Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Salmon, protest, networks and feedback

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The Global Economic Symposium in 2011 – as we heard a hundred times during the three days – wanted to present not only proposals, but solutions as well. That sounds great! It would be amazing if we could see some progress in solving the problems of the world.

On the other hand, I was also a little bit skeptical. My experience said that these big conferences usually define unreachable goals and end up with nothing. Meanwhile, important people eat a great deal of salmon in a five-star hotel, and a lot of money is spent.

This last sentence sounds like I were one of the protesters who wanted to sabotage the GES. True, as some of us bloggers talked, it turned out that we are not used to be on the side of those who are protested against – we’re usually on the side of the protesters. As I understood it, we were one symbol for the GES’s efforts to involve civil society. That is, again, great: today you should not make decisions only with an exclusive group of leaders any more.

It was a great experience, I have to say. I learnt a lot. Above all from my colleagues, and I have to say a huge thank you for this. But I learnt a lot about how these conferences work, as well: there are not only success and failure, but also some other options between them.

As I have written, I was very curious as to whether we would end up with some real solutions or not. Therefore, I checked out the workshop to see how things were going at around halftime. I was a bit disappointed when I saw that the list of crucial themes was created more or less random and uncontrolled.

A similar list showed up at the closing plenary. This was created based on the experience of the conference. Although, at closing, I had expected a list of solutions, it was rather a list of challenges. A quite familiar list: challenges that we are already more or less aware of. We had to vote which one we find the most important; waste management and recycling won.

OK, so, what to do with it? What do we have now? We have discussed definitely many topics. Although at some panels it was problematic even to define the problem itself, at some other ones we could hear concrete proposals for solving a particular problem.

All in all, I have a feeling that I heard obvious things. Things that everybody always talks about. This may not be a problem, however. At the closing plenary I heard my key word for the session: networking. These people did not talk to each other only at the sessions, but also during coffee breaks, dinners, etc. I hope they got inspired by each other’s ideas and they will bring together some real solutions. I look forward to hearing about progress later!

Anikó Mészáros Twitter: @dusmii

International Relations expert, in love with Central and Northern Europe, security studies and regional cooperation.