The mantra for the first day of the Summit on the Global Agenda has been the reinvention of political, economic and social structures to navigate global interdependence. In particular, this relates to a failure of current international forums to cooperate on key global issues, e.g. job creation, economic development, climate change and trade. So, the question I was forced to ask myself during the first day was, why has global cooperation broken down and what role can the Global Agenda Councils play to catalyse change?

To answer this question, I would like to refer to something Jan Eliasson said in his session: “Global is somebody else’s local.” In other words, as a Global Agenda Council Member, it is important to realize that our problems transcend boundaries, and as a world citizen, one needs to learn compassion. This realization is even more related to my own work of poverty alleviation, which is a global imperative with local ramifications.

In my opinion, poor governance is endemically tied to increased poverty and women’s disempowerment in terms of access to resources. I was heartened to see that even though all plenaries were male dominated, the issue of greater participation of women at the negotiating table was flagged. I hope that this thought comes to fruition in the next round of the Summit on the Global Agenda.

In my Council on Pakistan, the issue of improving human capital, especially taking education to scale, was debated. A Member of our Council stated very eloquently that education is “under siege in Pakistan”. As we navigated this issue, the palpable learning we could leverage through other Councils became obvious, especially in the fields of using technology to take education to the doorstep of every child in Pakistan, or seeking guidelines from the experience of other countries where education has been scaled up.

As one Member in a body of a 1,000 Members, I realized that even if I don’t have the answer to all these dilemmas, someone else must have found a solution within the Network of Global Agenda Councils. So, the first day has made me hopeful that even if international agencies have failed to cooperate, we as individuals can and do make a difference.

 

Author: Roshaneh Zafar, Founder and President, Kashf Foundation, Pakistan; Social Entrepreneur, Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum 

The Kashf Foundation is Pakistan’s first specialized microfinance institution, pioneering new products and providing door-to-door microfinance services to the urban poor, especially women.