The second edition of the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament convened a panel of experts who examined the geopolitical, socioeconomic, educational, environmental and technological megatrends that are shaping our future and changing the world and how it is governed.
Under the title ‘Reimagining the Future: The Megatrends Shaping Our World’ led byJohn Defterios, Emerging Markets Editor of CNNMoney, the first session included a wide spectrum of experts from physicists to government officials. Among the most notable attendees were Her Excellency Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, President of the UAE Federal National Council (FNC), His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and CEO of ADNOC Group, Dr Michio Kaku, US theoretical physicist and bestselling author, and Ray Hammond, UK author and futurist.
With the geopolitical events, environmental issues, and technological advancements the world is currently facing and will most probably continue to face, today’s panel provided a glimpse into the future with a view to understanding and harnessing upcoming opportunities.
Her Excellency Valentina Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Council of the Federation from Russian Federation thanked the leaderships of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the UAE as well as the FNC, expressing special gratitude to Dr Al Qubaisi for her outstanding hospitality and for organising such an impressive forum. She said: “The world is experiencing major social, economic and geopolitical shifts. The answer is the united action of the global community, which requires an honest discussion between parliamentarians and also among women in high government positions.”
Analysing the upcoming global megatrends, Hammond said: “Over the next 30 or 40 years, there are seven megatrends that will remain unchanged. The first of these is asymmetric population explosion, which means that by 2050, the world population will potentially reach nine or 10 billion people.
Other trends include climate change, and subsequently an ongoing energy crisis, as well as globalisation, exponential technology development, and revolutions in medical and life sciences. Lastly, the seventh megatrend is the continuing problem of extreme global poverty. Over two billion people play no role in global development, and if we do not collectively reach out to include the world’s poorest, they will become the terrorists of tomorrow.”
Dr Kaku set out to answer the question: Where does wealth come from? According to him, in the future the answer will be artificial intelligence, biotechnology and nanotechnology. In line with Hammond’s previous thoughts, he stressed: “We need to make sure that no one is left behind. The solution to this lies in creating massive educational programmes funding science, which is an engine of prosperity, and fostering entrepreneurship.”
For his part, Jeff Martin, Founder and CEO of Tribal Planet, highlighted the powerful impact that results when technology and culture come together and emphasised the importance of introducing science to children at a young age. He said: “According to research by the Smithsonian Institute, kids that are introduced to science read and write faster because they want to share their discoveries. It is particularly important to reach young girls before the age of 10 – if not, gender pressures take over. Most of all, it is important to remember that men are as important in supporting women as women are in supporting themselves.”
Dr Al Jaber said: “All sources of energy will be needed to meet current and future growing global demand. Looking ahead, it is necessary for all forms of energy – such as oil, gas, nuclear and renewable -to complement one another.
“The UAE has successfully implemented a peaceful, safe and secure domestic nuclear power programme, while also strategically investing in deploying renewable energy projects both at home and abroad. Today, the country is a leading supplier of both hydrocarbons and clean energy to the world. These efforts are part of the UAE’s broader objective to extend and maintain its energy leadership while also diversifying the economy via knowledge-based industries to ensure sustainable development.”
Dr Al Qubaisi closed the panel session by calling women speakers of parliament to action. She said: “Upon becoming speaker of parliament less than one year ago, I knew that this summit would be a great opportunity for women to get together and reflect on the way forward. However, I realised that before focusing on making changes to legislation, we first need to understand our needs.”
She concluded: “We need to build strong bridges between countries, especially in order to overcome the negative effects of another megatrend: the spread of violent extremism. As legislators, we need to take a stand and think of different solutions to take us forward. Hope is our secret weapon in this regard. I call upon parliamentarians, government leaders and private sectors to come together to develop a vehicle that can unite us and allow us to shape the future instead of waiting for the future to shape us.”