highest level of academia, governments, the business community, and civil society. Such partnerships would help to transform the currently unfruitful environmental narratives into positive ones. They would also create plausible development paths full of innovation and business opportunities, in response to the ongoing global-change-related challenges.”

The think tank is set out to formulate and communicate the most needed transformative actions as a part of ongoing and upcoming global transformations - simultaneously at the global, regional, and national levels and in every sector, including food, water, energy, climate, biodiversity, human health, education, economic development, equity, and social inclusion.

“IIASA’s systems approaches, and its scientific excellence and the Forum’s unique and historically proven power to convene meetings with leading political, economic and industrial players thus provides an extraordinary platform for interdisciplinary dialogue.”, says  Alpbach Forum President Franz Fischler. “The European Forum Alpbach and IIASA are both uniquely poised at the nexus of international and interdisciplinary research to seek solutions to major global challenges – such as energy, climate, food and water, poverty and equity, and their related issues on the economic and political governance. The hosting of a new Global Think Tank to support solutions of persistent world problems is fully in line with the aims and objectives of both organizations.”

The members of the think tank will be drawn from Nobel Prize winning academics, former heads of state and government ministers and other leading politicians, from private- sector CEOs from commerce, industry and finance, and from civil society and nongovernmental organizations leaders. Managerial support and coordination of the independent think will be provided by IIASA together with the European Forum Alpbach, and all deliberations will be fully supported by IIASA and its network of more than 350 international academic and research partners.

After each think tank session, a public statement will be issued (Laxenburg and Alpbach Declaration), and scientific and thematic assessment reports which will be produced by IIASA and its partners to support deliberations.

The Federal Minister for Science and Research, Mr. Töchterle, also added his support to the establishment of the global think tank by European Forum Alpbach and IIASA commenting:  “On an international level we are facing increasing speed and intensification of political, scientific and economic changes in our society and we have to investigate transnational solutions and take sustainable decisions to address actual and future requirements in education, health care and climate change properly.”

“The symbiosis of Forum Alpbach and IIASA is promising, since both Forum Alpbach and IIASA stand for networking, exchange, internationality and excellency - a precious fertile soil for sustainable approaches to tackle essential issues of the future like demography and climate research.”


About the Alpbach Forum

Every year since 1945, the “European Forum Alpbach” has been held in the Tyrolian mountain village of Alpbach. For almost three weeks Alpbach becomes the village of thinkers or, as Otto Molden, the founder of the Forum, called it, the “other magic mountain”. Speakers and participants from all parts of the world, from science, economics and politics, experienced experts and students, come together in Alpbach to discuss the current issues and to formulate interdisciplinary solutions. The open character of the events promotes a climate of tolerance for different opinions and contributes to the overcoming of national, ideological and disciplinary boundaries in a harmonius way. Since its inception, more than 3,000 people from over 50 countries have taken up the invitation to participate in the European Forum Alpbach. Participation is open to all those who are interested, and the events are carried out in the German or the English language.

About IIASA

IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by member organizations from countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe, and including the major economies of the world.



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Last edited: 27 September 2013

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