Tuesday 9, February 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: The 17 sustainable development goals identified by the United Nations serve as a ‘score card’ and present a framework of corrective actions that will help rectify mistakes that have been made. However, once corrected – nothing prevents the likelihood of these mistakes being repeated. Governments need to look at changing the broader machinery, and take steps to ensure that changes are permanent, according to Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus.
The comments came during a panel discussion titled ‘Why do Governments Fail?’ that was moderated by Becky Anderson, Managing Editor of CNN Abu Dhabi. Joining Yunus on the panel were Her Excellency Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and President of Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate, as well as His Excellency Dominique De Villepin, former Prime Minister of France, and Mahmoud Jibril, former Prime Minister of Libya.
The discussion deliberated on the issues faced by governments across the world and the reasons that attribute to their failure. Amongst these, the panel agreed that key issues were linked to public anger over the disproportionate distribution of wealth, lack of public inclusion in policy decisions, and the growing disconnect between governments and citizens’ priorities, especially the large section of youth.
Her Excellency Mary Robinson cited the example of climate change as a key issue where inclusion played a role in defining the success of the recent Paris climate conference (COP21), which achieved a consensus by ensuring that smaller nations also felt their opinions were sought and incorporated. She reiterated the relevance of the role governments across the world will play in adopting the objectives set at the conference.
For his part, Jibril emphasized the need for synergy between governments and the youth and women, owing to their growing ratio in the population. “Arab societies are mosaic societies comprised of tribes and sects. During the Arab Spring, the fall of the regime gave rise to tribal and sectarian powers,” Jibril explained while commenting on the challenges faced by Arab states, owing to a lack of development and national integration.
“Connecting hearts and minds is the most difficult goal for any government,” said Dominique De Villepin while highlighting the role played by governments and people together, in the success of a country. He concluded that pride in the nation bound people.
De Villepin also addressed the importance of measuring government success in its effectiveness in “addressing big issues and introducing big ideas.” He called upon the Middle East to create more regional alliances and an open markets economy, to help regulate the trading of commodities and sharing of resources in the region.
Concluding the session, Yunus stated: “Capitalism stands for the prevalence of choice, but we don’t give businesses the choice to exist for any reason other than to make money. The textbook needs to change to accommodate the option for businesses to be driven by social goals, instead of being driven solely by profit.”
The World Government Summit has attracted more than 3,000 personalities from over 125 countries, and 125 speakers in over 70 sessions. The attendees include VIPs and senior experts from the public and private sectors globally, ministers, decision makers, CEOs, innovators, officials, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and university students. A number of initiatives, reports and studies are set to be launched during the summit and throughout the year. The summit will conclude on February 10 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.