Ismail Serageldin


Opening Remarks at Club de Madrid – World Leadership Alliance Annual Conference, Brisbane, Australia

 07/12/2013 | Club de Madrid – World Leadership Alliance Annual Conference, Brisbane, Australia

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address you with my own voice as a concerned citizen of the world, as the first chairman of the Youth Employment Summit/Youth For Environmental Sustainability or YES represented here by its founding and continuing driving force, Poonam Ahluwalia, and also as the Co-Chair of the Board of the NGIC, a platinum sponsor of this event… To share this podium with WimKok, the President of the Club de Madrid, and Clive Palmer, The SG of the World Leadership Alliance and the President of the World Economic Council.
Some may wonder why the NGIC, a center dedicated to the values and ideas of a great poet and sage who lived in the 12th century, in Ganja, the second city of modern Azerbaijan, should be a sponsor of a conference whose theme is employment. Largely because we are partners with the Club de Madrid in promoting the concept of Shared Societies, not just in the South Caucasus region, but in the whole world. Nizami, in his time, certainly advocated the openness and the solidarity that would make such a concept no alien to his perspective... And he would be happy to see us advance the cause of application of these values he held dear.
Pressing Issues:
Frankly, the issues of employment and youth employment are so central to our future, that we would hope that the collective wisdom of so august a group could get a number of current decision-makers to recognize the inadequacy of their current policies and the misdirection of their political focus….
Today, we still witness many who with ideological blinders inherited from the bygone era of the Reagan-Thatcher years, the years of the so-called Washington Consensus, still try to address all economic ills with a standardized recipe of policies of the 1980s: ever more deregulation, trade liberalization and privatization… regardless of the new realities, of the enormous human and social costs of sustained and long-term unemployment especially of youth.
Today there are those – in the euro zone for example—who still argue that this vision of fiscal rectitude and debt rescheduling, should be pursued … even at the cost of unemployment rates that exceed a quarter of the labor force, and which among youth reach astronomical levels of over 50%, not counting those who got so discouraged by the long lasting character of this condition that they stopped looking for work, and therefore do not appear in the statistics.
Free markets and competitive markets:
I would like to ban the word “free markets” from our lexicon, because it has been misinterpreted in so many quarters. A totally “free market” is an invitation to predators. What we really mean is “competitive markets”. 
All competitive markets require an effective state apparatus behind them: property rights, binding contracts and effective judiciary to name but a few.   They also require surveillance and transparency with properly audited financial data. Insider trading is criminalized and prosecuted. Anti-trust laws to prevent monopoly are in place, and are enforced.
To the Future:
It is time to redesign the paradigm of international governance to introduce a more proper reflection of the power distribution of the world and the ethical representation of the inhabitants of the planet than that which was designed into the UN at the end of WW2. The G-20 is an improvement over the current distribution of the Security Council, but it is not an adequate substitute.
It is time that we recognize the needs of the planet, of environment, of sustainable development in a new framework for international decision-making which would take into account the interaction of human transactions with the global climate and our planetary and local environments.
It is time that we designed new goals for post-2015 that will ensure that the benefits of education, health and nutrition reach all the human family.
It is time that ethical views governed how we judge the policies we adopt, in full cognizance of their human and social impacts.
It is time to protect the advantages of the global and local “competitive markets” and nurture equity as much as innovation and entrepreneurship.
It is time to recognize that intelligence, brilliance and even genius… are not enough! … that we need wisdom in our leaders… The kind of wisdom thatNelson Mandela epitomized, and with which he inspired the whole world… Rest in peace Madiba… we will miss you, but we will try to be faithful to your teachings and your legacy…
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I am hopeful that our deliberations will yield the kind of wisdom that our contemporary reality demands…
I am certain that today’s leaders will listen to what this assembly has to say…
For it is time that our top political and economic decision-makers act wisely to achieve all of that, in keeping with the words often addressed to jurists : “go forth unto the world and fashion those wise constraints that make people free”.    
Thank you.


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