Thought Leaders Dambisa Moyo, Alan Blinder, Kishore Mahbubani, Ethan Zuckerman, Fazle Hasan Abed, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Louise Arbour, Peter Morales, and Jonathan Sacks describe what they would like to see happen in the next 100 years. DISCUSS >>
I would love to see in the next century human dignity enhanced across the world, for everyone. At the end of the day, economic growth means you take people out of poverty. Medical advance means you take people out of being powerless in the face of incurable disease. The Web and the Internet and global communication and the falling cost of computing means that you begin to move to ever higher expectations of universal literacy and universal access to knowledge. All of these things enhance human dignity.
I would like to see a prosperous Africa. For me when I say "prosperous" it's where we have enough so we can share the wealth that we have. And at peace with itself, because I think without peace we cannot be prosperous. For me they are interlinked.
I'd like to see China and the United States find a way to live together peacefully, for the United States to accommodate the rise of China, for China to come to trust the U.S. role in Asia.
I want to see a moral and spiritual awakening, and I think it absolutely has to be interfaith. Islam is not going to triumph over Christianity and over all other traditions, nor is Christianity, nor is Buddhism or Hinduism. But we need, based on that realization that we come from a common source and we share a common destiny, to both appreciate who we are and where we've been, our roots, but to learn to appreciate and acknowledge the value of our different traditions and have something emerge which spans those traditions in a real, appreciative, deep way.
If you want to ensure that the next 100 years are much better than the previous 100 years, we must take some really bold steps. One of the boldest steps we can do is to go eventually towards a zero-nuclear-weapon world. But long before we get there, let's cut the numbers down from thousands to the hundreds, from the hundreds to the tens, and that's all you need for deterrence today.
I would love to see the expansion of human empowerment, of human flourishing. I think one of the greatest injustices of our time is that while people are born with ability and values and equality at birth, the distribution of ability to get things done in the world, of education, poverty, war, conflict, movements because of refugee activity—all of that is extremely unequally distributed, fundamentally unjust.
If people want to sit here and say, "In 100 years we'll live in a better world," and they trace the path to how we got there, it really is going to be because technological innovation became the main priority of our political-economic systems and that advancing and spreading those technologies as quickly as possible was not only prioritized but achieved.
It's inevitable that a significant number of authoritarian states will decentralize into regions, into region-states, into micro-states. I think the goal should be, the wish should be, to allow that, yes, there will be many more smaller and smaller entities, but that they have peaceful relations internally and with each other.
In a globally interconnected world, where you have platforms and services that aren't respecting boundaries of physical sovereignty and you have communities that don't map well into boundaries of physical sovereignty, this organizing concept of governance around consent of the governed built around the nation-state—it's not working so well for us anymore. But we don't yet really know what we're going to replace it with.
I see it, on the one hand, as a time of enormous hope and enormous democratization, the ability of people to make themselves heard and pursue their dreams and their talents, but also one of tremendous division if we can't steadily and continually try to keep leveling the playing field.
Diversity is very important for the growth or development of our creativity, innovation. How to maintain these diversified sources of energy is energy security. But for the society, how to maintain these diversified human beings in one community is the key for the success of the growth of the community.
Every individual, organization and state needs to commit to making the planet a better place to live or, at a minimum, to do no harm to others: identify realistic ways to reduce political marginalization, economic inequality, religious intolerance and discrimination while enhancing global economic development and grassroots political participation.
The greatest human misery right now in the world is endured by people who don't have a state or who don't have an effective state or who live in a predatory state. Before we give up on the Westphalian system, before we give up on the nation-state as a political formation, we need to make sure that everybody has one.
I'd really like to see us get globalization right. For me, getting globalization right wouldn't mean that we have stuff from every corner of the world, but would mean that we have people and ideas and opportunities and solutions from every corner of the world.
I hope that we can really make some progress quickly so that the environment that we have still exists.
We have to run democratic societies. The alternatives are undoubtedly worse. But democracy can definitely be improved. It needs to be improved, because all these other problems that we have to solve, especially the big ecological problems, are either going to be solved by crises that produce very, very high costs, or they are going to be solved by democracies getting better at making complicated decisions and coordinating with other democracies.
Hate must be eliminated. We have to change hate to love.
I would like to see us and the whole world get serious about climate change. This planet may be a much worse place to inhabit 100 years from now if we don't start taking serious action.
It certainly has to do with having a range of choice, having reasonably good access to the kinds of opportunities that provide for a dignified life for participation in politics if you want, that make you feel that you can hold your own government accountable.
We are not going to avoid a G-Zero. When you experience a radical imbalance between the balance of power of different actors and the overall leadership structure and institutional architecture of the world, at some point that will crack.
I would advise my dear intellectuals of this age and time and place to give us some good imagination, especially to the young people, that they will have a brighter future than they have, that they should not bring their frustrations and pass them over to the next generations. I think we need people who have a dream, who have an imagination for a better future.
I'd like us to think about making progress in a variable way—that is, that each within our capacities will attempt to realize our joint responsibilities with the resources that we have available.
The emergence of so many people from poverty is in itself intrinsically not just a huge achievement but something that tends to have a momentum to it, and so if we start to think just for instance to retreat for a moment to the purely commercial level, what it actually means to have 2 billion new middle class consumers in the world.
On our current trajectory, I don't think America is going to be making much of a contribution to solving global problems in the next few years. But in the long run something's likely to happen. We can't just extrapolate current trends and say they're going to continue.
I'd love to believe that the next 100 years would be a recognition that war and violence really are things that belong in the past, and that if we achieve a greater equality between sexes, between classes, and a greater opening of opportunity, then we might be able to get ourselves past the terrible destruction that we did see in this last 100 years.
If we don't take steps to stay below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial warming and have more focus on adapting and becoming climate-resilient and having a low-carbon future, it will be catastrophic.
I think if—and I hope it's not going to take 100 years—women were allowed to take their proper place in their own governance, in the control of their own reproductive rights, to take their proper place on this planet—I think we have fallen short, in a sense, by not capitalizing on the contribution and talent of half of the population of the world. To me, this would be a short-, medium-, and long-term investment that would be truly transformative.
A greater appreciation of and more attention given to the multiple identities of individual people, which seems to me to be what the richness of humanity is made up of, rather than what seems to me the excessive stress on single collective identities, which I think are a grotesque oversimplification of the richness and complexity of the human condition and often are very irresponsible and lead to no good.
We'd like to see an increase in the tolerance for different viewpoints and greater diversity. We'd like to see a reduction in poverty, a continued improvement of the life opportunities for more people inhabiting this planet. We would also like to see a reduction in the amount of violence, if possible.
I would like to see greater equality in the world. This equality spreads through everything—men, women, poverty and wealth, also rich nations, poor nations, and how we deal with climate change and the allocation of resources as well.
It has taken 100 years to get women votes, I suppose another 100 years probably to get complete equality. Only in three or four countries in the world you can say today you have gender equality—almost equality—in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, probably. Everybody else is so much behind in equality of genders that I think this is going to be the biggest challenge for the next century to achieve.
I think the real challenge is to find ways of developing productive, satisfying societies that don't produce the environmental problems and don't have a lot of the stresses and strains that we face now. I think that's very difficult, but that's the challenge.
People should stop being just focused on the short term and on immediate interests. If we talk more about democracy, human rights, the rule of law, how to eradicate discrimination and how to bring about more equality so that particularly people living in very, very awful circumstances can look forward to some better environment and to be able to have a fairer share of these scarce resources.
I would say that the most important thing is the transformation of how this world is governed, that we go from governance through negotiations based on bargaining power and parochial interests to a governing of the world that is driven by shared values that are transparently discussed in international discourse in which also ordinary citizens and intellectuals participate.
Another issue which grabs the world attention now is the social injustice issue. You can call this the "Occupy movement" you can call this "99-against-1 movement." Whether we are talking about the liberal capitalism or countries like Russia, there is definitely an unfair distribution of wealth. There must be a way to create a safer place and a more socially just place. So you can call me a moderate leftist, but I really believe in social justice.
Let me rely here on Keynes. When he was asked the same question, he said, well maybe in 100 years we'll be so affluent that economics will not be an important part of our lives. We will devote our times and energies to things that are really important and that's people, art, whatever we feel is important, and these values exist as well. I think we have put too much stress in the past on one value only and that one value is economic prudence or the economic way of thinking.