The World Policy Conference (2013)

Message from the President and founder

As we approach the end of 2013, the international system is still in a fragile state. globalisation is still growing but there is no longer much enthusiasm for it and nationalist tendencies are springing up everywhere. On the economic front, the lack of governance is still patently obvious. The major powers are unwilling to apply the same discipline to themselves as they expect from others, and there is still a danger that a crisis comparable to that of 2007-2008 will occur. The G20 seems to be but a very frail buffer against the threat. The BRIC countries – or some of them – are running out of steam. The european Union is still dragging its feet. as far as trade is concerned, multilateralism seems to be waning while initiatives like the TTIP and the TPP are motivated at least as much by politics as by economics. Security in eastern asia is threatened by numerous territorial conflicts, and the mindset there is not really open to the idea of reconciliation. The Middle east is far from finding a middle ground. However, the situation in Iran is looking more hopeful.

In a context like this, the WPC (World Policy Conference) is more relevant than ever. To maintain any chance at all of preserving an open world, the middle powers must make themselves heard. By middle power, I mean any regional power that is willing and able to extend the definition of its interests to encompass the structural stability of the international system as a whole and to contribute to it. They are the true pillars of our WPC, which also sees itself as a club of responsible and tolerant nation states, less interested in forcing their ideology on others than in exploring ways and means of cooperation that would be universally beneficial and respectful of all stakeholders.

This sixth edition of the WPC addresses vital topics such as global economic governance, energy and the environment, international finance, food safety, major risks and – in terms of regions – asia, africa and the Middle east. as far as europe is concerned, we have chosen this year to focus on two key questions: Firstly, can there be a sustainable “social model” that is specific to europe but compatible with globalisation?

Secondly, the implementation of the banking union project as an essential step towards consolidation of the eurozone and therefore of the european Union itself. Two new topics are on the agenda, or will be explored from a different angle than in previous years: the challenges posed by cyberspace, which must first be clearly articulated (something that we perhaps have not quite managed to do yet); the relationship between politics and religions since, unfortunately, more than ever, religions are being instrumentalised for the purposes of conflict and war.

The world seems to be spinning out of control, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and powerless at times. So what is the point of an event like the WPC? We are determined to persevere, as we firmly believe that initiatives like ours, however modest they may be, can help to save the world.

Thierry de MONTBRIAL
President and Founder of the World Policy Conference
President and Founder of Ifri (French Institute of International Relations)

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