“COP 25” is wrapping up in Madrid as I sit at my desk in my “birds’ nest” of an office looking out at a wintry scene of an early dusk that brings a glow of the setting sun to the olive and cypress trees just outside my window. I am overdue to wrap up my series of reports on the 2019 Paris Peace Forum with some observations about what transpired there on the issue of climate change. And here it is long past the brief moment in the sunshine for that event (weeks ago in November!) as the whirlwind of climate change activists – and the media – have converged instead around COP 25 in Madrid. I am, however, quite mellow as I sit in my “birds’ nest” and mull over what I might write about this issue. Neither the Paris Peace Forum nor the Madrid COP 25 will be seen as pivotal events for climate change, even as the issue is clearly mounting in media attention and public policy concern. But the one big takeaway that I learned at the Paris Peace Forum is that significant incremental action is taking hold. Continue reading “Further Snippets from the Paris Peace Forum: Climate Change”
Although I may have had a strong negative impression overall of how the 2019 Paris Peace Forum was managed, I did pick up some interesting insights on a variety of topics. Let me reiterate: I was truly disappointed with the lack of inclusiveness, lack of clarity of programming and lack of follow-through or even wrapping-up messaging by the Forum’s organizers. Nonetheless, the Grande Halle de Villette apparently attracted some 7000 participants, many of whom were there to promote their fledgling projects (over 100 of them) but also to share their expertise, on advancing multilateralism. So there was a lot to choose from. Here are my snippets on the Eurocentric highlights of the opening ceremony, the dominance throughout the Forum of digital-related interests and the cross-cutting nature of the Forum’s gender-related initiatives. Future snippets are in the works on the Forum’s role in introducing new perspectives on climate change, a new civic observatory for the OECD and a rather interesting (for me, anyway) discussion of border management issues. Continue reading “Snippets from the Paris Peace Forum 2019: The Macron Message, Digital Anxieties and Gender”
The 2019 version of the Paris Peace Forum does not bode well for its future. The idea for this supposedly annual event started with a bang in 2018. On that occasion, it showed up rather suddenly (for an outsider) in conjunction with the Armistice Day centenary events that drew the likes of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau and other heads of state to the impressive Arc de Triomph ceremony hosted by President Emmanuel Macron on 11 November. Over 60 heads of state (but not Trump) then joined the Paris Peace Forum, a new Macron-inspired initiative to promote global governance in general and multilateralism in particular, that was held nearby at the Grande Halle de Villette. But the second supposedly annual Forum was a disappointment. Continue reading “Paris Peace Forum 2019 an Unrealized Dream”
Much to my surprise and delight, The Economist published a slightly edited version in their 21 September 2019 issue of a letter to the editor that I sent to them on 28 August 2019. The letter was included in a collection of letters to the editor with a focus on “corporate purpose”. This was triggered by report by the Economist of a recent new policy statement issued by The Business Roundtable (BRT), an American association of large businesses, including the likes of AT&T. My letter relates to the time I was a vice president for federal government affairs at AT&T. I was pleased, too, to learn that the BRT has not forgotten the nature of its role in the course of that experience. Here is the letter I sent to the Economist, followed by a response (dated 17 October 2019) from the BRT to my contact with them, and other communications that include more details about the issue at hand. Citations are provided for all of these sources. Continue reading “Snippets on Corporate Purpose – updated”
Since my transition into semi-retirement began some 18 months ago, I no longer publish the weekly newsletter promoting an inclusive perspective on global social and economic issues, but I have continued to write in-depth commentaries – albeit far less frequently. Although I still keep my eyes and ears open for information on a number of favored topics (diversity, employment, migration, climate change, health and nutrition), I am finding that my focus no longer includes a comparative analysis of how different institutions are addressing these issues. So here is a commentary on why I am transitioning to a new form that I am calling “Snippets”. Commentaries and musings are still on my horizon, but here is something a bit shorter but still substantive to keep me constructively occupied on this website.
The Future of Work as a policy framework has been a fairly recurrent preoccupation of both scholars and policy makers. Whenever major changes have come along to disrupt how work is organized, we have typically been drawn to the adjustment challenges. Jobs are lost, and other jobs come along. Pessimists worry about the whole phenomenon of lost employability, while optimists focus on the new opportunities. All assume that sustainable livelihoods are dependent on full, productive and freely chosen employment. Without dwelling on past transitions, however, I am impressed by the surprising mix of pessimism and optimism about the major changes affecting employability that we are all dealing with today. In that context, the recent momentum for adopting a so-called human-centered approach to the future of work, as articulated in the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work at the International Labour Conference is a significant development. In this commentary I reflect on that odd mixture of pessimism and optimism about the future of work and conclude that the ILO’s Centenary Declaration only “nibbles at the edges” of what needs to be done.
Saving the day for the European Union may not entirely depend on the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macron, but I join many others who were encouraged by the overall election results for the European Parliament in May as the opening of a new approach to a vibrant European Union. The results do mean that President Macron could be the catalyst for a new pro-European coalition with a more progressive strategy for the EU’s future on certain key issues. The focus in this commentary is on a post-election assessment of the potential for a new approach within the EU. My personal interest in this potential is not only driven by hopefulness for a vibrant European Union but also and especially because of the ramifications of EU leadership for broader global collaboration on issues of shared common concern for the global community. In this particular commentary, I concentrate on the particular issue of climate change. It is the leading issue among many where the disregard for global dialogue under the Trump administration has been especially disconcerting. And thus, EU leadership is ever more pivotal for identifying the realistic parameters of collaborative global action. Continue reading “Changing Dynamics of European Leadership and Climate Change”
Official campaigning for the European Parliamentary elections started on Monday, 13 May 2019 for elections throughout the European Union (including the UK) to take place on 23 to 26 May 2019. These elections happen every five years for a European Parliament that has become increasingly significant in determining the direction of the European Union. The unusual dynamics in this particular election cycle include the Brexit turmoil, the rising strength and signs of unity among the anti-European populist parties of the extreme right, and the possibility that the two main political alignments that have dominated the EU through their strength in the European Parliament might have become so weakened that they will no longer be the major players. That is why this particular election cycle is more important than ever in saving the day for progressivism and European-wide collaboration for democratic values and fundamental human rights. And the key for that happens to be the potential for the elections to produce a very different, centrally-driven alignment of political interests, something that fits very well with the strategy being pursued by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading “Looking to Macron to Save the Day”
The “future of work” as a means of achieving and maintaining sustainable livelihoods for all is being called into question these days. Technological change is typically identified as the main culprit, but there are plenty of other candidates to blame – globalization, climate change, demographic trends, human migration, and yes, even trade liberalization, just to name the more obvious ones. In this year 2019 of the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization (ILO), it is timely to reflect on what this means for the future of work – but also for the prospects of the ILO as the social pillar of our global architecture. The ILO, after all, was established in 1919 to mobilize the world’s capacity for sustainable livelihoods through a just and fair social order in the world of work. One hundred years later, the ILO is using this occasion to redefine its mission, including in the form of a “Centenary Declaration” on the future of work. Continue reading “The Future of Work and the ILO Centenary”
On 21 November 1991, the US Congress passed the most comprehensive civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Surprisingly, President George H.W. Bush did not veto the bill, even though he had vetoed a previous bill with similar provisions in 1990. Timing seems to have been a factor. Clarence Thomas had just gone through a very controversial confirmation process in the US Senate, driven primarily by the sexual harassment charges brought against him by Anita Hill. But it may also have been that enough moderate Republicans had shifted to support the 1991 bill, such that it had become “veto-proof” (a 67-vote majority protecting the over-ride authority of two-thirds plus one). As a participant in the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, however, I do have a few words to say about how it came about, triggered by reflections upon the passing of George H.W. Bush. Continue reading “Reminiscenses on Civil Rights and George H.W. Bush”