Prof. Jean-Pierre Lehmann, who is Professor Emeritus International Political Economy at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) and also Founder of The Evian Group (April 1995), was the main speaker at the breakfast organized by Bright Hong Kong the last 27th of April.
During his presentation, Prof. Lehmann said that with the turn of the century, the world has experienced a series of profound disruptive transformations and simultaneous discontinuities. They include:
• The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war
• The amazing rise of China.
• The global market revolution.
• The transformative impact of supply chains on production processes.
• Unprecedented multiple demographic developments.
• Radical innovations in information-communication technologies, comparable in impact, as the late Peter Drucker argued, to the Gutenberg bible.
• Rapid environmental evolutions.
• Rise of new geopolitical forces and actors
He also pointed to the obsessive searches for identity and what Pankaj Mishra calls ¨the age of anger¨However, while these multiple transformations affecting virtually every aspect of human life have surged exponentially, institutions and the mentalities (especially of the Western elites) have evolved, at best, at a linear pace.
Globalisation was not, contrary to expectations and assumptions, leading to a ¨new world order¨, but rather to a chaotic transition to uncertainty.
None of the ¨old order¨ institutions – UN and its multiple agencies, World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc – are functioning properly. At global, regional (eg EU) and national levels there is, among other things, a profound leadership deficit.
Witness as the Cancún (Mexico) WTO ministerial conference in 2003 following the launch in 2001 of the Doha Development Round, Prof. Lehmann was convinced that the arrangement would not work. ¨At the global institutional level, we have a tower of Babel¨, Prof. Lehmann said.
The speaker also said that the scene at Cancún was reminiscent of the scene in the famous play of the Italian surrealist author Luigi Pirandello: ¨Six actors in search of an author¨ (Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore). The Western powers and Japan, the erstwhile dominant players, played intransigently, the new players (led by China, India, Brazil and South Africa) rebelled. The conclusion: the death of Doha and all the promise a reinvigorated and more just global institution could have had.
This global transformation occurs as much of the Asian continent, from the East China Sea to the Red Sea, experiences in some cases highly positive (mainly economic and social) and in other cases highly turbulent (mainly political and geopolitical transformations – from Damascus to Pyongyang. Dominated by the Western imperialist powers (and Japan) throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, most of Asia was relegated to a passive global role. Clearly, the narrative of the 21st century will be written in Asia. This narrative, however, is occurring within the context of an institutional chaotic vacuum with atavistic forces still seeking to (literally) call the shots. For Asia to thrive, solid institution-building must be an urgent imperative.
Germán Muñoz, Founder & Director Bright Hong Kong; Simon Haines, Director Research Centre for Human Values at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Jane Drake Brockman, Senior Services Advisor at UN International Trade Centre; Chris Drake, Chairman of the University of Oxford's China Advisory Group; Damián Martínez, CG of Mexico; Dr. Sari Arho Havrén, Consul of Innovation at TEKES; Deborah Biber, CEO of the Pacific Basin Economic Council; Kathleen Ferrier, former member of the Dutch House of Representatives for the Christian Democratic Party; Jeremy Woodall, Director of Development, Asia at University of Oxford China Office; Servane Gandais, Director for International Relations at the CG of France; Efstratos Pourzitakis, principal investigator at KAS Hong Kong Konrad Adenauer Foundation/Hong Kong Baptist University; Mohammed Al-Sudairi, Fellow at the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh; Dr. Gregg Li, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Mauricio Lozano, financial expert and Víctor Arredondo, international trader.