Washington DC/October 26-October 28
“Balance and Power in the 21st Century”: a thoughtful refresh of the international relations reference to “balance of power”. This was the theme explored during the 2011 IWF World Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. October 26 through October 28.
Although we were a small group, attending Trusteeship members gathered prior to the conference opening reception to connect and enjoy a glass of wine and hors-d’oeuvres. At the appointed time, we joined the other 700 plus IWF members and guests for the opening reception at “The House of the Americas” at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), the world’s oldest regional organization, representing 35 member nations from across the Americas and Caribbean. IWF attendees moved around, wine glasses in hand, comfortably making new introductions and reconnecting with other IWF friends before we scattered for dinner.
The few days provided attendees with a comprehensive and content rich exploration into this provocative subject. One session focused on the possible impact balance and power will have in shaping our future prospects for a safe, stable and successful global economy, marketplace and international community. Some notable remarks during this session: China and the U.S. should be “co-evolutionists” rather than competitors; power is currently framed in antiquated architecture that needs to be updated, with accountability and transparency in a central position; tensions will continue for competition in regard to resources, environment, and military influence at the regional level; human rights protection must be a part of trading rights dialogue and negotiation. An observation was made that while the debit crisis is impacting balance and power, regional leaders do not entirely comprehend that decisions impact beyond borders and especially impact women and children. One panelist quoted Ghandi in making her point: “The world has enough for everyone’s needs. It doesn’t have enough for everyone’s greed.” She reflected that the mismatch between need and greed has resulted in most of the world’s conflicts.
Another session, “Technology’s Impact: The Exponential Perspective” started with the proposition that human knowledge is expanding and doubling about every 14 months and that our tools are breaking the barriers of limitation as they empower individuals. Convergent technologies can shape the manner in which we ease human suffering, conduct business, allocate resources, and provide us with a way to govern ourselves for a more balanced and equitable world. It was generally agreed that given the above we are going to have to focus technologies on creating a better world.
“Gender Balance in Leadership – The Need for Change” brought us up-to-date on the current gender balance in leadership. The World Bank, The Economist, and data gathered world-over are telling us plainly that the case for women in top leadership is strong. It was said that the big shift is that gender equality is on the radar as it has been proven that women produce greater profitability for companies, a more efficient economy, and a potentially more compassionate society. It has been proven also that thoughtful women-led solutions are addressing tough societal problems. Still, there is much holistic work to be done for gender equality to be fully integrated through cultures.
At a session titled “Powering Health/Balancing Budgets/ Saving Lives”, ideas were shared on how we balance our responsibilities to the older generation for their health and welfare with our responsibility to leave the next generation a healthy economy.
The behind-the-scenes portion of these conferences have always provided attendees with unique opportunities for different perspectives on the conference theme, and the options for this conference focused on the exceptional opportunities that are Washington D.C.
As usual, the dine-arounds received raves from most attendees as they provided members with the chance to meet other members in intimate dining setting in local hosts’ homes. And, guests gathered to bring to a close these content rich days at Washington, DC’s historic Building Museum for the International Hall of Fame Awards Gala.
There is no doubt that enormous change, opportunity and potential lie ahead if we can navigate the difficult terrain of the 21st century with balance, leadership and understanding.